After 29 days out of sight of land, on October 7, 1492, the crew spotted “[i]mmense flocks of birds”, some of which his sailors trapped and determined to be “field” birds (probably Eskimo curlews and American golden plovers). Columbus changed course to follow their flight.
Land was sighted at 2 a.m. on October 12, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodriguez Bermejo) aboard La Pinta. Columbus would later assert that he had first seen the land and, thus, earned the reward of 10,000 maravedís. Columbus called the island San Salvador, in present day the Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos, although the indigenous residents had already named it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, Grand Turk, or San Salvador Island (named San Salvador in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus’ San Salvador). READ MORE