Raising awareness of the underwater world

John Huisman takes a photo while diving.
Image: Gary Cranitch


Tuesday 17 November 2009
"Whenever I feel upset at the end of the day I take out your book and look at the pictures."
If macroalgae expert John Huisman had ever hoped to inspire people when he began working as a marine biologist, that comment sent to him by a German woman says it all.
The book she was praising was Marine Plants of Australia, released in 2000 and John's first published book.
John, of Murdoch University and the Western Australia Herbarium, could further inspire ocean lovers in three more books he is currently writing.
Seaweed Flora of North-Western Australia is expected to be completed next year, while John is also working on a field guide to the marine plants of the Great Barrier Reef.
He is also working with University of Adelaide macroalgae specialist, and fellow CReefs biologist, Fred Gurgel on a guide to red algae, after the recent publication of a guide to green algae.
The book will be published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) as part of the Algae of Australia series.
John, who completed his PhD on red algae in 1985, said his motivation to publish books was driven by his desire to open the underwater world to people and help them identify species.
"If you went out into the bush and asked a local what the name of a tree was and they didn't know, you might get upset. But people don't draw the same feelings for the underwater world," John said.
"I publish books to show people how attractive these species are and to raise awareness of them," he said.
This current field trip to Heron Island is John's third expedition with CReefs Australia, which he said allowed him to carry out integral field work for his area of research, as well as photograph species for his publications.
In total John has had six books and booklets published and hopes to write and take photographs for more.