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Featured Item: A chart showing the favorite resort of the sperm and right whale by M.F. Maury L.L.D. Lieut. U.S. Navy

By Caroline Kayko

What is the item?

This item is a world map from 1853 created by M.F. Maury. It is centered around the prime meridian, showing where sperm whales and right whales can be found.

What BTAA Library submitted the item?

University of Michigan

About the author

Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) was a naval officer, hydrographer, and one of the creators of the discipline of oceanography. A leg injury left him unable to serve which led him to the study of meteorology and oceanography. His book “The Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology” is considered the first modern textbook on the topic.

A 1923 painting of Matthew Fontaine Maury shows the officer standing behind a globe. credit: Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting tidbit

The map’s legend is text-only, it simply says “red” and “blue” beside the corresponding whale species.

Where can I find out more?

Caroline Kayko is the Map & Geospatial Data Librarian at the University of Michigan.