Lecture to Offer Fresh Insights on Charles Darwin

“‘An Excellent Sea-Boat:’ Darwin’s Expedition Aboard HMS Beagle” will be held Feb. 21 at the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s new Copeland Maritime Center.

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation will open its 2016 lecture series with a special “sailing and science” lecture that features the captain of the Kalmar Nyckel as well as the ship’s noted naturalist, otherwise known as the remarkable husband-and-wife team of Lauren Morgens and Matthew Sarver. Called “‘An Excellent Sea-Boat:’ Darwin’s Expedition Aboard HMS Beagle,” the talk will be held Feb. 21 at the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s new Copeland Maritime Center. Captain Morgens and Scientist Sarver will provide fresh insights about Charles Darwin and his famous round-the-world voyage from 1831 to 1836.

A surveying expedition sponsored by the British Admiralty, the voyage would change Darwin, change science, and change the way we look at the world. In 1831, Charles Darwin was offered the post of naturalist on board HMS Beagle, a converted 10-gun barque sent by the British Admiralty on a surveying voyage around the world. Darwin was 22, fresh from Cambridge, and looking for something to do. Led by Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Royal Navy, the scientific expedition lasted five years, during which time the Beagle visited Brazil, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and many other countries and islands along the way. The voyage changed the way Darwin thought about the immutability of species. With his publication of “On the Origins of Species” in 1859, the voyage would be a turning point in the making of the modern world.

Captain Lauren Morgens, a Connecticut native who began sailing on Long Island Sound when she was eight years old, has been in command of the Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel since 2007. After embarking on her undergraduate studies at Cornell, Lauren signed up for SEA Semester and spent a whole semester on a tall ship, studying oceanography and learning to sail. This experience sparked a lifelong passion, and Lauren spent every spare moment at sea while finishing a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology, which included work at Cornell’s prestigious Ornithological Lab. Lauren has worked on ships on both the East and West coasts and Hawaii, and she spent a memorable four months aboard a three-masted barque Europa sailing from San Diego around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and Tierra del Fuego—places visited by Darwin. “There are precious few 17th-century tall ships in existence in the world,” Captain Lauren says, “and I have the privilege of sailing one every day, usually several times a day, either in Delaware Bay near Lewes, on the Christina River in Wilmington, or on extended blue-water sails along the East Coast, from Virginia to New England.” Thanks to Kalmar Nyckel’s intensive sailing schedule, Captain Lauren actually has more sail-handling experience with this complex rig than did any real 17th-century sailor.

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Matthew Sarver, an Ecologist Society of America Certified Ecologist, is the owner of Sarver Ecological, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in conversation and restoration planning and wildlife habitat. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University with a concentration in neurobiology and animal behavior. An avid birder for 20 years, Matt is currently conservation chair of the Delmarva Ornithological Society. He is also the Delaware representative on the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council and the Society for Ecological Restoration Mid-Atlantic. Matt also serves on the Delaware Nature Society‘s Land and Biodiversity Management Committee and the DNREC HAC Green Remediation and Eco-revitalization Subcommittee. Matt has worked as an entomologist, botanist, and community ecologist for state Natural Heritage programs in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Sarver Ecological was a co-consultant on the 2015 revision of Delaware’s Wildlife Action Plan for the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. Most recently, Matt was the lead ecologist and designer for the native plant landscaping project at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard, where he worked with DNREC, EA Science and Engineering, and the University of Delaware to help create a more wildlife-friendly landscape as a demonstration site for other brownfield projects in the area. Now in its 8th year, the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s annual lecture series brings world-class scholars and speakers to the greater Delaware community as part of its mission “to preserve and promote Delaware’s cultural and maritime heritage for the education and enrichment of all.” 

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