Ocean exploration

Ocean exploration

Ocean exploration is a part of oceanography describing the exploration of ocean surfaces. Notable explorations were untaken by the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Polynesians, the Phoenicians, Phytheas, Herodotus, the Vikings, and the Portuguese. Scientific investigations began with such early scientists 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 B.C. Researchers working on the island of Crete discover stone tools indicating ocean exploration capabilities of pre-human ancestors dating to at least 130,000 years ago [1]
  • 4500 B.C. 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 B.C. Egyptians developed sailing vessels, which were probably used only in the eastern Mediterranean near the mouth of the Nile River.
  • 4000 B.C. - 1000 A.D. Polynesian colonization of South Pacific Islands.
  • 1800 B.C. Basic measuring of the depths is done in Egypt.
  • 1500 B.C. Middle Eastern peoples explored the Indian Ocean
  • 600 B.C. 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 B.C. Greeks developed trade routes in the Mediterranean using the length of the day (corrected for the time of the year) to estimate latitude.
  • 450 B.C. Herodotus publishes a map of the Mediterranean region.
  • 325 B.C. 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 B.C. Eratosthenes of Alexandria, Egypt determines fairly accurately the circumference of the Earth using angles of shadows in Syene and Alexandria.[2]
  • 150 A.D. 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 A.D. 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 and 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. 
  2. ^ a b Sverdrup, Keith A.; Alyn C. Duxbury and Alison B. Duxbury (2005). An Introduction to the World's Oceans. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 4.  


  • NOAA, Interactive Timeline of significant and interesting events throughout the 200-year history of NOAA and its predecessor organizations.
  • SeaSky.org - Ocean Exploration Timeline with Credits & Sources
  • NOAA - Sounding Pole to Sea Beam
  • History of Ocean Exploration
  • USC Earth Sciences, History of Oceanography
  • skb's virtual cave - Notable oceanographic expeditions

External links

  • Ocean Explorer - Public outreach site for explorations sponsored by the Office of Ocean Exploration.
  • NOAA, Ocean Explorer History
  • NOAA, Ocean Explorer Gallery - A rich collection of images, video, audio and podcast.
  • NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration
  • Deep-sea exploration