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Scientific Circumnavigations 1679 to 1859
  The Voyage of La Pérouse 1785-1788

View of the Bay of St. Peter and St. Paul,
located near the harbor of Petropavlosk
on the Kamtschatka peninsula.

from Voyage de La Pérouse Autour du Monde.
Paris: Imp. de la République, 1797.

La Pérouse made his most impressive achievements during his remarkable survey of the northeast coast of Asia. While Cook had remained to the east of the Kuril Islands and of Japan, La Pérouse sailed through the Korean Strait into the Sea of Japan, on that island’s west coast, then north where he explored the Russian coast behind the Kurils. The strait that he found above the northern tip of Japan that leads into the Okhotsk Sea is named after him. Sailing through the Kurils and into the Pacific Ocean, he finally arrived at Kamtschatka, the Russian peninsula that lies between Japan and the Bering Strait. The city of Petropavlosk on its southeast coast served as the point of departure to the South Pacific as the voyage continued its world tour, having accomplished its main mission.


What history would record of three years of scientific work performed during the expedition, hinged on that anchorage. For Barthélemy de Lesseps, who had served as Russian interpreter for the voyage, disembarked there with the journal of La Pérouse, and then the ships were lost in the South Pacific Ocean. They took nearly a hundred lives with them, along with the captain’s log, many records of the voyage, and thousands of meticulously prepared specimens of natural history. Fortunately, Lesseps protected the journal and artwork during his long journey overland from Russia, and successfully hand-delivered them to the French ambassador in St. Petersburg. The journal was faithfully edited by Marie Louis Antoine Milet-Mureau, and the artwork was made into copperplates. This work, with its beautiful engravings, serves as a lasting monument to the crew.


La Pérouse: Page 4 of 7.
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la perouse | freycinet | duperrey | d'urville | laplace | vaillant
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