- Published: 12 March 2009
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David Rogers, age 12 , of Hope, Rhode Island, for his question:
Who discovered the Pacific Ocean?
This is impossible to say because the Pacific has been discovered many times. The first to discover it must have been the people who lived along its shores, long ages before recorded history. Thousands of years ago, various Polynesian peoples crossed vast stretches of the Pacific and settled on its islands. Others crossed from southeast Asia to Australia. These peoples of the dim past were familiar with the Pacific and their voyages across its vast expanse were astounding.
So far as we know, Marco Polo was the first European to see the Pacific. This was in the 1200s and its western shores were well known to his Chinese hosts. In 1513, the Spanish explorer Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama. From a hilltop he saw the eastern side of the Pacific. But thousands of years before this, the Amerindians had made the west east crossing at the Bering Strait.