European and American voyages of scientific exploration

Bearing compass (18th century)

The era of European and American voyages of scientific exploration followed the Age of Discovery[1] and were inspired by a new confidence in science and reason that arose in the Age of Enlightenment. Maritime expeditions in the Age of Discovery were a means of expanding colonial empires, establishing new trade routes and extending diplomatic and trade relations to new territories, but with the Enlightenment scientific curiosity became a new motive for exploration to add to the commercial and political ambitions of the past.[2]

Maritime exploration in the Age of Discovery

From the early 15th century to the early 17th century the Age of Discovery had, through Spanish and Portuguese seafarers, opened up southern Africa, the Americas (New World), Asia and Oceania to European eyes: Bartholomew Dias had sailed around the Cape of southern Africa in search of a trade route to India; Christopher Columbus, on four journeys across the Atlantic, had prepared the way for European colonisation of the New World; Ferdinand Magellan had commanded the first expedition to sail across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to complete the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Over this period colonial power shifted from the Portuguese and Spanish to the Dutch and then the British and French. The new era of scientific exploration began in the late 17th century as scientists, and in particular natural historians, established scientific societies that published their researches in specialist journals. The British Royal Society was founded in 1660 and encouraged the scientific rigour of empiricism with its principles of careful observation and deduction. Activities of early members of the Royal Society served as models for later maritime exploration. Hans Sloane (1650–1753) was elected a member in 1685 and travelled to Jamaica from 1687 to 1689 as physician to the Duke of Albemarle (1653–1688) who had been appointed Governor of Jamaica. In Jamaica Sloane collected numerous specimens which were carefully described and illustrated in a published account of his stay.[3] Sloane bequeathed his vast collection of natural history 'curiosities' and library of over 50,000 bound volumes to the nation, prompting the establishment in 1753 of the British Museum. His travels also made him an extremely wealthy man as he patented a recipe that combined milk with the fruit of Theobroma cacao (cocoa) he saw growing in Jamaica, to produce milk chocolate. Books of distinguished social figures like the intellectual commentator Jean Jacques Rousseau, Director of the Paris Museum of Natural History Comte de Buffon, and scientist-travellers like Joseph Banks, and Charles Darwin, along with the romantic and often fanciful travelogues of intrepid explorers, increased the desire of European governments and the general public for accurate information about the newly discovered distant lands.[4]

One of the earliest French expeditions on the coasts of Africa, South America and through the Strait of Magellan was made by a squadron of French men-of-war under the command of M. de Gennes in 1695–97. The young French explorer, engineer and hydrographer François Froger describes this expedition in his A Relation of a Voyage (1699).

Maritime exploration in the Age of Enlightenment

By the 18th century maritime exploration had become safer and more efficient with technical innovations that vastly improved navigation and cartography: improvements were made to the theodolite, octant, precision clocks, as well as the compass, telescope, and general shipbuilding techniques. From the mid-18th century through the 19th century scientific missions mapped the newly discovered regions, brought back to Europe the newly discovered fauna and flora, made hydrological, astronomical and meteorological observations and improved the methods of navigation. This stimulated great advances in the scientific disciplines of natural history, botany, zoology, ichthyology, conchology, taxonomy, medicine, geography, geology, mineralogy, hydrology, oceanography, physics, meteorology etc. — all contributing to the sense of "improvement" and "progress" that characterized the Enlightenment. Artists were used to record landscapes and indigenous peoples, while natural history illustrators captured the appearance of organisms before they deteriorated after collection.[5] Some of the worlds finest natural history illustrations were produced at this time and the illustrators changed from informed amateurs to fully trained professionals acutely aware of the need for scientific accuracy.[6]

By the middle of the 19th century all of the world's major land masses, and most of the minor ones, had been discovered by Europeans and their coastlines charted.[7] This marked the end of this phase of science as the Challenger Expedition of 1872–1876 began exploring the deep seas beyond a depth of 20 or 30 meters. In spite of the growing community of scientists, for nearly 200 years science had been the preserve of wealthy amateurs, educated middle classes and clerics.[5] At the start of the 18th century most voyages were privately organized and financed but by the second half of the century these scientific expeditions, like Cook's three Pacific voyages under the auspices of the British Admiralty, were instigated by government.[6] In the late 19th century, when this phase of science was drawing to a close, it became possible to earn a living as a professional scientist although photography was beginning to replace the illustrators. The exploratory sailing ship had gradually evolved into the modern research vessels. From now on maritime research in new European colonies in America, Africa, Australia, India and elsewhere, would be carried out by researchers within the occupied territories themselves.[7]

Chronology of voyages

This compendium of voyages of scientific exploration provides an overview of maritime scientific research carried out at the time of the Enlightenment in Europe. Published journals and accounts are included with the individual voyages.

1764–1766 : HMS Dolphin

HMS Dolphin at Tahiti in 1767

Considered the first scientific voyage undertaken by the Royal Navy, its primary purpose was the discovery of new lands in the South Atlantic Ocean. It was during this trip that several islands of the Tuamotu archipelago were discovered. Dolphin was a 24-gun post ship launched in 1751 and used as a survey ship from 1764, making two circumnavigations under the command of John Byron and Samuel Wallis. She was broken up in 1777.

1766–1768 : HMS Dolphin and HMS Swallow

A circumnavigation by the English navigator Samuel Wallis, on board Dolphin, accompanied by Philip Carteret on the consort ship Swallow. In August 1766, the two ships passed through the Strait of Magellan. In December 1766, conflicts between the two captains lead to the separation of the ships. Dolphin reached Tahiti in June 1767. Samuel Wallis studied the customs of the Polynesians, reaching the Dutch East Indies at Batavia, returning to London in May 1768. Meanwhile, Philip Carteret in Swallow explored and studied the Solomon Islands, New Ireland (island) (now part of Papua New Guinea) and the islands of the Indonesian archipelago (Sulawesi among others). The expedition also stopped in Batavia from June to September 1768 and returned to London in March 1769.

1766 : HMS Niger

This British ship explored Newfoundland and Labrador with Constantine Phipps aboard and Thomas Adams (Captain?), and with Joseph Banks also aboard. HMS Niger was a 33-gun fifth-rate launched in 1759, converted to a prison ship in 1810 and renamed Negro in 1813. She was sold in 1814.

1766–1769 : La Boudeuse and L'Étoile

La Boudeuse arriving in Matavai in 1767

Ordered by Louis XV, it is the first trip around the world initiated by the French. The discovery and description of Tahiti by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in his trip will have a very significant impact on the philosophers of the Enlightenment including Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). The expedition was organised by Louis Antoine de Bougainville and received the support of such prominent figures of the time as Charles de Brosses (1709–1777), Comte de Buffon (1707–1788), Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698–1759) and Jérôme Lalande (1732–1807).

The purpose of the expedition is to discover new territories available for settlement, to open a new route to reach China, to found new outlets for the French East India Company and, finally, discover acclimatable spices for the Isle de France (now Mauritius).

1768–1771 : HMS Endeavour

A three-masted wooden ship cresting an ocean swell beneath a cloudy sky. Two small boats tow the ship forward
HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland, by Samuel Atkins c. 1794

An expedition to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun (in 1769) that included the discovery of new Islands, Tuamotu and Society Islands, the first circumnavigation of New Zealand and charting of the East coast of New Holland.

1771–1772 : Isle de France and Le Nécessaire

Expedition to harvest spices for production on Mauritius, to prevent the monopoly of their trade by the Dutch.

1772 : Sir Lawrence

An expedition in the brig Sir Lawrence exploring Iceland and the islands along the West coast of Scotland.

1772–1775 : HMS Resolution and HMS Adventure

Cook's second voyage in Resolution and Adventure around the world. He again visited New Zealand, sailed near the Antarctic and discovered many islands in the Pacific. Swedish Sparrman embarked during a stopover at the Cape.

1771–1772 : La Fortune and Le Gros-Ventre

Exploration of the southern Indian Ocean and the shipping routes to India.

1773–1774 : Le Roland and L'Oiseau

Exploration of the southern Indian Ocean.

1773–1774: HMS Racehorse and HMS Carcass

Racehorse and Carcass 7 August 1773 enclosed by ice Lat. 80o 37' N. In Payne's Universal Geography Vol. V, p. 481

A British expedition to explore the Arctic Sea. The two ships reached Svalbard before turning back because of the ice. Horatio Nelson was involved with the trip.

1776–1780: HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery

Resolution and Discovery by Samuel Adkin

Cook's Third Voyage to find the North-West passage by crossing the Bering Strait. Cook was killed in the Hawaiian archipelago.

1785–1788: La Boussole and L'Astrolabe

The Astrolabe on an ice floe – 6 February 1838

French King Louis XVI inspired by Cook's voyages mounted his own expedition under the direction of La Pérouse. Cook's anti-scorbutic remedies to eradicate scurvy were applied successfully. Lamanon and twelve other members of the expedition were massacred by natives at Vanuatu where they were looking for water. The two ships disappeared in the Solomon Islands, at Vanikoro, during a violent storm.

1785–1788 HMS King George

Global circumnavigation.

1785–1794: Slava Rossii

A Russian expedition commanded by the British Captain Joseph Billings, astronomer on Cook's third voyage. This expedition lasted more than ten years attempting, unsuccessfully, to find the northwest passage that had remained undiscovered after Cook's explorations.

1790–1791: La Solide

The Solide expedition was the second successful circumnavigation by the French, after that by Bougainville. It occurred from 1790 to 1792 but remains little known due to its mostly commercial aims in the fur trade between the northwest American coast and China.

1789–1794: Descubierta and Atrevida

Drawing of the corvettes Descubierta and Atrevida

The Spanish Malaspina Expedition around the world explored the coasts of Spanish possessions in America and Alaska, always looking for the northwest passage. More than 70 crates of natural history specimens were sent to Madrid. On return Captain Malaspina was forced into exile because of his ideas, suggesting, among other things, that Spain abandon the military domination of its colonies in favour of a Federation. The scientific journal of the trip was lost but recovered in 1885.

1791–1794: La Recherche and L'Espérance

The frigates Recherche and Espérance

An expedition to find the two vessels commanded by Jean-François de La Pérouse (1741–1788) and of which there was no news after they left Port Jackson heading for southern Tasmania and southern Australia. Captain Kermadec died in May 1793 and Captain d'Entrecasteaux in July of the same year. The expedition was headed by a royalist and heard of the terror in France when putting into the Dutch colonies. The crew was arrested and collections of natural history confiscated and offered by the Dutch to the British. These were however, on the express request of Joseph Banks (1743–1820), returned to France

1791–1793: HMS Providence

The Royal Society offered a reward of fifty pounds for living Bread-fruit plants. Bligh completed this in Providence, his second mission to collect breadfruit plants and other botanical specimens from the Pacific. These he transported to the West Indies, specimens being given to the Royal Botanic Gardens in St. Vincent. This expedition was a success, returning to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with 1,283 plants including varieties of apple, pear, oranges and mangoes. In addition to these specimens, the expedition accomplished many observations and cartographic surveys in the South Seas.

1791–1795: HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham

Discovery in 1789
Main article: Vancouver Expedition

A mission to the South Seas and Pacific Northwest coast of America. In 1791, Discovery left England with Chatham. Both ships anchored at Cape Town before exploring the south coast of Australia. In King George Sound, the Discovery's naturalist and surgeon Archibald Menzies collected various plant species including Banksia grandis, the first recording of the Banksia genus from Western Australia. The two ships sailed to Hawaiʻi where Vancouver named Kamehameha I. Chatham and Discovery then sailed on to the Northwest Pacific. Over the course of the next four years, Vancouver surveyed the northern Pacific Ocean coast in Discovery wintering in Spanish California or Hawaiʻi. Discovery's primary mission was to exert British sovereignty over this part of the Northwest Coast following the hand-over of the Spanish Fort San Miguel at Nootka Sound, although exploration in co-operation with the Spanish was seen as an important secondary objective. Exploration work was successful as relations with the Spanish went well; resupply in California was especially helpful. Vancouver and the Spanish commandant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra were on such good terms that the original name of Vancouver Island was actually Quadra and Vancouver's Island.

1800–1804: Le Géographe and Naturaliste

This expedition was organised to establish a permanent colonial presence in the South seas before the British, concentrating on the mapping of the coast of the Australia and New Guinea. Nicolas Baudin died in Mauritius in 1803, another naturalist on the island of Timor, two other naturalists chose to stay on the island and two astronomers died of dysentery. Péron, assisted by his friend Lesueur, managed to gather a vast zoological collection. Naturaliste returned to France in 1803 with a part of the collections. Captain Baudin bought a schooner, the Casuarina then at Port Jackson. Baudin was replaced by Pierre Bernard Milius (1773–1829).

1801–1803: HMS Investigator

A 20th-century drawing of Investigator

The first circumnavigation of Australia. The work of scientific observation was interrupted due to damage and many specimens transferred to HMS Porpoise were lost when it sank. The observations of Brown on the flora of this continent were the most extensive at this time.

1803–1806: Nadezhda and Neva

The Russian sloop Neva visits Kodiak in Alaska

The first Russian circumnavigation of the world was intended to establish a link with Russian possessions in America, the transport of goods at that time being via Siberia (a journey lasting about two years). The second objective, which was not achieved, was to establish trade and diplomatic links with Japan. This expedition took place during the rule of emperor Alexander I (1777–1825).

Nadezhda and Neva explored the Aleutian Islands, Sakhalin and discovered the mouth of the Love River. They also visited the Marquesas Islands and Hawaii. Baron von Langsdorff left the expedition in 1805 to explore the Interior of Alaska and California. Thirteen cases of natural history specimens were shipped to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

1815–1818: Rurik

A Russian expedition funded by the Chancellor of Russia, count Nikolai P. Romanzof to investigate the northeast passage in the Bering Sea. The coast of Alaska was studied and the South Pacific, also the cartography of 36 islands including the Marshall Islands. Also natural history collections made.

1817–1820: L'Uranie and La Physicienne

French soldiers, priest, Hawaiians on ship
Baptism of Hawaiians on the Uranie in 1819

A French expedition exploring Western Australia and islands of Timor, Molucca, Samoa and Hawaii. L'Uranie visited Rio de Janeiro to take a series of pendulum measurements as well as other observations, not only in geography and ethnology, but in astronomy, terrestrial magnetism, and meteorology, and for the collection of specimens in natural history.

1819–1821: Le Rhône and La Durance

One of the missions of this expedition and recruit workers to Java and Philippines to French Guiana. Botanist Samuel Perrottet (1793–1870) settled in Guyana to investigate the acclimation of plants reported to Asia. La Durance returned to France in 1820, Le Rhône the following year.

1822–1825: La Coquille

Louis Isidore Duperrey commanded the expedition in La Coquille with Jules Dumont d'Urville as second in command. The naturalists appointed to the expedition were the surgeon, pharmacist and zoologist René Primevère Lesson and surgeon-major Prosper Garnot. Doctor Garnot had a severe attack of dysentery and was sent back on the Castle Forbes with some of the specimens collected in South America and the Pacific. The specimens were lost when the ship was wrecked off the Cape of Good Hope in July 1824. Garnot and Lesson wrote the zoological section of the voyage's report.

1823–1826: Predpriyatiye

An expedition of two ships of war, the main object of which was to take reinforcements to Kamchatka. There was, however, a staff of scientists on board the Russian sailing sloop Predpriyatiye (Russian: "Enterprise"), who collected much valuable information and material on geography, ethnography and natural history. The expedition, proceeding by Cape Horn, visited the Radak and Society Islands, and reached Petropavlovsk in July 1824. Many positions along the coast were mapped more accurately, the Navigator islands visited, and several discoveries made. The expedition returned by the Marianas, Philippines, New Caledonia and the Hawaiian Islands, reaching Kronstadt on July 10, 1826.

1824–1825: HMS Blonde

HMS Blonde, by Robert Dampier, 1825

In 1824 Byron was chosen to accompany homewards the bodies of Hawaiian monarchs Liholiho (known as King Kamehameha II) and Queen Kamāmalu, who had died of measles during a state visit to England.[8] He sailed in Blonde in September 1824, accompanied by several naturalists and, amongst others, his lieutenant, Edward Belcher.[9] He toured the islands and made observations. With the consent of Christian missionaries to the islands, he also removed wooden carvings and other artifacts of the chiefs of ancient Hawaii from the temple ruins of Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau.[10] On his return journey in 1825, Lord Byron discovered and charted Malden Island, which he named after his surveying officer, Mauke; and Starbuck Island.[11] Starbuck was named in honour of Captain Valentine Starbuck, an American whaler who had sighted the island while carrying the Hawaiian royal couple to England in 1823–1824, but which had probably been previously sighted by his cousin and fellow-whaler Captain Obed Starbuck in 1823.[12]

1824–1826: Le Thétis and L'Espérance

1813 model of the frigate Thétis in the Musée National de la Marine (Rochefort).

A mission to establish diplomatic relations with Indochina and make geographical observations. On 12 January 1825, Hyacinthe de Bougainville led an embassy to Vietnam with Captain Courson de la Ville-Hélio, arriving in Da Nang, with the warships Thétis and L'Espérance.[13] Although they had a 28 January 1824 letter from Louis XVIII, the ambassadors could not obtain an audience with Minh Mạng.[14]

1825–1828: HMS Blossom

HMS Blossom off the Sandwich Islands

A British expedition to the Bering Sea attempting a rendezvous with the expedition of Sir John Franklin (1786–1847) at the mouth of Mackenzie River. Blossom reached as far north as Point Barrow, Alaska, the furthest point into the Arctic any non-Inuit had been at the time, but was unable to join the Franklin expedition. With Lay ill it was Beechey and Collie that performed most of the specimen collection but many could not be preserved.

1825–1830: HMS Adventure and HMS Beagle

The mission was the hydrographic survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, under the overall command of the surveyor Commander Phillip Parker King, in HMS Adventure.

In the desolate waters of Tierra del Fuego Stokes, the captain of HMS Beagle, became depressed and shot himself on 2 August 1828 dying a few days later.[15] Parker King replaced Stokes with Lieutenant W.G. Skyring as commander of the ship, and both ships sailed to Montevideo. After the ships arrived at Rio de Janeiro for repairs and provisioning, Rear Admiral Sir Robert Otway, the Commander-in-chief of the South American station, gave command of Beagle to his aide, Lieutenant Robert FitzRoy.[16] Fuegians were taken back with them when the Beagle returned.[15] During this survey, the Beagle Channel was identified and named after the ship.[17]

1826–1829: L'Astrolabe

This mission, led by Dumont d'Urville, searched for the two vessels of La Pérouse (1741–1788). The coasts of Australia, of New Zealand, of Fiji and the Loyalty Islands were explored. Dumont d'Urville renamed La Coquille as L'Astrolabe as a tribute to the ship of La Pérouse.

1826–1829: Senyavin and Moller

A Russian circumnavigation on the ship Senyavin, sailing from Cronstadt and rounding Cape Horn accompanied by Captain Mikhail Nikolaievich Staniukovich in command of the sloop Moller. During the voyage Litke and his team described the western coastline of the Bering Sea, the Bonin Islands off Japan, and the Carolines, discovered 12 new islands. An expedition to strengthen Russian presence near Alaska. A large collection of natural history specimens was made including 1,000 new speciess of insects, fish, birds and other animals and 2,500 plant specimens including algae and minerals.

1827–1828: La Chevrette

The first expedition to map the coast of India.

1828: Ms. Korvet Triton

Dutch exploration of New Guinea.

1829: La Cybèle

Scientific exploration was placed under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778–1846).

1829–1832: La Favorite

As British, American and Dutch voyages consolidated their interest in Australia, Hawaii and New Guinea, the French government sought to secure the religious freedoms and rights of French residents in the South Pacific.[18] The expedition passed the Cape of Good Hope, stopping at Pondicherry and Madras, and then exploring the coast of Cochinchina and Tonkin, stopping in the Philippines, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. The expedition was considered a great success, many hydrological observations were completed and natural history collections assembled.

1831–1836: HMS Beagle

A world circumnavigation to make a hydrographic survey of the coast of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Peru, and establish accurate longitude measurements. Charles Darwin paid his own way as a naturalist/companion to the captain, and found the voyage a stimulus both to his career as a geologist and to the formulation of his theory of evolution.

1835 and 1836: La Recherche

Two expeditions to the coasts of Iceland and Greenland in an attempt to trace the Bordelaise commanded by Jules de Blosseville (1802–1833) which had been missing since 1833.

1836–1839: Vénus

Expedition (circumnavigation) in the frigate Vénus to assess the economic viability of whaling in the North Pacific.

1836–1837: La Bonite

A global circumnavigation sailing the coast of South America, back along the West Coast to California, across the Pacific, reaching Manila, China, India, the Isla Borbón and returning to France. More than 1,000 new plant species were collected and many geographical and meteorological observations made.

1836–1842: HMS Sulphur

Exploration of the Pacific coast of America and interior of Nicaragua and El Salvador. Sulphur participated in the First Opium War between 1840 and 1841 and was later used to survey the harbour of Hong Kong in 1841, returning to England in 1842.

1837–1840: L'Astrolabe and La Zélée

The second voyage of L'Astrolabe, this time accompanied by La Zélée, sailed on 7 September 1837 and at the end of November, the ships reached the Strait of Magellan. Dumont thought there was sufficient time to explore the strait for three weeks, taking into account the precise maps drawn by Phillip Parker King between 1826 and 1830, before heading south again but two weeks after seeing their first iceberg, the ships were encased in pack ice for a while. After reaching the South Orkney Islands, the expedition headed directly to the South Shetland Islands and the Bransfield Strait. Then located some land which was named Terre de Louis-Philippe (now called Graham Land), the Joinville Island group and Rosamel Island (now called Andersson Island. In poor shape the two ships headed for Talcahuano in Chile. Turning south they led for the first time some experiments to determine the approximate position of the South magnetic pole, discovered the Terre Adélie on January 20, 1840 and landed two days later on an islet of the Géologie Archipelago (66°36′19″S 140°4′0″E / 66.60528°S 140.06667°E / -66.60528; 140.06667) 4 km from the mainland to take mineral and animal samples.

For all other publications by themes and authors, refer to Expédition Dumont d'Urville in the Publications part.

1837–1843: HMS Beagle

The mission was the hydrographic survey of the coasts of Australia. In 1839 Lieutenant Stokes sighted a natural harbour which Wickham named Port Darwin, the later settlement nearby eventually became the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. In 1841 Wickham fell ill, and Stokes took command.

1838–1842: USS Vincennes and USS Peacock

USS Vincennes in Disappointment Bay, Antarctica, during the Wilkes expedition.

The "Wilkes Expedition", included naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, taxidermists, artists and a philologist in the ships Vincennes, Peacock, the brig Porpoise, the store-ship Relief, and two schooners, Sea Gull, and Flying Fish.

Departing Hampton Roads on 18 August 18, 1838, the expedition stopped at Madeira and Rio de Janeiro, Argentina; visited Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Tuamotu Archipelago, Samoa, and New South Wales. From Sydney, Australia, the fleet sailed into the Antarctic Ocean in December 1839 and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny Islands" of which it sighted the coast on January 25, 1840. Next, the expedition visited Fiji and the Hawaiian Islands in 1840. In July 1840, two sailors, one of whom was Wilkes' nephew, Midshipman Wilkes Henry, were killed while bartering for food on Malolo, in Fiji. Wilkes retribution was swift and severe. According to an old man of Malolo Island, nearly 80 Fijians were killed in the incident.

From December 1840 to March 1841, his men with native Hawaiian porters hauled a pendulum to the summit of Mauna Loa to measure gravity. He explored the west coast of North America, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, the Columbia River, San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River, in 1841. The expedition returned by way of the Philippines, the Sulu Archipelago, Borneo, Singapore, Polynesia and the Cape of Good Hope, reaching New York City on 10 June 1842. This was the first circumnavigation of the world funded by the Government of the United States and the last by a sailing vessel. The expedition was poorly prepared and of five vessels which left, only two returned to port. The natural history collections were very rich with 50,000 plant specimens (approximately 10 000 species) and 4,000 specimens of animals (half being new species).

1839–1843: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

Terror in the Arctic

This British trip, sponsored by the Royal Society, was to discover magnetic and geographic features of the Antarctic. The expedition was prepared with great care by James Clark Ross, already familiar with Polar navigation. The two ships left the United Kingdom on 19 September 1839, stopping to explore the Kerguelen Islands in 1840, and then on Tasmania to build a magnetic observatory for the Antarctic and to conduct cartographic work. Mount Erebus and the Ross Sea were discovered during this journey. After three attempts, Ross admitted that the magnetic pole lay in land that he could not reach. Following the footsteps of his uncle John Ross, he performed the first deep sea surveys up to 4800 m (2677 fathoms), using ropes. Unfortunately biological specimens collected decomposed.

1841–1844: La Favorite

A scientific exploration in the China Sea and Indian Ocean.

1842–1846: HMS Fly

During the early to mid-1840s, Fly charted numerous trade and other routes between many locations, primarily off Australia's North-east coast and nearby islands. Such islands included Whitsunday Island and the Capricorn Islands. After being discovered during the survey of the Gulf of Papua, New Guinea, the Fly River was named after Fly. For the most of its seaworthy existence, Fly was captained by Francis Price Blackwood.

1846–1850: HMS Rattlesnake and HMS Bramble

Rattlesnake, painted 1853 by Oswald Brierly, artist on the expedition

An expedition to the Cape York and Torres Strait areas of northern Australia.

1851–1854: Capricieuse

A French expedition circumnavigating the world via Cape Horn, stopping in Tahiti and Ualan to determine an astronomical Meridian intended for future travel in the Pacific, then arriving in China. There, the ship performed several missions of exploration including, in July–August 1852, in the seas of Korea and Japan (then very little known in Europe) and on the coasts of Kamchatkato completely unknown the Lapérouse expedition. The Capricieuse then returned to France via the Cape of Good Hope. This was the last French global circumnavigation by sail.

1851–1853: Eugenie

Main article: HMS Eugenie

A Swedish natural history excursion, contributing to the capture of Manuel Briones, a robber who seized an American whaler "George Howland" and who was the terror on the coast of the Ecuador.

1852–1863: HMS Herald

A survey of the Australian coast and Fiji Islands, continuing the mission of HMS Rattlesnake. Following disagreements with the captain, naturalist John MacGillivray disembarks at Sydney in January 1854. Herald was a 500-ton, 28-gun sixth-rate, launched as Termagant in 1822 and renamed in 1824. She served as a survey ship under Henry Kellett and Henry Mangles Denham and was sold in 1864.

1853–1855: USS Vincennes and USS Porpoise

This American expedition explored the coasts of Japan, China, Siberia and Kamchatka before putting in at the Cape of Good Hope and returning to the United States. Porpoise sank in a typhoon in 1854.

1857–1860: SMS Novara

Frigate Novara from the 21 vol. expedition report: Voyage of the Austrian Frigate Novara around the Earth (1861–1876)

An expedition organized by the Emperor of Austria to demonstrate the power of the Crown. Novara departed Trieste in April 1857, passing the Cape of Good Hope to reach the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. Fourteen of the forty-four guns were dumped to make more room for the scientific collections.

1860: HMS Bulldog

An oceanographic survey in Bulldog for the laying of a submarine telegraph cable in the North Atlantic.

1865–1868: Magenta

An Italian circumnavigation of the globe that made important scientific observations in South America. The purpose of the trip was also to establish diplomatic relations with China and Japan, but without success. De Filippi set out in 1866 on a government-sponsored scientific voyage to circumnavigate the globe. The ship, the Italian warship Magenta, sailed under the command of Vittorio Arminjon, departing Montevideo on February 2, 1866. It reached Naples on March 28, 1868. However, De Filippi himself died en route at Hong Kong, on February 9, 1867, from serious dysentery and liver problems. The scientific report was completed by his assistant, Professor Enrico Hillyer Giglioli. Giglioli returned to Italy in 1868.

1865: HMS Curacoa

An expedition embarked in Curacoa leaving Sydney in June 1865 to explore the Pacific Islands. One of the objectives is to punish the inhabitants of the islands of Tanna for mistreating a missionary.

1868 and 1869–1870: HMS Lightning and HMS Porcupine

Two oceanographic expeditions in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

1873–1876: HMS Challenger

The Challenger Expedition was a grand tour of the world during covering 68,000 nautical miles (125,936 km) organized by the Royal Society in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh. Charles Thomson was the leader of a large scientific team.

1875–1876: HMS Alert and HMS Discovery

The British Arctic Expedition in Alert and Discovery seeking to establish the geographic and magnetic north pole.

1881: USRC Thomas Corwin

USRC Thomas Corwin: Departure for Alaska, 1885

Several expeditions were conducted in the Bering Sea in 1881 to find the Jeannette and two whaling ships. Wrangell Island was discovered and made part of the United States in August 1881 with the landing of famed explorer John Muir and the crew of U. S. Revenue Marine ship Thomas Corwin under the command of Captain Calvin Leighton Hooper. The landing at the mouth of the Clark River was illustrated by Muir in his book "The Cruise of the Corwin". Two weeks after the Corwin took possession, USS John Rodgers conducted a complete survey of the island, which turned out to equal the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

1882–1883: La Romanche

The building of the French Navy La Romanche was for a French multidisciplinary expedition on a Scientific Mission to Cape Horn. (See also Romanche Glacier)

1882–1885: Vettor Pisani

The Vettor Pisani was an Italian naval corvette equipped for scientific exploration.

1886–1896: USS Albatross

United States Fish Commission Steamer Albatross, in the 1890s

Albatross belonged to the Committee on Fisheries of the United States and it carried out numerous scientific expeditions under the direction of Alexander Emanuel Agassiz (1835–1910). The primary goal was an inventory of the Pacific fishery reserves but many other observations are carried out by Townsend and other scientists.

1897–1898: Lila & Mattie

Zoologist Walter Rothschild commissioned the Webster-Harris Expedition to the Galápagos Islands from June 1897 to February 1898. This expedition on the schooner Lila & Mattie is well-described in the 1983 book titled Dear Lord Rothschild by Miriam Rothschild. In the 1936 book Oceanic Birds of South America by Robert Cushman Murphy, Rollo Beck describes the seminal telegram from C.M Harris that started his long and important association with the Galápagos Islands. The original of this telegram is in the Rollo Beck Collection in the California Academy of Sciences Archives. There is also a photo from Beck's Sierra Nevada collecting trip in the archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology on the University of California, Berkeley campus. The story of buried treasure on Tower Island connected with this trip was apparently known to Captain Lindbridge during this voyage, but the information was not revealed until after the group had left Tower Island. This trip lasted from June 1897 to February 1898, after having started on a tragic note with the deaths of three of the original crew to Yellow Fever, and having to reconstitute the expedition in San Francisco, California.

1897–1898: Belgica

Adrien de Gerlache was an officer in the Belgian Royal Navy who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897 to 1899. He acquired Le Patria in 1896 renaming it Belgica. He left Antwerp on 16 August 1897 passing winter in the Antarctic before returning to Belgium on 5 November 1898.

1898–1899: Valdivia

Valdivia, 1898

A German deep-sea expedition exploring in Antarctic regions, the Valdivia being a steamship in the Hamburg-American line of steamers. The subscription was launched by Georg von Neumayer (1826–1909) and only consisted of a single vessel instead of the two planned. The expedition quickly reached the Cape of Good Hope where the study of deep waters began. The ship reached Antarctic pack ice and rediscovered Bouvet Island followed by the Kerguelen Islands. For the first time, evidence of deep water in this region was provided by survey. The Valdivia then passed to the Indian Ocean, studying the coast of Sumatra before returning to its port of origin 29 April 1899.

See also


  1. Brosse 1983, pp. 9–11
  2. Hackett, Louis (1992). "The age of Enlightenment". Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  3. SeeSloane 1707–1725
  4. See Speake 2003
  5. 1 2 Rice 2010, p. 320
  6. 1 2 Rice 2010, p. 10
  7. 1 2 Rice 2010, p. 290
  8. NZETC
  9. Dunmore 1992, p. 45
  10. Bloxam, pp 74-76
  11. Dunmore 1992, p. 46
  12. Dunmore 1992, pp. 237–238
  13. Oscar Chapuis, A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc p. 190.
  14. Oscar Chapuis, The Last Emperors of Vietnam p.4
  15. 1 2 Guardian review: Man on a suicide mission
    King 1839, pp. 150–153
  16. King 1839, p. 188
  17. Herbert, Sandra (1999). "An 1830s View from Outside Switzerland: Charles Darwin on the "Beryl Blue" Glaciers of Tierra del Fuego". Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae. pp. 92: 339–346. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  18. Dunmore 1992, pp. 228–233


  • Bauchot, Marie-Louise; Daget, Jacques & Bauchot, Roland (1997). "Ichthyology in France at the Beginning of the 19th Century: The Histoire Naturelle des Poissons of Cuvier (1769–1832) and Valenciennes (1794–1865)". In Collection Building in Ichthyology and Herpetology (Pietsch T.W. & Anderson W.D., eds), American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists: 27-80. ISBN 0-935868-91-7
  • Broc, Numa (1988,1992,1999,2003). Dictionnaire illustré des explorateurs et grands voyageurs français du XIXe siècle. 4 vols, Éditions du Comité des Travaux historiques et scientifiques (Paris. ISBN 2-7355-0158-2,ISBN 2-7355-0233-3,ISBN 2-7355-0391-7,ISBN 2-7355-0461-1
  • Brosse, Jacques (1983). Great Voyages of Exploration. The Golden Age of Discovery in the Pacific. Transl. Stanley Hochman. Sydney: Doubleday. ISBN 0-86824-182-2. 
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Dunmore, John (1992). Who's Who in Pacific Navigation. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84488-X. 
  • Mearns, Barbara & Mearns, Richard (1998). The Bird collectors. Academic Press (London): xvii + 472 p. ISBN 0-12-487440-1
  • Rice, Tony (2010). Voyages of Discovery. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74237-225-9. 
  • Sardet, Michel (2007). Naturalists and explorers of the Health Service of the Navy in the 19th century. Pharmathèmes (Paris): 285 p. ISBN 978-2-914399-17-3
  • Singaravélou, Pierre (eds.) (2008). The empire of Geographers: geography, exploration and colonization, 19th-20th century. Belin (Paris): 287 p. ISBN 978-2-7011-4677-5
  • Speake, Jennifer (2003). Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 1-57958-247-8. OCLC 55631133. 
  • Sloane, Hans (1707–1725). A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica :with the natural history of the herbs and trees … British Museum.
  • Taillemite, Étienne (2004). The discoverers of the Pacific: Bougainville, Cook, Lapérouse. Gallimard (Paris), collection Discovery: 176 p. ISBN 978-2-07-076333-7
  • Zanco, Jean-Philippe (2008). The legacy forgotten Dumont d'Urville and explorers of the Pacific: voyages of Gaston de Rocquemaurel, 1837–1854. Symposium Lapérouse and French explorers of the Pacific, Museum of the Navy, 17–18 October 2008,

This article incorporates text from the French language Wikipedia article fr:Voyage d'exploration scientifique.

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