Sunday, September 20, 2009

Honoring Jack

Jack and Helen Randall in 1955 - the year I was born!

Randy is a good man.

He's very much at the forefront of Marine Conservation in Fiji and his FLMMA, the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network is well on its way to ensuring that 30% of Fiji's reefs are being protected.
But that's another story for another day.

The story here is that I had the pleasure of discovering that Randy has published the following moving laudatio of my friend Prof. Dr. John E. Randall, nicknamed Jack, in Fiji's lifestyle magazine Mai Life. Please click on the pictures to read it.

In brief, Jack is the world's most eminent Fish Taxonomist, full stop.
And this by a long long stretch! He has described more Fishes, authored more papers , groomed more authoritative Fish Taxonomists, published more Fish ID reference books and very generally, contributed more to Ichthyology than anyone alive. You would never suspect it as nobody could be more genuinely friendly, witty and modest: but Jack is truly larger than life (and I know he will hate me for having said this).
In fact, he has scoured the Oceans so thoroughly that some of his his disciples have resorted to go and explore the twilight zone in order to have a chance of running across something new!

Well, Jack has obviously the advantage of having been around forever, right from the very beginning of SCUBA and at a time when the Ocean was still largely pristine, unpolluted and teeming with life. Read this!
I had been given my long-john underwear when I was discharged from the army, so I dipped it in a wash basin of latex rubber, hung it up to dry, and may have had the first wet suit.
The first swim fins in those early days of skin diving were shaped like frog feet, and the face masks were perfectly round with narrow hard rubber edges that one had to fit to one's face by careful cutting and sanding.
This was in 1948!

Jack has been with the Bishop Museum for over 40 years now and I sure hope that those guys will never forget the immense contribution he has made to their standing within the scientific community - and prima vista, they do.
Their website praises its Fish collection as follows: it
is dominated by the extensive collections of its most prominent ichthyologist, John E. ("Jack") Randall, who joined the Bishop Museum in 1965. Jack Randall has single-handedly established the Bishop Museum fish collection as arguably the best systematic research resource in the world for Indo-Pacific reef and shore fishes by his selective collecting for over 40 years and his prolific writings on fish systematics,

and Jack informs me that
the Museum’s fish collection compares favorably with other museums in the U.S. (except the USNM and the California Academy of Sciences, which has the combined collection of CAS and Stanford University). Bishop Museum has 2,875 lots of type specimens of fishes, of which 698 are primary types (holotypes, lectotypes, and neotypes).
The American Museum of Natural History in New York has 523 primary types of fishes; the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History has 226, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography 205.

Impressed? You better be!

Vinaka Randy, this was most timely and very kind!

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