The Museum of Maritime Pets conducts research using historic, artistic, photographic and archival materials. Exhibits examine the lives of pets at sea and reveal the many tasks they performed.
Visual material from around the world illustrates animals at sea from earliest times to the present. Artistic and photographic images of maritime pets at work, leisure or play reveal their interaction with their human caregivers, or exploring the world and water from their unique perspective. Journals, diaries and other historic materials relate many endearing and courageous exploits of maritime pets.
Many of these brave animals provided companionship to sailors recovering from battle wounds or illness, and some gave their lives in service to their humans. Others survived bombardment, sinking and other catastrophic war events, later to be rescued and live out comfortable lives on shore.
Some pets are temporarily adopted by merchant seamen, only to be abandoned at the end of a voyage. They often wander the docks, hoping to see their shipmates again.
Learn about cat and dog mascots who survived ice storms, torpedo attacks, and capture at sea. Marvel at carrier pigeons and sled dogs who saved lives and carried out important military missions. Discover how various breeds performed specific tasks on board ship or in the water.
We are currently circulating an exhibit on loan to us from the Canadian Navy (CFB Esquimalt Museum in British Columbia). "Creature Comforts" features companion animals on board ships from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. Images and text illustrate the importance these animals played in maintaining troop morale during stressful tours of duty. This exhibit is available to travel throughout the United States through the Summer of 2017.
Volunteer researchers are welcome! Libraries, archives and historical societies around the world house pertinent documents and links to other important sources. Let us know if you'd like to be involved!
William of Normandy sails for England, 1066. Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry.