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The Ocean Blog

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. In many ways, the U.S. grew up on the water and...
Pirates divide up the riches they plundered. Most pirates abided by their own codes of conduct, and life aboard pirate ships was more democratic than that on naval ships of the time. Watch a slide...
This is the cover of the book William Dampier -- pirate and naturalist -- wrote about his first trip around the world, one of four that he eventually made and described in a series of bestselling...
In 1874, Reverend Moses Harvey of Newfoundland bought a dead giant squid caught by fishermen. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid featured story .
Like many pirates, Stede Bonnett was eventually caught and executed. He was hung along with 30 of his crew in Charleston, South Carolina. See more pictures of pirates of the golden age .
This portrait of William Dampier hangs in London’s National Gallery in recognition of his contribution to natural history. Learn more about Dampier, the pirate naturalist .
Master carver Douglas Chilton rides at the prow of his creation—the Raven Spirit canoe—at its ceremonial launch in Washington, D.C. The canoe is now on display in the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall...
This illustration shows whalers of the early 1800s with their highly profitable catch.
In November 1718 Blackbeard was finally chased down and killed in a fierce battle off Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. He received five bullet wounds and 20 sword cuts before dying. Then his head was...
During what is known as the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates reaped great rewards—and, if they were caught, faced terrible punishments. Learn about some of the most legendary pirates of that time in the...
A longshoreman stands in front of a large pile of oyster shells on waterfront pier in Atlantic City in 1910. Back then, oysters were incredibly abundant. In the late 1800s, fishermen pulled in 10...
Fish spears and fish weirs—fish traps placed in rivers—are traditional ways of catching salmon on rivers. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .
The next time you use any of the following words, think of William Dampier. They are just a few of the more than 1,000 words Dampier contributed to the English language: Avocado, Barbeque, Breadfruit...
On March 1, 1954, the United States military tested nuclear bombs in the ocean around Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean to see what kind of damage they would do to ships. The largest explosion was...
In the 19th century, "whalebone" was an important fashion tool—however, it wasn't made out of bone, but whale baleen . Dried baleen was flexible yet strong, and used to create structure in clothing,...
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 an award in 1910. The New York Times wrote: “The...
Dampier rescued Alexander Selkirk from Juan Fernandez island around 1708. Selkirk's story inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe . Read a story by one of Selkirk's descendants in Smithsonian...
Pirates divide up the riches they plundered. Most pirates abided by their own codes of conduct, and life aboard pirate ships was more democratic than that on naval ships of the time.
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