The Challenger Expedition 1872-1876

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the voyage of HMS Challenger which set out from Portsmouth in 1872 with a mission a to explore the ocean depths around the world and search for new life. The scale of the enterprise was breath taking and, for its ambition, it has since been compared to the Apollo missions. The team onboard found thousands of new species, proved there was life on the deepest seabeds and plumbed the Mariana Trench five miles below the surface. Thanks to telegraphy and mailboats, its vast discoveries were shared around the world even while Challenger was at sea, and they are still being studied today, offering insights into the ever-changing oceans that cover so much of the globe and into the health of our planet.

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  • Erika Jones No other episodes
    Curator of Navigation and Oceanography at Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Sam Robinson No other episodes
    Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute Research Fellow at the University of Southampton
  • Giles Miller No other episodes
    Principal Curator of Micropalaeontology at the Natural History Museum London

Reading list

  • Scientists and the Sea, 1650-1900
    Margaret Deacon (Routledge, 1997) Google Books →
  • Mapping the Oceans: Discovering the world beneath our seas
    Carolyn Fry (Arcturus, 2020) Google Books →
  • The Challenger Expedition: Exploring the Ocean's Depths
    Erika Jones (Royal Museums Greenwich, 2022) Google Books →
  • The Voyage of the Challenger
    Eric Linklaters (Cardinal Books, 1972) Google Books →
  • A Challenger's Song
    Philip Pearson (Austin Macauley Publishers, 2021) Google Books →
  • At Sea with the Scientifics: The Challenger Letters of Joseph Matkin
    Philip F. Rehbock (ed.) (University of Hawaii Press, 1992)
  • Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea
    Helen Rozwadowski (Harvard University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • Small World: Forging a Scientific Maritime Culture for Oceanography
    Helen M. Rozwadowski ( 1996)
  • The Edge of an Unfamiliar World: A History of Oceanography
    Susan Schlee (Bookthrift Co, 1976) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 551.46 (Marine biology and oceanography)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1872, HMS Challenger set out from Portsmouth on a four-year mission around the world to explore the ocean depths and search for new life.