Charles Darwin’s passage in Terceira island

* Photograph of Charles Darwin by Maull and Polyblank for the Literary and Scientific Portrait Club

Charles Darwin finished his celebrated five-year circumnavigation trip aboard the Beagle in the Azores and visited the interior of Terceira for six days but wrote a phrase that scientists have since come to consider totally wrong: “I really enjoyed the visit, but I did not find anything worth registering.”

In fact, António Frias Martins, a researcher in the Department of Biology at the University of the Azores, told the Lusa Agency that “there is a lot of registration in the Azores” because the archipelago, which has great biodiversity and unique animal species, is a true natural laboratory that supports the Theory of Evolution.

The only Portuguese who corresponded regularly with Darwin – between June and November 1881 – was precisely an Azorean naturalist, Francisco Arruda Furtado. His story is told in the book “The Portuguese that corresponded with Darwin”, by Paulo Renato Trincão (professor at the University of Aveiro).

Recent scientific research has undoubtedly consolidated the idea that the Azores are an archipelago of choice to prove the diversity of evolution through natural selection as Darwin advocated it.

One of the examples, quoted by National Geographic magazine, is the studies of wood-pigeon, a seabird typical of the Atlantic islands (including Madeira, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe), but where a a unique species in the Azores with only 250-300 couples. Unique in genetic terms, in songs and vocalizations, in times of change or in eating behavior.

Another unique species is the Priolo, a bird of the laurissilva forest of S. Miguel, which is undergoing a campaign to recover its habitat coordinated by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), because it is threatened with extinction. The laurissilva is, moreover, a forest also with unique characteristics, which only exists in the Azores and Madeira.


To celebrate the 180th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s passage in Terceira, the Angra do Heroísmo City Council prepared this series of four episodes that freely reproduce the stay on the island, based on the notes that the naturalist wrote in his travel diary.

The video will be played without sound (muted). Please turn on sound via the video player controls.

Episode 1 (portuguese only)

Episode 2 (portuguese only)

Episode 3 (portuguese only)

Final Episode (portuguese only)


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