Edward W Nelson

Edward W. NelsonBorn in 1883, Edward W Nelson was an invertebrate zoologist and polar explorer. He worked at the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (MBA) in Plymouth and in 1910, in association with E. J. Allen, developed a simple method for culturing phytoplankton.

In 1910, he joined the British Antarctic Expedition (popularly known as "The Terra Nova Expedition") led by Robert Falcon Scott, and served as a biologist. terra-nova-landscapeHe took part in a sledging journey to "One Ton Depot", carrying food supplies for the returning polar party. He also conducted tidal observations while at Cape Evans and was later awarded the Polar Medal. He has been commemorated with "Nelson Cliff" at the west side of the Simpson Glacier (71°14′S, 168°42′E).

On his return from the Antarctic, Nelson worked as Senior Naturalist at the laboratory in Plymouth, taking leave to fight with the British 63rd (Royal Naval) Division in the Gallipoli campaign, then later in the trenches of France. In 1920 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food approached the MBA to propose that the Association undertake the manufacture of a large number of "Drift Bottles", to be used in tracking the movement of the waters of the North Sea.

P2005 5 0086-masternelson1.jpgBy this time, Nelson was the Scientific Superintendent of the "Fisheries Board for Scotland", and wrote a paper on the manufacture of the drift bottles for the Association's Journal.   

He died tragically in 1923 when he was only 39 and his daughter Barbara was seven. He is commemorated in Antarctica by Nelson Cliff at the west side of the Simpson Glacier 71º 14’S, 168º 42’E.   In February 2009, Edward's daughter Barbara, by then aged 93, set sail from New Zealand on a personal pilgrimage to see Antarctica and to visit Scott's Hut in homage to her father.

Edward W Nelson seated inside, at a laboratory table, testing thermometers during the British Antarctic ("Terra Nova") Expedition (1910-1913). Photograph taken on the 14th of July 1911, by Herbert George Ponting.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott's last birthday dinner, 6th June, 1911, photographed by Herbert George Ponting during the British Antarctic ("Terra Nova") Expedition (1910-1913). From left to right: Atkinson, Meares, Cherry-Garrard, Taylor, Nelson, Evans, Scott (centre), Wilson, Simpson, Bowers, Wright, Debenham, and Day. Standing are Oates (left) and Gran.

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