Book of the Week: BHL Critters, Oh My!

For anyone who has seen the new BHL business cards, this week’s Book of the Week may look vaguely familiar. Several of the species images used on the cards (and indeed at the top of this webpage) were taken from plates found in the Report on the Zoological Collections Made During the Voyage of the H.M.S. ‘Alert.’

The H.M.S. Alert had a long history of expeditions, from arctic exploration (1874-1876) to surveys of the Pacific Ocean (1857-1868 and 1876-1884). It is perhaps best known for its Arctic expedition, although the contributions made during the Pacific explorations are also extremely noteworthy. For instance, during the Alert’s Pacific Expedition from 1876-1884, Dr. Richard Coppinger, an accomplished naturalist that also served during the ship’s Arctic expedition, collected 3,700 specimens, representing 1,300 species, that were later added to the National Collection. Coppinger made careful studies of these specimens, which were ultimately related in this week’s Book of the Week, along with exacting and beautifully detailed plates.

At the time of publication, the records contributed during this expedition were unparalleled, with the exception of the Challenger Expedition, in the contribution made to the scientific knowledge of the biodiversity of the Littoral Invertebrate Fauna of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

To view this week’s Book of the Week, Report on the Zoological Collections Made in the Indo-Pacific Ocean During the Voyage of H.M.S. ‘Alert’ (1884), contributed by Smithsonian Institution Libraries, click here.

Click on the following links to view information related to the species featured from this book on the Encyclopedia of Life website:


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Grace Costantino served as the Outreach and Communication Manager for the Biodiversity Heritage Library from 2014 to 2021. In this capacity, she developed and managed BHL's communication strategy, oversaw social media initiatives, and engaged with the public to excite audiences about the wealth of biodiversity heritage available in BHL. Prior to her role as Outreach and Communication Manager, Grace served as the Digital Collections Librarian for Smithsonian Libraries and as the Program Manager for BHL.