A hundred years ago, in April 1910, the Norwegian research vessel 'Michael Sars' under the leadership of Johan Hjort and John Murray, initiated a 4-month expedition to explore marine life of the North Atlantic. The vessel was custom-rigged for oceanographic studies and could sample organisms at great depths with multiple gears.
The Michael Sars Expedition in 1910 occupies a central place in Norwegian and international history of marine science. The knowledge of oceanography and the diverse marine life of the North Atlantic was significantly enhanced through the use of new technology and a custom-rigged research ship. The multidisciplinary scientific party led by Johan Hjort (director of Norwegian Board of Fisheries and one of the founding fathers of ICES), and Sir John Murray (key participant on the British 'Challenger' expedition a few decades earlier and primary funder of the 1910 expedition) made major discoveries and collected a vast material curated by the Bergen Museum. The results were soon shared with the general public in the landmark book by Murray and Hjort: "The Depth of the Oceans".
Endre Willassen and Ingvar Byrkjedal of the Bergen Museum, curators of the Michael Sars collections and active participants in MAR-ECO, have written a centenary article about the landmark expedition.
MAR-ECO and the Census of Marine Life learned from the the strategy adopted by the Atlantic Ocean Expedition of 1910, i.e. exploratory research should apply the most modern technology and a multidisciplinary approach to generate new scientific understanding, and at the same time through wide and immediate dissemination of results enhance public appreciation of marine life and the oceans.
The scientific party of the 'Michael Sars' expedition 1910, photographed in front of the new steam-powered deepwater winch, a novelty at the time that allowed net sampling and trawling at great depths.