FUCA (sometimes called Apostolos Valerianos or Phokus Valerianatos), JUAN DE, Greek seaman and explorer; b. 1536 at Valeriano on the island of Cephalonia (Ionian Islands); d. there 1602.
Fuca, according to a statement made by him in 1596, had served the king of Spain for 40 years as a mariner and pilot in the Americas. It appears that he was in Mexico from 1588 to 1593 or 1594; and he later claimed that in 1592 he was sent by the viceroy of Mexico to sail north along the California coast in search of the “Strait of Anian” which was reputed to connect the South Seas with the northwest passage. His story was that between latitudes 47° and 48° he found a broad inlet up which he sailed as far as the “North Sea” (Arctic Ocean) before turning back. Though the strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland bears his name, his story is obviously open to serious question. It was circulated in the late 16th century by Michael Lok, an important English merchant promoter of exploration who had helped to finance Frobisher’s voyages. Lok tried unsuccessfully to get assistance from the English government to bring Fuca to England so that he could pursue his explorations under the English flag. Lok’s account of his meeting with Fuca appears in Purchas, Pilgrimes (1905–7), XIV, and is reprinted in H. R. Wagner, “Apocryphal voyages to the Northwest coast of America,” Amer. Antiquarian Soc. Proc. new ser., XLI (1931), 179–234.