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‘As pretty a thing as I have ever seen': animal encounters and Atlantic voyages, 1750–1850

‘As pretty a thing as I have ever seen': animal encounters and Atlantic voyages, 1750–1850
‘As pretty a thing as I have ever seen': animal encounters and Atlantic voyages, 1750–1850

During the course of long voyages through the Atlantic Ocean–on their way to Africa, Asia and Australasia–British travellers experienced a variety of novel natural phenomena: the heat of the tropics, storms off the Cape, the beauty of shipboard sunsets, and unfamiliar constellations in the heavens. But it was the maritime animals that shared their shipboard space and inhabited the waters of the surrounding Atlantic that elicited the most sustained and detailed commentary from sailors and passengers. Animals were an integral part of these voyages. They travelled with passengers, as pets, curiosities and even speculative investments. The sea surrounding the ship was a veritable menagerie, encouraging travellers to speculate about the nature of the ocean and its inhabitants. They marvelled at strange creatures, compared them with familiar species, and collected them as specimens. As well as inspiring wonder and fear, encounters with maritime animals marked the journey from domestic and familiar to strange and unknown, expanding mental horizons in the process. Drawing on a wide range of first-hand accounts, this article explores the role played by maritime animals in marking the passage of travellers through the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.

Atlantic Ocean, Australia, East India Company, age of sail, collecting, maritime animals, natural history, passengers, ship
1469-1957
5-23
Mcaleer, John
dd99ce15-2c73-4ed3-a49d-89ee5c13832a
Mcaleer, John
dd99ce15-2c73-4ed3-a49d-89ee5c13832a

Mcaleer, John (2020) ‘As pretty a thing as I have ever seen': animal encounters and Atlantic voyages, 1750–1850. Journal for Maritime Research, 22 (1-2), 5-23. (doi:10.1080/21533369.2020.1827789).

Record type: Article

Abstract

During the course of long voyages through the Atlantic Ocean–on their way to Africa, Asia and Australasia–British travellers experienced a variety of novel natural phenomena: the heat of the tropics, storms off the Cape, the beauty of shipboard sunsets, and unfamiliar constellations in the heavens. But it was the maritime animals that shared their shipboard space and inhabited the waters of the surrounding Atlantic that elicited the most sustained and detailed commentary from sailors and passengers. Animals were an integral part of these voyages. They travelled with passengers, as pets, curiosities and even speculative investments. The sea surrounding the ship was a veritable menagerie, encouraging travellers to speculate about the nature of the ocean and its inhabitants. They marvelled at strange creatures, compared them with familiar species, and collected them as specimens. As well as inspiring wonder and fear, encounters with maritime animals marked the journey from domestic and familiar to strange and unknown, expanding mental horizons in the process. Drawing on a wide range of first-hand accounts, this article explores the role played by maritime animals in marking the passage of travellers through the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.

Text
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 1 August 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 November 2020
Published date: 2020
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The National Maritime Museum. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keywords: Atlantic Ocean, Australia, East India Company, age of sail, collecting, maritime animals, natural history, passengers, ship

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445439
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445439
ISSN: 1469-1957
PURE UUID: c5b12a2b-dade-43e1-87b5-0264969723c5

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Dec 2020 17:30
Last modified: 12 Feb 2021 17:31

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