Snakey Waters, or: How Marine Biology Structured Global Environmental Sciences


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the ocean was “discovered” as a three-dimensional space filled with living organisms. Investigation of this new frontier caused the world to be reevaluated in a multitude of ways. Research in marine biology brought together economic, political, and cultural interests. Furthermore, marine expeditions transmitted both specific impressions of the world and the respective opinions of participating scientists. Contemporary reports of sea serpents illustrate the attitude towards the sea as both strange and mysterious and exotic and the subject of scientific investigation, that is, a hybrid zone where nature and culture, natural science and cultural imagination intermingled.