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Abel Janszoon Tasman
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Explorer
    (circa 1603-October 10, 1659)
    Born in Lutjegast, Netherlands
    Commanded two voyages in the South Pacific for the Dutch East India Company (August 14, 1642-June 15, 1643; January 30-August, 1644)
    Namesake for Tasmania and the Tasman Sea
    He failed in his main goal, discovering the gold-rich ‘Provinces of Beach.’
    The seas off Tasmania were too rough for a landing, so he claimed the island for the Netherlands by sending the ship’s carpenter swimming through the surf with a Dutch flag.
    The Dutch East India Company was disappointed that he did not more fully explore the lands he found and decided a ‘more persistent explorer’ should head any future expeditions. (Although, after the death of Governor-General Antonio van Diemen in 1645, the Company largely gave up on sponsoring voyages of discovery altogether.)
    He was in charge of an unsuccessful naval raid sent to Manila to try to capture the Spanish treasure ships carrying silver from the Americas (1648).
    He was suspended as a commander and fined for having hanged one of his sailors without trial during the Manila expedition.
    He circumnavigated Australia, demonstrating that it was not, as commonly believed, part of a larger Southern Continent.
    He was the first European explorer to reach Tasmania, New Zealand, and Fiji.
    You cannot really blame him for failing to find the Provinces of Beach, since they were a non-existent land that had been added to some maps based on a faulty translation of Marco Polo.

Credit: C. Fishel


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