The spirit of the HMS Beagle is returning to Chilean waters, more than 150 years after Charles Darwin visited Chile and South America in it during his famed 1835 trip. The non-profit Fundación Beagle, with bilateral support from Chile and the United Kingdom, plans to build a replica of Darwin’s famous ship and use the HMS Beagle as a research vessel and educational tool.
“Imagine standing on the deck of the HMS Beagle for her maiden voyage,” said the president of Fundación Beagle, Dr. Ravinder Bhatia, during an inauguration ceremony in Santiago, according to The Santiago Times.
“Chilean children from economically challenged areas will sail with other children from all over the world, and with scientists from different countries, working together to improve our understanding of the planet and oceans around us.”
The foundation plans to build a replica of the HMS Beagle, equipped with cutting-edge research equipment which will collect environmental data from the diverse marine life of Chilean waters, as well as collect marine and terrestrial samples abroad.
The Chilean Navy has also pitched its support for the environmental education project. Rear Admiral Eduardo Troncoso, director of Fundación Beagle, called the HMS Beagle project a “chance to promote discovery and science, giving future generations the opportunity to live in a better, healthier, natural world.”
The ship will be open to educational groups and students, who will get a first-hand look at the research laboratory as well as an insider’s look at the ship that helped Darwin form his theory of evolution. The HMS Beagle hopes to work with Darwin centers around the world – including the famous research center on the Galapagos Islands – to collaborate on international scientific and educational missions.
“Scientific knowledge of the environment is the basis for forming a nation,” said Francisco Hervé Allamand, professor of geology at the Universidad de Chile, and guest at the Beagle reception.