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Oceanic conquest

Identifier: Film Collection no. 204

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Michael Lerner Peru-Chile Expedition, 1940. Oceanic Conquest is the film record of the AMNH Michael Lerner Peru-Chile Expedition of 1940. The purpose of the expedition was to continue the research Lerner had been conducting on four previous expeditions, namely, to survey and study the habits of swordfish and marlin in the earth's oceans. Those who joined Lerner and his wife, Helen, on the expedition were AMNH ichthyologist Francesca La Monte, captains William Hatch and Douglas Osborn, cinematographer Irving Hartley, and photographers Dido Valenzio and David D. Duncan. After some preparations and a quick look at the town of Iquique, Chile, the staff heads out to sea on the Santa Luista. Huge flocks of cormorants and pelicans are seen fishing, possibly off the coasts of the guano islands of Peru, which Michael Lerner obtained permission to visit. Near Talara, Peru, Michael Lerner catches a broadbill swordfish with a rod and reel, the first ever taken in this way. Helen Lerner catches the largest striped marlin ever caught by a woman. An enormous devilfish, or great manta, is harpooned and towed behind the boat. In addition to the main quarry of swordfish and marlin, there is footage of a group of whales and a fight between two albatross over a piece of fish in the sea. The second half of the film, subtitled A Holiday in Peru, was meant to be an ethnographic study of the Peruvian people, but consists, in large part, of scenes of marketplaces, followed by some views of the countryside as the expedition staff drives from its base camp in Talara to El Alto and then along the coast to Cabo Blanco. The fishing techniques and subsequent preparation of the fish by Quechua Indians are also seen. The expedition team stops to look around the white adobe city of Arequipa at the foot of the volcano El Mist before continuing on to Cuzco, the Holy City of the Incas. Here they photograph the city streets and local inhabitants. Outside the city the staff visits some unidentified Inca ruins before arriving at the well-known ruins of Machu Picchu.


  • 1940

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (41 minutes) : silent, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (41 minutes)) : silent, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Michael and Helen Lerner, producers; Irving Hartley, director; Dido Valenzio and David Duncan, photographers.

Oceanic conquest, 1940
Iris Lee
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Script of description
Code for undetermined script
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Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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