Bellot Strait is a narrow channel separating the North American mainland (Boothia Peninsula) from Somerset Island. Point Zenith, located halfway through the strait marks the northernmost point of mainland North America. The passage was discovered in 1852 by Captain William Kennedy, then commanding an expedition searching for Sir John Franklin, and Joseph Rene Bellot, a French naval officer and arctic explorer who was Kennedy's second-in-command. Bellot died in the Arctic a year later, aged 26. Bellot Strait is narrow (3-13 km wide and only 48 km long), so narrow in fact that it was missed by explorer John Ross when he passed by the area in 1829. The channel scenery is spectacular with both the north and south shores rising up steeply to almost 750 m in some places.
Off the strait is Prince Regent Inlet, another summer feeding ground for narwhal and beluga, both rare and unusual marine mammals that summer in this region. Male narwhals (and a few rare females) produce an unusually long single tooth that can grow over two metres long. Made of ivory, this tooth was highly prized by Europeans during the period of exploration. The source of narwhal ivory was obscured by the legend of the unicorn, which served to protect the profits of those in the know.
At the exit to the strait is Depot Bay and the abandoned Hudson's Bay Company trading post established at Fort Ross. It was the last trading post built by the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada's Arctic. It was meant to bridge the eastern and western Arctic fur trading districts through the Bellot Strait. The hills and shoreline around Fort Ross bear signs of Dorset and Thule habitation, attesting to centuries and perhaps thousands of years of seasonal camps - obviously a good place to trade.
The following 5 cruises call at Bellot Strait.
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