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On the Reef From the Galpagos the Beagle crossed the Pacific visiting Tahiti on the way to New Zealand Australia and Tasmania. In Australia Darwin came across eucalyptus trees the kangaroo rat and the bizarre duck-billed platypus. The plants and animals he saw were much different from anything he had seen before. He later wrote An unbeliever in every thing beyond his own reason might exclaim Two distinct Creators have been at work. Ultimately Darwin would not need to invoke two Creators to explain the natural world indeed not even one. On March 14 1836 the Beagle departed from King Georges Sound Australia and headed north to the Keeling Cocos Islands. Here Darwin found giant clams brightly colored corals and emerald lagoons. At Keeling Darwin tested his new theory of coral reefs. He had theorized they were formed when mountains sank back into the sea the coral reefs that originally surrounded the islands were left as rings around a lagoon and he was right. Often thought of as only an evolutionary theorist Darwin was in fact an accomplished geologist botanist and zoologist. The ship did not stay long in this tropical paradise before setting out across its third great body of water the Indian Ocean. The Beagle arrived on Mauritius east of Madagascar on April 29. Captain John Lloyd the surveyor general happened to have an elephant on the island and Darwin rode it back to the ship when they left. From Mauritius they sailed to the Cape of Good Hope and from there to the Ascension Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. After almost five years the Beagle was almost home. When it set out on July 23 however it did not head north to England but west- southwest. Unbelievably FitzRoy returned to Baha in Brazil to double-check his measurements. Fortunately it would be the last detour. After five ocean crossings the Atlantic three times it was finally time to go home. The Beagle landed at Falmouth on October 2 1836 almost five years after it set out. Darwin had literally sailed around the world. He had spent 1 years at sea 3 years on land. Upon his return he wrote As far as I can judge of myself I worked to the utmost during the voyage from the mere pleasure of investigation and from my strong desire to add a few facts to the great mass of facts in natural science. As for his last objective we may safely say he succeeded. In 1842 Darwin published Coral Reefs. Although his solution was elegant and fit the facts he would not be proven right until the mid-twentieth century. 22