Exploring ocean issues, the climate crisis and our changing relationship with the sea
Sign up to our newsletter to get stories, news and events from the National Maritime Museum delivered straight to your inbox
Curator Claire Warrior and polar explorer Iain Rudkin warm up with a relic from our polar past. How is polar exploration changing today? Tap the arrows to see more videos.
Track global temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2021 courtesy of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Satellite data plays a vital role in assessing the health of our ocean.
Discover more about the building of RRS Sir David Attenborough with British Antarctic Survey scientist Rob Larter.
Find exhibitions and events at Royal Museums Greenwich
Search our collections for stories of objects, instruments and devices that have shaped understanding of our ocean
This wooden box contains samples of the sea bed obtained during the Challenger Expedition of 1872-1876.
HMS Challenger departed England in 1872 on a quest to explore the world's oceans. Four years later the ship returned, bringing with it the largest collection of examples of life from the deep sea.
The history of the Challenger Expedition and its scientific report provide insights into the advance of oceanography as a modern scientific discipline, a definitive moment in our understanding of the ocean as a complex ecosystem on which all life on Earth depends.
This underwater device is towed behind a moving vessel. As it moves it sends out soundwaves. By measuring the sounds that are reflected back, side scan sonar enables the user to build up an accurate map of the seafloor, revealing mountain ranges, deep abysses and man-made objects such as shipwrecks.
Side scan sonar was a breakthrough invention that allowed much faster exploration of the ocean floor. This sonar towfish, made by Klein Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the first commercially available side scan sonar product on the market, making the technology much more accessible to scientists and treasure hunters.
Side scan sonar was used to find the Titanic in 1985, and is now used on robotic submarines to map the ocean floor.
Knowing when the tide is going out or in at different harbours has always been an important consideration for safe navigation, especially in the days before steam power.
For example, because the Thames is connected to the North Sea, each day it is affected by two low tides and two high tides. In London, sailing ships moored at dockyards in the Thames needed to leave when the low tide had just begun.
In the same way, sailing ships wanting to travel up the Thames needed to arrive at the river’s entrance when the high tide has just begun, and water rushed from the ocean into the river.
While powerful engines make it possible to travel against the tide, commercial and pleasure vessels still consult tide tables – now available online through the Port of London Authority – to make the most efficient and safe voyage.
One of the many accounts of the Princess Alice disaster of September 1878. As many as 650 passengers on the Princess Alice paddle steamer drowned after she was run down by the larger collier Bywell Castle in the River Thames.
The water where the ship sank was full of sewage from the northern and southern sewers, which discharged waste into nearby Barking Reach. This, it is argued, contributed to the scale of the disaster, with passengers drowning in the filthy water.
This historic photograph shows a man working on the bow of a lighter - a type of barge - at the Bankside Barge Moorings in King's Reach, River Thames. In the background can be seen various wharves, including (from left to right) East Paul's Wharf, Trig Wharf, Edward Lloyd's Wharf, Sunlight Wharf (L. E. P. Transport) with St. Paul's Cathedral dome behind, Lyon's Wharf, and Brook's Wharf.
This Qianlong period miniature Chinese garden is made out of coral, carved wood and ivory.
Corals, while having the appearance of vibrant rocky outcrops, are animals most closely related to jellyfish.
They are formed by multiple small, soft organisms known as polyps. They secrete a rocky chalk-like (calcium carbonate) exoskeleton around themselves for protection. Over many years (hundreds in some cases), this process produces complex structures that can measure multiple metres in length.