An international group of scientists plan to recreate Charles Darwin’s five-year sea voyage around the world aboard a replica of the HMS Beagle. They plan to set sail from London in 2014.
“We want to construct two vessels that will make the trip together,” Ravinder Bhatia, director of the South American HMS Beagle Trust, told El Mercurio.
“One will be a replica of the boat that Darwin set off on in 1831. That one will be built in the United Kingdom. The other will be a scientific ship with the most advanced technology available—one that Darwin would have chosen if he had made his journey in the 21st century,” Bhatia said.
This week is the key week for securing funding for the project. The main British proponents of this proposal will meet with Chilean scientists in order to justify the 34 million US dollars necessary to build the ships and fund the five-year voyage.
Scientists plan to emphasize the project’s focus on international education, explaining what will be accomplished inside the state-of-the-art scientific vessel along the way.
Once all the details of the project are settled by the international team, they will focus on trying to acquire sponsorship from Chilean companies together with donations.
Eulogio Soto, PhD in marine biology and oceanography at the Universidad de Valparaíso, told El Mercurio the project “has great potential for scientific and educational cooperation between Chile and the U.K., and among academics in Latin America in general.”
Since the Beagle’s original voyage snaked along the entire length of the Chilean coast, opportunities are ripe for hands-on Chilean involvement in the project.
“We would like to invite students to get to know the Beagle and what scientific adventure really means,” Bhatia said. “We will install three education centres on coastal cities of Chile in order to promote educational activities on board as well as on land.”
Before reaching Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, where he forged some of his most groundbreaking theories on evolution, Darwin and the rest of the Beagle’s crew had to circumvent the southern tip of South America, coming from the east. After accomplishing that feat, they made their way up the entire coast of Chile, over 2,600 miles long.
During his journey up the Chilean coast, Darwin witnessed the eruption of the Osorno Volcano in January 1835, took detailed notes of an earthquake in Concepción a month later, and collected valuable samples of animal and plant species, many of which were previously unknown to the rest of the world.
By Zach Simon - The Santiago Times