Matavai Bay, Tahiti, c 1773.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Carey of a view looking out to sea on the island of Otaheite (now known as Tahiti, part of French Polynesia) during Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage, from 'Complete History of Captain Cook's First, Second and Third Voyages' (1784). The tree is described as a 'new species of the Erythrina'. 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. During this second voyage (1772-1775), in the 'Adventure' and 'Resolution', Cook and his crew crosed the latitude 70 degrees, the furthest south then reached by Europeans, and visited Easter Island.