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.

FEATURES

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Over the course of a year, Douglas Chilton skillfully chipped away at a cedar log with traditional tools used by his ancestors for generations. Chilton, a master carver and member of the Tlingit Nation,...
Whale baleen, the stiff bristly mouthparts that sieve small prey from the water...
CREDIT: Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Basque Whalers Background Having...
Join marine archeologists as they trace the history of the Trouvadore , a slave...

LATEST CATCH

The Charles W. Morgan sailing en route to Newport on June 15, 2104. Built in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan sailed on 37 voyages to remote corners of the globe during her 80-year whaling career. The Morgan departed in spring 2014 on...
Join marine archeologists as they trace the history of the Trouvadore , a...
Fish swim around the wreck of the HMT Bedfordshire , an Arctic fishing...

DIVE DEEPER

The ocean was the world's highway, and ships brimming with precious cargoes plied the waters. These merchant ships were...
Made from spruce wood and caribou teeth, this mask was worn in ceremonies of thanksgiving. It sits atop a decorative breastplate with images of whaling crews in skin boats called umiaks.
By Caty Fairclough In centuries past, the ocean was thought to be full of krakens, sea serpents, sea monsters and other fantastic creatures. They helped to bring the mysterious ocean into the more...
Pirate Captain Keitt was famous for capturing the ship known as the Sun of the East . He took the precious Ruby of Kishmoor, hid it from his shipmates and never told a soul where it was buried.
For many years, shark fin soup has been a popular delicacy at weddings and formal occasions in China. Recently, it has become clear that shark-fin removal is cruel to sharks and severely damages...
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 .
The Charles W. Morgan sailing en route to Newport on June 15, 2104. Built in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan sailed on 37 voyages to remote corners of the globe during her 80-year whaling career. The...
"This World of Ours, Does not feel steady, We keep rotating, Oi! What will happen to us?" This is one of the questions that a group of performers from the Pacific island of Tuvalu is posed to...
Published in 1882 by Yale Professor A.E. Verrill, this is the first scientific illustration of a giant squid. More about the giant squid can be found in the Giant Squid section .
Captain Kidd had a license from Lord Bellomont, the governor of New England and New York, and King William III of England to hunt down pirates and capture French ships. Read about more pirates in the...
Join marine archeologists as they trace the history of the Trouvadore , a slave ship bound for Cuba that wrecked in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841, and the ship’s passengers unusual path to...
This illustration shows whalers of the early 1800s with their highly profitable catch.
The ocean was the world's highway, and ships brimming with precious cargoes plied the waters. These merchant ships were tempting targets for pirates, who prowled the seas' major trade routes in...
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.
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...
Captain Henry Morgan (1635-1688). On behalf of Jamaica, the ruthless privateer Henry Morgan attacked Spanish cities and ships, killing and torturing prisoners. Morgan became very wealthy and was...
Rowboats were sunk in Yellowstone Lake at Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park in the early 20th century. The rowboats were used to ferry visitors and guests of Lake Hotel, and are now a part of the...
Roberts dressed in embroidered coats and hats with feathered plumes, like an elegant gentleman. One of the most successful pirates of all, he captured 400 vessels in just three years! Learn about...
Dampier was not able to collect specimens of fishes and other ocean life. But he had his shipboard artist carefully record the species that Dampier found new and unusual.
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