Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475-1519) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. He was the first European to see the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean (in 1513), after crossing the Isthmus of Panama overland.
Robert Duane Ballard (June 30, 1942 - ) is an American undersea explorer, marine scientist, and US Naval officer who has been on over 65 underwater expeditions in submarines and deep diving submersibles. He found the Titanic and many other wrecks. Ballard has revolutionized undersea exploring by using remotely controlled submersible robotic devices (including Argo-Jason; Argo is a remotely controlled submersible vehicle with cameras, and Jason is carried in Argo and sent from it to collect samples and perform other functions). Ballard founded the JASON project and continues to explore the sea.
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta [also spelled Buttuta] (1303-1365), was a Moroccan explorer who traveled through Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the Far East. A Muslim, he set off on a Hajj (a pilgrimage to the holy town of Mecca) from Tangier, Africa, in 1325 and traveled for almost three decades, covering over 75,000 miles (120,700 km) by boat and over land. He did sail his own boat, but was a passenger on many trading boats. In India, Buttuta was appointed a Magistrate of Delhi (1334-1341). He also traveled to China, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and much of Africa. Buttuta later recorded his adventures in a popular book, “Travels (Rihala) of Ibn Battuta.” He died in Fez, Morocco, in 1365.
Nicholas Baudin (1754-1803) was a French Naval Officer who mapped the island of Tasmania and explored much of the coastline of Australia (including Geographe Bay, Guichen Bay (1802), Fleurieu Peninsula (1802), Murat Bay, and Shark Bay and the Gulf of Carpentaria) from 1800 until 1803. He sailed in the ship called “La Geographe” (meaning geography in French) and did many scientific explorations of other Southern Hemisphere areas, including the island of Timor. His expedition mapped coastlines, collected scientific specimens, and made drawings of the areas. In April, 1802, Baudin met the Australian explorer Matthew Flinders in southern Australia. He died on the way home to France on the island on Mauritius in 1803.
William Beebe (1877 - 1962) was an American naturalist and undersea explorer. In 1932, Beebe and Otis Barton descended 3,000 ft (914 m) in a bathysphere (a pressurized steel sphere invented by Beebe and Barton). They descended off the coast of Nonsuch Island, Bermuda, in the Atlantic Ocean. During the dive, they communicated with the surface via telephone. Beebe wrote many books detailing this and his other adventures around the world.
Martin Behaim (1459-1537) was a German mapmaker, navigator, and merchant. Behaim made the earliest globe, called the “Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe”. It was made during the years 1490-1492; the painter Georg Glockendon helped in the project. Behaim had previously sailed to Portugal as a merchant (in 1480). He had advised King John II on matters concerning navigation. He accompanied the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cam (Cão) on a 1485-1486 voyage to the coast of West Africa; during this trip, the mouth of the Congo River was discovered.
After returning to Nürnberg in 1490, Behaim began construction of his globe (which was very inaccurate as compared to other maps from that time, even in the areas in which Behaim had sailed).
It was once thought that Behaim’s might may have influenced Columbus and Magellan; this is now discounted. Behaim may have also developed an astrolabe. Behaim’s globe is now in the German National Museum in Nürnberg.
Vitus Jonassen Bering (1681-1741) was a Danish explorer and navigator who explored the seas off Alaska and northeastern Siberia. Bering was a sublieutenant in the fleet of Tsar Peter I the Great of Russia.
From 1725-1730, Bering led an expedition to determine whether or not Asia and North America were connected by a land bridge. Bering sailed through what is now known as the Bering Strait, finding a sea route around Siberia to China. He concluded that Asia and North America were not connected (although he did not actually see North America due to fog).
On a second expedition (the Great Nordic Expedition) in 1741, Bering mapped much of the Arctic coast of Siberia for the Russian Empress Anna. Bering reached North America in July 1741. After being blown off course and having both a crew and captain affected by scurvy (a lack of vitamin C), Bering’s ship was wrecked on a small island near Kamchatka, Russia. Bering and his crew spent winter of 1741 on this bare bit of land, where Bering and half his crew died. This island is now called Bering Island. The remaining crew (which included the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller) survived by eating Steller’s seacows (which were given their name because they tasted like beef) and by building a boat from the wrecked ship. Only 27 years after being discovered, Steller’s sea cows were hunted to extinction.
Dr. Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. (November 22, 1942-) was the first African-American in space. A NASA astronaut, he flew aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle mission STS-8 as a mission specialist. The flight lasted from August 30, 1983, until September 5, 1983. Dr. Bluford is an aerospace engineer with a Ph.D from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is also a colonel in the US Air Force. He later flew on other space missions, including STS-61A (in 1985), STS-39 (in 1991), and STS-53 (in 1992). In total, Bluford logged over 688 hours in space. Dr. Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. Dr. Bluford is married and has two children.
Roberta Lynn Bondar (1945-) was the first Canadian woman to go into space. Bondar was the payload specialist on NASA’s space shuttle Discovery during Mission STS-42, January 22-30, 1992. A neurobiologist, Bondar is a professor at University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada.
Colonel Daniel Boone (1734-1820) was an American pioneer, soldier, and explorer; he was born near Reading, Pennsylvania. Boone founded the first US settlement west of the Appalachian mountains.
A frontiersman and folk hero, Boone explored the Kentucky wilderness from 1769 to 1782. He traveled down the Ohio River, and trapped furs in the Green and Cumberland Valleys.
Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972), known as the “ice woman,” was an American who repeatedly explored and photographed the Arctic Ocean; she was also the first woman to fly over the North Pole. Born in San Rafael, California, (near San Francisco), Boyd inherited the family fortune (made by her father’s investment company) when she was 33 years old (in 1920).
Saint Brendan, also known as Saint Brendon, Brendan the Bold, and Brendan the Voyager (484 or 486-578) was an Irish abbot, monastery founder, and legendary sea voyager. Brendan sailed in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling to the Hebrides (islands off the west coast of Scotland), Scotland, and perhaps to Wales and Brittany (the northwestern coast of France along the English Channel). He may have also sailed to the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa), the Azores (islands far off the coast of Portugal), and Iceland. The Irish epic poem “Voyage of Brendan” recounts his voyages.
Robert O’Hara Burke (1820-1861) and William John Wills (1834-1861) were Australian explorers who were the first Europeans to cross Australia from south to north. They both died on the return trip, from exhaustion and hunger.
Burke and Wills were inexperienced explorers; Burke was a police investigator and Wills was a surveyor and meteorologist. Burke was chosen to lead the expedition across the inhospitable interior of Australia so that the state of Victoria could win the reward posted by the government of Australia for finding a north-south route. The government wanted to build a telegraph line from Adelaide to the northern coast of Australia.
Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was an English explorer, linguist, author, and soldier. He was the first European to see many Muslim cities and Lake Tanganyika; he wrote voluminously about his trips.
Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888-1957) was an Arctic and Antarctic explorer, pioneering aviator, and US Naval Officer. On May 9, 1926, Byrd (the navigator) and Floyd Bennett (the pilot) made what may have been the first airplane trip over the North Pole, in a 15 1/2 hour flight; they flew from King’s Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is a dispute as to whether or not they actually reached the pole. He also made many trips to Antarctica.