Do you know the mantis shrimp Lysiosquilla Colemani? Ever heard about the nudibranch Chromodoris Colemani? And how about the Hippocampus Colemani, a pygmee seahorse. Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but what these species have in common is that Neville Coleman discovered them all (and about 450 more species). And you would have heard of him. Sadly, the legendary marine explorer Expert passed away last week .
The Australian Neville Coleman was an award-winning environmental photographer and conservationist. He was an expert on many species, such as nudibranch, sea grass, marine sponges, and various types of corals.
Coleman spent a life-time recording aquatic species and educating people about them. A young Coleman started Scuba Diving in Sydney in 1963, right there in Sydney Harbour. Six years later he led the 4-year Australian Coastal Marine Expedition on the first underwater photographic fauna survey ever attempted around an entire continent. This work led to Australian Marine Fishes In Colour , a reference book that was published in 1974. This documented the species' names and characteristics and included a photo of them all.
This famous book was followed by about 60 more books on Marine Life, such as Underwater Naturalist, Sea Fishes and many more reference books about the underwater world. He complained on his website hat most dive shops wouldn't sell his Dangerous, Venomous and Poisonous Survival Guides because they said it gave a negative outlook to scuba diving. Coleman argued that knowledge leads to prevention, thus saving divers. Regarding the death of Steve Irwin, Coleman writes that if Irwin had known that the raised tail of stingray means the animal feels threatened, it could have all ended differently. His last published book was the Nudibranchs Encyclopedia (2008) , with wonderful images of these amazing creatures.
Coleman also wrote many scientific papers and even went digital in his old age with his Marine Life eGuide, including more than 1700 species from the for the Asia/Indo-Pacific region. By entering the name of the species, you'll get the photos an information about them instantly and the app lets you compare it to other species.
Coleman was also a philosopher and a poet, and regarded to be one the most accomplished underwater natural history authors in the world. In 2007 the naturalist Neville Coleman was inducted to the International Scuba Diving Hall Of Fame. He said on that occasion: "I realized that in the water it doesn’t matter what shaped peg you are……… round or square? UNDERWATER, everybody fits!"
True and beautiful words to remember him by, and we hope that his passion for the underwater world lives on in the hearts of all scuba divers in Australia.