The Navigator as Natural Historian

By Peter Fenton, published February 1993


The article deals with the particular knowledge of certain parts of the sea acquired by local mariners, usually by tradition or from their own experience. Despite the growing availability of surveys and nautical charts, that knowledge remains invaluable in certain parts of the world, particularly but not only for fishermen. The author mentions that in some cases these mariners were able to identify and name parts of the sea, either by the prevailing winds, the colour or even the smell of the sea, or the presence of birds and fish. Based on that kind of knowledge, sailors were able to venture beyond local waters and penetrate the unknown.

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Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

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