The Northwest Passage Facts

The Northwest Passage Facts
The Northwest Passage is a sea route that travels along the North America's northern coast, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Arctic Ocean. The Northwest Passage passes through the Canadian Archipelago. The southern route that was explored in 1854 by John Rae, a Scotsman, became the route that was first passed through completely in 1903-1906 by Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian. Up until 2009 it was not possible for marine shipping to take place most of the year due to the Arctic ice. Because the amount of ice has declined there are more routes open for more time during the year.
Interesting The Northwest Passage Facts:
Many of the original explorers of the Northwest Passage have been memorialized through naming of places and water bodies, such as Sir Henry Hudson (Hudson Bay), William Baffin (Baffin Island and Baffin Bay), and Frederick William Beechey (Beechey Island).
Countries continue to debate who owns the water making up the Northwest Passage. Canada and the United States debate this issue constantly.
Baffin Island, the world's fifth largest island, is found in the waters of the Northwest Passage. Animals found on this island include arctic wolves, polar bears, and caribou.
When the Panama Canal was built in the early 1900s it took some of the pressure off countries to find a shorter transportation route from the west to the east. But the Northwest Passage is still considered to be a route worth using, especially as ice packs begin to melt with warmer temperatures.
In the Canadian Archipelago portion of the Northwest Passage there are more than 36,500 islands that must be navigated through. At least 94 of these islands are more than 50 square miles in size, creating a sizable detour.
Using the Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia cuts 2,500 miles from the regular shipping route.
The Northwest Passage is becoming a popular tourist destination for cruises of people that wish to see ice bergs in the far north.
The gray whale, which was hunted to the point of being extinct in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1700s was seen in the Mediterranean in 2010. It is believed that it followed food right through the Northwest Passage and eventually wound up in the Mediterranean Sea.
A plankton known as Neodenticula which vanished from the Atlantic Ocean roughly 800,000 years ago has been found to be in the Northwest Passage. Scientists believe it arrived once the passage was reopened due to warming waters and less ice cover.
Due to the expensive investment in escort vessels for ships the Canadian commercial marine transport industry does not believe that the Northwest Passage will prove to be a viable alternative to the Panama Canal for as many as two decades to come.
In 2006, following the news that the US had sent two nuclear submarines through Canadian Arctic Waters, without announcing the voyage, Canada's Joint Task Force declared the Northwest Passage to be Canadian Internal Waters.
The debate over the use of the Northwest Passage continues, with both the U.S. and Canada trying to establish rights to its use.

Related Links:
Seas Facts
Animals Facts