Oceanography, perhaps more than any other scientific discipline, is dependent upon a group of instruments that are both extremely rugged and extremely accurate. These instruments can include dredges and tow sleds, hull-mounted instruments, water sampling bottles, temperature measuring devices, acoustic measuring and monitoring devices, chemical sniffers, and a whole host of other instruments designed to observe various natural or human-caused phenomena or capture samples of the creatures of the deep. Oceanographic instruments have to survive and function properly in extreme conditions. Pressures can exceed hundreds of atmospheres (one atmosphere increase per ten meters of water depth); temperatures can change up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit causing expansion and contraction of various metallic operating parts; the instruments themselves are occasionally subjected to attack by various marine creatures during deployment; ropes and lines used to transport instrument packages through the water column or tow instrument arrays can be fouled on bottom features or broken merely because of fatigue; and a plethora of additional problems can plague the scientist who dares to put his instruments in the ocean.
But yet, curious scientists have persevered for well over 150 years in daring the deep. This section is devoted to the instruments used by oceanographers of the past. The NOAA Photo Library is indebted to Dr. Christian Carpine, former curator of the Oceanographic Museum at Monaco, for making these images available. All of these images are of instruments residing in the Oceanographic Museum at Monaco, a great work and edifice established by Prince Albert I of Monaco, a man who dedicated much of his life to studying the sea and sharing his knowledge and wisdom with humankind.