Charles Darwin and Coral Reefs

L. A. Cotton


Christmas Day of the year eighteen hundred and thirty-one found the young Charles Darwin making his final preparations for the long voyage which laid the foundations of his scientific career. He was then in his twenty-third year, and had just taken his degree at Cambridge. His keen interest in sport and in the pursuit of outdoor studies in natural history robbed him of any academic distinction, and his place as tenth on the list of the pass graduates gave no clue to those rare qualities of mind which afterwards gained him a secure place among the immortals. Darwin's interest in natural history was manifested in his boyhood days, and was fostered by the two years which he devoted to the study of medicine at Edinburgh. A further opportunity for scientific studies was given to him after graduation by his friendship with Henslow and Sedgwick. It was the botanist Henslow who secured for him the position of naturalist on the Beagle, and it was Sedgwick who fostered that love for geology which led him to give it such a prominent place during his voyage on the Beagle. 

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