In 1830 Biscoe set out for the South Seas in command of the brig Tula and the cutter Lively, belonging to Messrs. Enderby. Leaving the Falkland Islands on the 8th Novem ber, they discovered land on the 27th January in the following year, in lat. 65° 57' S., and long. 47° 20' E. Here the explorers first saw the Aurora Australis, described by Biscoe as "at times, rolling, as it were, over our heads in the form of beautiful columns, then as suddenly changing like the fringe of a curtain, and again shooting across the hemisphere like a serpent ; frequently appearing not many yards above our heads, and decidedly within our atmosphere. It was by much the most magnificent phenomena of the kind that I ever witnessed ; and although the vessel was in considerable danger, running with a smart breeze, and much beset, the people could scarcely be kept from looking at the heavens instead of attending to the course." Naming the newly dis covered land Enderby Land, the Tula proceeded north to Van Diemen's Land, but returned again in January 1832, and in the following month Adelaide Island, and the ad joining islands and mainland called Graham Land, were discovered.
In 1839 Balleny discovered the group of islands named after him, and also sighted Sabrina Land, which, however, was inaccessible. In 1837 Dumont D'Urville was sent in command of the Astrolabe and Zelee, fitted out by the French Government for the exploration of the Antarctic Seas. On the 18th of January the following year they touched the ice in lat. 50° 30' S., and thence to the South Orkneys the sea was covered with floating ice, which rendered further progress south impossible. D'Urville thereupon sailed towards the South Shetlands, and explored a new coast-line for 120 miles between 63° and 64° S., to which he gave the name of Louis Philippe's Land. In January 1840 D'Urville returned south, and crossed the Antarctic Circle on the 20th of the same month. Shortly after land was seen, towards which the vessels threaded their way through " lanes of ice." The newly-discovered land was named Adelie Land, after the commander's wife. A violent storm drove both the vessels off the land, which D'Urville intended to explore thoroughly, and on approaching it again on the 29th, one of the vessels belonging to the American Antarctic Expedition was sighted, but not communicated with. The next day the ice-barrier that skirts the coasts of Clarie Land was followed for some miles, but no opening being found, further search was aban doned, and the expedition returned home.
In the same year (1837) the American Government had also fitted out an expedition, consisting of five vessels, under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes, for the exploration of the South Polar Seas. Leaving Sydney on the 26th Dec., the
vessels worked their way south, and on the 23rd Jan. a large open bay (Disappointment Bay) was entered, which, however, proved to be so surrounded on all sides by ice, that the land— which undoubtedly lay both to the east and west—could not be approached. The great danger to which vessels are ex posed in the Antarctic Seas will be seen from the following extract from the pen of the commander, Wilkes :—" We were swiftly dashing on, for I felt it necessary to keep the ship under rapid way through the water, to enable her to steer and work quickly. Suddenly many voices cried out, Ice ahead l'—then, `On the weather-bow ! '—and again, On the lee-bow and abeam ! ' All hope of escape seemed in a moment to vanish. Return we could not, as large islands had just passed to leeward ; so we dashed on, expecting every moment the crash. The ship in an instant, from having her lee-guns under water, rose upright, and so close were we passing to leeward of one of these huge islands, that our trysails were thrown aback by the eddy-wind. The helm was put up to pay the ship off, but the proximity of those under my lee bade me keep my course. All was now still, except the dis tant roar of the wild storm that was raging behind, before, and above us; the sea was in great agitation ; and both officers and men were in the highest degree excited. The ship con tinued her way, and as we proceeded a glimmering of hope arose, for we had accidentally hit upon a clear passage be tween two large ice-islands, which in fine weather we should not have dared to venture through. The suspense endured while making our way between them was intense, but of short duration ; and my spirits rose as I heard the whistling of the gale grow louder and louder before us as we emerged from the passage. We had escaped an awful death, and were again tempest-tossed." Notwithstanding the dangers and difficulties encountered, Wilkes persevered in his search, and on the 30th of January land was apparently sighted, extending east and west, rising above the ice-banks which enclosed it to a height of 3,000 feet. The vessels skirted the ice-banks of the sup posed land for several days, which everywhere presented the same precipitous, unbroken appearance, and nowhere acces sible. The only " landing " effected was on an iceberg, the surface of which was strewn with stones and other ddbris. Nothing further was done, and the expedition returned north.