This mountainous, ice-covered island off the coast of Antarctica was named for the elephant seals early explorers sighted on its shores. It is most famous as the refuge of Ernest Shackleton and his crew, following the loss of their ship Endurance. Twenty-eight exhausted men reached Elephant Island after a harrowing ordeal on drifting ice floes. Realizing there was no chance of rescue, Shackleton set out with five men on an 800-mile (1,287 km) voyage in an open lifeboat, heading for South Georgia, where he knew there was a whaling station. He returned four months later with a ship, and against all odds rescued everyone who had originally set out on the expedition.
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