Mapped much of the worlds uncharted waters during that time period. He circumnavigated the world twice in his lifetime, during which he logged descriptions of numerous plants and animals that were unknown to mankind at that time.
Even though he is best know for his Theory of Evolution he contributed significantly to the early study of marine biology. His expedition aboard the HMS Beagle were spent collecting and studying specimens from a number of marine organisms. Also, his interest in geology lead to his study of coral reefs and their formation.
This three year voyage during which thousands of marine specimens were collected and analyzed. The data collected during this trip filled fifty volumes and served as the basis for the marine biology for across many disciplines for many years. This voyage is also referred as the birth of oceanography. Deep sea exploration was a benchmark of the Challenger's voyage that disproved British explorer Edward Frobes' theory that marine life could not exist below 1,800 feet.
Also, lead to the discovery of 4,717 new species, the mid-atlantic ridge and a map of deposits which mostly has remained current to the present.
Technology brought the study of marine biology to new heights after the HMS Challenger expedition. William Beebe and Otis Barton descended 923m/3,028ft. off the coast of Bermuda in a bathysphere, which was designed and funded by Barton. The depth record was not broken until 1948, when Barton made a bathysphere dive to 1,372m/4,500ft. During the interim, Beebe was able to observe marine life in its natural environment rather than in a specimen jar. Although he was criticized for never publishing his discoveries in professional journals, his vivid descriptions of the bathysphere dives in the books he published inspired many oceanographers and marine biologists.
The US Navy and the Institutions Stripps of Oceanography team brought the first marine magometer, discovering the magnetic stirpping of the ocean floor. Even today these maps help people understand the ocean floor and plate tectonics.
Over 20 different diseases have been discovered and associated with coral mortality world wide. The most common diseases include black band disease, white pox, white plague, white band and Caribbean yellow band disease. The increase in disease may be related to toxic chemicals, higher ocean temperatures, and run-off nutrients and sediment from the land.