For almost two centuries, the South Pole drew armadas of explorer's and exploiters down to the far latitudes in search of Antarctica. But the land guarded itself against detection with rough seas that shot waves a hundred feet high, frost mists that obscured visibility and icebergs patrolling the waters. Who dared to enter these waters? The first forays carried the curious and the adventurous, but the abundant wildlife soon brought the hunters and traders. The fur seals of the Antarctic and the elephant seals of the South Georgia, South Sandwich and other islands, near the Convergence were all but exterminated for their skins and blubber. According to estimates made by the Antarctic explorer James Weddell, 320,000 sealskins and 940 tons of elephant seal oil were taken at the South Shetlands in just two seasons.