"Quotes for Ocean Explorers" is a small collection of quotations that is meant to help: 1) track the history of the exploration of the sea; 2) capture the thought processes and emotions that have motivated ocean explorers; 3) express the ideas behind the invention and continuing improvement of ocean exploration instruments; and 4) relate the excitement and joy of discovery that have accompanied ocean explorers since the first time that humankind has peered into the depths or devised ways to observe and measure oceanic phenomena.

These quotes represent only a small fraction of the rich literature of ocean exploration. It is hoped that this collection of quotes will inspire further readings and, perhaps, sharpen the appetites of generations of future ocean explorers for seeking new knowledge from the sea.


Into the Abyss

Humankind holds a fascination with the ocean beneath its surface. People began their study of the sea by peering into the waters from vessels or by walking along the seashore. They progressed to free diving, then helmet diving, and finally to the use of SCUBA, and ultimately to undersea vehicles, all to catch a glimpse of life under the sea.


Ocean and Atmosphere

These quotes address the great movements of water and atmosphere over the surface of our planet. Among the greatest problems facing scientists today are these movements of oceanic waters and their interactions with the overlying atmosphere. The great currents of the oceans, the tidal cycles, and the transfer of heat and gases between ocean and atmosphere affect the earth and the biosphere in profound and sometimes unpredictable ways.


Soundings, Sea Bottom...

These quotes address the slow and sometimes frustrating process of how humankind has learned about the basins, the seamounts, the fracture zones, the trenches, and the great globe-girdling rift system that make up the floor of the sea. What is the significance of these features in the evolution of the surface of our planet? Join the continuum of ocean explorers who have determined the nature of our seafloor and its relationship to our planet.


Life in the Sea

Explore the nature of life in the sea and our relationship to that life. Perhaps the ultimate measure of our wisdom in managing the environment of our planet will be how well we have collectively done in maintaining the biodiversity and unique character of life in our oceans.



Thought processes have driven the invention of new instruments and methods for the exploration of the sea. This evolution of instruments and equipment have gone into furthering our understanding of the ocean.


Why Explore?

These quotes attempt to provide insight to the basic question of why we humans strive to learn the secrets of the sea.


We gratefully acknowledge this contribution by Captain Albert Theberge, NOAA Corps (ret.), of the NOAA Central Library.