Map of Tahiti, c 1769.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A chart of the islands of Otaheite (Tahiti), showing the route of Captain Cook's first voyage to the South Pacific (1768-1771). From 'Complete History of Captain Cook's First, Second and Third Voyages' (1784). Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the famed navigator and hydrographer, transformed the West's knowledge of the Pacific region after making three exploratory voyages there and circumnavigating the globe twice. On this first voyage, in the 'Endeavour', the mision was to observe the transit of Venus (1769) and to seek out the fifth continent - Australia. The voyage achieved both these aims.