Richard Brinsley Hinds was a British naval surgeon and naturalist with special interests in the geographical distribution of plants and the study of molluscs. He began studying at St Bartholomy's Hospital, London in 1829, gained an honours degree at the University of London, and was accepted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) in 1833. In February 1835 he joined the Royal Navy as assistant surgeon to the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar. His first paper, published in the Magazine for Natural History in 1835, dealt with "Observations on the construction of maps in geographical botany". In September 1835 he was appointed surgeon-naturalist in HMS Sulpher which, with HMS Samarang (with surgeon-naturalist A. Adams* on board), circumnavigated the world in the westerly direction during 1835-1842. These two ships comprised the first expedition to dredge for marine life on the Agulhas Bank. Both vessels were under the command of Captain (later Sir) Edward Belcher (1799-1877), who was also in charge of the natural history collections even though he has been described as "a rough, roistering, old-time sailor, who bothered little about localities and relied mainly on his memory" (Kilburn & Rippey, 1982, p. 18). Belcher first commanded H.M.S. Sulpher (1836-1842) and then H.M.S. Samarang (1843-1846) on extensive voyages. The Sulpher visited the Cape in 1842 and dredged on the Agulhas Bank at a depth of about 70-130 m.
The molluscs recovered during the voyage were described by Hinds in a number of papers dealing with new species, and in The zoology of the voyage of HMS Sulpher... (London, 1844). The collections of mammals, fish and birds were described by others. Hinds also gave considerable attention to the botany of the voyage, writing "The regions of vegetation; being an analysis of the distribution of vegetation forms over the surface of the globe...", which was published in Captain Edward Belcher's Narrative of a voyage around the world... in Sulpher, 1836-1842 (London, 1843). He also edited The botany of the voyage by HMS Sulpher (1844-1846), with botanical descriptions by G. Bentham. One of his papers relating to the voyage dealt with "The physical agents of temperature, humidity, light and soil, considered as developing climate, and in connexion with geographic botany" (1842). In other papers he described the vegetation of Hong Kong (1842), the vegetation of Fiji and islands in present Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (1842), and dealt with geographic botany (1842, 1845).
Hinds was promoted to surgeon in 1843 and in 1844 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS). He left for Australia in 1845, where he died at the age of 34 the next year.