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History of Ocean
A timeline of contributions
Something to consider…
• Think back to the beginning of
humanity. Think of all possible
reasons why humans would start
exploring the oceans (Think about
why we do so today). List all
reasons the class comes up with.
~25,000 yrs ago - Polynesians
• Polynesians began
colonizing Pacific
(Samoa, Hawaii…)
by knowledge of
waves, bird flight,
stars, smell of
water, temp,
salinity, color, and
marine life
Photos courtesy of the Polynesian Culture
~300 BC - Greeks
• inverted kettles
trapped air to dive
for sponges
Alexander the Great Diving Photo courtesy
~300 BC - Aristotle
• 1st marine biologist
• “Father of natural history”
• He identified a variety of
marine species such as
echinoderms, mollusks,
fish and mammals
• Identified differences
between oviparous and
The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio 1509,
showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right)
800- 1000 A.D. Viking
• 15- 30 m ships of
oak powered by
sails and oars
• Explored Europe,
Asia and North
• Reached North
America 500 years
before Columbus
~1400-1600 - Renaissance
• 1492 Columbus
“discovers” America
• 1519 Ferdinand
Magellan to sail
around world and
contributed to
charting the oceans
Map courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica
1690 – Edmond Halley (U.K.)
• diving bell takes
divers 50 feet
• Suggested that the
age of the oceans
could be determined
by the rate at which
rivers carry salt to the
Photo courtesy of National Maritime
Museum, London
Mid-1700’s: Captain James Cook /
Benjamin Franklin
• Cook: Observations led to
the discovery that vitamin
C prevents scurvy and
mapped islands in the
South Pacific.
• Franklin: noticed that mail
delivery from Europe to the
colonies took longer than
mail from the colonies to
Europe. Learned of a
water current that moved
up the coast from the Gulf
of Mexico (Gulf Stream).
1800 – Robert Fulton (U.S.)
• Submarine
Nautilus tested in
Photo courtesy of National Maritime
Museum, London
1831 – Voyage of the Beagle
• Naturalist Charles
Darwin sailed
around the world
on HMS Beagle
• Theory of
evolution by
natural selection
Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
1872-1876 – Challenger expedition
• 1st expedition to
collect oceanic
species from
around the world
• Beginning of
Map courtesy of TAMU
Challenger contributions
• Water samples
• Sediment samples
• Recorded temperature and pressure at varying
• Discovered, described and catalogued 4,700
new species of marine organisms
• Collected data on tides, currents, and wave
• Director: Sir Charles Thompson “ founder of
1930 – Otis Barton (U.S.)
• Barton designed
the bathysphere,
and with naturalist
Dr. William Beebe
dove 1428 feet
near Bermuda
Photo courtesy of Wildlife Conservation Society
1943 – Jacques-Yves Cousteau
• Cousteau improved
the aqualung and
invented modern
scuba (self-contained
underwater breathing
• Marine
Photo courtesy of NOAA
1960 – Jacques Piccard (Switzerland)
• Piccard designed
the bathyscaphe
Trieste, and with
Lt. Don Walsh,
reached the
deepest point in
the ocean, 35,000
feet in the Mariana
Photo courtesy of National Maritime Museum, London
Map courtesy of NOAA
1977 – Alvin
• Carries scientists
to observe deep
vents for the first
Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
1979 – Dr. Sylvia Earle (U.S.)
• Dr. Earle, in a
Jim suit, rides
the submersible
Star II to the
seafloor, 1250
feet deep near
Oahu, Hawaii
Photo courtesy of Al Giddings Images, Inc
Photo courtesy of Al Giddings Images, Inc
1984 – DeepRover
• This single
was launched,
diving 3280
Photo courtesy of Marine Technology Society
1999 – DeepWorker
• This single
allows pilots to
explore U.S.
Robert “Bob” Ballard
• Most remembered for his
discoveries of old ship wrecks
of the RMS Titanic, Battleship
Bismarck, USS Yorktown and
most recently John F.
Kennedy’s PT109.
• He is a former commander in
the US Navy and is currently
a professor of oceanography
at the University of Rhode
Today - Marine labs
• Many marine labs established in
1800’s and thrive today:
– Woods Hole, MA
– Scripps (CA)
-Harte Research Institute (TX)
- Virginia Institute Marine Science
Bob Ballard
• Under water discovery Video
• After watching the video complete a quick write in your
composition book or a blank sheet of paper
• Answer:
– Why do you think we haven’t explored the oceans
more in depth?
– What is the importance of exploring the oceans?
– In what way(s) do you think we’ve made a
sufficient progress throughout history of ocean