In today’s photograph we can see the Gerlache Strait between Anvers Island, part of the Palmer Archipelago, and the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Gerlache Strait was named after Lt. Adrien de Gerlache, who explored the strait in January and February 1898 as part of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition. This expedition, organised by Gerlache himself together with the Geographical Society of Brussels, was the first to explore the Antarctic region in winter. They called their ship the Belgica.
The Gerlache’s expedition set sail from Antwerp, in Belgium, on 16 August 1897 and reached the coast of Graham Land, in the Artactic Peninsula on January 1898. They crossed the Antarctic Circle on 15 February 1898 but on 28 February 1898, the expedition became trapped in the ice of the Bellinghausen Sea. Despite the efforts of the crew to free the ship, they were forced to spend the winter on Antarctica.
After months of hardship, the crew used dynamite and various tools to create a channel which allowed the Belgica to escape the ice. On February 1899, they managed to slowly start down the channel they had cleared during the weeks before. It took them nearly a month to cover seven miles, and on 14 March they cleared the ice. The expedition returned to Antwerp on 5 November 1899.