HMS Challenger was destined to become a famous ship. In the early 1870s she circumnavigated the globe pursuing ocean scientific discovery and research.
In 1869, it visited Auckland. and when it left, it had to call into Tryphena (aka Port Tofino) Great Barrier Island twice through bad weather.
HMS Challenger, Commander Brownrigg, arrived in port on Monday evening at 7 o'clock. She left Auckland on the 28th ultimo under steam. On the following morning arrived off Cape Barrier: the weather coming on thick, with a strong NW breeze, she put in to Port Tofino [Tryphena] and remained there till 11am on the following day. On the 2nd instant a strong gale from the NE came on, owing to which she returned to Port Tofino, and remained until next day, when the weather moderated.
Source: Wellington Independant newspaper. 10th June, 1869 p4.
The Birth of Oceanography - HMS Challenger
The first true stepping stone in ocean science was in 1872. This saw the advent of the first purely scientific oceanographic expedition with the transformation of the HMS Challenger from a naval corvette to a survey vessel with a compliment of 243 officers, scientists and sailors. She was equipped with a dredging platform, sounding gear, laboratories and all sorts of scientific apparatus.
The voyage was the brainchild of two civilian biologists –Professor William Carter from the University of London and Professor Charles Thomson from the University of Edinburgh. These prestigious scientists wished to disprove the widely excepted theory that the deep seas were lifeless. The expedition traversed 127,670 km over a period of three-and-a-half-years crossing the North and – Mid-Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and the South China Sea. The huge quantity of data obtained from the expedition produced 50 volumes of scientific reports.
The major discoveries include the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Marianas Trench with a sounding of 8,200 m in the Western Pacific (the sounding station was to become known as Challenger Deep), and the revelation that life could be found well into the deep dark waters of the major oceans.
The 142 years [?] since HMS Challenger left port have shown a continuing interest and advancement into exploring the marine environment with a leap forward in technology during the Second World War. Mankind has striven to answer the questions raised by the Challenger expedition – what forces create mid-oceanic ridges? Why are some regions of the oceanic basin so dramatically different from others? How can life survive in the deep, where the pressure is crushing, natural light is non-existent and food sources are so wide spread?
Source: Author unknown.
HMS Challenger. Painting by William Mitchell.