Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 18 Issue 04

View Issue TOC
Volume 18, No. 4
Pages 30 - 41

Dutch Oceanographic Research in Indonesia in Colonial Times

Hendrik M. van Aken
First Paragraph

Well before the political independence of the Republic of Indonesia after World War II, oceanographic research was carried out in the deep waters of the Indonesian archipelago. The single scientific expeditions carried out using the Dutch naval vessels Siboga and Snellius show up in lists of historically important oceanographic expeditions, though their many reports are hardly read anymore except by taxonomic specialists. Oceanographers know about such expeditions and their results only if they happen to be mentioned in oceanography textbooks. For example, few textbooks mention that gravity measurements taken on board Dutch submarines contributed to the understanding of plate tectonics or that Dutch scientists at the meteorological service contributed to early studies of marine climate and surface circulation. Oceanographic research was part of the colonial policy of the Netherlands, but the initiatives for that research usually came from scientists in the Netherlands rather than the Dutch colonial government.


van Aken, H.M. 2005. Dutch oceanographic research in Indonesia in colonial times. Oceanography 18(4):30–41, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2005.03.