The Order of Australia
The Order of Australia, instituted by Her Majesty The Queen on 14 February 1975, was established as “an Australian society of honour for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service”.
With over 450 undescribed species housed in State museums across Australia cross-referenced with their photographic records in the Australian Marine Photographic Index files and catalogues, Neville’s avhievements in his field of expertise may never be matched, but the recognition afforded by receiving an OAM from his own country is more than he could ever have wished for.
Her Excellency, Ms Penelope Wensley AC Governor of Queensland with
Neville Coleman OAM (Photo: Jorina van der Westhuizen)
Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame 2007
Marine Fauna Surveys
Since 1963, many thousands of species of marine flora and fauna have been found, photographed, preserved, cross – referenced with their images and donated to Australian Museums.
Without doubt there are thousands of undescribed species and it isn’t that difficult to find a new one when you have a fair idea of what’s already known in each phyla. The fact that one week’s diving at Loloata Island, Papua New Guinea in November 2002 produced 10 new species from regular dive sites, demonstrates that we still have a long way to go.
Fauna surveys provide a base line study of what lives in an area. By establishing a basic listing of species diversity a dive site or marine park can be valued and when seen as an important environmental place, greater steps can be taken to protect the inhabitants.
However, like any learning process there needs to be a point of reference (a name) to what one is seeing or observing. Otherwise, it cannot be recorded, discussed, taught or shared.
By shared learning we can all participate in the excitement of new discoveries and the wonder of underwater nature.
Just because one discovers/photographs/collects an undescribed species does not mean that the person who describes that animal credits the original finder.
There are no criteria, it is up to the taxonimic author who describes the specimen in a scientific paper as to which name the animal or plant is given.
From the time it was discovered, preserved and donated to an institution it could be 10, 20, 30 or 40 years from the time the organism was found until it gets to be described. In that time, anything can happen.
The original specimen may be put away on a shelf and years later somebody else comes along and rediscovers what to them is new and it may be written up as such.
At a later date, scientists may go on an expedition to the same locality( because they have all the details from the original donator) and find fresher specimens of the same organism and decide that their specimens are better preserved than the original ones. The ones that they collect become the type species and are consequently described as the first ones ever found, while the original ones and their discoverer fade into obscurity, as if they never existed.
In other cases, the original specimens are loaned out to other worldwide museums in countries where scientists with specific expertise reside. The museum assistants register specimens with museum numbers so that when the overseas scientist gets the material he, or she, writes up the new specimens for a scientific paper and quotes the museum registration number in the paper.
Sometimes they make reference to the original collector in the acknowledgments and sometimes they don’t. It just depends on the personal values of what’s important to them for their careers, or if the museum label actually acknowledges the original collector/donor.
Neville’s expertise in discovering, photographing collecting, donating and marine life identification extends to Algae, Sea Grass, Mangroves, Forams, Sponges, Stony Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Anemones, Sea Jellies, Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Black Corals, Flatworms, Segmented Worms, Crustaceans, Barnacles, Shrimps, Lobsters, Crayfish, Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Molluscs, Chitons, Univalves, Bivalves, Cephalopods, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Opisthobranchs, Nudibranchs, Sea Slugs, Bryozoans, Sea Mosses, Echinoderms, Sea Stars, Feather Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Ascidians/Sea Squirts, Fish, Sharks, Marine Reptiles, and Marine Mammals.
Neville’s donated specimens and images have contributed to, been part of, or subject to over 100 scientific papers published across the world in scientific journals which, in itself, is very rewarding. The recognition of contributions to advancing knowledge are appreciated in whichever form they may evolve.
If the species is really something special and the original type collector/photographer knows the expert, curator or taxonomist author who may describe it, there may be a personal favour asked to have it named after the original discoverer.
Other personal names are given by an author because the specimens relating to their expertise were sent to them by the original discoverer on a personal basis, or sometimes they are named after friends, colleages or members of their family.
To ensure he gets some credit for his discoveries and unpaid work Neville has provided dates and AMPI specimen numbers in many of his books. This enables students or scientists an insight on new species that exist in various museums which they can refer to or apply to study when describing similar or the same new species (as has happened on a number of occasions).
Thank you to scientists and learned colleagues
The following species/genera are credited to Neville’s achievements in the world of aquatic discovery contributing to the advancement of knowledge.
Neville takes this opportunity to thank all the authors of the following species named in his honour and all the scientists, assistants, curators and associates all over the world who have worked on his material.
Without their expertise and interest his contributions would have remained only as pretty pictures! Today they are important contributions to science and knowledge and shared with the world.
REFERENCES NORTHERN TERRITORY MUSEUM
To Whom It May Concern:
I have known Neville Coleman for 30 years. I first met him when he assisted the Roche Research Institute of Marine Pharmacology collecting team on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in 1974. This was about five years after he began to compile what eventually became the Australian Marine Photographic Index (AMPI): a visual identification system to advance the knowledge of marine plants and animals throughout Australia. Neville has dedicated most of his life fulfilling what many said was a senseless dream. To my knowledge, he has amassed the greatest photographic record of professionally identified species of Australian marine life in existence, and caused many to doubters to admit to respecting his endeavours. The offshoots of this project have been many: the pictures are available free to non profit scientific endeavours; his photos have filled the pages of so many books on Australian marine life that Neville holds the record for any single author; he has been contracted by numerous companies and organisations for his knowledge and photographic skills; and museum shelves around the country grown under the weight of the specimens he has donated in exchange for identifications, many new to science and all cross-referenced to his photographic index.
Nevilles dedication to his vocation is legendary, and he has more than demonstrated that he can complete any project he begins. I have no hesitation in complimenting Neville for his contributions to science, and his education of the Australian public through his lectures, his courses, his books and the dive magazine he published alone for many years. I am sure that any assistance which might be given to advance the publication of his huge AMPI resource would be amply rewarded, and would be applauded by both the public and professionals across the Indo-Pacific region.
February 04, 2004
Phil Alderslade, PhD ( Now Retired)
Curator of Coelenterates
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
PO Box 4646,
Phone, National: 08 8999 8252
Phone, International: 61 8 8999 8252
Fax, National: 08 8999 8289
Fax, International: 61 8 8999 8289