Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 15 Issue 02

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Volume 15, No. 2
Pages 36 - 47

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In the summer of 1775 a lone frigate, commanded by Bruno de Hezeta, sailed southward along the west coast of a land which would eventually become the United States of America. Hezeta, a first lieutenant in the Spanish Royal Navy, had secretly been sent north from California to claim land on the Northwest coast before Russia could claim the land. On the return voyage to Monterey, his diary entry for 18 August 1775 described the coastal region between 44° and 45°N:

This land is mountainous but not very elevated, nor as well-forested as that from latitude 48°30' down to 46°. In sounding l found considerable difference, for at a distance o,fseven leagues [about 21 nautical miles] I sounded in 84 varas [vara is the Spanish term for yard, equivalent to 33 English inches, or 0.838 m] but as I approached the coast I sometimes found no bottom. This leads me to believe there are some reefs or sandbanks on this coast, which is also shown by the color of the water. In some places the coast ends in a beach, and in oth- ers in steep cliffs. (Beals, 1985, p. 89)


Batchelder, H.P., J.A. Barth, P.M. Kosro, P.T. Strub, R.D. Brodeur, W.T. Peterson, C.T. Tynan, M.D. Ohman, L.W. Botsford, T.M. Powell, F.B. Schwing, D.G. Ainley, D.L. Mackas, B.M. Hickey, and S.R. Ramp. 2002. The GLOBEC Northeast Pacific California Current System Program. Oceanography 15(2):36–47, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2002.20.

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