About the New Challenger Project

The historic voyage of the British ship HMS Challenger, conducted between 1872-1876, is often considered to be the first worldwide expedition undertaken specifically to conduct oceanographic research.  At a time when knowledge began to be equated with power, the deep ocean was one of the great frontiers that man had yet to conquer. The Challenger had the specific assignment from the British government to investigate the physical and biological conditions of the great Ocean Basins.  The findings from the Challenger voyage were deemed “the greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet since the celebrated discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.” Many of the detailed drawings of flora and fauna provide much of the basis of modern marine biology.


The “New Challenger Project” was created in 2002 by the College of Exploration (COE), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Virginia.  With its partners, COE is bringing together many resources related to the Challenger voyage, including the original volumes of data to be preserved online and available to everyone.  It is developing comparative studies of ocean exploration then and now by producing educational materials and web-based resources that link historical explorations with current oceanographic missions.  COE and its partners have also created new resources, such as animations of the Challenger ship and technologies, and a new website developed by Birch Aquarium which shares some of the personal narratives of the voyage and also some of the original artifacts and organism samples that still exist today.


The College of Exploration’s Challenger Partners 













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