What does Pascua Florida mean?
Describe the path of the Gulf Stream.
Was Ponce de León a successful explorer? Why or why not?
Feast of the Flowers
No one knows the exact place where Ponce de León first landed on the North American continent. It was probably near the place where the city of St. Augustine is now, in the state of Florida.
The men went on shore and raised the Spanish flag. As Ponce de León looked around him, he tried to think of a good name for this place. Ponce de León had just celebrated Easter with his men. In Spanish, Easter is called Pascua Florida, which means the ''feast of the flowers.''
Easter was a very important day for the Spanish, and Ponce de León was standing in a place with many beautiful flowers. So he decided to name the new place Florida.
Discovering the Gulf Stream
Next, Ponce de León's three ships sailed south, down the coast of Florida. Before long, Ponce de León saw that something strange was happening. Even though the wind was filling the sails, the ships were not going forward. They were going backwards!
Ponce de León had discovered the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a warm, fast-moving current of water — almost like a river or stream in the middle of the ocean. The Gulf Stream begins in the Gulf of Mexico and flows north along the east coast of Florida. Then it travels north and east into the Atlantic Ocean.
Ponce de León's discovery of the Gulf Stream was as important as his discovery of Florida. Later on, sailors would be able to use the Gulf Stream to help them sail north and get their ships back to Europe faster.
But Ponce de León did not want to go north, so he sailed his ships out of the Gulf Stream and started to go south again. The ships went around the tip of Florida and traveled up its west coast.
Soon Ponce de León was ready to go home. He returned to Puerto Rico in October 1513. He had been gone almost eight months. Ponce de León had not found the Fountain of Youth for the king, but he had done much more than that. He had discovered a new land and named it Florida. And he had discovered the Gulf Stream.