The HMS Challenger began a four-year voyage 150 years ago to explore the deep sea and the creatures that lived in it. The scientists aboard the ship discovered thousands of new species and recorded massive amounts of data about the oceans. The treasure trove of information they gathered is now available online in the first comprehensive database of the Challenger findings.

A new website devoted to the expedition and the database was launched Dec. 21 – the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Challenger’s voyage. It is part of the Oceans 1876 project by English professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood, a historian of 19th-century environmental history and science. 

His aim for the Oceans 1876 project was to develop a database of baseline oceanographic information to enhance marine research and increase public awareness of the Challenger expedition. The Challenger was a naval vessel converted into a research ship and floating laboratory. Between 1872-76, the ship sailed 70,000 miles and recorded data at more than 360 research stations worldwide. The mission identified the world’s major ocean basins and currents, as well as 4,700 new species of marine creatures and plants.

Read more about the Oceans 1876 project from the University of Illinois News Bureau