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Whale baleen, the stiff bristly mouthparts that sieve small prey from the water, was strong yet flexible, and was used to provide structure in many human products, including umbrellas, corsets, and whips. Right whales...
CREDIT: Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Basque Whalers Background Having...
Join marine archeologists as they trace the history of the Trouvadore , a slave...
Bikini Atoll, formed over millions of years around an island in the Pacific...

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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. Originally part of Great Britain's Royal Navy, it was sent to assist the United...
This 1874 photo of a squid draped over a bathtub was the first ever taken of...
In the 19th century, "whalebone" was an important fashion tool—however, it...

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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 Ocean Blog

Sometimes I think that our planet Earth, named for the Old English word for “dry land” (eorthe), should get a new name. Despite our knowledge that more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface is...
Excavations between 2002 through 2011 at Hare Harbor have shown that this site was a whaling and fishing station occupied by Basque and Inuit assistants ca. 1680-1730. Archaeologists have uncovered a...
This watercolor painting shows William Dampier venturing into the unknown aboard a pirate ship.
In 1699, accompanied by a shipboard artist, William Dampier conducted the first scientific investigation of the plants and animals of Australia (then known as New Holland). From there he and his crew...
[[nid:3629]] Terror on the High Seas Flaunting flags emblazoned with skulls and crossbones, pirate ships roamed the seas in pursuit of likely prey. The ships carried fearsome men (and sometimes women...
A fisherman in Papua New Guinea shows his catch for a ceremonial feast. Communities there are successfully managing their local reefs by observing temporary fishing closures that end in time to...
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.
Yes, there were women pirates! And Bonny (left) and Read were among the most famous. Dressed in men’s clothes, they fought side-by-side with other pirates—many of whom believed the two women were men...
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 mysterious...
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,...
Smithsonian surveys along the lower north shore of Hare Harbor in Quebec, Canada have revealed evidence of a long history of Native American occupation, beginning with the Maritime Archaic Indian...
The arrows show the direction of ocean currents recorded by William Dampier while crossing “La Grande Mer du Sud”—the Pacific Ocean. The map appeared in Dampier’s second book, Voyages and...
Blackbeard’s flag showed a skeleton piercing a heart and toasting the devil. Watch a slideshow about legendary pirates of the Golden Age , and learn more about an unusual pirate: William Dampier ,...
Yankee Whalers: An 1856 Currier & Ives print shows whalers harpooning a right whale. More about whales can be found in our Tale of a Whale photo essay .
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...
Sea ice is typically viewed as the domain of physical and natural scientists, the oceanographers, marine biologists, climate modelers, and navigators of the world. It is easy to forget another...
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.
During whale hunts, this carved whale box stored harpoon blades like the three shown beside it. "Living" inside the box was meant to give the blades spiritual powers to carry a harpoon back to the...
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