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Drake Passage

The Drake Passage is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn and Antarctica. It forms part of the Southern Ocean. The Drake Passage has some of the worst sea weather in the world. It is named after 16th century British explorer Sir Francis Drake.

The first recorded voyage through the passage was that of the Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten in 1616.

The passage is 400 miles wide and thus is the shortest crossing from Antarctica to the rest of the world's land. The boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is sometimes taken to be the shortest distance from Cape Horn to Snow Island (160 miles north of mainland Antarctica). Alternatively the meridian that passes through Cape Horn may be taken as the boundary. Both boundaries lie entirely within the Drake Passage.

The passage is entirely open water, except for the very small Diego Ramirez Islands about 50 km (30 mi) south of Cape Horn.

Ships in the passage are often good platforms for the sighting of whales, dolphins and Giant and Petrel Albatrosses.

Older references refer to the passage as the Drake Strait.

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