Prologue: The History of Oceanography
Geological Oceanography- the study of Earth at the sea’s edge and below its surface,
and the history of the processes that form the ocean basins.
Physical Oceanography- investigates the causes and the characteristics of water
movements such as waves, currents, and tides and how they affect the marine
environment. It also includes studies of the transmission of energy such as sound, light,
and heat in seawater. Marine Meteorology (the study of heat transfer, water cycles, and
Chemical Oceanography- studies the composition and history of the water, its
processes, and its interactions.
Biological Oceanography- concerns marine organisms and the relationship between
these organisms and the environment in the oceans.
Oceanography began to develop in the mid-1800s
Paleolithic period- humans developed the barbed spear or the harpoon and the gorge (a
double-pointed stick interested into bait and attached to a string).
Neolithic period- the bone fishhook was developed and later the net. By 5000 BC
copper fishhooks were in use.
First recorded voyage by sea was led by Pharaoh Snefru about 3200 BC
In 2750 BC, Hannu led the earliest documented exploring expedition from Egypt to the
southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea.
The Phoenicians- well known as excellent sailors and navigators
Austronesians- people who would first explore and populate the Pacific Ocean Basin
“Star Structure”- created by dividing the horizon into 32 segments where known stars
rose and set; these directions form a compass and provide a reference for recording
information about the direction of winds, currents waves, and the relative positions of
islands, shoals, and reefs.
* The Polynesians also navigated by making close observations of waves and
Pytheas (350-300 BC) - a navigator, geographer, astronomer, and contemporary of
Alexander, made one of the earliest recorded voyages from the Mediterranean to
England; he made early attempts at determining latitude and longitude. 2
Aristotle- believed that the oceans occupied the deepest parts of Earth’s surface; he
also began to catalog marine organisms.
Eratosthenes- invented the study of geography as well as a system of latitude and
longitude. He was the first person to calculate the tilt of Earth’s axis. His greatest
accomplishment was calculating the Earth’s circumference.
Pliny the Elder- related the phases of the Moon to the tides and reported on the currents
moving through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Claudius Ptolemy- produced the first world atlas and established world boundaries.
The Middle Ages- intellectual activity declined; however, shipbuilding improved. Vessels
became more seaworthy and easier to sail so sailors could make longer voyages.
The Vikings (Norse for piracy) – highly accomplished seamen who engaged in
extensive exploration, trade, and colonization for nearly 3 centuries.
Portolanos- harbor-finding charts that carried a distance scale and noted hazards to
navigation but didn’t have longitude or latitude.
Venerable Bede- illustrated his account of the tides with data from the British coast; his
tide table was entitled “Flod at London Brigge” and documented the times of high water.
Bartholomeu Dias- rounded the Cape of Good Home aka the tip of Africa
Vasco de Gama- sailed around the tip of Africa and estab. a trade route to India
Ferdinand Magellan- circumnavigated the Earth
The first hydrographic office dedicated to mapping the oceans was estab. in France in
1720 and was followed in 1795 by the British Admiralty’s appointment of a
John Harrison- built