Fuca Pillar, Cape Flattery

Fuca Pillar, Cape Flattery

by | Aug 21, 2023

Fuca Pillar is a prominent rectangular sea stack on the west side of Cape Flattery, about 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Port Renfrew and 6 miles (10 km) west-northwest of Neah Bay, Washington. The Fuca Pillar is named for Ioannis Phokas, better known by the Spanish translation as Juan de Fuca, who was a Greek maritime pilot in the service of Spain. In 1592, he claimed to have explored the Strait of Anián, now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. The first generally accepted mention of the pillar was in 1788 by John Meares, who was a navigator, explorer, and maritime fur trader, best known for provoking the Nootka Crisis in the 1790s, which brought Britain and Spain to the brink of war.

Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States, located on the Olympic Peninsula where the Strait of Juan de Fuca joins the Pacific Ocean. It is also part of the Makah Reservation and is the northern boundary of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Cape Flattery is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state, being named and first described by James Cook on March 22, 1778.

The first Japanese known to have visited what is now Washington arrived in a dismasted, rudderless ship that ran aground on the northernmost tip of the Olympic Peninsula sometime in January 1834. The ship had left its home port on the southeast coast of Japan in October 1832, with a crew of 14 and a cargo of rice and porcelain, on what was supposed to be a routine journey of a few hundred miles to Edo (Tokyo). Instead, it was hit by a typhoon and swept out to sea. It drifted across the Pacific Ocean before finally reaching the west coast of North America with three survivors. Read more here and here. Explore more of Fuca Pillar here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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