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Photographs of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition

Glasgow University Archive Services

Seals, sharks, sunfish, turtle, whales

Series Summary

Reference Code

GB 0248 DC 404/995-1015



Extent and medium of the unit of description


stereo glass-plate negatives and stereo glass-plate positives

Name of creator

Bruce | William Speirs | 1867-1921 | polar explorer and oceanographer

Biographical History

Biographical History

After developing his photographs, William Speirs Bruce collected together those of a similar theme. This series depicts miscellaneous larger animals which were encountered during the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Seals were photographed on the ice in the Weddell Sea. Sharks were captured for scientific specimens during a short stop off Saint Paul Rocks around the 10 December 1902 during the trip South. They were very numerous in the water there and attempts to land were abandoned after John Hunter Harvey Pirie fell into the shark infested waters.

The sunfish was also captured during the trip south on the 01 January 1903 approximately 150 miles off shore from the Rio de la Plata. The sunfish was killed by a harpoon in the gill by Robert Davidson and then towed by the boat until dead, before being hoisted aboard. Although a fairly small specimen, the expedition crew were proud of their catch and did not attempt to capture another.

Humpbacked whales, were photographed following the SY Scotia during the trip north from the Weddell Sea to Gough Island, and also on the South African Coast.

The turtle was also photographed during the return trip north when the expedition stopped on Ascension Island between 07 June 1904 and 10 June 1904. The island's turtle pond held up to 50 turtles to supply the Lords of the Admiralty for turtle soup. After making careful observations of the adult animals, William Speirs Bruce kept 2 live young which he transported to Scotland.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The seals, sharks, sunfish, turtle, whales series consists of photographs of:

  • seals (1 stereo glass-plate negative and 2 stereo glass-plate positives)
  • sharks (7 stereo glass-plate negatives, 1 stereo glass-plate positive)
  • sunfish (4 stereo glass-plate negatives)
  • turtle (1 stereo glass-plate negative)
  • whales (5 stereo glass-plate negatives)




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Components of this series