History & Cultures

The ocean has played an important role throughout history. Seafaring cultures arose from a need to explore and find other lands, and many coastal communities rely on the sea for food, clothing and more.

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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...

The Official Canoe Launch

At a ceremony on the edge of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Douglas Chilton and other members of the Native community officially name the canoe Raven Spirit and launch the craft. More about...

Carver Douglas Chilton at Work

Using traditional tools, master carver Douglas Chilton of the Tlingit Nation chisels a red cedar log from the Alaska forest, gradually shaping it into a canoe. More about raven spirit can be found in...
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...

The Titanic Wrecksite

On her maiden voyage the Royal Mail Ship Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic just before midnight on April 14th, 1912. Dr. Robert Ballard first discovered the ship's wreckage in 1985. Nearly...

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...
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.
As soon as Dampier set foot in Australia, he began making observations and collecting specimens of plants, which he carefully pressed between the pages of books to be studied by the “ingenious” and “curious” upon his return to England. As Dampier conducted his investigations, his artist made detailed sketches like these.

Discoveries in Australia and New Guinea

This slideshow features illustrations of some of the plants and animals that William Dampier, a naturalist and pirate, observed in Australia (then known as New Holland) and New Guinea. Learn more about Dampier in...
The "Lower Invertebrates" exhibit in Smithsonian Institution Building in 1901 included models of a giant squid and an octopus.

Still Blue After a Century of Ocean Science and Exploration

The "Lower Invertebrates" exhibit in Smithsonian Institution Building in 1901 included models of a giant squid and an octopus. Credit: Smithsonian Archives This year marks 100 years since the National Museum of Natural History...
a bowhead whale and her calf, seen from above

Bowhead Whale: One Species at a Time

In the episode of One Species at a Time , writer Karen Romano Young takes an icebreaker to Barrow, Alaska, to join in the festival of Naluqatak and learn about the intimate relationship between...

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...

Ocean Acidification in the Puget Sound

Scientists predict that ocean acidification will impact communities around the world. One of them is the Suquamish Nation , an American Indian tribe on the Puget Sound, in the Pacific Northwest. Students from the...

2011 Student Summit on the Ocean & Coasts Webcast, Part 1

Recorded Feb. 15, 2011, this video from the Third Student Summit on the Ocean and Coasts includes a tribal song written and sung by Suquamish Tribal member Bearon Old Coyote; a welcome to the...
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...
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...
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...

Underwater WWII Wrecks – Pollution or Cultural Heritage?

Fish swim around the wreck of the HMT Bedfordshire , an Arctic fishing trawler that was converted into an anti-submarine warship during World War II, and sunk off the coast of North Carolina. Credit:...

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