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Dr. James Eights (1798-1882), a native of Albany, New York, was appointed Naturalist aboard the Exploring Expedition of 1830. This was the first voyage of discovery "commissioned" by the U.S. Congress (although privately funded) to explore uncharted regions of the Southern Ocean.

Much of the literature regarding Antarctic exploration fails to acknowledge Eights' original contributions. He was the first scientist to describe some of the unique biota of the Southern Ocean. He was also the first to study the geology of the Subantarctic Islands where on their frozen shores he made the surprising discovery of fossil plants. His reports certainly influenced the work of prominent naturalists (including Charles Darwin), but politics and personal conflict fated him to obscurity.

I hope that in some small way this page helps to amend history's oversight of Eights' scientific achievements.


For an older, somewhat romanticized biography of Eights, see:

Clarke, J.M. (1916): The reincarnation of James Eights, Antarctic Explorer. Scientific Monthly February issue, pp. 189-202.


For examples of Eights' scientific work, see:

Decolopoda australis Eights, J. (1835): Description of a new animal belonging to the arachides of Latreille; Discovered in the sea along the shores of the New South Shetland Islands. Boston Journal of Natural History 1:203-206.

On the Icebergs of the Ant-arctic (sic) Sea.

Eights, J. (1846) American Quarterly Journal of Agriculture and Science 4:20-24. Glyptonotus antarctica Eights, J. (1852?) Of a new animal belonging to the Crustacea, discovered in the Antarctic seas, by the author, James Eights. Transactions of the Albany Institute, 1833-1852. 2:331-334.


James Eights was also an artist. His paintings of Albany provide important insight on life in Albany at the turn of the 19th century.