Animated HMS Challenger

These animations were created to give the viewer a sense of what it was like to be aboard HMS Challenger, a 19th century sailing vessel that was the first of its kind outfitted specifically for ocean exploration and marine science.  The representations of the ship's exterior are meant to inspire a sense of awe and appreciation of how much work was involved in just getting from place to place on the high seas, not to mention having to handle the ship appropriately and safely when conducting scientific operations.  Scenes below decks closely represent the environmental conditions on the ship, specifically the lack of natural daylight. 


Come aboard the Challenger and see what it was like to be part of the ship and science crew on this amazing oceanographic voyage…..


Virtual Challenger Exhibit

This virtual exhibit is adapted from the "History of Oceanography: HMS Challenger" exhibit at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and the Challenger letters of Joseph Matkin, most of which are held in the archives of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The" journey" section of the site uses excerpts from these letters to describe Challenger's historic voyage in some detail.

The Challenger Volumes at

The volumes from HMS Challenger's voyage were put into digitized form by Dr. David Bossard.  Dr. Bossard has had a life-long interest in the history of science and technology.  His introduction to the H.M.S. Challenger reports came about almost accidentally, as part of research into a series of talks on the subject "What is Life?" exploring the physical and chemical prerequisites for life. During preparation for one talk in this series ("The Chemical Buildingblocks of Life"), he became intrigued with the amazing variety of skeletal forms of the single-celled Radiolaria. This led to the discovery of Ernst Haeckel's beautiful Report on the Radiolaria, with plates showing thousands of radiolarial skeletons. The report is part of the 50-volume set of H.M.S. Challenger reports in the Dartmouth College archives.

Because of the importance and fragile condition of the Challenger reports, and the thousands of beautiful plates included in the collection, Dr. Bossard took on the task of photographing the entire set, some 30,000 pages, completed by early 2002, and is now preparing the reports for on-line access. To date about a dozen of the 81 biological reports are completed, together with an illustrated Index, to help the reader to identify and visualize the subjects represented in the report titles.

The College of Exploration´s Challenger Team thanks Dr. Bossard for his efforts in preserving these amazing documents for others to use and enjoy, and looks forward to adding additional volumes to the website.