The H.M.S. Challenger returned to England on May 24, 1876.
All the oceanographic findings of the Challenger expedition would take 20 years to compile into 50 volumes and almost 30,000 pages.
Charles Wyville Thomson was able to complete a two-volume account of the main findings before his death in 1882.
The most remarkable discovery of the expedition was that many living things existed at the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean.
The greatest depth they measured was the Mariana Trench near Japan, at 26,900 feet. There was no azoic zone.
Thomson determined that most of these living things were nourished by organic particles from the surface. Dead fish nourished scavengers that also lived on the ocean floor.
The scientists created the first map plotting the ocean’s currents and temperatures. They made a map of the deposits of the ocean floor.
They discovered the existence of mountain ranges rising miles above the ocean floor and mapped the main contours of the ocean basins. They discovered an amazing 4,717 new species of ocean life-forms.
The findings of the expedition contributed to both navigation and science.
The shipping and fishing industries benefited from the findings on currents and meteorology. The new maps of the ocean floor aided the laying of telegraph cables across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
More expeditions would follow, and oceanography, a blend of biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, would become a very important part of twentieth-century science.
During the 1872-76 voyage of the H.M.S. Challenger, the first oceanographic research ship, Charles Wyville Thomson created drawings of sea creatures never before seen by humans.