Posted by: Rob Viens | April 5, 2013

The Inexhaustible “Treasures of the Deep”

On Thursday, April 4th the newly christened Adventure set out to return to the mainland and meet up with the other new boats FitzRoy had purchased in the fall. Darwin wrote:

“Our Schooner sailed for Rio Negro, in order if possible to catch Mr Wickham before he & Mr Stokes set out in their little vessels on a surveying cruize. — Mr Chaffers has at present the command. — Mr Wickham will have it eventually. — The chief cause of the Beagles present delay is the Captain having purchased what remained of the Frenchmans wreck for refitting the schooner.” (April 4)

The “Frenchmen’s wreck” refers to a shipwreck that the Beagle encountered upon arriving in the Falklands.  The French ship was damaged by the January storm that gave the Beagle so much trouble.  If you recall, FitzRoy had agreed to take the survivors back to the mainland:

“Capt: FitzRoy has offered to take them 22 in number in the Beagle & to purchase on account of the owners, any stores which we may want.” (Mar 1)

Most of the wreck survivors returned with the Adventure  – but it would be a couple more days before the Beagle left. In the mean time, Darwin was interested in exploring the offshore zoology:

“During this time I have been very busy with the Zoology of the Sea; the treasures of the deep to a naturalist are indeed inexhaustible.” (April 4)

So what was Darwin getting so excited about?  Well, according to his Zoological Notebook where he kept detailed descriptions of the samples he collected in early April, it included:

  • BarniclesChthamalus scabrosus (now called Notochthamalus scabrosus)
    Chthamalus scabrosus
  • Sea squirts/Tunicates – Ascidiacea (Falkland species from
    sea squirts
  • Sea Cucumbers – Apodida (Falkland species from
    sea cucumbers
  • BryozoansPorella margaritifera (now Hippadenella margaritifera ) and Tubulipora phalangeaA northern species of lacy bryozoan – Phidolorpora labiata (from
    Phidolorpora labiata
    See Patiently Waiting with Cellepora for more on bryozoa.
  • Hydrozoa – Obelia geniculata (from
    obelia geniculata
    See The Immortal Hydrozoa for more on hydrozoa.

With such a menagerie such as this just outside his cabin door, it is no wonder Darwin never made it very far inland. (RJV)

PS – See more Falkland Island invertebrates at Beneath Falklands Waters.


  1. Beautiful pictures.

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