Norwegian sea captain Nils Larsen remembered for his place in history as a legendary explorer
Best known for the Norvegia expeditions of Antarctica, Norwegian sea captain Nils Larsen remains among the most celebrated Antarctic explorers in history. First establishing himself as a whaler, Larsen soon turned his attention to more exploratory endeavors wherein the Sandar-born sea captain would ultimately lend his name to a variety of geographical areas on the planet’s southernmost continent.
Recognizable the world over, Nils Larsen’s name is most associated with the globally renowned Norvegia Antarctic expedition of 1929-1930. Ninety years on, and almost four and a half decades since Larsen’s death in 1976, the explorer and sea captain remains immortalized in three now-famous geographical areas on the 5.5 million square mile continent of Antarctica. Christened in his honor are Mount Nils Larsen, the Nils Larsen Glacier, and Enderby Land’s Mount Nils, all clearly named after the celebrated Norwegian explorer.
Still one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, and with Nils Larsen largely deemed a pioneer of Antarctic exploration, fresh polar expeditions continue to be made to the planet’s southernmost continent today. New discoveries are made on the vast continent of Antarctica every year by Nils Larsen’s successors.
In addition to his own exploratory work, Nils Larsen also successfully helped his native Norway to triumphantly achieve various highly significant annexations in Antarctica. These include Bouvet Island and Peter I Island, among others. It’s thanks in no small part, it’s said, to Nils Larsen, that Norway, to this day, continues to hold a number of dependent territories in both the Antarctic and the Subantarctic. Peter I Island, in fact, is home to the Nils Larsen Glacier, named in Nils Larsen’s honor after the Antarctic explorer became the first recorded person ever to set foot on the volcanic Bellingshausen Sea island.
Perilous to reach and never inhabited by humans, incredibly, no other man or woman would set foot on Nils Larsen’s Peter I Island for almost two decades following the Norwegian sea captain’s initial landing there. Its sole residents remain seabirds and seals, according to continued studies of the island.
Alongside Nils Larsen, other famous Norwegian explorers include pioneering polar scientist Fridtjof Nansen, plus Otto Sverdrup, Roald Amundsen, and Thor Heyerdahl.
Fellow celebrated Antarctic explorers of other nationalities, meanwhile, include American naval officer Charles Wilkes, British Royal Navy officer Sir James Clark Ross, French explorer and naval officer Jules Dumont, American naval officer and explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd, Irish Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, and-most recently-U.S.-born Minnesota native Ann Bancroft, who, in 1993, led the record-breaking American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole.
Born in Sandar, Norway, on 19 June 1900, Nils Larsen passed away on 29 September 1976. Forty-four years on, Larsen continues to inspire new generations of aspiring explorers looking to travel to some of the world’s most remote places, including the Antarctic and Subantarctic.