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Robert Huxley

Abstract

The exploration of the South Pacific provides a canvas on which to illustrate the practicalities of early collecting, preserving and storing specimens in a region effectively as remote as the moon is today. Distant politics, espionage and war could delay and destroy years of work and the naturalists themselves often fell victim to disease and violence. The ingenuity employed to overcome these challenges are viewed mainly through examples from the explosion in scientific expeditions of the 1700s but also later voyages demonstrating the increasing professionalism of scientists and sailors and rapid changes in technology. Ethical aspects of these naturalists’ work are explored, as is the fate of the collections and their contribution to science.