Welcome Smithsonian Sant Ocean Hall Visitors

The mission of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries is to serve as the trustee for the nation's system of marine protected areas, to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy. View these underwater treasures!

Historical Ecology Within National Marine Sanctuaries

Archival data offers useful information about marine ecosystems in the past and helps us manage these fragile resources in the future. How can we tell what the marine environment looked like underwater before the advent of modern science, before scuba diving, submarines or sonar? The fish kept no records. Can we somehow ask our forefathers if they knew about the variety and wealth of marine life underwater? This, in effect, is what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and university partners are attempting to do: look at our changing marine environment through the eyes of people from as early as the 17th century!

Solving the Mysteries

Pouring over charts, fishing logs, explorer's narratives, naturalists journals, maps, letters, scientific surveys, and many other historical records, researchers are now painting a fascinating picture of past environments, the people that depended on them for their livelihood, and the changing nature of the interactions between the two.

Touch here to view images archaeologists use to piece together the historical ecology puzzle.