Baffin, William, c.1584-1622, British arctic explorer. He was pilot on two expeditions (1615-16) sent out to search for the Northwest Passage under command of Robert Bylot, who was formerly with Henry Hudson. The first expedition vainly tried to find a channel in Hudson Bay N of Southampton Island. The second attempt, NW through Davis Strait, led to exploration of what was later called Baffin Bay and the northeast shore of Baffin Island. The existence of Baffin Bay was discredited until 1818 when Sir John Ross confirmed Baffin's discovery and observations. Baffin's conviction that the Northwest Passage did not exist discouraged arctic exploration for a time. His narratives were edited by Sir Clements Markham in 1881.

Largest island in Canada and fifth largest island in the world (183,810 sq mi [476,068 sq km]), lying between Greenland and the Canadian mainland. Located west of Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait, it is administered as part of Nunavut territory. It was probably visited by Norse explorers in the 11th century. It was sighted by Martin Frobisher during his search for a Northwest Passage (1576–78). It is uninhabited except for a few coastal settlements. The world's northernmost mines are at Nanisvik. In 1972 Auyuittuq National Park was created on the eastern coast.

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Large inlet, Atlantic Ocean, between western Greenland and eastern Baffin Island. With an area of 266,000 sq mi (689,000 sq km), it extends 900 mi (1,450 km) southward from the Arctic and is connected to the Atlantic by Davis Strait. It was visited by the English captain Robert Bylot in 1615 and named for his lieutenant, William Baffin. Its climate is severe, and icebergs are dense even in August.

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