HMS Challenger started off her journey from Portsmouth on 21 December 1872 with Captain George Nares, 23 officers, 240 crew and 6 scientists. The crew carried out their first dredging on 30 December 1872 off Cape Finisterre, Portugal. On the first attempt they lost a thermometer, on the second the dredge came up capsized but on the third the dredge was finally brought up containing some specimens.
Roman numerals I to VIII were used for preliminary stations. This is where the equipment was tested. It wasn’t until Challenger left Tenerife that the crew had got used to the equipment and started making regular observations at the stations. Station 1 was just south of the Canary Islands, on the 15 February 1873.