Map of Tahiti, c 1769.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The island of Otaheite (now known as Tahiti, part of French Polynesia), showing details mapped during 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 ship's mision was to observe the transit of Venus (1769) and to seek out the fifth continent - Australia. In both cases the voyage was a succes.