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Medieval timeline[edit]

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Medieval maritime history[edit]

The Mare nostrum, surrounded by Roman territory in c. 400 AD, the start of the Medieval Period
Europe at the end of the Medieval Period, 1500
Göke (1495), the flagship of Kemal Reis

medieval OR mediaeval OR "middle ages" vessel OR vessels OR boat OR boats OR ship OR ships

"...key aspects of European history, society, and culture from 500 to 1500 A.D., as well as the Byzantine Empire, Islamic dynasties, and Asiatic peoples of the era..." - from Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages

Traditionally, Western history is divided into three periods: Antiquity, the Medieval period, and the Modern period. The Medieval period, or Middle Ages, refers to European history from the 5th to the 15th century (c. 401–1500), beginning with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and concluding with the start of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery,

From Maritime history: "Maritime history is the broad overarching subject that includes fishing, whaling, international maritime law, naval history, the history of ships, ship design, shipbuilding, the history of navigation, the history of the various maritime-related sciences (oceanography, cartography, hydrography, etc.), sea exploration, maritime economics and trade, shipping, yachting, seaside resorts, the history of lighthouses and aids to navigation, maritime themes in literature, maritime themes in art, the social history of sailors and passengers and sea-related communities."[1]

"Unfortunately, uncovering the story of medieval maritime warfare has proven challenging for historians because it is mostly contained in a disparate anthology of annals and chronicles written by clerics, ignorant of nautical matters… Worse still, most medieval writers, particularly in the Mediterranean, were trained in the classics and has a tendency to fill in gaps in their knowledge of marine matters with classical tropes. As a result, the terminology they used to describe vessels and shipboard equipment was often misleading and inaccurate… Compounding the problem is the lack of reliable graphic representations of medieval vessels in general and warships in particular. The images found in medieval manuscripts and artwork are rudimentary and fanciful."[2]

  • The Knights Templars were involved in manufacturing, import and export, and had their own fleet of ships.


From History of Europe: "The Middle Ages are commonly dated from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (or by some scholars, before that) in the 5th century to the beginning of the early modern period in the 16th century, marked by the rise of nation states, the division of Western Christianity in the Reformation, the rise of humanism in the Italian Renaissance, and the beginnings of European overseas expansion which allowed for the Columbian Exchange.[3]"

Start of the medieval period

From History of the Mediterranean region: "When Augustus founded the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean sea began to be called Mare Nostrum (Latin: "Our Sea") by the Romans. Their empire was centered on this sea and all the area was full of commerce and naval development. For the first time in history an entire sea (the Mediterranean) was free of piracy. For several centuries the Mediterranean was a "Roman Lake", surrounded on all sides by the empire."

"The empire began to crumble, however, in the fifth century and Rome collapsed after 476 AD. Temporarily the east was again dominant as the Byzantine Empire formed from the eastern half of the Roman one. The western part of the empire, Gaul, Iberia, and the Maghreb were invaded by nomadic horse peoples from the Eurasian steppe. These conquerors soon became settled, and adopted many of the local customs, forming many small and warring kingdoms."

End of the medieval period

By 1500, which marks the end of the Medieval Period, the Renaissance was well underway. Leonardo da Vinci was 48 years old, Afonso de Albuquerque was 47, and Paracelsus was six years old,

Relevant to the speed of medieval ships are the hull speed (1.34 times the square root of the waterline in feet) and the Froude number.

English navy

The Mediterranean[edit]


"At that time Kallinikos, an artificer from Heliopolis, fled to the Romans. He had devised a sea fire which ignited the Arab ships and burned them with all hands. Thus it was that the Romans returned with victory and discovered the sea fire."

Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Annus Mundi 6165.[4]

"As he [the Emperor] knew that the Pisans were skilled in sea warfare and dreaded a battle with them, on the prow of each ship he had a head fixed of a lion or other land-animal, made in brass or iron with the mouth open and then gilded over, so that their mere aspect was terrifying. And the fire which was to be directed against the enemy through tubes he made to pass through the mouths of the beasts, so that it seemed as if the lions and the other similar monsters were vomiting the fire."

From the Alexiad of Anna Komnene, XI.10[5]

From: History of the ancient Levant : "In 391, the Byzantine era began with the permanent division of the Roman Empire into East and Western halves. The last true Roman Emperor in the West was unseated in 476, by which time it had been completely overrun by Germanic nations; however, the Eastern half, known as the Byzantine Empire, lasted much longer, persevering in one form or another until 1453. Byzantine control over the sites of Israel and Judah and other parts of the Levant lasted until 636, when it was conquered by Arabs and became a part of the Caliphate. The Byzantines reached their lowest point under Phocas, with the Sassanids occupying the whole of the eastern Mediterranean. In 610, though, Heraclius took the throne of Constantinople and began a successful counter-attack, expelling the Persians and invading Media and Assyria. Unable to stop his advance, Khosrau II was assassinated and the Sassanid empire fell into anarchy. Weakened by their quarrels, neither empire was prepared to deal with the onslaught of the Arabs, newly unified under the banners of Islam and anxious to expand their faith. By 650, Arab forces had conquered all of Persia, Syria, and Egypt."


Philip II of France arriving in the Holy Land

"During that time [...] the Muslims gained control over the whole Mediterranean. Their power and domination over it was vast. The Christian nations could do nothing against the Muslim fleets, anywhere in the Mediterranean. All the time, the Muslims rode its wave for conquest."

Ibn Khaldūn, Muqaddimah, III.32[8]

Norwegian Crusade[edit]

Sigurd the Crusader sails from the country, painted by Gerhard Munthe
Norwegian Crusade 1107-1110. The route taken by Sigurd I to Jerusalem and Constantinople (red line) and back to Norway (green line) according to Heimskringla. (Legend in Old Norse)

Viking Age[edit]

Travels of the Vikings
Guests from Overseas, Nicholas Roerich
The Oseberg ship prow, Viking Ship Museum, Oslo, Norway
Sea-faring Danes invading England, from a 12th century illuminated illustration
Main article: Viking Age



The 7th century ritual burial of an 86 foot long Anglo-Saxon ship at Sutton Hoo. Model of the ship's structure as it might have appeared, with chamber area outlined.

"Possibly the oral materials from which Beowulf was assembled belonged to East Anglian royal tradition, and they and the ship-burial took shape together as heroic restatements of migration-age origins."[11]

From Anglo-Saxon warfare:

Supplying war.

"Little is known about the way in which Anglo-Saxon armies were supplied. Smaller armies could live off the land but larger forces needed some degree of organised supply. It is possible that troops brought food with them on campaign but there is also limited evidence of the existence of pack horses tended by grooms being used to carry supplies and equipment.[12] Combined operations involving a fleet and army working together are recorded in the reign of Athelstan against the Scots and again in the 11th century in Wales. It is possible that, like later medieval operations in these areas, part of the role of the fleet was to carry supplies."[13]

From Norman conquest of England: Following the conquest, many Anglo-Saxons, including groups of nobles, fled the country[14] for Scotland, Ireland, or Scandinavia.[15] Members of King Harold Godwinson's family sought refuge in Ireland and used their bases in that country for unsuccessful invasions of England.[16] The largest single exodus occurred in the 1070s, when a group of Anglo-Saxons in a fleet of 235 ships sailed for the Byzantine Empire.[15] The empire became a popular destination for many English nobles and soldiers, as the Byzantines were in need of mercenaries.[14] The English became the predominant element in the elite Varangian Guard, hitherto a largely Scandinavian unit, from which the emperor's bodyguard was drawn.[17] Some of the English migrants were settled in Byzantine frontier regions on the Black Sea coast, and established towns with names such as New London and New York.[14]

"In 851, Æthelstan and Ealdorman Ealhhere defeated a Viking fleet and army at Sandwich, Kent, described by Frank Stenton as "the first naval battle in recorded English history".[18]


Hanseatic League[edit]

Foundation of the Hansa alliance between Lübeck and Hamburg 1241
Main trading routes of the Hanseatic League
The Gdansk Crane, a medieval port crane for mounting masts and lifting heavy cargo in the former Hanse town of Gdańsk.[19] Built c. 1366.

"The maritime movement of goods and people has always been the cheapest and most convenient form of transportation, and for that reason the world has built ports since at least 6000 BC. Landing stages and ports evolved alongside the technology of the ships that they served."[20]

From Hanseatic League: "The Hanseatic League (Hansa) was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe. It stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (c. 13th to 17th centuries). The League was created to protect economic interests and diplomatic privileges in the cities and countries and along the trade routes the merchants visited. The Hanseatic cities had their own legal system and furnished their own armies for mutual protection and aid. Despite this, the organization was not a city-state, nor can it be called a confederation of city-states; only a very small number of the cities within the league enjoyed autonomy and liberties comparable to those of a free imperial city."[21]

"Historians generally trace the origins of the League to the rebuilding of the North German town of Lübeck in 1159 by the powerful Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, after Henry had captured the area from Adolf II, Count of Schauenburg and Holstein. Exploratory trading adventures, raids and piracy had happened earlier throughout the Baltic (see Vikings) – the sailors of Gotland sailed up rivers as far away as Novgorod, for example – but the scale of international trade economy in the Baltic area remained insignificant before the growth of the Hanseatic League.[citation needed] German cities achieved domination of trade in the Baltic with striking speed over the 13th century, and Lübeck became a central node in the seaborne trade that linked the areas around the North and Baltic Seas. The 15th century saw the peak of Lübeck's hegemony."

Foundation and formation

"Lübeck became a base for merchants from Saxony and Westphalia trading eastward and northward. Well before the term Hanse appeared in a document in 1267,[22][unreliable source?] merchants in different cities began to form guilds or Hansa with the intention of trading with towns overseas, especially in the economically less-developed eastern Baltic. This area was a source of timber, wax, amber, resins, and furs, along with rye and wheat brought down on barges from the hinterland to port markets. The towns raised their own armies, with each guild required to provide levies when needed. The Hanseatic cities came to each other's aid, and commercial ships often had to be used to carry soldiers and their arms.

Visby functioned as the leading centre in the Baltic before the Hansa. Sailing east, Visby merchants established a trading post at Novgorod called Gutagard (it was also known as Gotenhof) in 1080.[23] Merchants from northern Germany at first also stayed in this Gotlander settlement. Later they established their own trading station in Novgorod, known as Peterhof, which was further up from the river. This took place in the first half of the 13th century.[24] In 1229, German merchants at Novgorod were granted certain privileges that made their position more secure.[25]

Before the foundation of the League in 1356 the word Hanse did not occur in the Baltic language. The Gotlanders used the word varjag.

Hansa societies worked to remove restrictions to trade for their members. For example, in 1157 the merchants of the Cologne Hansa convinced Henry II, King of England, to free them from all tolls in London and allow them to trade at fairs throughout England. The "Queen of the Hansa", Lübeck, where traders were required to trans-ship goods between the North Sea and the Baltic, gained the Imperial privilege of becoming a free imperial city in 1227, as its later partner Hamburg had in 1189.

In 1241, Lübeck, which had access to the Baltic and North Sea fishing grounds, formed an alliance—a precursor of the League—with Hamburg, another trading city that controlled access to salt-trade routes from Lüneburg. The allied cities gained control over most of the salt-fish trade, especially the Scania Market; Cologne joined them in the Diet of 1260. In 1266, Henry III granted the Lübeck and Hamburg Hansa a charter for operations in England, and the Cologne Hansa joined them in 1282 to form the most powerful Hanseatic colony in London. Much of the drive for this co-operation came from the fragmented nature of existing territorial government, which failed to provide security for trade. Over the next 50 years the Hansa itself emerged with formal agreements for confederation and co-operation covering the west and east trade routes. The principal city and linchpin remained Lübeck; with the first general Diet of the Hansa held there in 1356, the Hanseatic League acquired an official structure.[26]

According to Dutch Historical Records from A Brief History of Groningen, compiled and translated by Erik Springelkamp,[27] in 1258 traders from Groningen acquired the right to trade in England and got privileges for the trade in Holland. Groningen was a member of the then informally-organized Hanseatic League. In 1227 two Groningers were witness in Gotland, Sweden at a treaty between the Hansa and the prince of Smolensk. There were regular relations with both Hamburg and Bremen. In 1273 the abbot of Aduard got the right from the Archbishop of Hamburg to trade in Stade on the Elbe.

During the period from 1300 to 1500 the active (long-range) trade of Groningen diminished, as did the position of the city in the Hanseatic League. In 1358 Lübeck sent letters to all Hansa members about a trade-boycott of Flanders, but Groningen didn't receive this letter. The Mayor and City Council complained but said they would comply with the boycott of their southern neighbours. Ten years later Groningen wasn't part of a Hansa fleet against King Waldemar of Denmark to protect the free navigation through the Sont. Still, the city was a member, and in the early 15th century there was an Hansa assembly in Groningen."


Lübeck's location on the Baltic provided access for trade with Scandinavia and Kievan Rus, putting it in direct competition with the Scandinavians who had previously controlled most of the Baltic trade routes. A treaty with the Visby Hansa put an end to competition: through this treaty the Lübeck merchants also gained access to the inland Russian port of Novgorod, where they built a trading post or Kontor (literally: office). Other such alliances formed throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Yet the League never became a closely managed formal organisation. Assemblies of the Hanseatic towns met irregularly in Lübeck for a Hansetag (Hanseatic Diet), from 1356 onwards, but many towns chose not to send representatives and decisions were not binding on individual cities.[citation needed] Over time, the network of alliances grew to include a flexible roster of 70 to 170 cities.[28]

The league succeeded in establishing additional Kontors in Bruges (Flanders), Bergen (Norway), and London (England). These trading posts became significant enclaves. The London Kontor, established in 1320, stood west of London Bridge near Upper Thames Street, the site now occupied by Cannon Street station. It grew significantly over time into a walled community with its own warehouses, weighhouse, church, offices and houses, reflecting the importance and scale of the activity carried on. The first reference to it as the Steelyard (der Stahlhof) occurs in 1422.

Starting with trade in coarse woolen fabrics, the Hanseatic League had the effect of bringing both commerce and industry to northern Germany.[29] As trade increased newer and finer woolen and linen fabrics, and even silks, were manufactured in Northern Germany.[29] The same refinement of the products of industry occurred in other fields, e.g. etching, wood carving, armor production, engraving of metals, and wood-turning. In short, the century-long monopolization of sea navigation and trade by the Hanseatic League ensured that the Renaissance would arrive in Northern Germany long before the rest of Europe.[29]

In addition to the major Kontors, individual Hanseatic ports had a representative merchant and warehouse. In England this happened in Boston, Bristol, Bishop's Lynn (now King's Lynn, which features the sole remaining Hanseatic warehouse in England), Hull,[disputed ] Ipswich, Norwich, Yarmouth (now Great Yarmouth), and York.

The League primarily traded timber, furs, resin (or tar), flax, honey, wheat, and rye from the east to Flanders and England with cloth (and, increasingly, manufactured goods) going in the other direction. Metal ore (principally copper and iron) and herring came southwards from Sweden.

German colonists in the 12th and 13th centuries settled in numerous cities on and near the east Baltic coast, such as Elbing (Elbląg), Thorn (Toruń), Reval (Tallinn), Riga, and Dorpat (Tartu), which became members of the Hanseatic League, and some of which still retain many Hansa buildings and bear the style of their Hanseatic days. Most were granted Lübeck law (Lübisches Recht), which provided that they had to appeal in all legal matters to Lübeck's city council. The Livonian Confederation incorporated modern-day Estonia and parts of Latvia and had its own Hanseatic parliament (diet); all of its major towns became members of the Hanseatic League. The dominant language of trade was Middle Low German, a dialect with significant impact for countries involved in the trade, particularly the larger Scandinavian languages, Estonian, and Latvian."

Rise of rival powers

"The economic crises of the late 15th century did not spare the Hansa. Nevertheless, its eventual rivals emerged in the form of the territorial states, whether new or revived, and not just in the west: Poland triumphed over the Teutonic Knights in 1466; Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow, ended the entrepreneurial independence of Hansa's Novgorod Kontor in 1478. New vehicles of credit imported from Italy outpaced the Hansa economy, in which silver coin changed hands rather than bills of exchange.

In the 15th century, tensions between the Prussian region and the "Wendish" cities (Lübeck and its eastern neighbours) increased. Lübeck was dependent on its role as centre of the Hansa, being on the shore of the sea without a major river. It was on the entrance of the land route to Hamburg, but this land route could be bypassed by sea travel around Denmark and through the Sound. Prussia's main interest, on the other hand, was primarily the export of bulk products like grain and timber, which were very important for England, the Low Countries, and later on also for Spain and Italy.

In 1454, the year of the marriage of Elisabeth of Austria to the Jagiellonian king, the towns of the Prussian Confederation rose against the dominance of the Teutonic Order and asked Casimir IV, King of Poland for help. Danzig, Thorn, and Elbing became part of the Kingdom of Poland, (1466–1569 referred to as Royal Prussia) by the Second Peace of Thorn (1466). Poland in turn was heavily supported by the Holy Roman Empire through family connections and by military assistance under the Habsburgs. Kraków, then the capital of Poland, had a loose association with Hansa."[30]

Hundred Years' War[edit]

The Battle of Arnemuiden,1338, was the first recorded European naval battle using artillery
A miniature of the Battle of Sluys, 1340
The naval battle of La Rochelle, 1372

From Hundred Years' War: "The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 pitting the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois for control of the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war."

From Hundred Years' War: "The Battle of Arnemuiden was a naval battle fought on 23 September 1338 at the start of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. It was the first naval battle of the Hundred Years' War and the first recorded European naval battle using artillery, as the English ship Christopher had three cannons and one hand gun."[31]

The battle featured a vast French fleet under admirals Hugues Quiéret and Nicolas Béhuchet against a small squadron of five great English cogs transporting an enormous cargo of wool to Antwerp, where Edward III of England was hoping to sell it, in order to be able to pay subsidies to his allies. It occurred near Arnemuiden, the port of the island of Walcheren (now in the Netherlands, but then part of the County of Flanders, formally part of the Kingdom of France). Overwhelmed by the superior numbers and with some of their crew still on shore, the English ships fought bravely, especially the Christopher under the command of John Kingston, who was also commander of the squadron.[citation needed] Kingston surrendered after a day's fighting and exhausting every means of defense.

The French captured the rich cargo and took the five cogs into their fleet, but massacred the English prisoners." The chronicles write:

Thus conquering did these said mariners of the king of France in this winter take great pillage, and especially they conquered the handsome great nef called the Christophe, all charged with the goods and wool that the English were sending to Flanders, which nef had cost the English king much to build: but its crew were lost to these Normans, and were put to death.

— Collection des chroniques nationales françaises écrites en langue vulgaire du treizième au seizième siècle, avec notes et éclaircissements par J. A. Buchon, p.272.

From Battle of Sluys: "The Battle of Sluys was a sea battle fought on 24 June 1340 as one of the opening conflicts of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. The encounter was during the reigns of Philip VI of France and Edward III of England, in front of the town of Newmarket or Sluis, (French Écluse), on the inlet between West Flanders and Zeeland. During the battle Philip's navy was almost completely destroyed, giving the English fleet complete mastery over the channel. However by the end of Edward's reign the French had rebuilt their fleet and were to become a threat again."

From Battle of La Rochelle: "The naval Battle of La Rochelle took place on 22 and 23 June 1372 between a Castilian fleet commanded by the Castilian Almirant Ambrosio Boccanegra and an English convoy commanded by John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The Castilian fleet had been sent to attack the English at La Rochelle, which was being besieged by English forces. Besides Boccanegra, other Castilian commanders were Cabeza de Vaca, Fernando de Peón and the Basque Ruy Díaz de Rojas.

Pembroke had been dispatched to the town with a small retinue of 160 soldiers and instructions of recruit an army of 3,000 soldiers around Aquitaine.[32] From 22 to 23 June both fleets clashed. The strength of the Castilian fleet was estimated between the 12 galleys given by the Castilian chronicler and naval captain López de Ayala and the 40 sailing ships and 13 barges mentioned by the French chronicler Jean Froissart, while the English convoy would probably consist of 20 vessels, of which just 3 were escort warships of towers and the other 17 are believed to be small barges of about 50 tons.[33]

Thanks to their clear superiority both in ships and fighting men,[33] the Castilians decisively defeated the English.[34] Differing accounts from different historians exist about what actually transpired during the battle. These conflicts are mostly the work of nationalities; English, Castilian, and French historians described the battle in varying ways, emphasizing certain aspects but marginalizing others. Nevertheless, the victory was complete and the whole English convoy was destroyed. In his return to the Iberian Peninsula, Boccanegra captured four additional English ships."

Maritime republics[edit]


Replica of a 15th-century Portuguese caravel

The Portuguese Navy, tracing back to the 12th century, is the oldest continuously serving navy in the world. See Portuguese Navy#History

Medieval India[edit]

Other countries[edit]

A ship depicted in a fresco in the medieval Boyana Church, Sofia

From Great_Britain: "According to John T. Koch and others, Britain in the Late Bronze Age was part of a culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age, held together by maritime trading, which also included Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal, where Celtic languages developed,[35][36][37][38] but this stands in contrast to the more generally accepted view that Celtic originated in the Hallstatt culture."


From History of the French Navy: "Medieval fleets, in France as elsewhere, were almost entirely composed of merchant ships enlisted into naval service in time of war. But the early beginning of the French Navy goes back to the Middle Ages, when it defeated the English Navy at the battle of Arnemuiden,[39] on 23 September 1338. The battle of Arnemuiden was also the first naval battle using artillery."[40]

* Medieval warfare#Naval warfare

* Naval ram

Horse transports[edit]

From Horse transports in the Middle Ages: "The development and building of horse transports for use in war meant it remained easy to transfer horses for breeding and purchase during peacetime. After William of Normandy's successful conquest of England, he continued to bring horses across from Normandy for breeding purposes, improving the bloodstock of the English horses.[41] By the time of the Hundred Years' War, the English government banned the export of horses in times of crisis."[42]

This section from the Bayeux Tapestry shows horses being unloaded during William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066. He brought over 2000 horses with him across the Channel.[41]


Hakon's ships depicted on William Hole's mural in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery



15th century

Edited copy from Medieval ships...

Reconstruction of the Bremen cog, c. 1380

From Caravel: "Until the 15th century, Europeans were limited to coastal cabotage navigation using the barge (barca) or the balinger (barinel), ancient Mediterranean cargo vessels of around 50 to 200 tons. These boats were fragile, with only one mast with a fixed square sails that could not overcome the navigational difficulties of Southward oceanic exploration, as the strong winds, shoals and strong ocean currents easily overwhelmed their abilities. The caravel was developed in about 1450, based on existing fishing boats under the sponsorship of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal, and soon became the preferred vessel for Portuguese explorers. Its name may derive from an ancient boat type known as carabus in Latin and καραβος in Greek, later Arabized to qārib, indicating some continuity of its carvel build through the ages.[60] They were agile and easier to navigate, with a tonnage of 50 to 160 tons and 1 to 3 masts, with lateen triangular sails allowing beating. Being smaller and having a shallow keel, the caravel could sail upriver in shallow coastal waters. With the lateen sails attached, it was highly maneuverable and could sail much nearer the wind, while with the square Atlantic-type sails attached, it was very fast. Its economy, speed, agility, and power made it esteemed as the best sailing vessel of its time. The limited capacity for cargo and crew were their main drawbacks, but did not hinder its success. The exploration done with caravels made possible the spice trade of the Portuguese and the Spanish. However, for the trade itself, the caravel was later replaced by the larger nau which was more profitable for trading. The caravel was one of the pinnacle ships in Iberian Ship Development from 1400-1600."

Flemish carrack, c. 1475, engraved or cut by the monogramist WA
Famous carracks
Other famous ships
  • Vries, J. de, and Woude, A. van der (1997), The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-57825-7


A 3D model of the basic hull structure of a Venetian "galley of Flanders", a large trading vessel of the 15th century. The reconstruction by archaeologist Courtney Higgins is based on measurements given in contemporary ship treatises.[61]

"Ship technology advanced to the point where by the medieval period, water tight compartments were developed."

From Quarterdeck: "In Medieval times, warships had a single deck, with raised structures (the "forecastle" and "sterncastle") at each end. Following the introduction of cannon, the sterncastle was gradually replaced with a simpler structure consisting of the halfdeck above the main deck, extending forwards from the stern to the mainmast; and above that the quarterdeck, extending about half as far forwards. Later the halfdeck was extended the entire length of the ship, becoming the main deck (the former main deck now being the gun deck), leaving the quarterdeck as the only significant deck above the main deck."

Mediaeval ship hulls suffered severely from fouling, the growth of barnacles and algae on the hull. Fouling creates additional drag, reducing speed and hampering a ship's ability to sail upwind... biofouling... some marine growth, such as shipworms, could bore into the hull causing severe damage over time.

From Biofouling#History... "Biofouling, especially of ships, has been a problem for as long as humanity has been sailing the oceans.[62] The earliest written mention of fouling was by Plutarch who recorded this explanation of its impact on ship speed: "when weeds, ooze, and filth stick upon its sides, the stroke of the ship is more obtuse and weak; and the water, coming upon this clammy matter, doth not so easily part from it; and this is the reason why they usually calk their ships."[63] Techniques of using pitch and copper plating as anti-fouling techniques were attributed to ancient seafaring nations such as the Phoenicians and Carthaginians (1500- 300BC). Wax, tar and asphaltum have been used since early times.[62] An Aramaic record dating from 412 B.C. tells of a ship's bottom being coated with a mixture of arsenic, oil and sulphur.[64] In Deipnosophistae, Athenaeus described the anti-fouling efforts taken in the construction of the great ship of Hieron of Syracuse (died 467 BC).[65] Before the 18th century, various anti-fouling techniques were used, with three main substances employed: "White stuff", a mixture of train oil, rosin and sulfur; "Black stuff", a mixture of tar and pitch; and "Brown stuff", which was simply sulfur added to Black stuff.[66] In many of these cases, the purpose of these treatments is ambiguous. There is dispute whether many of these treatments were actual anti-fouling techniques, or whether, when they were used in conjunction with lead and wood sheathing, they were simply intended to combat wood-boring shipworms."


From Ship... "Towards the end of the 14th century, ships like the carrack began to develop towers on the bow and stern. These towers decreased the vessel's stability, and in the 15th century, the caravel, designed by the Portuguese, based on the Arabic qarib which could sail closer to the wind, became more widely used. The towers were gradually replaced by the forecastle and sterncastle, as in the carrack Santa María of Christopher Columbus. This increased freeboard allowed another innovation: the freeing port, and the artillery associated with it."

"Sloshing or shifting cargo, water ballast, or other liquid (e.g. from leaks or fire fighting) can cause disastrous capsizing in ships due to free surface effect."


From Marine propulsion: "Until the application of the coal-fired steam engine to ships in the early 19th century, oars or the wind were used to assist watercraft propulsion. Merchant ships predominantly used sail, but during periods when naval warfare depended on ships closing to ram or to fight hand-to-hand, galley were preferred for their manoeuvrability and speed. The Greek navies that fought in the Peloponnesian War used triremes, as did the Romans at the Battle of Actium. The development of naval gunnery from the 16th century onward meant that manoeuvrability took second place to broadside weight; this led to the dominance of the sail-powered warship over the following three centuries. In modern times, human propulsion is found mainly on small boats or as auxiliary propulsion on sailboats. Human propulsion includes the push pole, rowing, and pedals. Propulsion by sail generally consists of a sail hoisted on an erect mast, supported by stays, and controlled by lines made of rope. Sails were the dominant form of commercial propulsion until the late nineteenth century, and continued to be used well into the twentieth century on routes where wind was assured and coal was not available"



From Lateen:

Portuguese caravel. This was the standard model used by the Portuguese in their voyages of exploration. It was able to sail into the wind, unlike every other ship; this technique was called tacking. It could accommodate about 20 sailors.[67]

"The earliest fore-and-aft rig was the spritsail, appearing in the 2nd century BC in the Aegean Sea on small Greek craft.[68] The lateen sail originated during the early Roman empire in the Mediterranean Sea.[68][69][70][71][72][73][74][75][76][77][78] It evolved out of the dominant square rig by setting the sails more fore-and-aft – along the line of the keel – rather than athwartship, while tailoring the luff and leech.[79] Both types of lateen were known from an early date on: a 2nd-century AD gravestone depicts a quadrilateral lateen sail (also known as a settee), while a 4th-century mosaic shows a triangular one which was to become the standard rig throughout the Middle Ages.[68] According to the Belgian maritime historian Basch, the earliest true lateen rig appears as early as the 1st century BC, in a Hellenistic wall painting found in a Hypogeum in Alexandria.[80] The earliest archaeologically excavated lateen-rigged ship, the Yassi Ada II, dates to ca. 400 AD, with a further four being attested prior to the Arab advance to the Mediterranean.[81] The Kelenderis ship mosaic (late 5th to early 6th century)[82][83] and the Kellia ship graffito from the early 7th century complement the picture.[83] By the 6th century, the lateen sail had largely replaced the square sail throughout the Mediterranean, the latter almost disappearing from Mediterranean iconography until the mid-13th century.[84] It became the standard rig of the Byzantine dromon war galley and was probably also employed by Belisarius' flagship in the 532 AD invasion of the Vandal kingdom.[80][85] After the Muslim conquests, the Arabs adopted the lateen sail by way of the Coptic populace, which shared the existing Mediterranean maritime tradition and continued to provide the bulk of galley crews for Muslim-led fleets for centuries to come.[86] This is also indicated by the fact that the terminology of the lateen among Mediterranean Arabs is derived from Greco-Roman nomenclature...[87] Until the 14th century, the lateen sail was employed primarily on the Mediterranean Sea, while the Atlantic and Baltic (and Indian Ocean) vessels relied on square sails. The Northern European adoption of the lateen in the Late Middle Ages was a specialized sail that was one of the technological developments in shipbuilding that made ships more maneuverable, thus, in the historian's traditional progression, permitting merchants to sail out of the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic Ocean; caravels typically mounted three or more lateens. However, the great size of the lateen yardarm makes it difficult and dangerous to handle on larger ships in stormy weather, and with the development of the carrack, the lateen was restricted to the mizzen mast. In the early nineteenth century, the lateen was replaced in European ships by the driver or spanker."

"Comparison to square rig: A lateen rig rises better towards the wind and is far more maneuverable, allowing tacking and beating to the wind. Although it is more difficult to tack with than the Marconi- or gaff rigs, it has a better aspect ratio than the square rig. However, it runs poorly. Thus, the Spaniards often re-rigged their vessels when they ventured out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic, where the winds are constant and a square rig had the advantage."

From Square rig

"The square rig is the aerodynamically most efficient running rig (i.e., sailing tailwind), and stayed popular on ocean-going sailing ships until the end of the Age of Sail...


The compass, along with other innovations such as the cross-staff, the mariner's astrolabe, and advances in shipbuilding, enabled the navigation of the World Oceans, and the early phases of colonialism.[88]

"In 1250, the Norwegian Konungs skuggsjá mentioned, in its military chapter, the use of "coal and sulphur" as the best weapon for ship-to-ship combat."[89]

From Rope: "In the Middle Ages (from the 13th to the 18th centuries), from the British Isles to Italy, ropes were constructed in so-called Ropewalks, very long buildings where strands the full length of the rope were spread out and then laid up or twisted together to form the rope. The cable length was thus set by the length of the available rope walk. This is related to the unit of length termed cable length. This allowed for long ropes of up to 300 yards long or longer to be made. These long ropes were necessary in shipping as short ropes would require splicing to make them long enough to use for sheets and halyards. The strongest form of splicing is the short splice, which doubles the cross-sectional area of the rope at the area of the splice, which would cause problems in running the line through pulleys. Any splices narrow enough to maintain smooth running would be less able to support the required weight."

"Ropewalks historically were harsh sweatshops, and frequently caught fire, as hemp dust ignites easily and burns fiercely. "

  • 1119: Mariner's compass (wet compass) in Song Dynasty China: The earliest recorded use of magnetized needle for navigational purposes at sea is found in Zhu Yu's book Pingzhou Table Talks of 1119 (written from 1111 to 1117).[90][91][92][93][94][95][96] The typical Chinese navigational compass was in the form of a magnetic needle floating in a bowl of water.[97] The familiar mariner's dry compass which used a pivoting needle suspended above a compass-card in a glass box was invented in medieval Europe no later than 1300.[98]
15th century


The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Modern consolidation, created from the 70 double-page spreads of the original atlas.
The Fra Mauro map, "considered the greatest memorial of medieval cartography" according to Roberto Almagià[100] is a map made between 1457 and 1459 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro. It is a circular planisphere drawn on parchment and set in a wooden frame, about two meters in diameter.


The Silk Road and spice trade routes later blocked by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 spurring exploration to find alternative sea routes
Christoper Columbus arrives in America by Gergio Deluci (1493)
Replicas of Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, 1912
Marco Polo travels (1271–1295)
Marco Polo travelling 1324

From Age of Discovery:

"A prelude to the Age of Discovery was a series of European expeditions crossing Eurasia by land in the late Middle Ages.[101] Although the Mongols had threatened Europe with pillage and destruction,[clarification needed] Mongol states also unified much of Eurasia and, from 1206 on, the Pax Mongolica allowed safe trade routes and communication lines stretching from the Middle East to China.[102][103] A series of Europeans took advantage of these to explore eastwards. Most were Italians, as trade between Europe and the Middle East was controlled mainly by the Maritime republics.[citation needed] The close Italian links to the Levant raised great curiosity and commercial interest in countries which lay further east.[citation needed]

"Christian embassies were sent as far as Karakorum during the Mongol invasions of Syria, from which they gained understanding of the world.[citation needed] The first of these travelers was Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, dispatched by Pope Innocent IV to the Great Khan, who journeyed to Mongolia and back from 1241 to 1247.[102] About the same time, Russian prince Yaroslav of Vladimir, and subsequently his sons Alexander Nevsky and Andrey II of Vladimir, traveled to the Mongolian capital. Though having strong political implications, their journeys left no detailed accounts. Other travelers followed, like French André de Longjumeau and Flemish William of Rubruck, who reached China through Central Asia.[104] Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant, dictated an account of journeys throughout Asia from 1271 to 1295, describing being a guest at the Yuan Dynasty court of Kublai Khan in Travels, and it was read throughout Europe.[105]

"In 1291, in a first Atlantic exploration attempt, merchant brothers Vadino and Ugolino Vivaldi sailed from Genoa with two galleys but disappeared off the Moroccan coast, feeding the fears of oceanic travel.[106][107] From 1325 to 1354, a Moroccan scholar from Tangier, Ibn Battuta, journeyed from North Africa, the Sahara desert, West Africa, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, the corner of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, having reached China. After return, he dictated an account of his journeys to a scholar he met in Granada, the Rihla ("The Journey"),[108] the unheralded source on his adventures. Between 1357 and 1371 a book of supposed travels compiled by John Mandeville acquired extraordinary popularity. Despite the unreliable and often fantastical nature of its accounts it was used as a reference[109] for the East, Egypt, and the Levant in general, asserting the old belief that Jerusalem was the center of the world.

"Following the period of Timurid relations with Europe, in 1439 Niccolò de' Conti published an account of his travels as a Muslim merchant to India and Southeast Asia and, later in 1466–1472, Russian merchant Afanasy Nikitin of Tver travelled to India, which he described in his book A Journey Beyond the Three Seas.

"These overland journeys had little immediate effect. The Mongol Empire collapsed almost as quickly as it formed and soon the route to the east became more difficult and dangerous. The Black Death of the 14th century also blocked travel and trade.[110] The rise of the Ottoman Empire further limited the possibilities of European overland trade."



Exploration of Asia[edit]

The Radhanites were medieval Jewish merchants who dominated trade between the Christian and Islamic worlds during the early Middle Ages and travelled as far as Tang dynasty China.
The Arabs conquer Egypt, thus severing most direct Eastern-Roman (and hence European) trade with India and eastern Asia.
13th century
Silk Road trade reaches is height during the height of the Pax Mongolica, the relative peace in Asia during to the widespread unification under the Mongol Empire.
Second trip of Niccolò and Maffeo Polo to China. This time with Marco, Niccolo's son, who would write a colorful account of their experiences.
Travels of the Franciscan monks, the Italian Odoric of Pordenone and James of Ireland via India and the Malay Peninsula to China where they stayed in Dadu (present day Beijing) for approximately three years before returning to Italy overland through Central Asia.
Constantinople falls to the Muslim Ottoman Turks, thus ending Christian rule in the Eastern Mediterranean. Trade in Asian goods becomes much more difficult for Christian Europe. The stage is set for the Age of Discovery.
Christopher Columbus sets sail in search of western route to Asia. Though unsuccessful in reaching Asia his successes propelled eventual European expansion, including Asia.
The Portuguese Vasco da Gama, accompanied by Nicolau Coelho and Bartolomeu Dias, is the first European to reach India by an all-sea route from Europe.

Rus' people[edit]

Ship burial of a Rus chieftain as described by the Arab traveler Ahmad ibn Fadlan who visited Kievan Rus' in the 10th century.
Henryk Siemiradzki (1883)
The Invitation of the Varangians by Viktor Vasnetsov: Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor arrive to the lands of Ilmen Slavs.

Trade and transport[edit]

Main trade routes of late medieval Europe.----      Hansa
     Venetian and Genoese
     (stippled) Overland and river routes
Genoese (red) and Venetian (green) maritime trade routes in the Mediterranean and Black Sea

"Europe remained a backwater compared to the Islamic world, with its vast network of caravan trade, or China, at this time the world's most populous empire under the Song Dynasty. Constantinople had a population of about 300,000, but Rome had a mere 35,000 and Paris 20,000.[111][112] In contrast, Islam had over a dozen major cities stretching from Córdoba, Spain, at this time the world's largest city with 450,000 inhabitants, to central Asia. The Vikings had a trade network in northern Europe, including a route connecting the Baltic to Constantinople through Russia, as did the Radhanites. But it was a modest affair compared to the caravan routes that connected the great Muslim cities of Cordoba, Alexandria, Cairo, Baghdad, Basra, and Mecca."

  • The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 6: c. 1300 - c. 1415, (2000). Michael Jones (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36290-3.
Medicine and herbs

From Medieval medicine of Western Europe:

"Medical catastrophes were more common in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance than they are today. During the Renaissance, trade routes were the perfect means of transportation for disease. Eight hundred years after the Plague of Justinian, the bubonic plague returned to Europe. Starting in Asia, the Black Death reached Mediterranean and western Europe in 1348 (possibly from Italian merchants fleeing fighting in Crimea), and killed 25 million Europeans in six years, approximately 1/3 of the total population and up to a 2/3 in the worst-affected urban areas... The plague repeatedly returned to haunt Europe and the Mediterranean from 14th through 17th centuries..." "Many monasteries developed herb gardens for use in the production of herbal cures,[113] and these remained a part of folk medicine, as well as being used by some professional physicians. Books of herbal remedies were produced, one of the most famous being the Welsh, Red Book of Hergest, dating from around 1400..."


"The growth of medieval cities in Northern Europe placed new demands on food supply, and led to the import of fish from increasingly distant fishing grounds. Quantitative analysis of cod remains from London provides revealing insight into the changing patterns of supply that can be related to known historical events and circumstances. In particular it identifies a marked increase in imported cod from the thirteenth century AD. That trend continued into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, after a short downturn, perhaps attributable to the impact of the Black Death, in the mid fourteenth century."[114]

For over 1,000 years, Reine was involved in the great cod fisheries as the centre of a community of traditional fishing villages in Lofoten, Norway


"Slavery in medieval Europe had mostly died out in western Europe about the year 1000 AD, replaced by serfdom. It lingered longer in England and in peripheral areas linked to the Muslim world, where slavery continued to flourish. Church rules suppressed slavery of Christians. Most historians argue the transition was quite abrupt around 1000, but some see a gradual transition from about 300 to 1000."[115]

From Atlantic slave trade: "Upon discovering new lands through their naval explorations, European colonisers soon began to migrate to and settle in lands outside their native continent. Off the coast of Africa, European migrants, under the directions of the Kingdom of Castile, invaded and colonised the Canary Islands during the 15th century, where they converted much of the land to the production of wine and sugar. Along with this, they also captured native Canary Islanders, the Guanches, to use as slaves both on the Islands and across the Christian Mediterranean.[116] As historian John Thornton remarked, "the actual motivation for European expansion and for navigational breakthroughs was little more than to exploit the opportunity for immediate profits made by raiding and the seizure or purchase of trade commodities".[117] Using the Canary Islands as a naval base, European, at the time primarily Portuguese traders, began to move their activities down the western coast of Africa, performing raids in which slaves would be captured to be later sold in the Mediterranean.[118] Although initially successful in this venture, "it was not long before African naval forces were alerted to the new dangers, and the Portuguese [raiding] ships began to meet strong and effective resistance", with the crews of several of them being killed by African sailors, whose boats were better equipped at traversing the west African coasts and river systems.[119] By 1494, the Portuguese king had entered agreements with the rulers of several West African states that would allow trade between their respective peoples, enabling the Portuguese to "tap into" the "well-developed commercial economy in Africa... without engaging in hostilities".[120]



The spread of the "Black Death" from 1347 to 1351 through Europe

"The plague was carried by fleas on sailing vessels returning from the ports of Asia, spreading quickly due to lack of proper sanitation: the population of England, then about 4.2 million, lost 1.4 million people to the bubonic plague. Florence's population was nearly halved in the year 1347."

"The first epidemic of bubonic plague dates back to the mid 500s, known as the Plague of Justinian.[121] The largest epidemic was the Black Death of Europe in the 14th century."

Yersinia pestis (formerly Pasteurella pestis) is a Gram-negative rod-shaped coccobacillus, a facultative anaerobic bacterium that can infect humans and animals.[122]

From Yersinia pestis: "Human Yersinia pestis infection takes three main forms: pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic plagues.[122] All three forms were responsible for a number of high-mortality epidemics throughout human history, including: the sixth century's Plague of Justinian; the Black Death, which accounted for the death of at least one-third of the European population between 1347 and 1353; and the 19th century's Third Pandemic.[123][124][125][126] It has now been shown that these plagues probably originated in rodent populations in China.[126][127]

Marine art[edit]

From Marine art: "Marine highlights in Medieval art include the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry showing the Norman Invasion of England. From the 12th century onwards, seals of ports often featured a "ship portrait".[128] The ship functioned as an image of the church, as in Giotto's lost Navicella above the entrance to Old St Peter's in Rome, but such representations are of relatively little interest from the purely marine point of view."[129]

Significant people[edit]



Siege of Rhodes 1480 with ships of the Hospitaliers in the forefront and the Turks encamped in the background
12th century
13th century
14th century
15th century

See also[edit]


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  7. ^ History of Aceh
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  15. ^ a b Daniell From Norman Conquest to Magna Carta pp. 13–14
  16. ^ Huscroft Norman Conquest pp. 140–141
  17. ^ Heath Byzantine Armies p. 23
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  128. ^ Russell, 51
  129. ^ Hall, 84-85

Further references[edit]

Medieval maritime culture[edit]

pending rewrite

Medieval maritime culture began with the remnants of the naval tradition of the Roman Empire, included the technological advances that enabled the Vikings to colonize North America in 982, suffered tremendously during the crises of the 14th century, prospered to serve the European demand for cod on Roman Catholic days of abstinence, and ultimately culminated in the Columbian exchange that began in 1492.

The Vikings (Norse/Danes)[edit]

During the Early Middle Ages, the Vikings (also known as Norse or Danes) developed the longship, capable of voyaging beyond sight of shore. This ship developed a reputation for speed and agility. The Vikings learned celestial navigation and developed other means of finding land. They used the sail to propel their boats quickly in the winds of the North Sea.

Norwegian Vikings first attacked the Isle of Portland in the British Isles in 787. They continued to demonstrate their naval progress to dominate European trade and commerce for the next few centuries, establishing colonies along the European coast from the Baltic to the Balkans. They also sailed up many rivers, establishing their dominance well inland through much of Russia. The Normans successfully invaded Anglo-Saxon England in 1066 and installed William the Conqueror as King.

The Vikings dominated all European maritime culture around the year 1000 and developed a square rigged sailboat, the knaar as a merchant ship. Historians speculate that the Vikings used this boat to form and trade with their colonies in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. Icelandic sagas make many references to sea voyages.

Map of Viking Expansion

The Norse did not stop at Greenland. Sagas refer to journeys to Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland, although others contend that the Vikings sailed as far south as New England. Leif Ericson led a seminal expedition to Vinland in 1000. At least one colonization attempt followed during the next few decades. The archaeological record reveals an outpost in L'Anse aux Meadows on the shore of Newfoundland. The Greenland colony--mostly a glacial ice cap with some tundra along the coast--lacked trees and timber; therefore, these voyages enabled the Vikings to obtain precious wood necessary for house construction and charcoal production. Although the Vinland enterprise ultimately failed because the small population of Viking sailors who reached its shores could not defend themselves against the indigenous peoples (Skræling in Norse), it proved that medieval Europeans could reach the New World with contemporary sailing ships.

Norse navigation technologies helped European trade to flourish throughout the High Middle Ages and enabled large numbers of medieval Christians to participate in the Crusades to the Holy Land. The primary difference between Viking-era vessels, and later designs was use of the stern-mounted rudder instead of a steering-board mounted to the side of the ship.

The Scots used the birlinn galley in the Hebrides.

The Little Ice Age[edit]

Norse dominance of European maritime culture could not last forever. Although demonstrably capable of making the voyages across the rough North Atlantic Ocean, Viking ships frequently sank or were blown off course along the way; as many as a quarter to a third of ships that departed Scandinavia never returned to the home port. As the Medieval Warm Period closed in the 13th century, pack ice began to advance southward. Fierce ocean storms associated with the Icelandic low increased in frequency and intensity, sinking ships even during the mid- and late-summer navigation season.

Because of the dangers inherent in open-sea navigation, Viking mariners preferred to travel along the shoreline whenever possible. To reach the most marginal colonies of Greenland from Iceland, they traditionally sailed due westward across the Denmark Strait then followed the Greenland coast toward the Eastern Settlement near the southern tip of the island. Even sailing near shore posed its risks; sailors on one voyage ran aground and reached shore only to perish stranded of starvation. Pack ice advancing southward, however, choked this preferred route with sea ice, leading mariners to undertake a more perilous route southwestward through the open sea. Greenlanders consequently suffered from a lack of trade opportunities; shipping to the Western Settlement disappeared entirely with the onset of the Little Ice Age in the 14th century.

As the Greenland tundra cooled through the 13th century, the economic mainstay of the Viking colonies shifted from pastoral livestock--which required hay to survive the long, bitter winters--toward fishing, hunting, gathering, and consuming such marine mammals as seals. Glaciers advanced from the Greenland ice cap toward the farms along the fjords. Summers provided a critical grazing and hay-raising season for the livestock because snow covered the ground through most of the year. By the 14th century, summers frequently failed entirely, sometimes in succeeding years, in the Western Settlement. Trading ships could not reach the isolated colony, and grass failed to produce pasturage and hay, so the desperate colonists ate their livestock and even their prized hunting dogs to stay alive. They then abandoned the Western Settlement. Historians do not know where they fled, but they might have joined the Inuit, removed to the Eastern Settlement or in Iceland, or sunk at sea.

Other developments on the European continent left mariners less willing to make the daring voyage to the marginal, forlorn colonies. African elephant ivory entered European markets as Arab and Muslim trading caravans brought goods across the Sahara from West Africa. This ivory displaced the prized Greenland export of walrus tusk ivory, and obtaining it carried much less risk. The Great Famine of 1315-1317, Black Death, and popular revolt in late medieval Europe caused the population of Europe to decline precipitously. Many mariners and merchants died of starvation and disease before they could pass their skills to apprentices or descendants. The Famine hit northern Europe particularly hard but largely spared southern Europe. The old Vikings declined rapidly, unable to afford trade with destitute "charity" colonies.

Still another development directed Atlantic maritime commerce away from Greenland and even Iceland. The original Viking fleets subsisted on Atlantic cod and herring while afloat and brought extra fish back to Europe for consumption. The disciplinary requirements of fasting and abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church at the time forbade many Christians from consuming "hot" flesh--usually the flesh of any non-marine warm-blooded animal--on most Fridays, during Lent, and on several other days during the year. By the end of the Middle Ages, papal edicts extended these requirements to a majority of days during the year. Although many Europeans simply ignored the rules, the clergy (two to ten percent of the population including monks and nuns) and the pious laity demanded so much fish to eat that all the rivers and near-shore marine fisheries of Europe could not supply them. Because it kept well when dried and salted, the untasteful Atlantic cod largely fulfilled this demand. As the oceans cooled below 2 °C, however, these fisheries largely moved south the Icelandic coast.

Cod-fishing Fleets[edit]

Scandinavian shipbuilding technology failed to advance beyond that of the Viking days. The traditional Viking ships performed quite well in the relatively tranquil summer seas of the medieval warm period, but the stormier climates rendered these vessels particularly dangerous to the point of obsolescence. Viking technology spread earlier throughout Europe, and craftsmen along the Atlantic seaboard of western Europe began to develop ships capable of withstanding heavy seas and the gales that struck commonly even during mid-summer. Rarely did a medieval mariner without a death wish dare to venture beyond easy sight of port during the long winter season.

The Hanseatic League promoted trade throughout the Baltic Sea aboard cogs and hulks that mariners propelled with square sails and oars. The pious European population--especially the monasteries, convents, and bishops--demanded enormous quantities of fish, and Dutch, English, other British, Breton and Basque mariners sought suitable fishing grounds. Earlier generations of Europeans frequently fished in Norwegian waters and in the North Sea; however, the cooling climate led to the decline of the former fisheries, and the reduced supply in the latter could not satiate the increasing demand for salted cod, herring, and other fish.

In an era of very brief life expectancies and an imploding medieval demography, the clearly risky maritime culture provided an attractive means of subsistence. Death constantly haunted medieval Europeans, who took risks unconscionable to the modern mind; the overwhelming majority of the population lived in a state of desperate poverty comparable or perhaps even worse than most Third World countries today. Most medieval Europeans toiled long hours to produce or earn much less than the equivalent of $2 per person per day, from which they paid tithes, taxes, and rents. To make fishing a viable economic alternative to other means of subsistence, however, a significant majority of fleets leaving port had to reach the fisheries and return alive and intact.

The cooling climate and increasing storminess, however, led to a sharp increase in the proportion of traditional Norse-style boats that left port never to return. These casualties at sea led shipbuilders to develop a stronger boat that could ply the Dogger Bank and return full of fish with some reliability. Boat builders, especially prominent in Dutch ports and Basque seaside towns, however, prospered as they provided new vessels to budding mariners or to replace those wrecked or lost at sea. These new ships proved adequately seaworthy for the expectations of the era.

Declining fishing stocks and frequent tax evasion led the Hansa cabal to close the fisheries near Bergen off the Norwegian coast in 1410. English fishermen responded by taking their craft to the closed Icelandic colony and trading and fishing there in 1412. Besides several local fishing boats, very few if any ships had visited Iceland in several decades. English ships, however, began to set sail for Iceland early each spring through the frigid gales and freezing spray to trade and fish just as their Danish predecessors did centuries earlier. Each dogger that successfully returned to Britain in the autumn carried roughly 30 tons of fish. Although the Danish masters of Iceland convinced King Henry V of England to forbid the Icelandic cod trade, English fleets continued to visit the otherwise isolated island. The Hanseatic League copied the shipbuilding technologies of their English rivals and began to reassert Scandinavian sovereignty over Iceland. This struggle led to piracy and pillaging on the high seas and ultimately to the development of modern naval warfare.

The settlement probably disappeared during the 15th century.

The historical record, however, does reveal a competition between Basque, English, and other fishermen and pirates for the North Atlantic fisheries. Foreigners moved beyond peaceful trade with Iceland, and pirates plundered the utterly defenseless Scandinavian community severely and repeatedly during the late 15th century. Some English fleets began to reach the western North Atlantic Ocean by 1480 and found fish so plentiful that the British port of Bristol prospered immensely from the trade.

See also[edit]

{{Middle Ages wide 2}} {{fishing history|state=collapsed}} [[Category:Middle Ages]] [[Category:Maritime history]] [[Category:History of fishing]] [[Category:Maritime culture]]

mercury in coal -> mercury in fish?

Evolution of fishes and tetrapods[edit]

Evolution of scales[edit]

  • Fish Scales Earth Life Web. Retrieved 12 December 2012.


Date Event
530 Ma Pikaia is an iconic ancestor of modern chordates and vertebrates.[1] Other, earlier chordate predecessors include Myllokunmingia fengjiaoa,[2] Haikouella lanceolata,[3] and Haikouichthys ercaicunensis.[4]

The lancelet, still living today, retains some characteristics of the primitive chordates. It resembles Pikaia.

Conodonts are a famous type of early (495 Mya and later) chordate fossil; they are the peculiar teeth of an eel-shaped animal characterized by large eyes, fins with fin rays, chevron-shaped muscles and a notochord. The animal is sometimes called a conodont, and sometimes a conodontophore (conodont-bearer) to avoid confusion.
505 Ma

The first vertebrates appear: the ostracoderms, jawless fish related to present-day lampreys and hagfishes. Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia are examples of these jawless fish, or Agnatha. (See also prehistoric fish). They were jawless and their internal skeletons were cartilaginous. They lacked the paired (pectoral and pelvic) fins of more advanced fish. They were precursors to the Osteichthyes (bony fish).[5]

480 Ma

The Placodermi were prehistoric fishes. Placoderms were the first of the jawed fishes, their jaws evolving from the first of their gill arches.[6] Their head and thorax were covered by articulated armoured plates and the rest of the body was scaled or naked.

410 Ma The first coelacanth appears;[7] this order of animals had been thought to have no extant members until living specimens were discovered in 1938. It is often referred to as a living fossil.


Date Event
390 Ma

Some fresh water lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii) develop legs and give rise to the Tetrapoda.

The first tetrapods evolved in shallow and swampy freshwater habitats.

Primitive tetrapods developed from a lobe-finned fish (an "osteolepid Sarcopterygian"), with a two-lobed brain in a flattened skull, a wide mouth and a short snout, whose upward-facing eyes show that it was a bottom-dweller, and which had already developed adaptations of fins with fleshy bases and bones. The "living fossil" coelacanth is a related lobe-finned fish without these shallow-water adaptations. These fishes used their fins as paddles in shallow-water habitats choked with plants and detritus. The universal tetrapod characteristics of front limbs that bend backward at the elbow and hind limbs that bend forward at the knee can plausibly be traced to early tetrapods living in shallow water.[8]

Panderichthys is a 90–130 cm (35–50 in) long fish from the Late Devonian period (380 Mya). It has a large tetrapod-like head. Panderichthys exhibits features transitional between lobe-finned fishes and early tetrapods.

Trackway impressions made by something that resembles Ichthyostega's limbs were formed 390 Ma in Polish marine tidal sediments. This suggests tetrapod evolution is older than the dated fossils of Panderichthys through to Ichthyostega.

Lungfishes retain some characteristics of the early Tetrapoda. One example is the Queensland Lungfish.

375 Ma

Tiktaalik is a genus of sarcopterygian (lobe-finned) fishes from the late Devonian with many tetrapod-like features. It shows a clear link between Panderichthys and Acanthostega.

365 Ma

Acanthostega is an extinct amphibian, among the first animals to have recognizable limbs. It is a candidate for being one of the first vertebrates to be capable of coming onto land. It lacked wrists, and was generally poorly adapted for life on land. The limbs could not support the animal's weight. Acanthostega had both lungs and gills, also indicating it was a link between lobe-finned fish and terrestrial vertebrates.

Ichthyostega is an early tetrapod. Being one of the first animals with legs, arms, and finger bones, Ichthyostega is seen as a hybrid between a fish and an amphibian. Ichthyostega had legs but its limbs probably weren't used for walking. They may have spent very brief periods out of water and would have used their legs to paw their way through the mud.[9]

Amphibia were the first four-legged animals to develop lungs which may have evolved from Hynerpeton 360 Mya.

Amphibians living today still retain many characteristics of the early tetrapods.

300 Ma

From amphibians came the first reptiles: Hylonomus is the earliest known reptile. It was 20 cm (8 in) long (including the tail) and probably would have looked rather similar to modern lizards. It had small sharp teeth and probably ate millipedes and early insects. It is a precursor of later Amniotes and mammal-like reptiles. Α-keratin first evolves here which is used in claws in modern lizards and birds, and hair in mammals.[10]

Evolution of the amniotic egg gives rise to the Amniota, reptiles that can reproduce on land and lay eggs on dry land. They did not need to return to water for reproduction. This adaptation gave them the capability to colonize the uplands for the first time.

Reptiles have advanced nervous systems, compared to amphibians. They have twelve pairs of cranial nerves.

Fins, limbs and wings[edit]

Crossopterygii tetrapod hips.JPG

fins --> legs --> wings --> flippers

"the same genetic tool kit can build structures both simple and complex."

The "same genetic mechanism controls the development of median fins, paired fins, limbs, and wings. Paired fins and limbs did not evolve from scratch, but emerged through the application of the molecular system that was already [in place]"[11]

A dark gray shark lying on its side against a white background, showing long, sickle-shaped pectoral fins
The dusky shark can be identified by its sickle-shaped first dorsal and pectoral fins, with the former positioned over the rear tips of the latter.
The great hammerhead has a distinctive tall, sickle-shaped dorsal fin.
The great hammerhead uses its "hammer" to pin down stingrays.

The streamlined body of the great hammerhead with the expanded cephalofoil is typical of the hammerhead sharks. Adult great hammerheads can be distinguished from the scalloped hammerhead and the smooth hammerhead by the shape of the cephalofoil, which has a nearly straight front margin (as opposed to arched), with prominent medial and lateral indentations. The width of the cephalofoil is 23–27% of the body length. The teeth are triangular and strongly serrated, becoming more oblique towards the corners of the mouth. There are 17 tooth rows on either side of the upper jaw with 2–3 teeth at the symphysis (the midline of the jaw), and 16–17 teeth on either side of the lower jaw and 1–3 at the symphysis.[12]

Another function of the cephalofoil is suggested by an observation of a great hammerhead attacking a southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) in the Bahamas: the shark first knocked the ray to the sea bottom with a powerful blow from above, and then pinned it with its head while pivoting to take a large bite from each side of the ray's pectoral fin disc. This effectively crippled the stingray, which was then picked up in the jaws and sawed apart with rapid shakes of the head.[13] A great hammerhead has also been seen attacking a spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) in open water by taking a massive bite out of one of its pectoral fins. The ray thus incapacitated, the shark once again used its head to pin it to the bottom and pivoted to take the ray in its jaws head-first. These observations suggest that the great hammerhead seeks to disable rays with the first bite, a strategy similar to that of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), and that its cephalofoil is an adaptation for prey handling.[14]


  1. ^ "Obviously vertebrates must have had ancestors living in the Cambrian, but they were assumed to be invertebrate forerunners of the true vertebrates — protochordates. Pikaia has been heavily promoted as the oldest fossil protochordate." Richard Dawkins 2004 The Ancestor's Tale Page 289, ISBN 0-618-00583-8
  2. ^ Shu, D. G.; Luo, H. L.; Conway Morris, S.; Zhang, X. L.; Hu, S. X.; Chen, L.; Han, J.; Zhu, M.; Li, Y.; Chen, L. Z. (1999). "Lower Cambrian vertebrates from south China". Nature. 402 (6757): 42. Bibcode:1999Natur.402...42S. doi:10.1038/46965. 
  3. ^ Chen, J. Y.; Huang, D. Y.; Li, C. W. (1999). "An early Cambrian craniate-like chordate". Nature. 402 (6761): 518. Bibcode:1999Natur.402..518C. doi:10.1038/990080. 
  4. ^ Shu, D. G.; Morris, S. C.; Han, J.; Zhang, Z. F.; Yasui, K.; Janvier, P.; Chen, L.; Zhang, X. L.; Liu, J. N.; Li, Y.; Liu, H. -Q. (2003), "Head and backbone of the Early Cambrian vertebrate Haikouichthys", Nature, 421 (6922): 526–529, Bibcode:2003Natur.421..526S, doi:10.1038/nature01264, PMID 12556891 
  5. ^ These first vertebrates lacked jaws, like the living hagfish and lampreys. Jawed vertebrates appeared 100 million years later, in the Silurian. Berkeley University
  6. ^ "Bones of first gill arch became upper and lower jaws." (Image)
  7. ^ A fossil coelacanth jaw found in a stratum datable 410 mya that was collected near Buchan in Victoria, Australia's East Gippsland, currently holds the record for oldest coelacanth; it was given the name Eoactinistia foreyi when it was published in September 2006. [2]
  8. ^ "Lungfish are believed to be the closest living relatives of the tetrapods, and share a number of important characteristics with them. Among these characters are tooth enamel, separation of pulmonary blood flow from body blood flow, arrangement of the skull bones, and the presence of four similarly sized limbs with the same position and structure as the four tetrapod legs." Berkeley University
  9. ^ "the ancestor that amphibians share with reptiles and ourselves? " " These possibly transitional fossils have been much studied, among them Acanthostega, which seems to have been wholly aquatic, and Ichthyostega" Richard Dawkins 2004 The Ancestor's Tale page 250, ISBN 0-618-00583-8
  10. ^ Eckhart L, Valle LD, Jaeger K; et al. (2008). "Identification of reptilian genes encoding hair keratin-like proteins suggests a new scenario for the evolutionary origin of hair". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (47): 18419–23. Bibcode:2008PNAS..10518419E. doi:10.1073/pnas.0805154105. PMC 2587626Freely accessible. PMID 19001262.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  11. ^ Castro, Peter and Michael E. Huber (2007) Marine Biology Page 80.
  12. ^ Bester, Cathleen. Biological Profiles: Great Hammerhead. Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department. Retrieved on October 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Strong, W.R., Snelson, Jr., F.F., and Gruber, S.H. (Sep. 19, 1990). "Hammerhead Shark Predation on Stingrays: An Observation of Prey Handling by Sphyrna mokarran". Copeia. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. 1990 (3): 836–840. doi:10.2307/1446449. JSTOR 1446449.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ Chapman, D.D. and Gruber, S.H. (May 2002). "A further observation of the prey-handling behavior of the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran: predation upon the spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari". Bulletin of Marine Science. 70 (3): 947–952. 



earless seals


fur seals

sea lions

robotic seal



  • Clack, Jennifer A (2012) "From fins to feet" Chapter 6, pages 187–260, in: Gaining Ground, Second Edition: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods, Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253356758.

external links
  • Evolution of Pectoral Flippers
  • homology Encyclopædia Britannica
  • From Feet to Flippers
  • Evolution: development
  • Adaptive Evolution of 5′HoxD Genes in the Origin and Diversification of the Cetacean Flipper
  • Story: Penguins
  • "Comparative anatomy and evolution of the odontocete forelimb" 2009
  • Fossil Offers Flipper Evolution Link 26 April 2009.
  • Penguins: "one of the few flightless birds in the world... can't fly because it has flippers rather than wings... uses its strong flippers and streamlined body to torpedo through the water"
  • Sea Lions: "massive marine mammals that can grow to 600 lbs... identified by four individual flippers and brownish coloring. Differs from seals... sea lions have "ears" and seals don't. The name "eared seal" is derived from this."
  • Dolphins: "member of the whale family... closely related to the porpoise... identified by its long mouth. The porpoise does not have any distinct mouth in that it does not protrude out like a beak. It is much more like a whale's mouth. Dolphins found in nearly every major ocean and even in some major rivers around the world."
  • Whales: "Whales are warm-blooded animals that come in all different sizes and varieties. Whales smaller than the killer whale include the sperm whale and the pilot whale. The largest animal in the world is the blue whale. Regardless of size, all whales use their flippers to move about the ocean. The only difference is how much weight those flippers have to move around."


"Penguins are found only in the southern hemisphere."

"As with all marine mammals, adaptation to the aquatic environment has influenced the body shape of seals. They have become streamlined, their limbs have become flippers (the term Pinnipedia means ‘feather foot’ or ‘wing foot’), and they have a layer of fat to help insulate them in the water and to act as an energy reserve.... Earless or phocid seals have no earflaps, which makes them more streamlined. They are unable to move their hind flippers under their bodies, so they move with a caterpillar motion on land. In water, they propel themselves with their hind flippers, and steer with their front flippers."[1]

Most seal species spend 50% of their time on land and 50% in the water.

"Pinnipeds are further broken down into three families: Odobenidae, Otariidae, and Pocidae. The elephant seal is a member of the Phocid (pronounced "f-oh-sid") family. The Phocids are also known as "true seals" or "earless seals" and are thought to have evolved from an otter-like creature that returned to the sea about 25 million years ago.... Otariids are thought to have evolved from a bear-like animal, in other words, bears and sea lions may have a common ancestor... There's only one member of the Odobenid family, and that's the walrus."[3]

"Whale flippers, frog forelimbs, and your own arms most likely evolved from the front flippers of an ancient jawless fish. Because they share a common evolutionary origin, these are examples of homologous structures."[4]

"the bones in a bat's wing and whale's flipper are strikingly similar."[5]

See also[edit]


Marine animal robotics[edit]

Humboldt Current[edit]

Alexander von Humboldt, (detail) by Joseph Stieler, 1843

From the German WP:

The Humboldt Current is a cold ocean current along the west coast of South America , named after the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt . It flows from the Antarctic parallel to the Andes to the north.

The low temperatures of Antarctic origin waters mean that the average water temperature is lower on the west coast of South America by 7-8 ° C than the temperature in the open ocean at the same latitude.

The cold sea water cools the air. The coastal area of the Humboldt current form therefore low rainfall desert areas , such as the Atacama desert in Chile .

With the onset of El Niño is weakening of the cold Humboldt Current off or disappears.

  Peru-Chile Trench

From the Peruvian WP:

This relatively slow and shallow stream is a wide 400 to 900 kilometers and its water levels is 10 to 20 million m³ / sec. Flow rate of 16-24 km / day to nearly 4 ° south latitude , where it turns west, Galapagos wraps from the southwest, and mixed with the southern equatorial current . The temperature of the water is about 6 ° C lower than the surrounding sea, on average reaches 18 ° C.

Current Peruvian waters are already at the place of a úživné , bringing you from the Southern Ocean plenty of mineral substances ( iron , phosphorus ) and nitrogen , plankton and krill , and are good oxygenation . Throughout the flow around the coast of Chile and Peru , where the tectonic continental shelf rather narrow and sharply falling into the depths, there is good mixing of ground water flow to the upper layers. This mixing of water is caused by turbulence in the flow around the continental slope, constantly blowing winds from the south and the Coriolis force . Because even the upper layer flow is relatively cold ( termoklina is only slightly below the surface) there is no reason to lift up the bottom, there arise strong output currents - upwelling . These are plotted in the surface layers of nutrients and clog the lower oxygenated water, Peruvian current is almost the entire length of the life-giving sea creatures. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
The above described it is evident that the Peruvian current is ideal for stormy reproduction of phytoplankton , zooplankton , krill, small fish and larger and larger " predators ". These include not only aquatic animals such as fish and cephalopods , but also marine mammals such as black porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis) and Chilean plískavice (Cephalorhynchus Eutropius) from pinnipeds pound sea lion (Otaria flavescens) and the South American sea lion (Arctocephalus australis) from terrestrial predators coastal otter (Lontra FELINA) and birds Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus Humboldt) and Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), Chilean Tern (Sterna lorata) and Tern Inca (Inca Larosterna) buřňáček small (Oceanites gracilis) and New Zealand Petrel (Procellaria westlandica ).

The greatest wealth is the Peruvian current, however, the smaller pelagic fish such as anchovy Peruvian anchovy (Engraulis ringens), sardine dotted (Sardinops sagax) and mackerel mackerel California (Trachurus symmetricus) living in flocks in unimaginable numbers. It is estimated that out of its waters to fish out annually about 20 million tonnes, representing around 18 to 20% of world fish production, although its area is less than 1% of the world's oceans. Peruvian current is outside the Arctic and Antarctic waters "fertile" areas of the world's waters.

In years when the activity will increase dramatically El Niño is a periodic weakening of the winds and overheated waters of the western Pacific to move to the coast of South America in the opposite direction of the Peruvian current. Sea temperature rises to 7 ° C termoklina gets in depth, cease output currents, the upper water layers are no nutrients and are not poorly oxygenated bottom. Aquatic animals, starting with the smallest ones, do not have enough food, die. Similarly, on the other affiliated to them, such as aquatic mammals and birds. This situation brings great economic catastrophe that takes several years to drooping of the fish return to their original values, and fishing, there is the alpha and omega, is again profitable .

Peruvian current weather continental influences. Cools the adjacent coast of Chile by 5-6 ° C and Peru by 7 to 9 ° C against the ocean waters at the same latitude. Further causes low total rain precipitation on the coast (below 100 mm / year), the wind blowing into the interior is cold and binds little water vapor . There is one of the driest deserts of Atacama where rain for decades. Coastal vegetation usually live only from the strong fumes coming from the sea. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

1 ↑ a b McGinley, Mark. OF EARTH: Humboldt Current large marine ecosystem [online]. Encyclopedia of Earth, Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, DC, rev. 08.10.2008, [cit. 02.08.2011]. Available online (en)

2 ↑ a b Encyclopedia Britannica [online]. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.., Chicago, IL, [cit. 02.08.2011]. Available online (en)

3 ↑ a b Our Earth: Humboldt Current [online]. World Wide Fund for Nature, Gland, Switzerland, [cit. 02.08.2011]. Available online (en)

4 ↑ a b Sciece and the Sea: Humboldt Curren [online]. The University of Texas Marine Sciece Institute, Austin, TX, [cit. 02.08.2011]. Available online (en)

5 ↑ a b Brandl. Hydrolobiologie, Marine Habitat [online]. University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science, Czech Budejovice, rev. 19.05.2009, [cit. 02.08.2011]. Available online (cs)

The "Peruvean Humboldt Current" often just refers to the component of the Humboldt Current off the Peruvean coast,[6] just as the "Chilean Humboldt Current" often just refers to the component of the Humboldt Current off the Chilean coast.[7]

"A cold ocean current of the South Pacific, flowing north along the western coast of South America. Approximately every ten years complex weather conditions result in the disruption of the Humboldt Current, and nutrients from the ocean floor do not rise to the surface, and the fish starve, which phenomenon is known as El Niño. Also called Peru Current."[1]

Ekman transport

"The wind blowing over the ocean moves the surface layer but the Coriolis force deflects it to the right in the hemisphere north and to the left in the south. This deviation is propagated down by viscosity and gives a way to transport material off-axis surface winds. Ekman pumping is the upward transport of sea water as a result of surface winds from a depression . Under the effect of wind, water between the surface and the thermocline is moved and deflected by the Coriolis force to the outside of the depression by the Ekman transport. This description is a general circulation as described by Sverdrup. Another application of the Ekman pumping more local, is that of upwelling ("Upwelling") along the coast as the wind blows parallel to the latter and the Coriolis force is in the direction that the away from it. By pushing the surface water out to sea, it creates a vacuum that water up from the depths fill." (from French WP)

"The continental shelf is generally very narrow along the while west coast of South America because this the leading edge of a drifting continent."[2]

  • Strub PT, Mesias JM, Montecino V, Ruttlant J, Salinas S (1998) Coastal ocean circulation off western South America. In: Robin- son AR, Brink KH (eds) The sea: the global coastal ocean, region- al studies and syntheses. Wiley, New York

"The primary driver of the currents in the PCCS [Peru-Chile Current System] is the frictional force of the winds on the ocean's surface, the wind stress. As the wind field has a pronounced seasonal signal it is useful to contrast the situation for austral summer (January to March) and audtral winter (July to December)."[3]

The ecosystem

"The rich biological productivity of the PCCS depends primarly on the wind-driven coastal upwelling that brings colder and nutrient-rich subsurface waters into the euphotic zone. The upwelling is, in part, fed by water from the oxygen-minimum zone, located below the PCCS and the water has particularly high nutrient levels due to the remineralization of organic matter. When this nutrient-rich water is upwelled into the surface layer it is utilized by phytoplankton along with CO2 (carbon dioxide) and light energy from the Sun." [This productivity results in high chlorophyll concentrations at the surface, which can be demonstrated on satellite scans]"[3]


  1. ^ The Houghton Mifflin dictionary of geography, Houghton Mifflin, 1997. ISBN 9780395864487.
  2. ^ Longhurst AR (2007) Ecological geography of the sea Academic Press, p. 409. ISBN 9780124555211.
  3. ^ a b Karstensen J and Ulloa O (2009) "Peru-Chile Current System" In: JH Steele, SA Thorpe and KK Turekian (Eds.) Ocean Currents, Academic Press, p. 85–92. ISBN 9780080964867.



Walraversijde was a medieval fishing village along the Flemish Coast. It was located in a dune area just west of the present Raversijde, a hamlet in the Belgian city of Ostend. Faithful reconstruction of the fishermen's houses Contents [Hide]

   * 1 Geology
   * 2 First settlement
   * 3 Second settlement
   4 * Renewed interest
   5 * The houses of Walraversijde
   * 6 Fishing
   * 7 Reference Works
   * 8 See also
   * 9 External links

[Edit] Geology

After the last ice age there were behind the beach and dunes of the Flemish coast in the course of time, according to a fickle and ever-changing pattern, a freshwater wetland. Through centuries of accumulation of decayed vegetation, these swamps were gradually transformed into a bog. With the rise in sea levels and frequent flooding by the sea there is formed tidal creeks, mudflats and salt marshes. In the last 2000 years sea level then gradually declined, so the fresh water gradually got the upper hand again and a thick peat layer could be formed.

The marshes increased gradually by deposition of silt and clay. This was also the saltmarsh vegetation gradually replaced by freshwater plants. During spring, these areas are still flooded. This arose, salt meadows. Salt was an important and popular product. Therefore it was in the Iron Age and Roman times mined, which traces were found in the current Leffinge. But in Raversijde one has found remains of a salt pan from Roman times. In 2005, excavations they found remains from first to third century of an old Roman dam twelve meters wide, thickened with peat. The discovery of terra sigilata (red lacquered ware from France) is a convincing evidence of human presence in Roman times. The Roman peat mining pits in Raversijde also point to the extraction of peat. Peat was a valuable fuel. With the decline of the Roman Empire fell back prosperity. Flemish coast in the early Middle Ages

By the daily tidal flooding along the channels was Testerep and a long salt marshes and mudflats formed. From the 8th century when this area was increasingly overwhelmed by the sea and tidal channels began to silt, Saxony settled on the higher parts of the area and built farms that would grow into towns like Leffinge and Ichtegem. They also kept sheep, because the salt marshes vegetation was very suitable for this purpose. The wool of these sheep was wanted and there was an industry in the Merovingian period around "Frisian cloth".

In the 10th century the Flemish Pagus Flandrensis their graves with many areas along the salt marshes and tidal channels of Testerep in Bredene and grinding. The name 'Broad' is also derived from Broad Ede, "which refers to the 'Ede North", another tidal channel. These areas were expanded to large areas of the count sheep. Several inner dikes, perpendicular to the shoreline, built to protect these areas against the sea. Around 1150 had started the final reclamation of the coastal plain. The current Mariakerke was named as early as 1115 Testerepsi parrochia. Brick houses with fishing well [Edit] First settlement

Already in the Neolithic and Bronze Age nomadic hunters and fishermen lived here. A small hamlet developed in the early middle behind a row of dunes. The inhabitants lived on fishing but also of piracy (as usual in those days) and sheep breeding in the marshes. Moreover, they also drove international trade, even in the north of Scotland. Their merchant vessels against piracy in the 14th century they went on to place primitive guns on board, but it was a perilous undertaking to shake off pirates.

In 1357 this village was first mentioned in a written document as "Hide Walravens. The word 'hide' appears in English as "Hith, hryther and Hythe ', as in the place Rotherhithe (the peninsula along the Thames from where the Mayflower with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620 moved to Virginia) and Hythe (an English coastal town near Folkestone) and originated from Old Saxon suffix 'ijde', which also occurs in the towns and Koksijde Lombardsijde and means landing. "Walraf IJde" or "Hide Walravens 'means' the landing of a certain Walraf. Map of Walraversijde in the 15th century

The end of the 14th century were troubled times: the revolt in Ghent, led by Philip of Artevelde and economic decline prevented foreign trade. The dunes were neglected and undermined by the many rabbits corridors. The Storm of 22 January 1394 Vincent was made to break through the dunes and Testerep was inundated. This original location Walraversijde was hopelessly lost and was therefore abandoned. Bakery and smokehouse [Edit] Second settlement

In 1399 Duke John the Fearless gave orders to set up a new dike along the coast, called "Count Jansdijk ', which are still traces to be found. Behind the dam, at the place of the current site was becoming a new Walraversijde built and grew rapidly into a wealthy village of about 100 densely built brick houses, with a mill, a brewery and one between 1420 and 1430 built three-aisled church of John the Baptist. The low tower was built in Gothic style in the same way as the tower of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Duinen Mariakerke Church and had a flat roof, which was also used as a lookout and beacon for sailors. fishing net drying on rods

The highlight of Walraversijde was, as is clear from the excavations reached around 1465. This was also the heyday of Flanders and Flemish painting, called "15th Golden Age. This also applied to the fishermen, who usually own a boat and fishing gear owned. Found an eyeglass legs indicates that there were people who could read and write and therefore could keep the trading books. This points to a certain prosperity. The brick houses were slightly smaller than 100 m2 and a few were about 150 m2. However, they were all, to the standards of the time, cozy and comfortably furnished with brick wells, latrines and underground brick

At the end of the 15th century came a troubled time. For example, some times fierce battle to Ostend area. Ostend was looted and burned in July 1489 by followers of the German King Maximilian I of Austria, led by Daniel van Praet, Captain Newport. This heralded a period of depopulation and economic decline in. By 1510 were in Walraversijde though some houses and by 1534 had expired some parts of Walraversijde leave. In 1548 there were more devastation when Ostend was conquered by the British and the Dutch. Finally remained Walraversijde no longer than a few houses around the church and the mill. On the 'Great Map of the Liberty of Bruges' by Pieter Pourbus from 1571 (kept only as a copy by Pieter Claeissins) Walraversijde is still listed as a small hamlet with a church and mill, located along a tidal channel behind the dunes.

At the end of the 16th century, when the rise of Protestantism, raged in Flanders a lengthy battle between the Spanish rulers and the Flemish nobles. After the Battle of Newport on July 2, 1600, the army of the Prince has returned to Ostend. It was to cluster the army also pass along Walraversijde with devastating effect. Shortly thereafter began the Siege of Ostend (1601-1604), one of the bloodiest episodes of the 17th century. The few remaining houses from the Spanish cavalry Walraversijde were used as a shelter. This was probably the death knell for this once thriving community. A map from 1628 shows on this site only green fields. The church had fallen and was now used as a barn. However, the tower was also used as a beacon for shipping to their demolition in 1860. [Edit] Renewed interest foundations of some houses

At the end of the 20th century, there is an archeology of Walraversijde. There had been some research done around 1950 on the beach Raversijde. This was the first settlement (13th-14th century), which was swallowed by the sea. At low tide there was still one could see the ground plan of the foundations of some houses and cultivated peat layers. The construction of new breakwaters was all buried under the sand again.

In the spring of 1992 started a new systematic archaeological research, this time behind the dunes in the newly acquired province Raversijde Domain. This yielded a wealth of diverse and well-preserved details of daily life and fishing but also weaponry, such as cannon balls, parts of crossbows and daggers.

The numerous discoveries resulted in the development of the Provincial Museum Walraversijde. This also included some residences faithfully reconstructed with the original bricks found on the site. The interior and the contents of the houses was copied from the many illustrated manuscripts from that time. In this way one gets an impression of how people lived and worked Walraversijde. [Edit] The houses of Walraversijde

The Provincial Museum has four Walraversijde fishing houses from the period around 1465 faithfully rebuilt. These bricks were only used on site were excavated. The interior and layout of the houses was done by using replicas of excavated materials or images in paintings, miniatures and illustrated manuscripts from that era. Thus, this ambitious project could give a faithful evocation of the settlement and provide a good impression of how people lived and worked Walraversijde

These four houses are:

  • The home of owner: a big house where the only gold coin so far been found. This gold coin bears the image of Conrad III von Dhaun, Archbishop of Mainz (1419-1434). The coin was beaten between 1411 and 1434. It therefore assumes that this house has belonged to an intermediary. This house had glass windows, therefore, a relatively expensive luxury product, and a richly decorated suitcase, and a Tresor dresser and furniture. Next to the dining table with pewter dishes, medieval glass and majolica plates, are two lordly seats. The tablet is on a polygonal table slap cheek, with an adjacent X-shaped 'prekestoel. Lie on some notebooks with washing tablets. The walls were provided with several wallcovering in a mixture of wool and linen. The four-poster bed with time belonged to the most expensive furniture in a house (this may be the only authentic copy in Europe).
  • Miniature from the manuscript Roman de la Rose (Oxford, Bodleian Library), portrait of Guillaume de Lorris, seated in lordly seat
  • tablet on cheek folding table
  • example of a medieval banquet (from 'Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, c. 1415
  • the dining table with chairs in the lordly 'house of the owner "
  • canopy bed - La teseida the Boccaccio-Maître des Jouvenel des Ursins
  • the canopy in the 'house of the owner "
  • The house of the fisherman's widow: you were the windows covered with lattice of willow twigs and wooden sliding shutters. Besides a simple table is a tonstoel. The table is covered with wooden bowls, wooden spoons, cutting boards round and red pottery, a knife with bone handle and a linen tablecloth. The single bed is under the stairs.
  • dining table with tonstoel
  • single bed under the stairs
  • pottery and dishes
  • The house of visroker: the wall is covered with a dyed fabric tapestry imitations. Hethoge bed is built into an alcove. At its foot is a stepping stone, which served as storage space. Next to it stands a cot with ratchet.
  • draft-free bed in alcove
  • carpentry
  • imitation tapestry
  • The smokehouse and bakery;
  • bakery
  • smokehouse
  • toys

[Edit] Fishery

Walraversijde was a community of fishermen and traders. Fish in the Middle Ages played a major role in the diet. Moreover, meat and dairy products banned by the Church many days (Fridays, the fasting period, and other fast days or "fishing days").

There were about twenty Walraversijde fishing boats, each with a crew between thirteen and twenty. The captains had their own boats and nets. This points to a certain prosperity. The fishermen were dressed in waterproof suits (in striped linen fabric, rubbed with oil) and used nets with floats of cork or wood and lead, brick or stone weights and weighted lines with iron hooks. These nets had to be constantly repaired. They were made from wood and bone needles lost, many of them were found. Fishing nets with floats

The men fished mainly on herring boats in the North and Scotland to perform sometimes cod. The fishermen conducted a lively trade in jaw herring. This was, however, since the early 13th century, a monopoly of the Hanseatic League in Germany and southern Sweden (Schon Genocide jaw herring). In the early 15th century, around 1420, that changed and Flemish fishermen also could legally produce jaw herring. The jaws of herring herring could be kept much longer and thus domestically traded. This gave rise to a lively trade.

Jaw Herring was appropriate and brine in barrels. These barrels were made with wood from the Baltic region, mainly from the region around Gdansk (in present day Poland). So the barrels were originally used for importing Hanseatische gutted herring. Other storage methods for herring and herring were dry rack herring (herring sprinkled with salt in baskets). Corruption one cod, plaice and whiting and flatfish, like flounder, dab and plaice. Fish were also smoked, which not only taste better, but these fish could be kept longer.

Women looking for mussels and crabs along the waterline. Shrimp were caught in shallow water, possibly with nets drawn by horses, as it now appears as a tourist event in East Dunkirk. truss anchor

Walraversijde had no market. Fish was traded by intermediaries, 'wards' mentioned. Some skippers gave the fish itself and were broker. These were then quickly dominating the market. They were the financiers of local sailors, who then began to sail in their service.

Fishing was not the only source of income. The fishermen often sell their fish in England and returned back to commodities such as coal, grain, pewter, and English fabrics. Possibly there were some real cargo, which then Flemish goods exported and returned with foreign goods. So were various objects found on the site that came from far away, like a comb in African ivory, black pepper from South India, Rhenish stoneware salt glaze and lots of expensive gold luster majolica dishes from Spain. Probably they were imported from Bruges, who at that time a major port. Their presence on this site recalls a certain prosperity of the local population.

Another possibility is that these expensive goods, or part of the spoils of piracy or from wrecks. Piracy was at that time a common practice. Unknown ships were considered prey, especially if they were less heavily armed men on board had or less. The fishermen of this Walraversijde had a fairly bad reputation, as reflected in documents from that time. The winter storms and sandbanks off the coast ensure that regular shipwrecks found themselves on the beach Walraversijde. This resulted in most cases on a rich booty.

Fishermen Walraversijde occurred so often as pirates, but were often themselves the victims of piracy, such as around 1460 when many were slain by French pirates in Honfleur and Dieppe. Sometimes Walraversijde fishermen who happened to present in a foreign port, the victim of reprisals long incarceration and sometimes, when ships from that port had been attacked by other Walraversijde fishermen. Their action was definitely not without risks. It is therefore not surprising that the fishermen are so heavily armed as possible. It has been the site remains of crossbows and nierdolken found. Flemish coins (around 1375)

They palsy also involved in the war between the French king Louis XI and Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1465-1477 period). These were bad times for fishermen Walraversijde. They had to hand over ships and sailors for the protection of the Flemish fleet. Finally, they had even an expensive warship buy a small cannon. There could only be fished in convoy, protected by warships. After the war there followed a civil war in Flanders. Walraversijde was between Ostend and opponents and told them so in the blasts. This led to the decline of this thriving community.

In 1999 they made an extraordinary discovery: a coin deposit consisting of 211 silver paste or "great double" with a high silver content from the time of Louis of Male (1330-1384), Count of Flanders from 1346 to 1380. They were minted between 1373 and 1380. At that time there was turmoil in the county of Flanders, with a rebellion of Ghent and other cities, led by Philip of Artevelde, against the Count and his son, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. [Edit] Reference works

   * Deseyne, A. (1993). Raversijde: History of the Royal Estate. Province of West Flanders
   * Kightly, Ch. et al (2003) - Walraversijde 1465 (from archaeological excavation to actual reconstruction)
   * Pieters, M. (1995). A 15th-century field of lost fishing village Raversijde (Ostend, prov. Ontario): Interim Report 1994
   * Pieters, M. (2002). Raversijde 1992-2002: a balance after 10 years archaeological research [1992-2002 Raversijde
   * Pieters, M. et al (2002). medieval and later devotional and badges from Raversijde ==Biodiversity==

"Biological diversity is plummeting, mainly due to habitat degradation and loss, pollution, overexploitation, competition from alien species, disease, and changing climates."[1]

Reef sharks[edit]

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific are dominated by whitetip, blacktip and grey reef shark. Coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean are dominated by the Caribbean reef shark. These sharks are all species of requiem shark, and all have the robust, streamlined bodies that are typical of the requiem shark. They are fast-swimming, agile predators that feed primarily on free-swimming bony fishes and cephalopods.

The whitetip reef shark almost exclusively inhabits coral reefs

The whitetip reef shark is a small shark usually less than 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length. It is associated almost exclusively with coral reefs where it can be encountered around coral heads and ledges with high vertical relief, or over sandy flats, in lagoons, or near drop-offs to deeper water.[2] They prefer very clear water and rarely swim far from the bottom.[3]

Whitetip reef sharks spend most of the daytime time resting inside caves. Unlike other requiem sharks, which usually rely on ram ventilation and must constantly swim to breathe, this shark can pump water over its gills and lie still on the bottom. They have slender, lithe body, which allows them to wriggle into crevices and holes and extract prey inaccessible to other reef sharks. On the other hand, they are rather clumsy when attempting to take food suspended in open water.[3]

The whitetip reef shark does not frequent very shallow water like the blacktip reef shark, nor the outer reef like the grey reef shark.[4] They generally remain within a highly localized area. Only rarely do they undertake long movements, wandering for a while before settling down somewhere new. An individual shark may rest inside the same cave for months to years. The daytime home range of a whitetip reef shark is limited to about 0.05 km2 (0.019 sq mi), and at night this range increases to 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi).[5]

The whitetip reef shark is highly responsive to olfactory, acoustic, and electrical cues given off by potential prey. Its visual system is attuned more to movement and/or contrast than to object details.[2][6][7] It is especially sensitive to natural and artificial low-frequency sounds in the 25–100 Hz range, which evoke struggling fish.[5] They hunt primarily at night, when many fishes are asleep and easily taken. After dusk, a group of sharks may target the same prey item, covering every exit route from a particular coral head. Each shark hunts for itself and in competition with the others in its group.[2] They feed mainly on bony fishes, including eels, squirrelfishes, snappers, damselfishes, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, triggerfishes, and goatfishes, as well as octopus, spiny lobsters, and crabs.[4] Important predators of the whitetip reef shark include tiger sharks and Galapagos sharks.

A shark swimming parallel to a reef ledge in the foreground, with many smaller fish nearby
Adult blacktip reef sharks are often found patrolling reef ledges.

The blacktip reef shark is typically about 1.6 m (5.2 ft) long. It is usually found over reef ledges and sandy flats, though it can also enter brackish and freshwater environments. This species likes shallow water, while the whitetip and the grey reef shark are prefer deeper water. Younger sharks favour shallow sandy flats, and older sharks spend more time around reef ledges and near reef drop-offs. Blacktip reef sharks are strongly attached to their own area, where they may remain for up to several years.[8] A tracking study off Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific has found that the blacktip reef shark had a home range of about 0.55 km2 (0.21 sq mi), among the smallest of any shark species. The size and location of the range does not change with time of day.

The blacktip reef shark may be encountered alone or in small groups. Large social aggregations have also been observed.[4][9] They are active predators of small bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans, and also feed on sea snakes and seabirds.[4] Blacktip reef sharks are preyed on by groupers, grey reef sharks, tiger sharks, and members of their own species. At Palmyra Atoll, adult blacktip reef sharks avoid patrolling tiger sharks by staying out of the central, deeper lagoon.[10]

Photo of shark swimming next to coral drop-off.
Coral reef drop-offs are favoured habitat for grey reef sharks

Grey reef sharks are fast-swimming, agile predators that feed primarily on free-swimming bony fishes and cephalopods. Their aggressive demeanor enables them to dominate many other shark species on the reef, despite their moderate size. Many grey reef sharks have a home range on a specific area of the reef, to which they continually return. However, they are social rather than territorial. During the day, these sharks often form groups of 5–20 individuals near coral reef drop-offs, splitting up in the evening as the sharks begin to hunt.

They are found over continental and insular shelves, preferring the leeward (away from the direction of the current) sides of coral reefs with clear water and rugged topography. They are frequently found near the drop-offs at the outer edges of the reef, and less commonly within lagoons. On occasion, this shark may venture several kilometers out into the open ocean.[4][11]

A Caribbean reef shark cruises a coral reef in the Bahamas.

Tthe Caribbean reef shark, at up to 3 metres (10 ft) in length, is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem. Like the whitetip reef shark, they have been documented resting motionless on the sea bottom or inside caves, unusual behaviour for requiem sharks. Caribbean reef shark play a major role in shaping Caribbean reef communities. They are more active at night, with no evidence of seasonal changes in activity or migration. Juveniles tend to remain in a localized area throughout the year, while adults range over a wider area.[12] The Caribbean reef shark feeds on a wide variety of reef-dwelling bony fishes and cephalopods, as well as some elasmobranchs such as eagle rays and yellow stingrays .[13] Young sharks feed on small fishes, shrimps, and crabs.[5] In turn, young sharks are preyed on by larger sharks such as the tiger shark and the bull shark.

  1. ^ Huggett, Richard J., Fundamentals of biogeography, "Conserving species and populations."
  2. ^ a b c Hobson, E.S. (1963). "Feeding Behavior in Three Species of Sharks". Pacific Science. 17: 171–194. 
  3. ^ a b Randall, J.E. (1977). "Contribution to the Biology of the Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)". Pacific Science. 31 (2): 143–164. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Compagno, L.J.V. (1984). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization. pp. 459–461. ISBN 9251013845. 
  5. ^ a b c Martin, R.A. Caribbean Reef Shark. ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. Retrieved on February 14, 2009.
  6. ^ Nelson, D.R. and R.H. Johnson. (1970). Acoustic studies on sharks: Rangiroa Atoll, July 1969. ONR Technical Report 2, No. N00014-68-C-0138.
  7. ^ Yano, K., H. Mori, K. Minamikawa, S. Ueno, S. Uchida, K. Nagai, M. Toda and M. Masuda (June 2000). "Behavioral response of sharks to electric stimulation". Bulletin of Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute. 78: 13–30. 
  8. ^ Papastamatiou, Y.P., J.E. Caselle, A.M. Friedlander and C.G. Lowe (September 16, 2009). "Distribution, size frequency, and sex ratios of blacktip reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus at Palmyra Atoll: a predator-dominated ecosystem". Journal of Fish Biology. 75 (3): 647–654. 
  9. ^ Springer, S. (1967). Gilbert, P.W. and R.F. Mathewson and D.P. Rail, ed. "Sharks, Skates, and Rays". Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press: 149–174.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  10. ^ Papastamatiou, Y.P., C.G. Lowe, J.E. Caselle and A.M. Friedlander (April 2009). "Scale-dependent effects of habitat on movements and path structure of reef sharks at a predator-dominated atoll". Ecology. 90 (4): 996–1008. 
  11. ^ Papastamatiou, Y.P., Wetherbee, B.M., Lowe, C.G. and Crow, G.L. (2006). "Distribution and diet of four species of carcharhinid shark in the Hawaiian Islands: evidence for resource partitioning and competitive exclusion". Marine Ecology Progress Series. 320: 239–251. 
  12. ^ Garla, R.C., Chapman, D.D., Wetherbee, B.M. and Shivji, M. (2006). "Movement patterns of young Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil: the potential of marine protected areas for conservation of a nursery ground". Marine Biology. 149: 189–199. 
  13. ^ Rosa, R.S., Mancini, P., Caldas, J.P. and Graham, R.T. (2006). "Carcharhinus perezi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 14, 2009. 















Atlas of the Oceans[edit]


External links[edit]

Category:Environmental issues with fishing| ]] Category:Sustainability


In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 30.0 million U.S. anglers, 16 years old and older took 403 million fishing trips, spending $42.0 billion in fishing related expenses. Of these, 25.4 million were freshwater anglers who took 337 million trips and spent $26.3 billion. Saltwater fishing attracted 7.7 million anglers who took 67 million trips and spent $8.9 billion.[1]

Recreational fishing expenditures in $US billion[1]
subtotal total percent
Food and lodging 6.3
Transportation 5.0
Other trip costs: land use fees, guide fees,
equipment rental, boating expenses, and bait...
      Trip-related, total 17.9
Fishing equipment: rods, reels, tackle boxes,
depth finders, and artificial lures and flies...
Auxiliary equipment: camping equipment,
binoculars, and special fishing clothing...
Special equipment: boats, vans, and cabins... 13.2
      Equipment, total 18.8
Magazines, books 0.1
Membership dues and contributions 0.2
Land leasing and ownership 4.6
Licenses, stamps, tags, and permits 0.5
      Other, total 5.4
      Overall total 42.0 100

Freshwater Fishing[edit]

Freshwater fishing was the most popular type of fishing. In 2006, 25.4 million anglers went freshwater fishing for 433 million days and 337 million trips. Their expenditures for trips and equipment totaled $26.3 billion for the year.[1]

Saltwater fishing[edit]

In 2006, 7.7 million anglers enjoyed saltwater fishing on 67 million trips totaling 86 million days. Overall, they spent $8.9 billion during the year on trips and equipment for saltwater fishing.[1]tsk

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


External links[edit]

Shad fishing[edit]

Watercolor of an American shad by Sherman F. Denton, 1904. The swelling between the anal fin and ventral fin identifies this as a pregnant female.

American shad are valued as a sport fish that exhibit complex and little-understood feeding behavior while spawning. Unlike salmon, shad retain the ability to digest and assimilate food during the anadromous migration. Like other fish, their feeding instinct can be triggered by a variety of factors such as turbidity and water temperature. Anglers use both spinning and fly fishing tackle to pursue shad. Spin fisherman use a shad dart or a flutter spoon. Typically a downrigger is used to place the artificial lure at the desired depth and location. This is usually in the channel, or deepest part of the river. Much of the shad's migration places them in the lower potion of the water column which makes this the typical depth of choice for fishing. In the north, April through June is when shad spawn in coastal rivers and estuaries once water temperatures have reached 58 degrees. Fishing conditions typically improve as water temperatures warm and flow decreases.

The male shad is an excellent game fish, showing multiple jumps and an occasional end-over-end; it has been called a "freshwater tarpon". The pregnant female does not fight much, but is often kept for the roe.

Shad fishing on the West Coast[edit]

Early 19th century shad fishing on the Peedee (Greater Pee Dee) River, South Carolina.[1]
  • California: The Sacramento River provides the best-known shad water in the state, but it is ideally suited to spin fishing. The water is large, quite deep and is best accessed via boat. The wading fly angler will find smaller, more accessible water along the Sacramento's' tributaries. The Feather River has numerous good spots between the Oroville Dam and the Sacramento, the Shanghai bend downstream from Marysville being one of many. The Yuba, a tributary of the Feather, branches northeast along Route 20 from which there are numerous access points. The American River from Nimbus Dam to Sacramento has numerous parking areas just north of the American River Parkway. The numerous islands in this section can split the shad run, so depending on the water level, target runs and riffles where the whole run is concentrated. To the north, the Klamath, like the Sacramento, is big shad water. Its tributary, the Trinity River, is more accessible and follows Route 299 closely.
  • Oregon: Most of Oregon's coastal rivers have shad runs, but there are some standouts. East of Portland, the Bonneville Dam poses a significant obstacle to the Columbia River's shad run. As a result, the most popular areas are just downstream from the dam, though shore fishing can be dicey depending on water levels. Some of the better shore access is found upriver from the dam on the Washington side of the river (see below.) Downstream from the dam, the Willamette River extending south of Portland and the Columbia River provides some shore access. The Umpqua River east of Reedsport along Routes 38 and 138 to Roseburg and beyond is a popular area. The Rogue, Coos, Siuslaw, Smith, Sandy and Coquille Rivers also have shad runs worth investigation.
  • Washington: The Columbia River delineates the border with Oregon, so some of Washington's best shad fishing is to be had in the Bonneville Dam area. From Highway 14, two miles east of North Bonneville, transmission towers mark the entrance to an access road that will put you onto some good spots. The Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers in the vicinity of Centralia has good water. Route 6 west from this area follows the upper Chehalis and will bring you to another good shad river, the Willapa. American Shad are also fished commercially in the Columbia River. There is a small non-Indian commercial gillnet fishery several miles downstream from Bonneville Dam. There is also a tribal commercial fishery. The tribal fishery is composed of a dipnet/hoopnet fishery from platforms primarily in the Bonneville Dam pool and a live trap fishery at The Dalles Dam.

Shad fishing on the East Coast[edit]

Old map of the east coast spawning grounds.
  • New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey: Look no further than the Delaware River. With a shad run exceeding 300 miles, this river offers many, many places to catch shad, though most of the better wading fly water is above Port Jervis, New York. The Delaware River recently hosted rock star Dean Ween for his fishing show Skunked during a premier episode fishing for shad. From there to Hancock, Route 97 follows the river affording access on and off for over seventy miles. There are numerous pull-offs and rapids on Route 97. To name just a few good tail outs: up and downstream from the Barryville Bridge; downstream from the Lackawaxen Bridge (parking on the Pennsylvania side); Cedar Rapids; Ten Mile River Access; and down from Kellams Bridge just north of Hankins. A good map of this area can be found at
  • Connecticut: Unlike the Delaware, the shad on the Connecticut River have to pass a number of dams, each one thinning the numbers that push farther upstream. The river is pretty big to fish without a lead line and a boat, so waders pretty much have to look for confluences like that of the Farmington River near Windsor. The Hammonasset River around Clinton reportedly has some good fly water.
  • Massachusetts and Vermont: Holyoke Dam — perhaps the state's most famous spot — is too crowded to be any fun, but it is where local Roofing and Siding Contractor Robert A. Thibodo (1937-2006) set the current World Record on May 19th 1986 (11 pounds 4 ounces). In the Springfield area, it would be better to try spots below the Willimanset Bridge or the confluence of the Chicopee River. But you'll have a more pastoral experience fishing up and down from the Rock Dam (not a dam at all, just rocks) access at Turners Falls. Some coastal rivers like the Palmer and the North are also reported to have less crowded conditions. Shad go all the way up into Vermont as far as Bellows Falls, though the Vernon dam has significantly decreased the run by this point.
  • Maryland and Washington, D.C.: Here's where you start running into significant numbers of hickory shad, which though similar to American shad, are smaller cousins with a predilection for small bait fish imitations. Below the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River is a popular spot, and in Washington D.C. try Fletchers Boathouse and below Chain Bridge on the Potomac River. These are not particularly wadeable spots, and can be busy, but they consistently offer good fishing. In addition, the Potomac is sufficiently narrow in places to afford shore fishing opportunities in the aforementioned stretch. Spinfishing has been the historical norm, but flyfishing has been very popular recently. Deer Creek is also a good spot, though only for Hickories.
  • Virginia: The James River's tributaries offer a variety of opportunities, as do the York River tributaries like the Mattaponi south of Aylett and the Pamunkey. Other hot spots include the Chickahominy at Walkers Dam below Lexana and the Nottoway. But some of the best wading can be had on the Rappahannock around Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg (park on river road so you don’t get locked into the parking lot), and down from the Route 1 bridge where there are a couple parking places. Wading from the north side is recommended.
  • North Carolina and South Carolina: Try Cape Fear River at the Lock & Dam No.1 and the Tar River upstream of Rocky Mount railway bridge. In low water, the Roanoke between US 158 and the Weldon Boat Ramp offers some access to shad. The Cashie River near the US 17 bridge is very wadeable, though this is primarily hickory shad territory. Also of note is the Pee Dee River below Blewett Fall dam. The most notable South Carolina runs occur in the Santee and Cooper Rivers. Bank and boat angling opportunities are available below St. Stephen Power House on the Santee Re-diversion canal. Boat, bank, and wade fishing opportunities occur below Lake Marion Dam. On the Cooper River, shad are angled primarily by boat below Pinopolis Dam, near Moncks Corner.
  • Florida: The St. Johns River meanders through swamps and savannas, a completely different shad river from the Delaware’s stony rapids and draws. And as if that weren’t enough, the season is from December through March. Some excellent fly water can be accessed from Route 46 between Sanford and Titusville – all this within easy reach of Orlando. Except in unusual conditions, the shad stays fairly deep, requiring weight on the line or fly. Many fly fishermen will use an unusual 1/64 oz. "micro-jig", that resembles a tiny casting bass jig, although it commonly has short nylon feathering to the rear.

Most shad in the St. Johns, however, are taken either by slow trolling or drift casting, i.e. casting upriver and letting the lure drift with the current. Most fishermen use a Y-shaped "shad rig", consisting of two lures spaced one to two feet apart, with a weight on a swiveled line between them or in front of them. The two lures are either two "shad darts" -- a very small bright jig (as small as 1/64 oz., but usually 1/4 oz. and about one inch long) -- or a shad dart in front and a spoon spinner in back. Sometimes a live grub is threaded onto the dart. The shad stay near the bottom unless the water is unusually high, so the rig is designed to keep the lure a foot off the bed. In times past, the St. Johns held an annual shad tournament in February, and an estimated 1,000 boats could be seen trolling the river north of Sanford. Today, there is a bag limit of 10.


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    "Fish-nets on the Peedee River", from River Fisheries of the United States, Artist unknown, in the Nat. Oc. A.Assoc. NMFS collection. For a version of the entire aquatint, click the thumbnail.