NOAA Photo Library Banner
Takes you to the Top Page Takes you to the About this Site page. Takes you to the Contacts page. Takes you to the HELP page. Takes you to the Credits page. Takes you to the Collections page. Takes you to the search page. Takes you to the Links page.
deep underwater scene

Voyage to Inner Space – Exploring the Sea with NOAA

NOAA and its ancestor agencies have been exploring the sea for over 170 years now, ever since the first lead line was cast from a boat surveying the coast for the United States Coast Survey.  This cast of the lead occurred on the south coast of Long Island in Great Bay beginning a process that has led to the discovery of great seamounts, sinuous canyons as large as the Grand Canyon, salt domes on the Gulf Coast, oceanic trenches and fracture zones, and secrets of the movement of vast masses of water exceeding those of all the rivers of the world combined.  Concurrent with these efforts to define the seafloor and ocean waters, scientists of the Coast Survey began their study of the animals of the deep sea contemporaneously with the early European pioneers of oceanography.  Indeed, among our Nation’s earliest martyrs to the cause of science were eleven officers and crew of the Coast Survey Brig WASHINGTON which was caught in a hurricane while doing Gulf Stream studies on September 8, 1846.

The Coast Survey Ship BLAKE loomed large in the early studies of the Gulf Stream and the evolution of oceanographic instrumentation.  It was among the most innovative of all Nineteenth Century oceanographic ships. The Sigsbee Sounding Machine, steel rope for oceanographic winches, deep-ocean anchoring, and the classic studies of the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Stream establish its rank as one of the foremost ocean research vessels of all time.  After the formation of the Commission on Fish and Fisheries, forerunner of today’s National Marine Fisheries Service, this function passed to the ships of the Fish Commission such as the famous ALBATROSS, the FISH HAWK and the GRAMPUS.  Like its namesake, the ALBATROSS wandered over much of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during a forty-year career and possibly discovered more never-before- known deep sea creatures than any other vessel before or since.

Today NOAA continues in the tradition of these early ships and explorers.  Two major offices of NOAA plumb the depths of the sea, sending men and equipment to places where few or none have gone before.  The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration has helped support expeditions to far-flung corners of the World Ocean; at the same time its sister office, the National Undersea Research Program, has supported both explorations and the development of new technologies.  Come explore with us as we enter the hidden realm of the sea.  Amazement and delight abound on the surface, as we pass down through the great waters, and then as we arrive at the mud and ooze and mountains and hills of the deep ocean.  Don’t forget to check the historical section as well to learn how oceanography evolved and share in many of the early discoveries...

collection viewing options banner
View ALL images contained in the collection. Click on thumbnails to view larger images.
Images are arranged by themes. Click on thumbnails to view larger images. Note that not all images are contained in the albums - select the above option to view ALL current images.

Voyage to Inner Space -- Exploring the Sea with NOAA

Ocean Exploration

National Undersea
Research Program (NURP)

instrument picture
History of Oceanography

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
NOAA Central Library

NOAA Privacy Policy | NOAA Disclaimer

Last Updated:
September 30, 2009