“Victoria” (or “Nao Victoria”, as well as “Vittoria”) was a Spanish carrack and the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world.
Dutch explorer credited with being the first European to reach what are today known as Tasmania, Australia; New Zealand; and Fiji in the South Pacific.
Abel Janszoon Tasman’s explorations across the Indian Ocean and into the South Pacific helped him become the first European to discover Tasmania, and confirm Australia as an island continent.
Alexander the Great is known as the creator of one of the largest empires in the history of the world.
Alexander the Great was a conqueror who also explored many of the lands he ruled over
Alvin was the first manned deep-sea submersible – a vessel capable of taking crew down to the ocean floor.
British writer and explorer who promoted the protection and preservation of ancient Egyptian sites
Vespucci realized the land he was exploring was a separate continent and not part of Asia, as he and many others believed at the time. The continents of North and South America are named after him.
Amerigo Vespucci’s voyages across the Atlantic helped prove that Columbus did not reach Asia, but instead found a New World to the Europeans
Similar to a cross-staff, the backstaff uses the shadow of the sun instead of the direct view of the sun to obtain the altitude.
The earliest barques were noted in Portugal with square sails and oars but by the 18th century, the British Navy used the term bark to cover ships that did not fall in any other categories.
He was the first European explorer to sail around the tip of Africa, proving the Atlantic Ocean connects to the Indian Ocean, which opened opportunities for a new trade route to India.
Bartolomeu Dias proved for Europeans that Africa is not connected to the bottom of the world, and that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans connect; thus opening a faster trade route to India
One of the earliest forms of watercraft, the canoe was a simple, small wooden boat with an open top and was primarily used to navigate rivers.
The Caravel was slightly smaller than the Carrack and was generally used for carrying cargo and fishing. They were faster than most vessels and therefore favored by pirates.
The Carrack or Nao (meaning ship) was developed as a fusion between Mediterranean and Northern European-style ships.
He is credited for discovering the Americas in 1492, although we know today people were there long before him; his real achievement was that he opened the door for more exploration to a New World.
Christopher Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean searching for a new sea route to the spices in India. He never made it to Asia, but instead discovered a “New World” to Europeans.
Privateer and notable explorer most remembered as the leader of the expedition to Virginia in 1606 and the establishment of the Jamestown Colony
Christopher Newport was among the first to the Jamestown Colony in 1607, and through his voyages, resupplied the colony to help keep it growing and sustained
The first practical compass seems to have been made in Venice in 1274. It was a device supporting a magnetized needle over a card showing four or eight points of direction.
The cross-staff is an early navigational tool used to measure altitude or the distance of an object above sea level or the horizon
The dhow was a vessel used primarily for fishing and trade. It had triangular sails and a unique hull design.
Egyptians built some of the earliest boats ever recorded. The first ones were made from papyrus reeds and propelled by rowing.
Erik the Red was the first European to land on and settle in Greenland.
He led the first circumnavigation of the world, and is considered the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean
Ferdinand Magellan is credited for making the first European voyage around the globe
Used primarily for trade, the Fluit was adept at sailing in colder climates and had a large cargo hold.
He effectively ended Spanish dominance over the seas and the New World, allowing England to become a global empire.
He explored the southwestern part of the United States, which helped claim the land for Spanish colonization
Francisco Coronado was one of the first Europeans to heavily explore the southwest portion of North America for the Spanish Empire
Francisco Pizarro contributed to the Spanish empire gaining control over South America by conquering the great Inca Empire in Peru
Francisco Pizarro’s voyages gave Spain a strong grip in the New World by conquering the Inca Empire and claiming much of South America for the Spanish Empire
The galleon developed in the early 16th century from ships such as the caravel and the carrack.
He explored much of the North American east coast from North Carolina up to Maine, and was the first European to reach present day New York
Giovannia da Verrazzano’s voyages took him along most of the eastern coast and surrounding waterways of North America
GPS uses a series of orbiting satellites that receive and send radio signals to determine location and, in some cases, speed.
English captain and navigator who discovered the Hudson River, Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay and sailed through parts of the Arctic on his search for a Northwest Passage to China
Henry Hudson made several voyages along upper North America and into the Arctic while searching for the Northwest Passage route to Asia
Hernán Cortés was the Spanish conquistador responsible for conquering the Aztec Empire and building Mexico City which secured Spain’s position in the New World.
Hernando Cortes sailed from Spain to the Caribbean and then eventually to Mexico where he went on to conquer the Aztec Empire
Spanish explorer and conquistador who helped conquer parts of Central and South America, explored the southeastern region of the United States, and is credited as the first European to cross the Mississippi River
Hernando de Soto explored and conquered parts of Central and South America, and became credited as the first European to cross the Mississippi River in North America
He was a Muslim explorer who made a series of journeys that spanned nearly three decades. He traveled throughout almost the entire Islamic world, and went as far as India and China.
Ibn Battuta travels took him through much of the Islamic world, Africa, and into many parts of the east, including Central and Southeast Asia, India, and China.
French navigator and explorer credited with naming Canada, exploring the St. Lawrence River, and Canadian areas that would become French territory
Jacques Cartier’s voyages across the Atlantic Ocean brought him to northern North America which he claimed for France and named “Canada, and explored much of the St. Lawrence River
British navigator and explorer who explored the Pacific Ocean and several islands in this region. He is credited as the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands.
James Cook explored much of the Pacific Ocean, and became the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, already inhabited by Polynesians
She was a French botanist and explorer. She unknowingly became the first woman to sail around the entire globe.
Jeanne Baret unknowingly became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe while working as a botanist collecting and studying plants around the world
He was a Spanish explorer who became the first governor of Puerto Rico, the first European known to reach the mainland of present day United States, and he gave Florida its name.
Juan Ponce de Leon sailed and explored the southern east coast of North America for Spain, and gave “Florida” its name
Besides having a cool name, the sturdy, lightweight junk is known for being the first ship to feature a rudder mounted on its stern for steering. The Chinese junk ship was among the most powerful and easily navigable ships in the ancient world.
Used to indicate the distance traveled north or south, the kamal was used to guide Arab ships to port. It led to the later development of the cross-staff.
He became the first European to land on and establish a settlement in North America. He is also credited for bringing Christianity to Greenland.
Leif Eriksson managed to reach North America nearly 500 years prior to Christopher Columbus
Marco Polo is known for traveling along the Silk Road to China, where he explored and documented much of Asia not yet explored by Europeans.
Marco Polo traveled along the famed trading route to China called the Silk Road, and went on to explore and document many parts of Asia not well known to Europeans
Oceanographer and geologist who helped create the first map of the ocean floor, proving that it was not just the flat surface most people believed it to be.
One of the oldest of all the altitude measuring devices, the astrolabe is an angle-measuring tool. Its name comes from the Greek, “to take a star.”
He was a leading maritime explorer of Australia. He named the continent and produced the most accurate early atlas of the geography
Matthew Flinders’ expeditions lead to the discovery that Australia was not part of a larger land mass, but was its own island continent, which he mapped and became the first European to circumnavigate
The first African-American to reach one of earth’s farthest places – the North Pole.
He was the first European to discover Brazil, and also established a successful sea route to India and a leader in trade there
Pedro Álvares Cabral claimed Brazil on the eastern side of South America for Portugal
Famous for their mastery of ancient maritime navigation and shipbuilding, the Phoenicians were likely the first to survey the Mediterranean Sea, creating the beginning of the modern field of geography.
Used at sea as early as the mid 1400s, the quadrant was used by sailors to measure the height of Polaris, the Pole star.
He led the first expedition to reach the South Pole and was the first person to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage.
Roald Amunsen’s Arctic and Antarctic expeditions took him to some of the farthest places on earth still not yet discovered, including the South Pole
Controlled by a crew aboard a vessel on the surface, ROVs can explore and work in the deepest parts of the ocean.
French explorer and cartographer best known for establishing and governing settlements in Canada, mapping the St. Lawrence River, discovering the Great Lakes, and founding the city of Quebec
Samuel de Champlain took several voyages to Canada, where he mapped the St. Lawrence River and became the first European to discover the Great Lakes
He is known for mysteriously disappearing while leading an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage, a waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in northern Canada
British explorer who sponsored the first attempt to found a permanent English settlement at Roanoke Island, and later sought to find the legendary city of El Dorado.
SONAR is a tool that allows ships and other vessels to find and identify objects in the water through a system of sound pulses and echoes.
Sylvia A. Earle is an American marine biologist, explorer, and activist for protecting our world’s ocean and its inhabitants
Submerged underwater, the Tektite laboratory allowed scientist to explore the ocean floor longer and more up close.
The Traverse Board was used to record the direction a ship was sailing along with the corresponding speed of the ship for the same four hour period.
Portuguese explorer and navigator who found a direct sea route from Europe to Asia, and was the first European to sail to India by going around Africa.
Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach Asia by sailing around the southern tip of Africa
Explorer and Conquistador who was head of the first South American settlement, and the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean
Vasco Nuñez de Balboa not only explored parts of South America, became he became the first European to reach the Pacific Ocean
The Viking ship was a strong durable ship that allowed the Norsemen of Scandinavia sail long distances and raid far away kingdoms.
Chinese explorer who commanded several treasure fleets – Chinese ships that explored and traded across Asia and Africa. His expeditions greatly expanded China’s trade.
Zheng He took seven major voyages throughout Asia and to parts of Africa, making him one of China’s greatest explorers