Discovery Investigations

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A programme of research into the oceanic resources of the Antarctic, with the particular object of providing a scientific foundation for the whaling industry. In 1918 a British government committee was formed to consider how best to conserve the industry's future and its principal natural resource, the whale. In 1920 a tax was imposed on whale oil and the revenues that accrued were devoted to finding out more about whales and their habitat in the Southern Ocean. The Discovery, in which Scott sailed to the Antarctic, was refitted as a research ship, and a base, Discovery House, was built on South Georgia for the team of scientists who were to undertake what became known as the Discovery Investigations. Their main tasks were to provide information on the life histories of whales and their food chain, in particular the krill, and to discover as much as possible about the Antarctic environment in which whales live. During a series of commissions between 1925 and 1939, the crews of the Discovery (replaced by Discovery II in 1929) and the William Scoresby carried out thousands of routine oceanographic observations, undertook a number of whale-marking cruises, completed charts of several island groups in the area, discovered the presence of the Antarctic Convergence, and circumnavigated the Antarctic continent twice. The results of the Investigations were eventually published in 38 volumes. After the Second World War (1939–45), Discovery Investigations became part of the newly formed National Institute of Oceanography, which after further name changes brought about the formation of one of Britain's foremost oceanographic institutes, the Southampton Oceanography Centre. A new Discovery was launched in 1962 to participate in the International Indian Ocean Expedition, and is still operational.

See also oceanography.

See also oceanography.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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