Rich with photographs, colourful plates, scientific descriptions, anthropological and geographical observations, and general insights into expeditionary life, the Scientific Expedition Reports, housed in the University of Otago’s Special Collections, are a veritable mine of information. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Uganda to Patagonia, the earliest of the reports dates from D’Urville’s expedition in the Astrolabe from 1826 to 1829, published in 1832; the latest are from the University of Canterbury Snares Islands expeditions beginning in the 1960s. Men and women from New Zealand, Australia, Norway, France, Sweden, America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, China, Egypt and many more countries besides, have travelled the world by land and by sea in the name of science and exploration and have documented the results in these scientific reports. Many of the scientific observations made and specimens taken are still being researched today and despite the treacherous conditions and ever present risks, most members of these expeditionary parties returned alive. The Scientific Expedition Reports in Special Collections are a testament to and a record of humankind’s insatiable desire for knowledge.
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