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Sailing the High Seas

by Julia Reed on 2024-06-10T07:24:00-07:00 | 0 Comments

ocean waveHere in Arizona, the hot weather has arrived, days ahead of the official launch of summer on June 20th. Many people escape the heat by heading to bodies of water. So in solidarity, this month our blog is featuring oceans. And what better to pair with oceans than pirates?

To refresh your knowledge of the world’s oceans (especially helpful for some of us desert dwellers), the library has a comprehensive Research Starter that provides a great overview. Can you name all five? And what about those seven seas?

Whether you live on the coast or in the desert, ocean tides impact our lives. Scientists believe there is a correlation between tides and earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even geyser activity. It's food for thought the next time you stroll along the water's edge.

Heading to the beach and want to know when to move your chair to avoid a high-tide soaking? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has you covered. Click on a region of the map of the United States to pull up tide schedules. Their site is also a portal to historical and real-time oceanographic and meteorological data. It includes forecast data and information about tides, water levels, currents, and weather observations, as well.

For those of us who don't have a beach trip planned, OpenOceans Global has compiled a list of webcams where you can watch the ocean in real time. These miniature cameras are located on coastlines, research vessels, and aquariums.

Now to the pirates who fearlessly sailed the high seas!

According to the article A Brief History of Piracy, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans were noted pirates. During the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the maritime operations of the English, French, and Dutch pirates were sanctioned by governments (making them privateers) and wealthy investors who expected to turn a profit. As a result, it was impossible to distinguish between piracy and legitimate naval and maritime activities. Piracy was described as “a nursery for naval and maritime seamen” and as an enterprise for investment.

Here are a few of the colorful characters in the pirating world:

Sir Francis Drake was a well-known English naval adventurer (he was both pirate and privateer) during the late 1570s. Drake preyed exclusively on Spanish commerce to the point of extreme notoriety, becoming known as “El Drako.”

Probably the most famous pirate, William Kidd had lived a respectable life as a wealthy man in New York City. His famous ship Adventure, a galley-sailing ship complete with 34 guns, sank in the late 1690s off Madagascar.

And, of course, there is Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard. He became one of the best-known sea robbers in history even though his reign of terror lasted only two years. Teach robbed ships traveling to and from the American colonies and the Caribbean Sea.pirate ship

And let’s not forget about the female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

Anne had a charmed childhood, but her life changed drastically when her mother died, and she became responsible for the house. Anne began to exhibit irrational behavior, and when she was 15 years old, she allegedly stabbed and killed a female servant. In 1718, Anne met the sailor James Bonny, and they headed off to New Providence in the Bahamas, where she eventually met and ran off with a pirate named Calico Jack.

When Mary Read was born, her biological father was unknown. Her mother had lost an infant son who was fathered by another man. To obtain child support, she dressed Mary as a boy and presented her to the family of the man who had fathered her dead son. The family, not aware the infant had died, believed Mary was the son and agreed to provide financial support. Mary decided at a young age that she wanted to fight in the army and sail the seas. For more biographical information on pirates, check out Biography in Context.

Perhaps the most famous incident of modern-day piracy was the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. It is said to be the first successful pirate seizure of a ship registered under the U.S. flag since the early 19th century. The cargo ship was carrying 400 twenty-foot containers filled with relief supplies. The ship’s destination was Mombasa, Kenya. The incident was reported by Captain Richard Phillips, who had been master of the vessel, in his 2010 book, A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. The book was later adapted as the 2013 film Captain Phillips.

Our blog wouldn't be complete without a nod to International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Every September 19th, landlubbers around the globe unleash their inner buccaneer thanks to two friends - John Baur and Mark Summers.

The idea came during a racquetball game on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for observance of the Normandy landings, they chose Summers' ex-wife's birthday on September 19. Even pirates have social media accounts now, and you can get advice from Cap'n Slappy on X/Twitter at "thecapnslappy."

If you want to deepen your research on oceans and pirates, our newly updated guide, Find Peer-Reviewed and Scholarly Materials, offers excellent information about peer-reviewed and scholarly materials. This resource includes videos that describe what peer-reviewed means and the characteristics of scholarly articles.

But if you prefer something a bit lighter, there is plenty of poetry written about the ocean and pirates. Here are a few poems from ProQuest One Literature to take you into the summer months. Enjoy and ahoy!

A Pirate Crew - T. Disch

Ocean Birth - Anonymous

Ocean’s Treasures - J. Very

Pirate Smith – T. D. Sullivan

The Ocean’s Tribute - R. Jeffers

Without Oceans - W. Bishop


Carla SmithCarla Smith is a reference librarian who has been with the University of Phoenix Library since 2004. She enjoys the diversity of the reference questions and helping students find the information they need to succeed in their courses.

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