By Peter Lynch, On board Viking Polaris in Antarctica
Viking has claimed to discover a new island in Antarctica after expedition staff looking for a place to take guests during snow storms found land no one had ever visited been before.
The team aboard Viking’s new expedition ship, Polaris, unwittingly made the discovery after radioing for permission to land on the tiny island, which has nothing but nesting penguins on it.
The ship’s expedition team had to dig a makeshift staircase to allow guests to climb onto the island from Zodiacs.
It was named Breakwater Island, because there was a small shallow area which allowed for landing.
But when the crew informed the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, which ensures ships visiting the pristine snow-capped lands don’t break rigorous regulations to safeguard wildlife and prevent overcrowding, they were told the island had never been visited before.
Enthusiastic expedition staff were keen to name the island. But Viking has now said it won’t do that, leaving the sometimes sensitive naming of land to the authorities.
The island is in the Southern Ocean close to coordinates 64.79622 s/ -63.20725 W.
The find underscores that, even in 2022, areas of the Antarctic are still open to discovery and exploration.
The Polaris has a number of scientists on board carrying out experiments and monitoring things like water quality and cloud cover. Universities and NAASA backs its experiments.