Presidential Cruise of 1938

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The Presidential Cruise was organized in conjunction with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and took place during the summer of 1938. Traveling aboard the USS Houston from July 14th to August 9th, the cruise departed San Diego, California, in route to the Galapagos Islands, via the Panama Canal. Along the way, it stopped at Old Providence Island in the Caribbean Sea. The expedition was a fishing cruise taken by FDR to the waters off the coast of Central and South America. Roosevelt invited the Smithsonian to send scientific staff along to collect marine and botanical specimens. Dr. Waldo Schmitt of the U.S. National Museum was appointed naturalist of the cruise and was assisted by ship personnel including Russell Wood, James Stringfelow, Michael Reilly, Charles Fredericks, Ross T. McIntire, Stephen Early, Basil O’Connor, Frederick Adams, and Thomas Qualters. During the cruise, the team collected many specimens including plants, mollusks, fish, sponges, and other invertebrates. Several new species were discovered, including a new type of palm tree, Siriella roosevelti, named for the President.


de Laubefels, M. W. (1939). Sponges collected on the presidential cruise of 1938. v. 98 1940. Retrieved from

Date Range

1938 - 1938


  • Animals
  • Zoology
  • Ichthyology
  • Mollusks
  • Plants
  • Invertebrates
  • Botany


  • Colón, Archipiélago de
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Mexico
  • Isla de Providencia
  • Costa Rica


Expedition name