Maritime history

Phoenix the right whale diving in North Atlantic.

A Tale of a Right Whale

Suspended at the center of the Sant Ocean Hall is a life-size model of a North Atlantic right whale named Phoenix. The result of four years of work, and collaboration between exhibit fabricators, whale...
Illustration of a giant squid versus a merman.

From Mermen to Architeuthis, Our Fascination with the Giant Squid

Humans have long been captivated by what we now call the giant squid ( Architeuthis ). This image gallery gives a glimpe into our fascination with the animal. For a long time, people saw...

From Sea to Shining Sea

Credit: Terence T.S. Tam from Flickr CC Happy (early) Independence Day! For many of us in the United States, the 4th of July is a time to celebrate and reflect on our national heritage...
Pirate on the high sea

Pirates Ply the Ocean

Today you can just hop on a plane and be on another continent within a day's time. But a century ago the only way to get from one continent to another was by sea--and...
This painting of swarthy buccaneers in the midst of a fierce battle was painted by the prolific American marine painter Frederick J. Waugh, and won the Thomas B. Clarke award in 1910 for the best American figure composition.

Piracy's Heyday

Pirates have been a scourge on the seas for thousands of years. But the heyday of pirates was the late 1600s and early 1700s. A long war in Europe had just ended. Skilled seamen...
Dampier explored this area of Western Australia and named it Shark Bay because of the "abundance" of sharks in the waters. It is now a World Heritage site.

Around the World Again...and Again

After the success of his first voyage, Dampier was made captain of his own ship and invited to lead the first scientific expedition to Australia (then known as New Holland). He was fascinated by...
During what is known as the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates reaped great rewards—and, if they were caught, faced terrible punishments. Here are some of the most legendary pirates of that time.

Pirates of the Golden Age

Meet seven of the most fearsome pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy. Like pirates? Read more about William Dampier , a most fearsome pirate -- and naturalist.

Battle of the Atlantic

The ocean holds a lot of history. Warships from World War II have been found on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean through the use of sonar technology and are being explored before they...
A map of NOAA's 13 marine protected areas

The Marine Sanctuary: A Safe Harbor for Ocean Life

The National Marine Sanctuary system is a network of 13 marine protected areas managed by NOAA, in addition to the Papahānaumokuākea (Northwest Hawaiian Islands) Marine National Monument. Credit: NOAA, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries...
A map of the early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Quebec, Canada

Archaeologists Investigate an Early Whaling Community

For over a decade, Smithsonian Arctic Archaeologist, William Fitzhugh, has been investigating an early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Québec, Canada . The site and the artifacts recovered here have revealed information...
two men each hold a ceramic vessel at the archaeological ex

Archaeologists Study Early Whaling Community in Quebec, Canada

For over a decade, Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center archaeologist, William Fitzhugh, has been investigating an early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Québec, Canada . The site has revealed important contact and trading...

Deep-Sea Research 100 Years Ago on the US Fisheries Steamer Albatross

The US Fish Commission Steamer Albatross (1882-1921) sailed approximately one million miles, in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and collected millions of organisms. The Albatross had a special and vital link with Smithsonian science,...
Master carver Douglas Chilton rides in the Raven Spirit canoe at its ceremonial launch.

The Sant Ocean Hall: Salmon Shape a Way of Life

You may think of salmon as a good choice for a weekday dinner, or enjoy it smoked and sliced on a bagel. But that salmon on your plate has a long and illustrious history...

Ray Bradbury and the Sea

A sea monster attacks a ship in an illustration for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Pierre-Jules Hetzel Today Ray Bradbury died. It might seem strange that I'm writing...
A map of NOAA's 13 marine protected areas

40 Years of National Marine Sanctuaries

The National Marine Sanctuary system is a network of 13 marine protected areas managed by NOAA, in addition to the Papahānaumokuākea (Northwest Hawaiian Islands) Marine National Monument. Credit: NOAA, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries...

Naturally Resilient

Coral Reefs Can Recover From Disasters. How Can We Save Them From Us? by Michael Webster, Coral Reef Alliance In 1946, the US military tested nuclear bombs on a coral reef in the Pacific,...
A manatee swims in Crystal River, Florida.

From Mermaids to Manatees: the Myth and the Reality

Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) swimming within a fresh water spring on Crystal River in Florida. Note the tree roots on the right of the frame which make up a portion of this unique...

History and Modern Science Collide for the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan sailing en route to Newport on June 15, 2104. Credit: Courtesy of Mystic Seaport. Traveling aboard the Charles W. Morgan , a 173-year-old whaling ship on its 38th Voyage, I’m...