Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

David Pawson , Ph.D.
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

A distant mirror:
Deep-sea research on board the Albatross 100 years ago

Wednesday – July 11, 2007
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

What was it really like on board early deep-sea research ships, when deep-sea exploration was just beginning, when every trawl haul consisted of animals new to science? Pioneering deep-sea research from sailing ships or steamships was often perilous, sometimes tedious, and surely endlessly exciting. Strangely, personal accounts of these great voyages are rare. Newly-acquired archival materials from great marine biologists Austin Hobart Clark, Walter K. Fisher and Alexander Agassiz provide personal insights into daily life aboard the US Fish Commission Steamer Albatross, her explorations in the Pacific Ocean, the trawls full of treasures that she obtained, and also storms, waterspouts, coal dust, meals, and shore leave. From the vantage point of today, we note that the technology has changed over the years and we are learning more, but the excitement has not diminished, new things are always being discovered, and we still have 95% of the deep-sea to explore!