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MALASPINA, Alejandro (mah-lah-spee'-nah), Spanish naval officer, born in Andalusia about 1750; died in Cadiz about 1810. Little is known of his early life, but he had acquired a reputation as a scientist and a thorough cosmographer, and in 1789 was appointed to the chief command of an expedition to explore and ascertain the exact geographical position of the Spanish possessions in the Pacific. The expedition consisted of the two frigates "Atrevida" and "Descubierta," and left Cadiz 30 July, 1789, touching at Montevideo on 20 September, and at Cape Horn on 13 November It explored the Pacific coast in detail and the natural history of the different colonies up to Acapulco in Mexico. Malaspina left that place on 1 May, 1791, with orders to explore the northeast passage to the Atlantic, which, according to documents that had been recently discovered about Lorenzo Ferrelo's (q. v.) voyage in 1558, ought to exist at 60º north latitude. On 24 June he came in sight of the coast at 57º and entered Bering's bay, discovering at 59º 45' an inlet which he supposed to be the passage he was looking for; but, finding it closed by land, he called it Port Desengano. After entering Port Mulgrave and passing Cape Saint Elias, Malaspina was convinced that there was no northeast passage to the Atlantic, and with Captain Bustamante, of the "Atrevida," and the officers and pilots of the two vessels, he signed a declaration that from Cape Fairweather to Prince William's sound no strait had been found. He now turned southward, and reached Acapulco, 19 October, 1791, after taking during the whole passage observations of the pendulum to determine the true figure of the earth. From Acapulco he sailed for the Marianne and Philippine islands, touched at Macao, and, after exploring the coasts of Australia, returned to Spain, arriving in Cadiz, 21 September, 1794.
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