Meet the Ocean Sentinels

Professor John “Charlie”  Veron

Professor Veron is an acclaimed marine scientist who has dedicated his life to charting the world’s coral reefs and his known as the ‘Godfather of Coral’.

He has discovered and described 20% of all coral species on the globe, and was awarded the Darwin Medal for his work on evolution. He was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef, held the title of Chief Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and he is currently working on the bold plan of collecting 400 species of coral from the Great Barrier Reef to preserve in a biobank.

Professor Peter Harrison

In 1981 while diving in Geoffrey Bay on Magnetic Island, Professor Peter Harrison witnessed the phenomenon of what is now known as mass coral spawning and was the first to record the event.

Professor Harrison has gone on to pioneer a world-first technique dubbed ‘coral IVF’, whereby millions of coral sperm and eggs are captured during coral spawning and left to form into larvae in floating pools on the reef. Once the larvae are ready to settle, they are released onto damaged areas of the reef to help them recover.

Jayme Marshall

Wulgurukaba and Yunbenen woman, Jayme Marshall, represents the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Her sculpture highlights the role Traditional Owners play in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding Sea Country. Miss Marshall’s involvement in the project emphasises how stories and traditions of the reef are passed down through generations and still hold significant weight within Indigenous culture to this day.

Dr David Vaughan

Dr David Vaughan is known for his work as Director of the Aquaculture Division at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Florida, where he helped design, build and operate the 60-acre Aquaculture Development Park. The Park looks at ways to increase aquaculture production to satisfy a growing global demand for food without sacrificing the health of marine ecosystems.

Dr Vaughan is also the pioneer of the Plant a Million Corals initiative which aims to restore and revive coral populations in reefs across the globe by planting a million corals.

Dr Richard Braley

Also known as ‘The Giant Clam Man’, Dr Richard Braley turned an encounter with a giant clam in Ha’apai (central Tonga) more than four decades ago into his life’s work.

Dr Braley made Magnetic Island home and conducted research on every corner of the Great Barrier Reef, which has the highest density population of giant clams in the world – making it the perfect place for him to work. He has been working with the spawning of giant clams since 1986 and set up the Aquasearch Aquarium on Magnetic Island in 1998.

Dr Katharina Fabricius

Dr Fabricius is one of North Queensland’s most respected coral ecologists and actively researches the impacts of ocean acidification, water quality and climate change on reef health. Dr Fabricius leads the Coral Reef Ecology and Monitoring team and the Cumulative Impacts and Critical Thresholds team at Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

Sir Maurice Yonge

Internationally renowned marine zoologist, the late Sir Maurice Yonge (1899-1986), led the Great Barrier Reef Expedition in the 1920s, which was a 13-month voyage that opened up the scientific world to the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and laid the foundation of scientific study into modern coral reef biology.

Sir Yonge forged research on marine invertebrate feeding and digestion. He also spent much of his life teaching and fostering a love of science in the next generation.

Molly Steer

At just nine years old, Molly. Steer decided to start a campaign to eradicate single use plastic straws. Her mission is to encourage every school in Australia to pledge to stop using plastic straws, through her ‘Straw No More’ movement.

The impressive initiative has been taken up by more than 3,000 Aussie schools, with hundreds of thousands of individuals around the globe also making the pledge. As a next generation leader, Molly uses her campaign to shine a light on a critical issue and shows how young voices have the power to instigate real change.