List of maritime explorers

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This is a list of notable maritime explorers throughout the history of Humanity.

Purpose of the list

The purpose of the list is to enable the reader to navigate between Wikipedia entries of diverse maritime explorers from a central encyclopedic point of reference.


A communication with other populations, commercial trade, and military missions such as establishment of colonies.

List scope

Necessarily the list can only relate to individuals and their missions which used watercraft for much of their duration. Maritime exploration has not diminished in importance with the emergence of the aircraft, and remains an important part of contemporary scientific research.

Although human maritime exploration is very ancient, only explorers known in recorded histories of their cultures are noted here. As such they represent three global maritime regions (in English alphabetic order): the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and their sub-regional seas as points of origin of the exploration missions.

Notability criteria

The list includes explorers which had contributed, and continue to contribute to human knowledge of the planet's geography, weather, biodiversity, human cultures, the expansion of trade, or established communication between diverse populations.

Although many maritime explorers also used force as part of their missions, these are not considered as a reason for exclusion from the list because it represents a subjective contemporary view of the use of force.

Ocean explorers

Nationality Sailed for Name First voyage of exploration Last voyage of exploration Arctic[1] North Atlantic Indian Pacific South Atlantic Southern
Portuguese de Abreu, António                
Portuguese de Albuquerque, Afonso                
Portuguese de Alenquer,Pêro                
Portuguese de Almeida, Francisco                
Portuguese Álvares, Jorge                
Portuguese de Azambuja, Diogo                
Portuguese de Barcelos, Pêro                
Newfoundlander[2] Bartlett, Robert                
Estonian[3] von Bellingshausen, Fabian Gottlieb           *[4]    
Danish[5] Bering, Vitus           *    
French de Bougainville, Louis Antoine                
British Byron, John                
Italian Henry VII of England Cabot, John                
Italian Henry VII of England and Ferdinand II of Aragon Cabot, Sebastian                
Portuguese Cabral, Pedro Álvares                
Portuguese[6] Cabrilho, João Rodrígues                
Venetian Portugal Cadamosto. Alvise                
Portuguese Caminha, Álvaro                
Portuguese de Caminha, Pêro Vaz                
Portuguese Cão,Diogo                
French Cartier, Jacques                
  Cavendish, Thomas                
French de Champlain, Samuel                
Portuguese Coelho, Gonçalo                
Portuguese Coelho, Nicolau                
Italian Spain Columbus, Christopher                
English Britain Cook, James 1768–71 1776–79       3   1
Portuguese Corte-Real, Gaspar                
Portuguese Corte-Real, Miguel                
Portuguese da Cunha, Tristão                
  Dampier, William                
English Davis, John                
  Dezhnev, Semyon           *    
Portuguese Dias, Bartolomeu                
Portuguese Dias, Dinis                
Portuguese Dias, Diogo                
Portuguese Dias, Pêro                
Portuguese do Pó, Fernão                
English Drake,Francis 1577–81 1577–81     1 1 1  
Portuguese Eanes, Gil                
  Ericson, Leif                
Portuguese Escobar, Pedro                
Portuguese Fernandes, Álvaro                
English Flinders, Matthew|| || || || || || || || 
  Frobisher, Martin                
Portuguese da Gama, Estêvão                
Portuguese da Gama, Paulo                
Portuguese da Gama, Vasco                
  Gilbert, Humphrey                
  Golovnin, Vasily           *    
Portuguese Gonçalves, André                
Portuguese Gonçalves, Antão                
Portuguese Gonçalves, Lopes                
Portuguese Grego, João                
  Hudson, Henry                
Portuguese Infante, João                
German von Kotzebue, Otto           *    
  Kruzenshtern, Ivan Fedorovich           *    
French de Lapérouse,Jean François de Galaup,comte                
Portuguese Lavrador, João Fernandes                
  Lazarev, Mikhail Petrovich           *    
Portuguese de Lemos, Gaspar                
  Litke, Fyodor Petrovich           *    
Portuguese Magellan, Ferdinand                
  le Maire, Jacob                
Portuguese Martins, Álvaro                
Portuguese Mascarenhas, Pedro                
Spanish de Mendaña, Álvaro                
Genoese Portugal Noli, António                
Portuguese de Noronha, Fernão                
Portuguese da Nova, João                
  Paulmyer, Binot                
Portuguese Pereira, Duarte Pacheco                
Portuguese Perestrelo, Bartolomeu                
  Pining, Didrik                
Portuguese Pinto, Fernão Mendes                
Portuguese Pires, Luís                
Portuguese de Queirós, Pedro Fernandes                
Portuguese Rodrigues, Diogo                
Portuguese de Santarém, João                
  Schouten, Willem                
Irish Shackleton, Ernest|| || || || || || || || 
Portuguese Silves, Diogo                
Portuguese de Sintra, Pedro                
Portuguese[7] Soromenho, Sebastião Rodrígues                
Portuguese de Sousa, Martim Afonso                
  Tasman, Abel                
Portuguese Teixeira, Tristão Vaz                
Portuguese or Spanish (Galician) de Torres, Luis Váez                
Portuguese Tristão, Nuno                
  Vancouver, George                
Portuguese Vaz Corte-Real, João                
Portuguese Velho, Gonçalo                
  da Verrazzano, Giovanni                
Italian Vespucci, Amerigo                
German Wallis, Samuel                
  Wrangel, Ferdinand Petrovich           *    
Portuguese Zarco, João Gonçalves                
Chinese Zheng He           *    

See also

References and notes

  1. The numbers indicate the number of exploratory voyages. A ship sailing from port through familiar seas does not start exploring until terra incognita is sighted, or a new sea is sailed confirming the lack of land — as in the case of James Cook's second voyage, when he could confirm that the Terra Australis land mass did not exist in the regions of the Southern Ocean that he sailed.
  2. Newfoundland then part of the British Empire
  3. Estonia - then part of the Russian Empire
  4. Indicates a voyage
  5. Sailed for the Russian Empire
  6. In some sources Spanish
  7. In some sources Spanish