Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Drake Passage or Mar de Hoces -Sea of "Hoces"- is the
body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape
Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea)
with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the
The passage is named after the 16th century English privateer Sir
Francis Drake, whose only remaining ship after passing through the
Strait of Magellan was blown far South in September 1578 and who
implied an open connection of the Atlantic to the
Half a century earlier, after a gale had pushed them South from the
entrance of the Strait of Magellan, the crew of the Spanish navigator
Francisco de Hoces thought they saw a land's end and possibly inferred
this passage in 1525.
For this reason, some Spanish and Latin American historians and sources
call it Mar de Hoces after Francisco de Hoces.
The first recorded voyage through the passage was that of the Eendracht,
captained by the Dutch navigator Willem Schouten in 1616, naming Cape
Horn in the process.
The 800 kilometres (500 mi) wide passage between Cape Horn and Greenwich
Island is the shortest crossing from Antarctica to the rest of the
The boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is sometimes taken
to be a line drawn from Cape Horn to Snow Island 130 kilometres (81 mi)
north of mainland Antarctica).
Alternatively the meridian that passes through Cape Horn may be taken as
Both boundaries lie entirely within the Drake Passage.
The other two passages around Cape Horn, Magellan Strait and Beagle
Channel, are very narrow, leaving little room for a ship, particularly
a sailing ship, to manoeuvre.
They can also become icebound, and sometimes the wind blows so strongly
no sailing vessel can make headway against it.
That's why it's the roughest sea in the world.
Hence most sailing ships preferred the Drake Passage, which is open
water for hundreds of miles.
The very small Diego Ramirez Islands lie about 50 kilometres (31 mi)
south of Cape Horn.
There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes
of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the
Antarctic Circumpolar Current which carries a huge volume of water
(about 600 times the flow of the Amazon River) through the Passage and
Ships in the passage are often good platforms for the sighting of whales,
dolphins and plentiful seabirds including giant petrels, other petrels,
albatrosses and penguins.
The passage is known to have been closed until around 41 million years ago
according to a chemical study of fish teeth found in oceanic
Before the passage opened, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were separated
entirely with Antarctica being much warmer and having no ice cap.
The joining of the two great oceans started the Antarctic Circumpolar
Current and cooled the continent significantly.
For more information about
Drake_Passage see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from
see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, April 2009.
All text is available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in April 2009. E. & O.E.
Back to Top
Thanks for coming, I hope you
have enjoyed it, will recommend
it to your friends, and will come
back later to see my site developing
I'm trying to make my pages
enjoyable and trouble free for everyone,
please let me know of any mistakes
or trouble with links, so I can
fix any problem as soon as possible.
These pages are best viewed with
monitor resolution set at
800x600 and kept simple on purpose
so everyone can enjoy them
across all media and platforms.