Dr Robert Endean has had a reef named after him.
Dr Robert Endean has had a reef named after him.
4 February 2015

Respected marine scientist and former University of Queensland academic Dr Robert Endean has been posthumously honoured with the naming of the Bob Endean Reef off the Far North Queensland coast.

The reef, east of Mission Beach, was named in recognition of Dr Endean’s pioneering research into crown-of-thorns starfish infestation and the ecology and toxicology of marine organisms.  

UQ Institute of Molecular Biosciences', Professor Richard Lewis, who completed his PhD in marine toxins under Dr Endean’s supervision, said Dr Endean was an outspoken advocate for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

“Bob had a visionary approach to science that often took him into heated debate with his peers,” Professor Lewis said.

“One example was his research into crown-of-thorns starfish infestations, which he claimed were exacerbated by human impacts.

“The early criticisms from his detractors eventually turned full circle when the scale of the problem became more widely recognised.”

Director of UQ's Centre for Marine Science, Associate Professor Ian Tibbetts said Dr Endean was an “eco-warrior”.

“Bob was a leading force in the Great Barrier Reef Committee, which led to the formation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,” Associate Professor Tibbetts said.

Dr Endean obtained a PhD from UQ in 1958 and worked in the University's Zoology Department for 40 years until his retirement in 1990.

He died in October 1997, aged 71, while on Heron Island – the launching pad for much of his research – where he was to deliver a keynote address to the 75th anniversary meeting of the Australian Coral Reef Society.

Throughout his life he served terms as secretary, chair and president of the Great Barrier Reef Research Committee, and was a member of the World Health Organisation's Expert Advisory Committee on Food Additives and a consultant to Roche Pharmaceuticals in isolating medically important marine compounds.

He was one of the first people to use SCUBA gear to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, and was deputy chair of the Heron Island Board, responsible for operating UQ’s internationally renowned Heron Island Research Station.

Media: Professor Richard Lewis, 0400 372 088, r.lewis@imb.uq.edu.au; Associate Professor Ian Tibbetts, 0431 086 297, i.tibbetts@uq.edu.au.