Ocean exploration

Ocean exploration is a part of oceanography describing the exploration of ocean surfaces. Notable explorations were undertaken by the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Polynesians, the Phoenicians, Phytheas, Herodotus, the Vikings, the Portuguese and Muslims. Scientific investigations began with early scientists such as James Cook, Charles Darwin, and Edmund Halley. Ocean exploration itself coincided with the developments in shipbuilding, diving, navigation, depth, measurement, exploration, and cartography.


Early exploration

  • 130,000 BC Researchers working on the island of Crete discover stone tools indicating ocean exploration capabilities of early humans dating to at least 130,000 years ago[1]
  • 4500 BC Around this time, cultures like those in Greece and China began diving into the sea as a source of food gathering, commerce, and possibly even warfare.
  • 4000 BC Egyptians developed sailing vessels, which were probably used only in the eastern Mediterranean near the mouth of the Nile River.
  • 4000 BC - 1000 AD Polynesian colonization of South Pacific Islands.
  • 1800 BC Basic measuring of the depths is done in Egypt.
  • 1500 BC Middle Eastern peoples explored the Indian Ocean
  • 600 BC Phoenicians developed sea routes around the entire Mediterranean and into the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Going around Africa they reached England by sailing along the western European coast. Although they understood celestial navigation, they probably stayed within sight of land whenever possible.
  • 500-200 BC Greeks developed trade routes in the Mediterranean using the length of the day (corrected for the time of the year) to estimate latitude.
  • 450 BC Herodotus publishes a map of the Mediterranean region.
  • 325 BC Pytheas, a Greek astronomer and geographer, sailed north out of the Mediterranean, reaching England and possibly even Iceland and Norway. He also developed the use of sightings on the North Star to determine latitude.
  • c.240 BC Eratosthenes of Alexandria, Egypt determines fairly accurately the circumference of the Earth using angles of shadows in Syene and Alexandria.[2]
  • 150 AD Ptolemy produces a map of the Roman world, including lines of latitude and longitude, the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa and the surrounding oceans.
  • 900-1430 Vikings explore and colonize Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland.
  • 1002 Leif Erikson reaches North America 500 years before Columbus.[2]
  • 1405-1433 Chinese send seven voyages to extend Chinese influence and impress their neighbor states. These expensive voyages are ended after a short time. See Zheng He (1371–1433).

From Age of Exploration to present

See also


  1. ^ Strasser, Thomas F.; Eleni Pangopoulou; Curtis N. Runnels; Priscilla M. Murray; Nicholas Thompson; Panayiotis Karkanas; Floyd W. McCoy; Karl W. Wegman (April–June 2010). "Stone Age Seafaring in the Mediterranean: Evidence from the Plakias Region for Lower Paleolithic and Mesolithic Habitation of Crete". Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 79 (2): 145–190. JSTOR 40835484.
  2. ^ a b Sverdrup, Keith A.; Alyn C. Duxbury; Alison B. Duxbury (2005). An Introduction to the World's Oceans. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 4. ISBN 0-07-252807-9.


External links

Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography

The Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography is a research program for students at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. It began during the 2004–2005 academic year. It combines oceanography, ocean engineering, maritime history, anthropology and archaeology.

Charles T. Meide

Charles T. Meide, Jr., known as Chuck Meide, (born March 23, 1971) is an underwater and maritime archaeologist and currently the Director of LAMP (Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program), the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum located in St. Augustine, Florida.

Meide was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised in the nearby coastal town of Atlantic Beach. He earned BA and MA degrees in Anthropology with a focus in underwater archaeology in 1993 and 2001 from Florida State University, where he studied under George R. Fischer, and undertook Ph.D. studies in Historical Archaeology at the College of William and Mary starting the following year. Meide has participated in a wide array of shipwreck and maritime archaeological projects across the U.S., especially in Florida, and throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda and in Australia and Ireland. From 1995 to 1997 he participated in the search for, discovery, and total excavation of La Salle's shipwreck, La Belle, lost in 1686. In 1999 he directed the Dog Island Shipwreck Project, a comprehensive maritime survey of the waters around a barrier island off the coast of Franklin County, Florida, and between 2004 and 2006 he directed the Achill Island Maritime Archaeology Project off the coast of County Mayo, Ireland. Since taking over as Director of LAMP in 2006, he has directed the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project, a state-funded research and educational program focusing on shipwrecks and other maritime archaeological resources in the offshore and inland waters of Northeast Florida. In 2009, during this project, Meide discovered the "Storm Wreck," a ship from the final fleet to evacuate British troops and Loyalist refugees from Charleston at the end of the Revolutionary War, which wrecked trying to enter St. Augustine in late December 1782. He led the archaeological excavation of this shipwreck site each summer from 2010 through 2015. Starting in 2016, Meide has directed the ongoing excavation of the "Anniversary Wreck," another 18th-century shipwreck believed to represent a merchant vessel lost while trying to enter St. Augustine.

On July 10, 2014, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum announced at a press conference that Meide would lead an expedition to search for the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, wrecked in 1565. The search area was located in Canaveral National Seashore waters, and was carried out in partnership with the National Park Service, the State of Florida, NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration, the Center for Historical Archaeology, and the Institute of Maritime History.Chuck Meide has served on the Board of the Institute of Maritime History since 2005, and was named Vice President in 2009. He is the co-founder of the Cannon Finders Club (established in 1996 in Cincinnati, Ohio).

Meide has authored over 50 research papers, reports, theses, book chapters, and journal articles.

DOER Marine

DOER Marine (Deep Ocean Exploration and Research) is a marine technology company established in 1992 by oceanographer Sylvia Earle, based in Alameda, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is developing a vehicle, Deepsearch (and Ocean Explorer HOV Unlimited), with some support from Google's Eric Schmidt with which a crew of two or three will take 90 minutes to reach the seabed, as the program Deep Search.

Davidson Seamount

Davidson Seamount is a seamount (underwater volcano) located off the coast of Central California, 80 mi (129 km) southwest of Monterey and 75 mi (121 km) west of San Simeon. At 26 mi (42 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in the world. From base to crest, the seamount is 7,480 ft (2,280 m) tall, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft (1,250 m) below the sea surface. The seamount is biologically diverse, with 237 species and 27 types of deep-sea coral having been identified.Discovered during the mapping of California's coast in 1933, Davidson Seamount is named after geographer George Davidson of the U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Studied only sparsely for decades, NOAA expeditions to the seamount in 2002 and 2006 cast light upon its unique deep-sea coral ecosystem. Davidson Seamount is populated by a dense population of large, ancient corals, some of which are over 100 years of age. The data gathered during the studies fueled the making of Davidson Seamount into a part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2009.

EV Nautilus

Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus is a 64-meter research vessel owned by the Ocean Exploration Trust under the direction of Dr. Robert Ballard, the man who is known for finding the wreck of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. The vessel home port is at the AltaSea facility in San Pedro, CA, at the Port of Los Angeles. E/V Nautilus is on a global mission of exploration. Nautilus is equipped with a team of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) Hercules, and Argus, a multibeam mapping system, and mapping tools Diana and Echo. All of these tools help the Ocean Exploration Trust conduct deep sea exploration of unknown parts of the ocean to a depth of 4000 meters.

Originally the FS "A. v. Humboldt", she was in service until 2004 for the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW).E/V Nautilus also has a SeaTel satellite communication system to facilitate live streaming telepresence-enabled outreach and scientific collaboration. Video and data streams are managed through the Inner Space Center (ISC) at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. Live footage of exploration at sea can be viewed at www.NautilusLive.org during the expedition season. Around the world, various museums, science centers, after-school programs and schools participate in exploration through live ship-to-shore broadcasts. Audiences online or live at a partner venue can submit questions to the team of explorers, the Corps of Exploration, to learn more about the mission and excitement of exploration. Educational opportunities exist to bring scientists, students, educators and interns onto the ship to learn with the Corps of Exploration every exploration season.


Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans. In human history, its most dramatic rise was during the Age of Discovery when European explorers sailed and charted much of the rest of the world for a variety of reasons. Since then, major explorations after the Age of Discovery have occurred for reasons mostly aimed at information discovery.

In scientific research, exploration is one of three purposes of empirical research (the other two being description and explanation). The term is often used metaphorically. For example, an individual may speak of exploring the Internet, etc.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, also commonly referred to as HBOI or HBOI at FAU, is a non-profit oceanographic institution operated by Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce, Florida, United States. HBOI traces its history to a 1971 entity which partnered with FAU in 2007.

Hespérides Point

Hespérides Point (Spanish: Punta Hespérides) is a rocky point of land projecting into South Bay north-northwest of Johnsons Dock, Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica and forming the southwest side of the entrance to Emona Anchorage. Surmounted by Hesperides Hill. The area was visited by 19th century sealers operating from nearby Johnsons Dock.

The feature is named after the Spanish ocean exploration ship BIO Hesperides.

Katy Croff Bell

Katy Croff Bell is a marine explorer who has been on more than 30 oceanographic and archaeological expeditions.

MV Alucia

MV Alucia is a 56-meter research and exploration vessel that facilitates a wide range of diving, submersible and aerial operations. The ship is utilized by ocean exploration initiative OceanX for ocean exploration, research and filming missions.

Office of Ocean Exploration

In the United States the Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) (now Office of Ocean Exploration and Research) is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) run under the auspices of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).

OE facilitates ocean exploration by supporting expeditions, exploration projects, and related field campaigns. The focus of OE is very broad. They act as early explorers of area of the ocean that have not been seen. The goal is to bring information about the ocean that allows scientists to formulate questions that need to be answered about the ocean based on the preliminary information. In essence, OE acts as a scout or vanguard, much as Lewis and Clark did.

The mission of OE has four components:

Mapping the physical, biological, chemical and archaeological aspects of the ocean;

Understanding ocean dynamics at new levels to describe the complex interactions of the living ocean;

Developing new sensors and systems to regain U.S. leadership in ocean technology;

Reaching out to the public to communicate how and why unlocking the secrets of the ocean is well worth the commitment of time and resources, and to benefit current and future generations.

Paul G. Gaffney II

Vice Admiral Paul Golden Gaffney II, USN (Ret.), (born May 30, 1946) was the seventh president of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, from 2003 to 2013, becoming president emeritus August 1, 2013.

Gaffney graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1968. Upon graduation, he was selected for immediate graduate education and received a master's degree in Ocean Engineering from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He completed a year as a student and advanced research fellow at the Naval War College, graduating with highest distinction. He completed an M.B.A. at Jacksonville University. The University of South Carolina, Jacksonville University, and The Catholic University of America have awarded him honorary doctorates.

He was president of the National Defense University from 2000 to 2003. Admiral Gaffney was the Chief of Naval Research with responsibility for science and technology investment for the Navy and Marine Corps from 1996-2000 and Commander of Naval Oceanography and Meteorology, 1994-1997. In July 2001 he was appointed by the President to the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, and served through the full term of the Commission until 2004. In August 2009, Gaffney was named the chair of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP), a panel created by statute to advise federal agencies regarding ocean science and management matters. In 2012 he co-chaired the Decadal Review of the US Ocean Exploration Program. In October 2014, he was appointed as the first chair of new Ocean Exploration Advisory Board (OAEB), serving until 2017. Since 2015, he has been a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine's Gulf of Mexico Research Program Advisory Board.Gaffney's naval career spanned over three decades including duty at sea, overseas, and ashore in executive and command positions. He served in Japan, Vietnam, Spain, and Indonesia. While a military officer, his career focused on oceanography.

He is the eponym of Gaffney Ridge, an undersea ridge in the South China Sea, 220 miles west of the Philippines (located at Latitude 13° 23' 00" N and Longitude 118° 32' 00" E). Gaffney also became the namesake of a supercomputer at the newest Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center at the John C. Stennis Space Center, in Hancock County, Miss., when he was honored by the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) on January 25, 2019.Gaffney is the recipient of a number of military decorations, the Naval War College's J. William Middendorf Prize for Strategic Research, the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Virginia Research and Technology Consortium, and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Navigator Award. He has served on several boards of higher education and was a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the United States National Research Council. He is a director of Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., and currently serves as a Fellow of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University, and on the leadership council of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. In 2010, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for technical leadership in naval research and development and its impact on U.S. defense, ocean policy, and the Arctic. He chaired a National Academies’ Transportation Research Board study on domestic transportation of energy fluids (2015-2017) and chaired a National Academies consensus study on the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. He is a Trustee of the Ocean Exploration Trust.Gaffney retired from Monmouth University in August 2013. His contributions to the success of Monmouth University and its athletic programs during his tenure were noted in a February 2016 retrospective.Following his retirement from Monmouth University, Gaffney has remained active in academia, and was the guest speaker at the hooding ceremony for master's and doctoral graduates of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in May 2014. On June 13, 2015, Gaffney was honored by the Aquarium of the Pacific with a 2015 Ocean Conservation Award." On May 7, 2016, Gaffney was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. At a Jan. 25, 2019 ceremony Gaffney was one of three honorees inducted into the first class of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Hall of Fame. Gaffney was lauded as the first naval oceanographer to attain the rank of vice admiral who "attained the visionary goal of making Naval Oceanography a true world-class supercomputing facility and delivered three oceanographic survey ships into the operational fleet—USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS-60), USNS Sumner (T-AGS-61) and USNS Bowditch (T-AGS-62)."

Penrose Island Marine Provincial Park

Penrose Island Marine Provincial Park is a provincial park in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada, located on the north side of the entrance to Rivers Inlet, 86 km north of Port Hardy at the south end of Fitz Hugh Sound. Comprising 1,079 hectares of marine area and 934 hectares of land area, the park is accessible by boat only and entrance to its anchorages are on its eastern side, the western being exposed to the open ocean. Exploration by dinghy and kayak are popular with visitors, as are nature viewing, scuba diving and exploring the islands many beaches and adjoining islets. The nearest supply centre for fuel and food is at the community of Rivers Inlet.

Quiroga Ridge

Quiroga Ridge (Bulgarian: хребет Кирога, 'Hrebet Quiroga' \'hre-bet ki-'ro-ga\) is a submarine ridge in False Bay, Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It extends 2.2 km in an east-southeast to west-northwest direction between Ogosta Point on the Rozhen Peninsula and the opposite coast of Hurd Peninsula at a depth of over 50 m, with depths exceeding 100 m on both sides of the ridge. It was formed as a frontal moraine of Huntress Glacier between the 13th and 17th centuries.

The feature is named after Victor Quiroga Martínez, captain of the Spanish ocean exploration ship BIO Hespérides that rendered logistic support to the Bulgarian Antarctic campaigns in the 1990s.

Robert Ballard

Robert Duane Ballard (born June 30, 1942) is a retired United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who is most noted for his work in underwater archaeology: maritime archaeology and archaeology of shipwrecks. He is most known for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, and the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998. He discovered the wreck of John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in 2002 and visited Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who saved its crew. He leads ocean exploration on E/V Nautilus.

SS Alert

SS Alert was a steamship that sank off Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia on 28 December 1893. The ship was built for the gentle waters of Scottish lochs and was almost 51 m (167 ft) long and weighed 247 tonnes.

After Alert sank the ship laid for 113 years on the ocean floor until being rediscovered in June 2007 by a team from Southern Ocean Exploration.

Submarine volcano

Submarine volcanoes are underwater vents or fissures in the Earth's surface from which magma can erupt. Many submarine volcanoes are located near areas of tectonic plate formation, known as mid-ocean ridges. The volcanoes at mid-ocean ridges alone are estimated to account for 75% of the magma output on Earth. Although most submarine volcanoes are located in the depths of seas and oceans, some also exist in shallow water, and these can discharge material into the atmosphere during an eruption. The Kolumbo submarine volcano in the Aegean Sea was discovered in 1650 when it erupted, killing 70 people on the nearby island of Santorini. The total number of submarine volcanoes is estimated to be over 1 million (most are now extinct), of which some 75,000 rise more than 1 km above the seabed.Hydrothermal vents, sites of abundant biological activity, are commonly found near submarine volcanoes.


A submersible is a small watercraft designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vessels known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is usually supported by a surface vessel, platform, shore team or sometimes a larger submarine. In common usage by the general public, however, the word submarine may be used to describe a craft that is by the technical definition actually a submersible. There are many types of submersibles, including both manned and unmanned craft, otherwise known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs. Submersibles have many uses worldwide, such as oceanography, underwater archaeology, ocean exploration, adventure, equipment maintenance and recovery, and underwater videography.

Subsea (technology)

Subsea is fully submerged ocean equipment, operations or applications, especially when some distance offshore, in deep ocean waters, or on the seabed. The term is frequently used in connection with oceanography, marine or ocean engineering, ocean exploration, remotely operated vehicle (ROVs) autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), submarine communications or power cables, seafloor mineral mining, oil and gas, and offshore wind power.

Ocean zones
Sea level


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