5 Polar Waters Named After The Explorers Who Sailed Them

The Polar Regions are littered with islands, bays and expanses of water that are named after the person who discovered them. Many of these remote locations were not even known about until they were happened upon during expeditions and many more (such as Antarctica itself) were labelled as mere myths until someone physically located them.

The monikers of these brave men will live long in our history as modern travellers visit the places that now share the same name. Here are some polar waters that bear the names of famous adventurers.

The Ross Sea

The Ross Sea lies to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, in a part of the icy seventh continent that is even more difficult to reach. Like many seas in this part of the world, it is named after a great explorer that sailed there. James Clark Ross was a British naval officer who carried out explorations in both the Arctic and Antarctic including one of the first searches for the Northwest Passage in 1818. It was 1841 when he sailed into what we now know as the Ross Sea, mapping large parts of the Antarctic coastline as he went. Along with the sea, the Ross Ice Shelf, Ross Island and a species of seal living in the area have all been named in his honour.

The Strait Of Magellan

This passage of water lies between mainland South America and the territory of Tierra del Fuego. It was first navigated by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 as he carried out the first circumnavigation of the globe and now bears his name. Since then it has become an important shipping route that allows traffic to avoid the often treacherous waters of the Drake Passage. Magellan himself never completed the circumnavigation as he was killed during a battle in the Philippines. Along with the strait, he leaves behind a species of penguin which he was first to spot and a range of celestial objects that pay tribute to his excellent navigation skills.

The Drake Passage

The Drake Passage is an infamous stretch of water that lies between South America and Antarctica. It is known for its unpredictability, being tumultuous at times and unnervingly flat at others. Sir Francs Drake, after whom the passage is named, found himself sailing through the waters when his ship was blown off course, or at least that’s what some people believe. Others say that both his account and the accounts of his crew members do not corroborate with him reaching this eponymous body of water. Nevertheless, it was named in his honour and he became the first captain to complete a full circumnavigation of the world, avoiding the fate of Ferdinand Magellan and making it home.

The Barents Sea

Travel north from Norway to Svalbard and you will be crossing the Barents Sea, just like Dutch explorer William Barentsz did in the 16th century. Like James Ross, he too was part of the search for the Northwest Passage, staging three expeditions from 1594 to 1597. The third resulted in him losing his life as his ship became trapped in ice surrounding the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The men were stranded for a whole year on the island before Barentsz died from Scurvy during an attempt to make it home in one of two smaller boats. At the time, the water was known as the Murman Sea but it was later named in tribute to the man who discovered Svalbard, the Orange Islands and many other land masses in this part of the Arctic.

The Weddell Sea

Scottish sailor James Weddell originally made the humble gesture of naming the Weddell Sea after King George IV when he discovered it in 1823. At this time, it was the farthest south that anyone had ever navigated and, even though they never reached Antarctica itself, it was a great achievement. The decision was made in 1990 to change the name in honour of Weddell and his crew. The sea lies to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula and is known for its population of emperor penguins. Some of our expeditions focus on exploring this part of the continent using helicopters that can take passengers to remote areas.

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of these intrepid explorers and sail some of the waters mentioned above, we have polar cruises that will allow you to do just that. Call us today for more information or to plan the cruise of a lifetime.

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