10 fun facts about HMS Beagle

21 February 2019

HMS Beagle was the ship in which the naturalist, Charles Darwin, sailed around the world between 1831 and 1836. The Beagle visited sites like the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.  The rich variety of animal and plant species that Darwin saw on the voyage led him to develop his theory of evolution. 

Here are 10 fun facts about the HMS Beagle. 

  1. What does HMS stand for?

H. = His/Her

M. = Majesty's

S. = Ship 

  1. The name "Beagle".

It may seem strange to name a ship after a dog, but naming ships after animals was common practice for the British Royal Navy. 

  1. What exploratory voyages did Beagle go on?

Beagle's first voyage of exploration was to South America, surveying Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego between 1826–30. The second voyage (1831–36) took her to South America and then around the world. Darwin was on board during this voyage, which became one of the most famous and important voyages of exploration ever made. Beagle's third and final voyage (1837–43) surveyed large parts of the Australian coast. 

  1. Second survey ship to be launched

The Beagle was the 2nd survey ship launched, while H.M.S. Barracouta was the 1st and was the Beagle's sister ship. The Chanticleer, Fairy, Saracen and Scorpion were the other four survey ships. 

  1. How big was the Beagle?

Length: 27.5 metres (90 feet 4 inches)

Width: 7.5 metres (24 feet 6 inches)

Burden: 235 tons

Draught: 3.8 metres (12 feet 6inches) 

  1. In 1837 HMS Beagle set off on a survey of Australia.

Many places around the coast were named on this voyage. Many of the places were named for important people or members of the crew. Wickham named Port Darwin in honour of Charles Darwin. A settlement there became the town of Palmerston in 1869, and was renamed Darwin in 1911. During this survey, the Beagle Gulf was named after the ship. 

  1. What scientific equipment did she carry?

The voyages under Captain Robert FitzRoy saw the use of scientific technology such as theodolites, chronometers and barometers used to provide accurate survey information for new charts and, equally important, meteorological data and weather forecasting. 

The Darwin voyage was the first time the Beaufort wind scale was used for wind observations. The crew also undertook various experiments and, despite some disappointments, they produced useful results. They were especially successful in the measurement of earthquakes during experiments in 1835. 

  1. Captain Pringle Stokes

On 22 May 1826, left to survey bodies of water in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. One of the bodies of water found was named the Beagle Channel after the ship. During the voyage, Captain Pringle Stokes became depressed and shot himself. He died ten days later. Robert FitzRoy became the new captain. Beagle returned to England on 14 October 1830. 

  1. Why is the HMS Beagle Famous?

HMS Beagle was the ship in which the naturalist, Charles Darwin, sailed around the world from 26 December 1831 to 27 February 1832. The rich variety of animal and plant species that Darwin saw on the voyage on the Beagle led him to develop his theory of 'evolution by natural selection'. 

    10. What happened to Beagle?

She was transferred to the coastguard in 1845 and moored on the River Roach in Essex. She was renamed – – in 1859. In 1870 she was sold off to be broken up.

 

Come along to the kids adventure play and find out who Charles Darwin is, how he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime. Book your Natural History Museum tickets for this adventure play now!