Australasian Marine Photographic Index (AMPI)
Neville Coleman’s AMPI collection is the definitive marine photographic reference collection. It has historical, cultural and scientific significance. Its preservation is paramount and pivotal to the documentation and recording of global marine creatures.
The collection is a reference source for researchers across many disciplines in science now and for the future. In a digital format the collection will have greater application across numerous disciplines and mediums.
We need funds to conserve and preserve Neville Coleman’s Photographic Slide Collection!
Coleman Legacy Initiative (CLI) has been established to conserve and preserve Neville Coleman’s priceless AMPI slide collection for future generations.
Our goal is to raise funds to scan, index and archive the estimated 40,000 transparencies and to create a database with reference to the AMPI and develop a website that will give Not For Profit Educational Institutions assess to the collection and further advance Marine Life education and science.
The funds will go toward purchasing high end scanners, housing the images, storage drives as well as the cost to development a website and the ongoing cost to manage and maintain it.
Without your contribution this invaluable collection will be lost forever.
Your donations will be greatly appreciated. Contact: Jorina van der Westhuizen at firstname.lastname@example.org
This map represents the areas of the Australian Continent which Neville Coleman photographically surveyed during his lifetime.
Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales 1967, with his first underwater camera, an Edixa 35 mm camera ( Focal Plane Shutter) Perspex housing and single bulb flash.
(Photo: Walt Deas)
WORLD OF WATER
AUSTRALASIAN MARINE PHOTOGRAPHIC INDEX (AMPI)
In 1968 I envisioned setting up a semi-scientific visual identification system for Australasian Marine Life. After returning from the Australian Coastal Marine Expedition in 1973 I proceeded to organise material whereby transparencies were mounted on cards and each species was given an
identity number e.g. (CRUST: 270).
Each number was represented in a catalogue and cross-referenced with a collected, preserved specimen donated to various Australian museums.
Forty years ago this was necessary to enable a name to be given to a species because there were few books on marine life and unlike today visual images alone were not considered to be of any use without the specimen, because taxonomists couldn’t key out a picture.
Most marine curators were very sceptical about the value of underwater photography and visual identification.
When I began my crusade this was how fish were identified. Preserved remnants of what used to be. How could anybody be motivated to care about something so removed from life?
I set out to encourage a nation to care about its marine life. To do that I first had to create a visual expression of life by displaying the true beauty of the nature around us and hope someday that I could also encourage humans to discover the importance of the nature within us.
On many occasions, I endeavoured to get my first fish photographs identified and was always directed by the curator to “go get the fish”! So I did.
Of the 300 specimens of fish (including five type species) collected on the Australian Coastal Marine Expedition (1969 to 1973) it took the same curator who said “go get the fish”, 22 years to identify the donated fish
and send me a list of the species.
So, in some cases my idealistic views of my photographs contributing to knowledge and advancing our understandings of nature didn’t actually get off the ground when I tried to work within some of the Government institutions. However, the beginnings of the Australasian Marine Photographic Index was born and for the next 30 years I endeavoured to adhere to the original philosophy.
A Huge Amount of Work, a Huge Amount of Money,
and a Huge Amount of Perseverance.
Although the photo – library cards made handling very expensive and time consuming, it was the way the conventional photo libraries operated.
Having a larger area than a slide mount all relevant information could be transferred onto the card including locality, depth, habitat, date, associations, common name, scientific name and code number.
This made it the largest semi-scientific marine life visual identification system
in the Southern Hemisphere.
I began my quest with an Edixa FPS 35 mm and changed to a Rollie Marine 120 x 120 underwater camera and bulb flash for the big trip around Australia. Twelve images for every dive, if the bulbs went off? It took a hell of a lot of dives to get even the barest number of images.
At that time, (1967) very few people had the vision to understand that in the future we would need to be able to reference marine life on a larger scale, and this would require us to do things faster in regard to identifying living marine life.
With a shortage of scientific taxonomists, few funds for establishing fauna surveys,
and few students encouraged to study taxonomy, the future for increasing our knowledge of what lived in our oceans looked grim!
Underwater photography and visual identification was the only answer!