H.M.S. Challenger: Humanity’s First Real Glimpse of the Deep Oceans

Date: April 19, 2019

Source: Discover
Author: Kate Golembiewsk

We know more about the surface of the moon than about the ocean floor. Scientists estimate that 91 percent of life under the sea hasn’t been discovered yet and more than 80 percent of the ocean has never been explored. What we do know about the ocean makes it almost more mysterious. It’s an alien landscape, complete with undersea mountain ranges and trenches deeper than Mount Everest is tall, home to a glorious nightmare carnival of weird, often glowing animals.

And most of what we know has only come to light in the last 150 years, starting with the expedition of HMS Challenger. From 1872 to 1876, the 200-foot-long warship was repurposed as a floating lab for the world’s first large-scale oceanographic expedition, circumnavigating the globe and dredging up samples of never-before-seen creatures from the ocean floor. The Challenger explorers brought to light thousands of new species and revealed the oceans to be a place of startling depths and untold wonders. Scientists today still rely on the Challenger findings to study everything from seashells to climate change.

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