Strait of Magellan
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The Strait of Magellan (), also called the Straits of Magellan, is a
navigable A body of water, such as a river, canal or lake, is navigable if it is deep, wide and calm enough for a water vessel (e.g. boats) to pass safely. Such a navigable water is called a ''waterway'', and is preferably with few obstructions against dir ...
sea route in southern
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...
separating mainland
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
to the north and
Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of the Fire", rarely also Fireland in English) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South America, South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main ...
to the south. The
strait A strait is an Ocean, oceanic landform connecting two Sea, seas or two other large areas of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Most commonly, it is a narrow ...
is considered the most important natural passage between the
Atlantic The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa, Europe ...
and
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, and is bounded by the continen ...
oceans. It was discovered and first traversed by the
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
expedition of
Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan ( or ; pt, Fernão de Magalhães, ; es, link=no, Fernando de Magallanes, ; 4 February 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese explorer. He is best known for having planned and led the Magellan expeditio ...
in 1520, after whom it is named. Prior to this, the strait had been navigated by canoe-faring indigenous peoples including the Kawésqar. Magellan's original name for the strait was ''Estrecho de Todos los Santos'' ("Strait of All Saints"). The King of Spain, Emperor Charles V, who sponsored the Magellan-Elcano expedition, changed the name to the Strait of Magellan in honor of Magellan. The route is difficult to navigate due to frequent
narrows A narrows or narrow (used interchangeably but usually in the plural form), is a restricted land or water passage. Most commonly a narrows is a strait, though it can also be a water gap. A narrows may form where a stream passes through a tilted ...
and unpredictable winds and currents.
Maritime pilot A maritime pilot, marine pilot, harbor pilot, port pilot, ship pilot, or simply pilot, is a mariner who maneuvers ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying ...
ing is now compulsory. The strait is shorter and more sheltered than the
Drake Passage The Drake Passage (referred to as Mar de Hoces Hoces Sea"in Spanish-speaking countries) is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the A ...
, the often stormy open sea route around
Cape Horn Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island. Although not the most southerly point of South America (which are the Diego Ramírez ...
, which is beset by frequent
gale A gale is a strong wind; the word is typically used as a descriptor in nautical contexts. The U.S. National Weather Service defines a gale as sustained surface winds moving at a speed of between 34 and 47 Knot (unit), knots (, or ).
-force winds and
iceberg An iceberg is a piece of Fresh water, freshwater ice more than 15 m long that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open (salt) water. Smaller chunks of floating glacially-derived ice are called "growlers" or "bergy ...
s. Along with the
Beagle Channel Beagle Channel (; Yahgan language, Yahgan: ''Onašaga'') is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego, Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. The channel separates the larger main island of I ...
, the strait was one of the few sea routes between the Atlantic and Pacific before the construction of the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximatel ...
.


History


Pre-history

The Strait of Magellan has been inhabited by indigenous Americans for thousands of years. Paleo-Indians near the strait are thought to have hunted American horses and '' Mylodon''s. (2008) ''Pali Aike'', The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnha

/ref>
Guanaco The guanaco (; ''Lama guanicoe'') is a camelid native to South America, closely related to the llama. Guanacos are one of two wild South American camelids, the other being the vicuña, which lives at higher elevations. Etymology The guanaco g ...
s and huemules were possibly also hunted. Historically identifiable indigenous ethnic groups around the strait are the Kawésqar, the Tehuelche, the Selk'nam and Yaghan people. The Kawésqar lived on the western part of the strait's northern coast. To the east of the Kawésqar were the Tehuelche, whose territory extended to the north in
Patagonia Patagonia () refers to a geographical region that encompasses the southern end of South America, governed by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes Mountains with lakes, fjords, Temperate rainforest, tempera ...
. To the south of the Tehuelche across the strait lived the Selk'nam, who inhabited the majority of the eastern portion of
Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of the Fire", rarely also Fireland in English) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South America, South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main ...
. To the west of the Selk'nam were the Yaghan people, who inhabited the southernmost part of Tierra del Fuego. All tribes in the area were nomadic
hunter-gatherer A traditional hunter-gatherer or forager is a human living an ancestrally derived lifestyle (sociology), lifestyle in which most or all food is obtained by foraging, that is, by gathering food from local sources, especially edible wild plants bu ...
s. The Tehuelche were the only non-maritime culture in the area; they fished and gathered shellfish along the coast during the winter and moved into the southern
Andes The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains (; ) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western ...
in the summer to hunt. The tribes of the region saw little European contact until the late 19th century. Later, European-introduced diseases decimated portions of the indigenous population. It is possible that Tierra del Fuego was connected to the mainland in the
Early Holocene In the geologic time scale, the Greenlandian is the earliest age (geology), age or lowest stage (stratigraphy), stage of the Holocene Epoch (geology), Epoch or series (stratigraphy), Series, part of the Quaternary. Beginning in 11,650 Before P ...
(c. 9000 years BP) much in the same way that Riesco Island was back then. A Selk'nam tradition recorded by the Salesian missionary Giuseppe María Beauvoir relate that the Selk'nam arrived in Tierra del Fuego by land, and that the Selk'nam were later unable to return north as the sea had flooded their crossing. Selknam migration to Tierra del Fuego is generally thought to have displaced a related non-seafaring people, the Haush that once occupied most of the main island. The Selk'nam, Haush, and Tehuelche are generally thought to be culturally and linguistically related peoples physically distinct from the sea-faring peoples. According to a Selk'nam
myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of Narrative, narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or Origin myth, origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not Objectivity (philosophy), ...
the strait was created along with the
Beagle Channel Beagle Channel (; Yahgan language, Yahgan: ''Onašaga'') is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego, Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. The channel separates the larger main island of I ...
and Fagnano Lake by slingshots falling on Earth during the fight of Taiyín with a witch who was said to have "retained the waters and the foods".


Magellan

The first European contact in this area was evidently the voyage of
Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan ( or ; pt, Fernão de Magalhães, ; es, link=no, Fernando de Magallanes, ; 4 February 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese explorer. He is best known for having planned and led the Magellan expeditio ...
. (A report by
António Galvão António Galvão (c. 1490–1557), also known as Antonio Galvano, was a Portuguese soldier, chronicler and administrator in the Maluku islands, and a Renaissance historian who was the first person to present a comprehensive report of the leading v ...
in 1563 that mentions early charts showing the strait as " Dragon's Tail" has led to speculation that there might have been earlier contact, but this is generally discounted.) Magellan led an expedition in the service of the Spanish King, Emperor Charles V, to reach the
Spice Islands A spice is a seed, fruit, root, Bark (botany), bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring or coloring food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garni ...
. His ships became the first to navigate the strait in 1520. The five ships included '' La Trinidad'' (110 tons, 55 crew members), under the command of Magellan; ''La San Antonio'' (120 tons, 60 crew members) under the command of Juan de Cartagena; ''La Concepción'' (90 tons, 45 crew members) under the command of Gaspar de Quezada ( Juan Sebastián Elcano served as boatswain); ''La Victoria'' (85 tons, 42 crew members) under the command of Luis de Mendoza; and ''La Santiago'' (75 tons, 32 crew members), under command of Juan Rodríguez Serrano ( João Rodrigues Serrão). Before the passage of the strait (and after the mutiny in Puerto San Julián), Álvaro de Mesquita became captain of the ''San Antonio'', and Duarte Barbosa of the ''Victoria''. Later, Serrão became captain of the ''Concepcion'' (the ''Santiago'', sent on a mission to find the passage, was caught in a storm and wrecked). ''San Antonio'', charged to explore Magdalen Sound, failed to return to the fleet, instead sailing back to Spain under Estêvão Gomes, who imprisoned the captain Mesquita. Magellan's ships entered the strait on
All Saints' Day All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints, and Hallowmas, is a Christianity, Christian solemnity celebrated in honour of all the saints of the church, whether ...
, 1 November 1520. Magellan named the strait ''Estrecho de Todos los Santos'' ("Strait of All Saints") and planted a flag to claim the land on behalf of the King of Spain. Magellan's chronicler,
Antonio Pigafetta Antonio Pigafetta (; – c. 1531) was an Venetian scholar and explorer. He joined the expedition to the Spice Islands led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the flag of the emperor Charles I of Spain, Charles V and after Magellan's death in the ...
, called it the ''Patagonian Strait'', and others ''Victoria Strait'', commemorating the first ship that entered. Within seven years, it was being called ''Estrecho de Magallanes'' in honor of Magellan. The
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) was a colonial empire governed by Spain and its History ...
and the
Captaincy General of Chile The Captaincy General of Chile (''Capitanía General de Chile'' ) or Governorate of Chile (known colloquially and unofficially as the Kingdom of Chile), was a territory of the Spanish Empire from 1541 to 1817 that was, for most of its existenc ...
considered the strait the southern boundary of their territory.


16th century explorations after Magellan

In the 1530s Charles V divided South America and whatever was to be south of it into a series of grants to different
conquistador Conquistadors (, ) or conquistadores (, ; meaning 'conquerors') were the explorer-soldiers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and Portuguese Empires of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to ...
s. The strait of Magellan and the area south of it went to Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz.
Pedro de Valdivia Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia or Valdiva (; April 17, 1497 – December 25, 1553) was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, whe ...
, the
conquistador Conquistadors (, ) or conquistadores (, ; meaning 'conquerors') were the explorer-soldiers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and Portuguese Empires of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to ...
of Chile, managed to have Charles V extend his governorship all the way to the northern shores of the strait. Meanwhile, Sánchez de la Hoz was executed in Chile by Francisco de Villagra, one of Valdivia's men. The first map of the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, and is bounded by the continen ...
, Maris Pacifici from 1589, depicts the strait as the only route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


The strait and the conquest of Chile

Contemporaries differed in their estimation of the strait's significance. In Europe it was viewed by some as an opportunity and a strategic location to facilitate long-range trade, though
Antonio Pigafetta Antonio Pigafetta (; – c. 1531) was an Venetian scholar and explorer. He joined the expedition to the Spice Islands led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the flag of the emperor Charles I of Spain, Charles V and after Magellan's death in the ...
seemed to have understood his voyage through the area as an unrepeatable feat. By contrast, conquistador
Pedro de Valdivia Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia or Valdiva (; April 17, 1497 – December 25, 1553) was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, whe ...
, in a letter to Charles V, considered the strait a threat through which rival conquistadors could arrive to challenge his claims. In 1544 Valdivia commissioned Captain Juan Bautista Pastene to explore the coast from Valparaiso to the Strait of Magellan, and installed his personal secretary Juan de Cárdenas in the expedition to produce a written account of the lands discovered in order to solidify his claims before the King. Although Pastene's expedition reached only the 41st parallel south, well short of the strait, it discovered San Pedro Bay and the mouth of
Valdivia River The Valdivia River or Río Valdivia, as it is known locally, is a major river in southern Chile. It is the continuation of the Calle-Calle River, from the point where it meets the Cau-Cau River in the city of Valdivia (city), Valdivia. The Valdivi ...
, where Valdivia would later found the city that bears his name. As Valdivia consolidated his claims, he mentions in a 1548 letter to the
Council of the Indies The Council of the Indies ( es, Consejo de las Indias), officially the Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies ( es, Real y Supremo Consejo de las Indias, link=no, ), was the most important administrative organ of the Spanish Empire for the Amer ...
the possibility of establishing contacts between Chile and Seville through the strait. García Jofré de Loaiza was the second captain to navigate the strait and the first to discover that
Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of the Fire", rarely also Fireland in English) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South America, South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main ...
was an island. Valdivia then dispatched Francisco de Ulloa to survey and explore the strait, facilitating navigation from Spain to Chile. In October 1553, Ulloa sailed from the city of Valdivia in the first expedition to enter the strait from the west. Ulloa reached Woods Bay, but faced with the steep coastline and lack of provisions and fearing entrapment in the strait during the winter, he turned around, returning to Chilean ports in February 1554. Valdivia himself never actually reached the strait, as he was killed in 1553 attempting to conquer Araucanía, about 1600 km (994 miles) north of the strait. In October 1557, Governor García Hurtado de Mendoza sent another exploratory squad of 70 men under the command of Juan Ladrillero. They were charged with mapping the coastline and surveying the region's flora, fauna, and ethnography. On August 16, 1558, Ladrillero arrived in the
Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa ...
, becoming the first navigator to cross the Strait of Magellan in both directions. Colonization by the Spanish southward in Chile halted after the conquest of the Chiloé Archipelago in 1567. The Spanish are thought to have lacked incentives for further conquests south. The indigenous populations were sparse and did not engage in the sedentary agricultural life of the Spanish. The harsh climate in the fjords and channels of Patagonia may also have deterred further expansion. Even in Chiloé the Spanish encountered difficulties, having to abandon their initial economic model based on
gold mining Gold mining is the resource extraction, extraction of gold resources by mining. Historically, mining gold from Alluvium, alluvial deposits used manual separation processes, such as gold panning. However, with the expansion of gold mining to Ore ...
and "hispanic-mediterranean" agriculture.Torrejón, Fernando; Cisternas, Marco; Alvial, Ingrid and Torres, Laura. 2011
Consecuencias de la tala maderera colonial en los bosques de alece de Chiloé, sur de Chile (Siglos XVI-XIX)*
'' Magallania''. Vol. 39(2):75–95.


Spanish attempt to colonise the strait

In 1578 English navigator
Francis Drake Sir Francis Drake ( – 28 January 1596) was an English Exploration, explorer, sea captain, Privateering, privateer, Atlantic slave trade, slave trader, Officer (armed forces), naval officer, and politician. Drake is best known for Franci ...
crossed the strait, creating fear on the Pacific coast that an attack was imminent. In order to seal the passage, the Viceroy of Peru,
Francisco de Toledo Francisco Álvarez de Toledo (Oropesa, Spain, Oropesa, 10 July 1515 – Escalona, 21 April 1582), also known as ''The Viceroyal Solon'', was an aristocrat and soldier of the Kingdom of Spain and the fifth Viceroyalty of Peru, Viceroy of Peru. ...
, sent a squadron with two ships under Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. They carefully explored the strait, trying to ferret out English invaders, while surveying locations for future fortifications. Pigafetta had described the strait as a hospitable area with many good ports, " cedar" wood, and abundant shellfish and fish. In 1584, Sarmiento de Gamboa founded two colonies in the strait: Nombre de Jesús and Ciudad del Rey Don Felipe. The latter was established on the north shore of the strait with 300 settlers. That winter, it became known as
Puerto del Hambre Ciudad del Rey Don Felipe, also known as Puerto del Hambre (Port Famine), is a historic settlement site at ''Buena Bay'' (locally known as Mansa Bay) on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan approximately south of Punta Arenas, Chile, Pun ...
, or "Port Famine", as most of the settlers died of cold or starvation. When Sir
Thomas Cavendish Sir Thomas Cavendish (1560 – May 1592) was an English explorer and a privateer known as "The Navigator" because he was the first who deliberately tried to emulate Sir Francis Drake and raid the Spanish towns and ships in the Pacific and retu ...
landed at the site of Rey Don Felipe in 1587, he found only ruins of the settlement. The Spanish failure to colonize the Strait of Magellan made the Chiloé Archipelago key in protecting western Patagonia from foreign intrusions. Valdivia, reestablished in 1645, and Chiloé acted as sentries, and as hubs where the Spanish collected intelligence from all over Patagonia. In 1599 it took five ships under Simon de Cordes and his pilot William Adams four months to traverse the strait; Sebalt de Weert returned before reaching the end.


17th century explorations

In 1616, Dutch travelers, including
Willem Schouten Willem Cornelisz Schouten ( – 1625) was a Dutch navigator A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation.Grierson, MikeAviation History—Demise of the Flight Navigator FrancoFlyers.org website, Octob ...
and
Jacob Le Maire Jacob Le Maire (c. 1585 – 22 December 1616) was a Dutch mariner who circumnavigated the earth in 1615 and 1616. The strait between Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of the Fire", rarely also Fireland in English) is an ...
, discovered
Cape Horn Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island. Although not the most southerly point of South America (which are the Diego Ramírez ...
and recognized the southern end of Tierra del Fuego. Years later, a Spanish expedition commanded by brothers Bartolomé and Gonzalo Nodal verified this discovery making in the way also the first circumnavigation of Tierra del Fuego. After this there would be 150 years before the next ship from Spain would traverse the strait. By 1620, one hundred years after European discovery, at least 55 ships had traversed the strait including 23 Spanish, 17 English and 15 Dutch.
John Narborough Rear-Admiral Sir John Narborough (or Narbrough, c. 1640–1688) was an English navy, naval commander. He served with distinction in the Anglo-Dutch Wars and against the pirates of the Barbary Coast. He is also known for leading a poorly underst ...
's 1670 explorations in Patagonia caused the Spanish to launch various maritime expeditions to western Patagonia from 1674 to 1676. In the last and largest one, Pascual de Iriate led a party to
Evangelistas Islets __NOTOC__ The Evangelistas Islets (Spanish: ''Islotes Evangelistas'') comprise a group of four small, rocky islands lying on the Chilean continental shelf, some 30 km north-west of the western entrance to the Strait of Magellan, in the south ...
at the western entrance to the strait. At Evangelistas sixteen men of the party disappeared on February 17 including the son of Pascual de Iriarte.de Vea 1886, p. 587de Vea 1886, p. 590 The ill-fated men had attempted to reach one of the islets to install a metal plaque indicating the King of Spain's ownership of the territory. Viceroy of Peru Baltasar de la Cueva issued orders to the governments of
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...
, Chiloé and Río de la Plata to inquire about the men who disappeared at Evangelistas Islets.Barros Arana 1884, p. 120 However no information about their fate came forth and it is presumed that the boat wrecked in the same storm that forced the remaining party to leave the area.Barros Arana 1884, p. 119 Overall a total of 16–17 men perished in it. While by 1676 rumours about English bases in Western Patagonia had been dispelled, that year new rumours appeared claiming that England was preparing an expedition to settle the Straits of Magellan. The focus of Spanish attention to repel tentative English settlements shifted from the Pacific coast of Patagonia to the Straits of Magellan and
Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego (, ; Spanish for "Land of the Fire", rarely also Fireland in English) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South America, South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main ...
. Such a change, from the western archipelagoes to the strait, meant that any English settlement could be approached by Spain by land from the north, which was not the case for the islands in western Patagonia. In February 1696, the first French expedition under the command of M. de Gennes reached the Strait of Magellan. The expedition is described by the French explorer, engineer, and
hydrographer Hydrography is the branch of applied sciences which deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, Coast, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, as well as with the prediction of their change over time, for the pri ...
in his ''
A Relation of a Voyage ''A Relation of a Voyage made in the Years 1695, 1696, 1697 on the Coasts of Africa, Streights of Magellan, Brasil, Cayenna, and the Antilles, by a Squadron of French Men of War, under the Command of M. de Gennes'', written by , published in Fren ...
'' (1699).


18th century explorations

In the 18th century further explorations were done by English explorers
John Byron Vice Admiral (Royal Navy), Vice-Admiral John Byron (8 November 1723 – 1 April 1786) was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer. He earned the nickname "Foul-Weather Jack" in the press because of his frequent encounters with bad weather at s ...
and
James Cook James Cook (7 November 1728Old Style and New Style dates, Old Style date: 27 October – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartography, cartographer, and captain (Royal Navy), captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for ...
. The French sent
Louis Antoine de Bougainville Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville (, , ; 12 November 1729 – August 1811) was a French admiral and exploration, explorer. A contemporary of the British explorer James Cook, he took part in the Seven Years' War in North America and the Americ ...
and JSC Dumont D'Urville. By 1770 the focus of a potential conflict between Spain and Britain had shifted from the strait to
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, link=no ) is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about fro ...
.


19th century


Explorations

From 1826 to 1830, the strait was explored and thoroughly charted by
Phillip Parker King Rear Admiral Phillip Parker King, Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS, Royal Navy, RN (13 December 1791 – 26 February 1856) was an early explorer of the Australian and Patagonian coasts. Early life and education King was born on Norfolk Isl ...
, who commanded the British survey vessel HMS ''Adventure''. In consort with HMS ''Beagle'', King surveyed the complex coasts around the strait. A report on the survey was presented at two meetings of the Geographical Society of London in 1831. In connection to these explorations
Robert FitzRoy Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy (5 July 1805 – 30 April 1865) was an English officer of the Royal Navy and a scientist. He achieved lasting fame as the captain of during Charles Darwin's famous Second voyage of HMS Beagle, voyage, FitzRoy's se ...
came to suggest the establishment of a British base in strait to aid travel between the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ...
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
. The 1837 French expedition of Dumont D'Urville surveyed the area of
Puerto del Hambre Ciudad del Rey Don Felipe, also known as Puerto del Hambre (Port Famine), is a historic settlement site at ''Buena Bay'' (locally known as Mansa Bay) on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan approximately south of Punta Arenas, Chile, Pun ...
and the navigational conditions in the Strait of Magellan.Michael Morris, ''The Strait of Magellan'', Martinus Nijhoff Publisher, 1989, , pages 22 and ff. In a report the expedition recommended that a
French colony The French colonial empire () comprised the overseas colony, colonies, protectorates and League of Nations mandate, mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. A distinction is generally made between the "First F ...
be established at the strait to support future traffic along the route. Richard Charles Mayne commanded HMS ''Nassau'' on a survey expedition to the strait from 1866 to 1869. The naturalist on the voyage was Robert Oliver Cunningham.
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, widely known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended ...
requested the Lords of the Admiralty to ask Mayne to collect several boatloads of fossils of extinct
quadruped Quadrupedalism is a form of Animal locomotion, locomotion where four limb (anatomy), limbs are used to weight-bearing, bear weight and move around. An animal or machine that usually maintains a four-legged posture and moves using all four limbs ...
species. Admiral Sulivan had previously discovered an astonishingly rich accumulation of fossil bones not far from the strait. These remains apparently belonged to a more ancient period than collections made by Darwin on HMS ''Beagle'' and other naturalists, and therefore were of great scientific interest. Many of these fossils were collected with the aid of hydrographer Richards R. N. and deposited in the
British Museum The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the list of largest art museums, largest and most comprehens ...
. The Admiralty compiled advice to mariners of the strait in 1871.


Incorporation into Chile

Chile took possession of the Strait of Magellan on May 23, 1843. President Manuel Bulnes ordered this expedition after consulting the Chilean libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, who feared an occupation by Great Britain or France. The first Chilean settlement,
Fuerte Bulnes Fuerte Bulnes is a Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land be ...
, was situated in a forested zone on the north side of the strait, and was later abandoned. In 1848, Punta Arenas was founded farther north, where the Magellanic forests meet the Patagonian plains. In Tierra del Fuego, across the strait from Punta Arenas, the village of Porvenir emerged during the Tierra del Fuego gold rush in the late 19th century. Until the opening of the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximatel ...
, the town was an important supply stop for mariners. It has been claimed that Chile's annexation of the area originated from a fear of occupation by Great Britain or France. In the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina, Argentina effectively recognized Chilean
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, Social constructionism, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
over the Strait of Magellan. Argentina had previously claimed all of the strait, or at least the eastern third of it. In the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina the conflicts between two countries were settled and Argentina ratified the strait as Chilean.


Steamship navigation

In 1840, the Pacific Steam Navigation Company became the first to use
steamship A steamship, often referred to as a steamer, is a type of steam-powered vessel, typically ocean-faring and seaworthy, that is propelled by one or more steam engines that typically move (turn) propellers or Paddle steamer, paddlewheels. The firs ...
s for commercial traffic in the strait. Until the Panama Canal opened in 1914, the Strait of Magellan was the main route for steamships traveling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. It was often considered safer than the Drake Passage separating Cape Horn from
Antarctica Antarctica () is Earth's southernmost and least-populated continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest contine ...
, as the Drake Passage is notorious for turbulent and unpredictable weather, and is frequented by
iceberg An iceberg is a piece of Fresh water, freshwater ice more than 15 m long that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open (salt) water. Smaller chunks of floating glacially-derived ice are called "growlers" or "bergy ...
s and
sea ice Sea ice arises as seawater freezes. Because ice is less density, dense than water, it floats on the ocean's surface (as does fresh water ice, which has an even lower density). Sea ice covers about 7% of the Earth's surface and about 12% of the wo ...
. Ships in the strait, protected by Tierra del Fuego to the south and the coast of continental
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
to the north, crossed with relative ease, and Punta Arenas became a primary refueling port that provided coal for steamships in transit. The Strait’s curving channel, with widths varying between 1.9 and 22 miles (3 to 35 kms), experiences unpredictable winds and tidal currents, leading sailing ships to prefer the Drake Passage, where they had more room to maneuver.)


Features

Map showing the extent of the Patagonian Ice Sheet in the Strait of Magellan area during the Last Glacial Period. Selected modern settlements are shown with yellow dots. The strait is approximately long and wide at its narrowest point (Carlos III Island, west of Cape Froward). The northwestern portion of the strait is connected with other sheltered waterways via the Smyth Channel. This area is similar to the Inside Passage of
Alaska Alaska ( ; russian: Аляска, Alyaska; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state, state located in the Western United States on the northwest extremity o ...
. South of Cape Froward, the principal shipping route follows the Magdalena Channel. The climate is generally foggy and cold, and the course is convoluted with several narrow passages. It is several hundred miles shorter than the
Drake Passage The Drake Passage (referred to as Mar de Hoces Hoces Sea"in Spanish-speaking countries) is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the A ...
, but
sailing ship A sailing ship is a sea-going vessel that uses sails mounted on Mast (sailing), masts to harness the power of wind and propel the vessel. There is a variety of sail plans that propel sailing ships, employing Square rig, square-rigged or Fore-an ...
s, particularly
clipper ships A clipper was a type of mid-19th-century merchant A merchant is a person who trades in Commodity, commodities produced by other people, especially one who trades with foreign countries. Historically, a merchant is anyone who is involved in c ...
, prefer the latter. Its major port is Punta Arenas, a transshipment point for Chilean
mutton Lamb, hogget, and mutton, generically sheep meat, are the meat of domestic sheep, ''Ovis aries''. A sheep in its first year is a lamb and its meat is also lamb. The meat from sheep in their second year is hogget. Older sheep meat is mutton. Gen ...
situated on the Brunswick Peninsula. Exemplifying the difficulty of the passage, it took Magellan 38 days to complete the crossing. The eastern opening is a wide bay on the border of Chile and Argentina between Punta Dúngeness on the mainland and Cabo del Espíritu Santo ("Cape of the Holy Spirit") on Tierra del Fuego, the border as defined in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina. Immediately west are Primera Angostura and Segunda Angostura, narrows formed by two
terminal moraine A terminal moraine, also called end moraine, is a type of moraine that forms at the Glacier terminus, terminal (edge) of a glacier, marking its maximum advance. At this point, debris that has accumulated by plucking and abrasion, has been pushed ...
s of different ages. The Primera Angostura is the closest approach of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego to mainland South America. Farther west lies Magdalena Island, part of Los Pingüinos Natural Monument. The strait's southern boundary in the east follows first the shoreline of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, then the northern end of the Canal Whiteside and the shoreline of Dawson Island. The western part of the strait leads northwest from the northern end of the Magdalena Channel to the strait's Pacific entrance. This is flanked on the south by Capitán Aracena Island, Clarence Island, Santa Inés Island, Desolación Island (Cabo Pilar), and other smaller islands, and on the north by Brunswick Peninsula, Riesco Island, Muñoz Gamero Peninsula, Manuel Rodriguez Island, and other minor islands of the Queen Adelaide Archipelago. Two narrow channels connect the strait with Seno Otway and Seno Skyring. A broader channel, Smyth Channel, leads north from the strait between Muñoz Gamero Peninsula and Manuel Rodriguez Island. Francisco Coloane Coastal and Marine Protected Area, a sanctuary for
humpback whale The humpback whale (''Megaptera novaeangliae'') is a species of baleen whale. It is a rorqual (a member of the family Balaenopteridae) and is the monotypic taxon, only species in the genus ''Megaptera''. Adults range in length from and weigh u ...
s, is located in this area. This part of the strait lies on the elongated Magallanes-Fagnano Fault, which marks a plate boundary between the
South American Plate The South American Plate is a major tectonic plate which includes the continent of South America as well as a sizable region of the Atlantic Ocean seabed extending eastward to the African Plate, with which it forms the southern part of the Mid-A ...
and the
Scotia Plate The Scotia Plate () is a Plate tectonics, tectonic plate on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Southern Ocean, Southern oceans. Thought to have formed during the early Eocene with the opening of the Drake Passage that separates ...
. This fault continues southward under Almirantazgo Fjord and then below Fagnano Lake. Possibly, new tourism industries could be established in the eastern part of the strait for watching
southern right whale The southern right whale (''Eubalaena australis'') is a baleen whale, one of three species classified as right whales belonging to the genus ''Eubalaena''. Southern right whales inhabit oceans south of the Equator, between the latitudes of 20° ...
s, as the number of observations in the area has increased in recent years. On the Atlantic side, the strait is characterized by semidiurnal macrotides with mean and spring tide ranges of 7.1 and 9.0 m, respectively. On the Pacific side, tides are mixed and mainly semidiurnal, with mean and spring tide ranges of 1.1 and 1.2 m, respectively. There is enormous
tidal energy Tidal power or tidal energy is harnessed by converting energy from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity using various methods. Although not yet widely used, tidal energy has the potential for future electricity generation. Ti ...
potential in the strait. The strait is prone to Williwaws, "a sudden violent, cold, katabatic gust of wind descending from a mountainous coast of high latitudes to the sea".


Place names

The place names of the area around the strait come from a variety of languages. Many are from Spanish and English, and several are from the Ona language, adapted to Spanish phonology and spelling. Examples include '' Timaukel'' (a
hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human ...
at the east side of Tierra del Fuego), ''Carukinka'' (the end of the Almirantazgo Fjord), ''Anika'' (a channel located at 54° 7' S and 70° 30' W), and ''Arska'' (the north side of the Dawson Island). Magellan named the strait ''Todos los Santos'', as he began his voyage through the strait on November 1, 1520, the day of "All Saints" (''Todos los Santos'' in Spanish). Charles V renamed it ''Estrecho de Magallanes''. Magellan named the island on the south side of the strait ''Tierra del Fuego'', which the Yaghan people called ''Onaisín'' in the
Yaghan language Yahgan or Yagán (also spelled Yaghan, Jagan, Iakan, and also known as Yámana, Háusi Kúta, or Yágankuta), is an extinct language that was one of the indigenous languages of Tierra del Fuego, spoken by the Yaghan people. It was regarded as a ...
. Magellan also gave the name '' Patagones'' to the mainland Indians, and their land was subsequently known as Patagonia. ''Bahía Cordes'' is named for the Dutch pirate
Baltazar de Cordes Baltazar de Cordes (16th century–17th century), the brother of Simon de Cordes, was a Dutch corsair who fought against the Spanish during the early 17th century. Born in the Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , im ...
. The Strait of Magellan Park, south of Punta Arenas, is a protected area.


Lighthouses in the strait

The
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a combat support agency within the United States Department of Defense whose primary mission is collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national ...
lists 41 lighthouses in the waterway. Some of them are more than a century old, and some are declared ''Monumento Nacional'' ("national monument"). Among the most notable lighthouses are: '' County of Peebles'' hulk, the world's first four-masted, iron-hulled "full-rig ship", used now as a breakwater for the harbour at Punta Arenas; the ''San Isidro'' lighthouse, restored in 2004 and is now a museum and lodge; and the Evangelistas Lighthouse, located at the western mouth of the strait and built by George Slight, who wrote on his arrival in 1934: This strait is one of the region's most popular tourist destinations. Several cruise companies ply its waters, and the lighthouses, including Magdalena Island Light, are popular attractions.


Environment

Numerous protected systems are located around the strait (S.P.: ''Sistema Protegido''; B.N.P: ''Bienes Nacionales Protegidos''): * B.N.P. Isla Carlos III * B.N.P. Islote Rupert * S.P. Cabo Espíritu Santo * S.P. Cabo Froward * S.P. Cabo Posesión * S.P. Estepa Húmeda Kampenaiken Tres Chorrillos * S.P. Isla Dawson * S.P. Península Muñoz Gamero * S.P. Reservas Biológicas de Río Cóndor * S.P. San Gregorio * S.P. San Juan * S.P. Timaukel


Traffic

The strait provides a well-protected inland waterway sheltered from rough weather and high seas, allowing for safe navigation. Ships sail through the strait from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back, from the oceans to the
Beagle Channel Beagle Channel (; Yahgan language, Yahgan: ''Onašaga'') is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego, Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. The channel separates the larger main island of I ...
through the Magdalena Channel, Cockburn Channel, Paso Brecknock or Canal Ocasión,
Ballenero Channel * United States Hydrographic OfficeSouth America Pilot
(1916) Straits of Chile, Ballenero Bodies of water of Magallanes Region ...
, O'Brien Channel, Paso Timbales, northwest arm of the Beagle Channel and the Beagle Channel and back, and also to cross the strait from north to south and back. This is the case for all traffic between the Chile and Argentina and the cities in Tierra del Fuego, Porvenir, Cerro Sombrero, Timaukel,
Ushuaia Ushuaia ( , ) is the capital city, capital of Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province, Argentina. With a population of nearly 75,000 and a location below the 54th parallel south lati ...
, and Río Grande. In 2008, 571 Chilean ships and 1,681 non-Chilean ships sailed through the strait. Piloting is compulsory for sailing the strait. As one authority notes, "The Pilotage Regulations of the Chilean Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service ('the Regulations") provide that pilotage through the Magellan Strait is compulsory", with limited exceptions for local traffic. Who pays the fees for the pilot is subject to interpretation, however.


Navigation status

Article 35 of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an Treaty, international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities. ...
states that "Nothing in this Part affects: ... the legal regime in straits in which passage is regulated in whole or in part by long-standing international conventions in force specifically relating to such straits". Article V of the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina established a legal regime for the Strait of Magellan, and in a diplomatic letter to major shipping nations in 1873, Chile promised freedom of navigation through and neutrality within the strait.See also Chilean note to the


Notable events

Joshua Slocum Joshua Slocum (February 20, 1844 – on or shortly after November 14, 1909) was the first person to sail single-handedly around the world. He was a Nova Scotian-born, naturalised American seaman and adventurer, and a noted writer. In 1900 he wr ...
was the first documented person to have single-handedly sailed the strait. He experienced a 40-day hiatus in the strait due to storms and adverse weather, while piloting the gaff-rigged
sloop A sloop is a sailboat with a single mast (sailing), mast typically having only one headsail in front of the mast and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast. Such an arrangement is called a fore-and-aft rig, and can be rigged as a Bermuda rig wit ...
oyster boat ''
Spray Spray or spraying commonly refer to: * Spray (liquid drop) ** Aerosol spray ** Blood spray ** Hair spray ** Nasal spray ** Pepper spray ** PAVA spray ** Road spray or tire spray, road debris kicked up from a vehicle tire ** Sea spray, refers to a ...
'' in the first solo global
circumnavigation Circumnavigation is the complete navigation around an entire island, continent, or astronomical object, astronomical body (e.g. a planet or natural satellite, moon). This article focuses on the circumnavigation of Earth. The first recorded circ ...
. He wrote about the experience in '' Sailing Alone Around the World''. In 1976, American open water swimmer Lynn Cox became the first person to swim across the strait. Almost 40 years later, on January 17, 2014, Hunter Wright became the youngest person to swim across the strait at age 17. In June 2004, the '' USS Ronald Reagan'' was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to navigate the strait.


Gallery

File:BarcazaMelinka.jpg, Barcaza ''Melinka'' at Porvenir port, providing a
ferry A ferry is a ship, watercraft or amphibious vehicle used to carry passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo, across a body of water. A passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, Italy, is sometimes called a water bus or water taxi ...
service across the strait between Punta Arenas and Porvenir File:Strait of magellan dawn.jpg, The Strait of Magellan at dawn File:StraitOfMagellan.jpg, A true-color
MODIS The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is a satellite-based sensor used for earth and climate measurements. There are two MODIS sensors in Earth orbit Earth orbits the Sun at an list of Solar System objects in hyd ...
satellite image of the strait File:USSRONALDREAGANgoodshot.jpg, U.S. Navy carrier '' USS Ronald Reagan'' in the strait


See also

* Agostini Fjord * Archipelagoes of Patagonia * Bahía Posesión * Beaver eradication in Tierra del Fuego * Cape Route *
Continental Divide of the Americas The Continental Divide of the Americas (also known as the Great Divide, the Western Divide or simply the Continental Divide; ) is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. The Continental Divide extends from th ...
*
Exploration of the Pacific Early Polynesians, Polynesian explorers reached nearly all Pacific islands by 1200 CE, followed by Asian navigation in Southeast Asia and the West Pacific. During the Middle Ages, Muslim traders linked the Middle East and East Africa to the Asian P ...
* Fjords and channels of Chile *
Geography of Chile The geography of Chile is extremely diverse as the country extends from a latitude of 17° South to Cape Horn at 56° and from the ocean on the west to Andes on the east. Chile is situated in southern South America, bordering the South Pacifi ...
* Islands of Chile * List of Antarctic and subantarctic islands *
List of fjords, channels, sounds and straits of Chile The information regarding Fjords and channels of Chile, fjords, channels, sound and straits of Chile on this page is compiled from the data supplied by the National Geospatial-Intelligence AgencyCountry Files (GNS)The NGA country data of Chile dat ...
*
List of islands of Chile This is a list of islands of Chile, as listed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence AgencyCountry Files (GNS)The data was retrieved on 19 January 2013 and thwere "ISL" and "ISLS" The country has 43,471 islands, according to the Ministry of Nati ...
* List of things named after Ferdinand Magellan *
Magallanes Region The Magallanes Region (), officially the Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena Region ( es, Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena), is one of Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South ...
* Monte Sarmiento * Punta Arenas * Timeline of the Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation *
Transit passage Transit passage is a concept of the law of the sea, which allows a vessel or aircraft the freedom of navigation or overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of a strait between one part of the International waters, hig ...


Footnotes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * Based on the 1601 English translation, sub ann. 1428. * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* *Parr, Charles McKew (1953) ''So Noble a Captain: The Life and Times of Ferdinand Magellan'' New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. *


External links

* *
The First Map of the Strait of Magellan, 1520
from 1800
Map of the Strait of Magellan and Part of the Land of Fire, Prepared in 1786
via World Digital Archive *
Nov 1 1520 to Nov 28 1520 Ferdinand Magellan discovers and explores Strait of Magellan
World History Project
Satellite image, Strait of Magellan
via
Google Maps Google Maps is a web mapping platform and consumer application offered by Google. It offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panorama, interactive panoramic views of streets (Google Street View, Street View) ...
*
United States Hydrographic Office The United States Hydrographic Office prepared and published maps, charts, and nautical books required in navigation. The office was established by an act of 21 June 1866 as part of the Bureau of Navigation (United States Navy), Bureau of Navigat ...

South America Pilot
(1916) {{DEFAULTSORT:Strait Of Magellan Magellan Bodies of water of Magallanes Region