View of the Bay of St. Peter and St. Paul,
located near the
harbor of Petropavlosk
on the Kamtschatka peninsula.
de La Pérouse
Autour du Monde.
Imp. de la République, 1797.
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,
sailed through the Korean Strait into the Sea of Japan, on that
island’s west coast, then north where he explored
coast behind the Kurils. The strait that he found above
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
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
log, many records of the voyage, and thousands of
prepared specimens of natural history. Fortunately, Lesseps
protected the journal and artwork during his long
from Russia, and successfully hand-delivered them
to the French
ambassador in St. Petersburg. The journal was
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.