Luis Vaez de Torres

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Torres, Luis Vaez de


Born 1560; died 1614(7). Spanish navigator.

In 1605, Torres, as commander of one of the three ships in the expedition of P. F. de Quirós, set sail from Callao, Peru, in search of the “Unknown Southern Land” (Terra australis incognita) in the Pacific Ocean. After the expedition discovered several islands of the Tuamotu and New Hebrides groups, Quirós returned to the Americas, but Torres and the commander of the expedition’s third ship, Diego de Prado y Tobar, remained to explore the Hebrides for another year. The two then headed west, becoming the first to cross the Coral Sea. After discovering the southern coast of New Guinea and the strait between New Guinea and Australia (named the Torres Strait in 1769), they arrived in Manila, the Philippines.

Also named after Torres is a group of islands in the northern part of the New Hebrides.


Svet, Ia. M. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Prado y Tovar had been the captain of the San Pedro y San Pablo and second in command of the expedition, but transferred to the almiranta (admiral's ship), the San Pedrico, captained by Luis Vaez de Torres, shortly before Quiros abandoned the expedition on 11 June 1606.
European history records the islands were first observed by Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606, but Malay and Chinese sailors are likely to have visited long before westerners arrived.
In her new book, the author recounts the Pacific expeditions undertaken by the Spanish navigators Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa and Alvaro de Mendana [1567-1569], Mendana and Pedro Fernandez de Quiros [1595-1596], and Quiros and Luis Vaez de Torres [1605-1616].
Within a broader Torres Strait context, this first radiocarbon result sheds little new light on the antiquity of turtle-shell masks; the Luis Vaez de Torres expedition revealed that the tradition of turtle-shell mask manufacture is at least 400 years old.