A REAL ECO WARRIOR
Dr. Robert Endean with a young Crown of Thorns starfish. Guam, USA. July 1969Pictured with coral eating starfish at Guam USA during Project Stellaroid – the first major international study of the coral reef pest Ancanthaster planci is Bob Endean, then Reader in Zoology at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Dr. Robert Endean had a tough time both at work and with certain branches of state politics with his stand for better environmental recognition of the Great Barrier Reef. Being a spokesman of bad news has many draw-backs.
His book “The Great Barrier Reef” sold 40,000 copies in Australia and USA. He was writing new material for four mini-editions based upon the original when he suddenly took ill while at Heron Island Research Station and died several days later.
Bob Endean’s predictions relating to future cyclical starfish outbreaks on the northern reefs has proven his work accurate.
The CoT (Crown of thorns starfish) problem has since been over-shadowed by global warming and coral bleaching issues.
Dr Endean was often quoted in newspapers – a professional ‘sin’ not easily forgotten by his peers. He saw newspapers and the media as necessary in communicating with the public (and to politicians) – while other scientists of his era just kept quiet.
Bob had visions of producing marine documentary films but, sadly passed away just a few years before the digital revolution finally arrived. By John Harding
Dr. Richard Chesher remembers:
The Queensland government asked Dr. Robert Endean, an Australian marine biologist who specialized in venomous sea creatures, to check it out.
He returned from the field with tales of millions upon millions of starfish devouring the coral reefs around Green Island and other reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.
He urged instant action. The government buried his report.
He went to the press. The government said Endean was exaggerating, there was no problem, not really.
Bob, furious, escalated the controversy but in the end, his report stayed buried until, years later, I managed to get the US State Department to request the report under a scientific trade agreement”.