In 1971, the department of chemistry at Stanford University produced a short educational film unlike any made before. If you’ve taken a college biology course (since 1971) the odds are good that you watched this film in class – and that you remember it. The video begins with a formal introduction by Nobel Prize winning chemist… Read More Communicating the History of Oceanography: An Experiment
By Misha Warbanski [Former public radio reporter Misha Warbanski studies biology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.] Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) is a small pelagic schooling fish that can live up to 15 years and reach 41cms in length. Its range stretches over 5,000km of coastal surface waters, from Baja California to Southern Alaska,… Read More The rise and fall of Pacific sardine in west coast waters
In the past few weeks several Canadian newspapers have covered the story of the ongoing closure and dismantling of many of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) libraries. The Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans has argued that this “library consolidation” program will save taxpayer money by closing rarely visited facilities and providing access to… Read More On the loss of historical data and the closure of the DFO libraries
Note: The following text first appeared in issue 2 of Deep-Sea Life, an informal publication for INDEEP, the International network for the scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems. Get your copy here. Since I first wrote this piece, the Journal of Environmental History has published a response by HMAP on the Marine Forum which can be found here.… Read More How might marine scientists and historians benefit from collaboration?
In the early 1950s it was made illegal to “phone catfish” in Alabama. Game wardens had discovered that catfish populations were being decimated using a novel fishing technique. Locals had discovered that they could repurpose the magneto component of old crank-style telephones to send an electric shock through the local fishing holes. The shock… Read More “Phoning” fish: the Strange World of Electrofishing
“Carpenter was self-confident, competent, unflappable …” – Ben Hellwarth, Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012), 92. The astronaut/aquanaut Scott Carpenter died today at the age of 88. In the 1960s Carpenter was an important member of the Navy’s SEALAB project and one of… Read More Scott Carpenter 1924 – 2013
What do we mean when we use the word “oceanography”? What are we studying when we study the history of oceanography? My Concise Oxford English Dictionary (a tenth edition published in 2002) defines “oceanography” thusly: Oceanography – n. the branch of science concerned with the physical and biological properties and phenomena of the sea. However,… Read More The End of “Oceanography”?
“The future is in the hands of those who explore […] and from all the beauty they discover while crossing perpetually receding frontiers, they develop for nature and for humankind an infinite love.” — Jacques Yves Cousteau A few days ago I stepped into my favorite Seattle bookstore where, for three dollars and fifty cents,… Read More The Deep Range and The Ocean Frontier
Last week I had the unusual experience of petting a shark. This is how it came about. I was visiting the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Those familiar with the history of oceanography will already be acquainted with the personage of Prince Albert 1st (1848 – 1922), arguably the single most important individual patron of oceanographic… Read More A visit to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco
If the words “ghost ship” catch your attention, then you may recall reading or hearing about the story of the Russian cruise ship Lyubov Orlova. After being abandoned when its operators went bankrupt in 2010, the Lyubov Orlova spent several years moored in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Only in January 2013 was the vessel finally sold… Read More Drifting Derelicts and Data Collection