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Annual Smith Memorial Lecture

NRF-SAIAB holds the annual Smith Memorial Lecture in memory of Professor JLB Smith and Professor Margaret Mary Smith. JLB Smith was a Chemistry lecturer at Rhodes University with a passion for fishes. Smith is famous for his identification of the long-believed extinct coelacanth in 1938 and, through this synchronous discovery, setting the foundation for Ichthyological research in South Africa. He was also a consummate communicator!

Margaret Smith began her career in Ichthyology as JLB Smith’s research assistant and became his research partner and wife. After his death in 1968, using the substantial collection of fishes she and her husband had established during their close working relationship, Margaret set up and later became Director of the JLB Smith Institute for Ichthyology. She had an over-riding passion for education and unstintingly promoted the study of Ichthyology, supervising many students who have since become world-renowned experts in the field.

The Smith Memorial Lecture commemorates their legacy of discovery and research in Ichthyology and related fields.

Invited speaker: Dr Jean Harris, Executive Director of WILDOCEANS

“Reaching into the depths of the western Indian Ocean – exploring the habitat of coelacanths”

    • WHEN: Thursday 26th September 2019 
    • WHERE: South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, Somerset Street, Grahamstown
    • TIME: 18h00 (Doors open and pre-drinks & snacks available from 17h30)

Dr Jean Harris Jean directs WILDOCEANS, the marine programme of the WILDTRUST, a non-governmental public interest organisation based in South Africa. Prior to this she led the scientific services team of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the conservation agency which manages the protected areas and biodiversity in the eastern province of South Africa.

Jean completed her PhD degree in inter-tidal trophic ecology at the University of Cape Town. She moved to work on the subtropical east coast of South Africa where she focussed on rocky shore ecology, co-management of small-scale fisheries and marine protected areas. Jean has served on the Scientific Authority that advises the South African Minister of Environment on biodiversity matters, as well as the Marine Science for Management Programme Committee of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

Her current initiatives include the Ocean Stewards Programme which aims to build offshore marine science capacity and inspire a new generation of ocean advocates. She is a core team member for three offshore projects funded through the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP) that are conducting research in support of marine protected area expansion and has recently led expeditions to Comoros and northern Mozambique to study deeper mesophotic habitats.

Jean is also the captain of RV Angra Pequena, the 72 ft offshore research and training vessel that is being used by these projects to deploy equipment such as a remotely operated video (ROV), baited underwater video systems for fish communities (BRUVS) and sediment grab samplers to survey little-studied habitats and species in mesophotic depths of 40-250m in the Eastern Indian Ocean.