The Weddell Sea
is part of the Southern Ocean
. Its land boundaries are defined by the bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land
and the Antarctic Peninsula
. Much of the southern part of the sea, up to Elephant Island
, is permanent ice, the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf
. The sea is contained within the two overlapping Antarctic
territorial claims of Argentina
, (Argentine Antarctica
) and Britain
(British Antarctic Territory
), and also resides partially within the territorial claim of Chile
(Antarctic Chilean Territory
). At its widest the sea is around 2,000 km across, in area it is around 2.8 million km².
The sea is named after the British sailor James Weddell who entered the sea in 1823 as far as 74° S. It was first widely explored by the Scot William S. Bruce over 1902-04.
It was in this sea that Shackleton's ship, the Endurance was trapped and crushed by ice in 1915.
The ice shelves which used to extend roughly 3900 square miles (10,000 km²) over the Weddell Sea have completely disappeared by 2002.
It is believed that the break-up of Gondwana started in the Weddell Sea.