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Google celebrates 'polar immortal' Ernest Shackleton's birthday with a doodle


Google is rolling out the doodles at an incredible rate these days and are certainly brightening up our desktops and searches. Today is the turn of Ernest H. Shackleton, a member of the ‘polar immortals’ who set a record for the furthest venture south in the Antarctic.

The Irish born adventurer (February 15th, 1874) possessed incredible skill in maintaining high morale amongst his men, although this didn’t become evident until later in his travels. He tasted his first real adventure while serving as third officer under Captain Scott on his Discovery Expedition between 1901 and 1904, in a time known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, and despite being sent home before the quest ended on the grounds of poor health, the experience whet his appetite for more.

Determined not to be seen as a failure, Shackleton went back to Antarctica in1907 as leader of the Nimrod Expedition and by January 1909, along with three companions, he made the record breaking journey to the Farthest South Latitude 88°23’S (190km from the South Pole).

That achievement won him a knighthood by the hand of King Edward VII.

In 1912 the race to the South Pole was over after Roald Amundsen’s conquest, and Shackleton sought a new quest, the only one that remained in fact – a journey across the Antarctic continent from sea-to-sea via the pole.

He made the necessary preparations for a conquest of such magnitude and in 1914 he set out on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The voyage lasted three years but was beset by disaster when his ship, the Endurance became stuck in pack ice and was slowly crushed, before the crew were able to reach their start point.

Shackleton bravely led his men across the tundra, keeping their spirits high and exploiting the wilderness to their escape; losing not one single life in the process.

These events set his heroic status in stone, but still not satisfied with the accumulation of experiences he had gathered, he went back to the Antarctic in 1921, as part of the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, upon which he intended to carry out a series of scientific research projects and surveys. Sadly he never made the journey, for while his new ship, the Quest was moored in South Georgia, Shackleton passed away aged 47 after a heart attack. His wife asked that he buried on the mountainous island, and her wishes were respected.

Despite his many great adventures and achievements, he always lived in the shadow of his former captain, Robert Falcon Scott, and it was only after his death that people began to realise just how valuable his journeys were.

Please share your thoughts on the life and adventures of Ernest Shackleton by leaving a comment.

Read about other doodles including: Robert Indiana’s Love, Jules Verne, Paul Cezanne, Thomas Edison, Jane Austen and Robert Burns.


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