The Reef Book Quotes

"On 16 April 1896, a small chartered steamer called the Croydon embarked from Brisbane on an American scientific investigation of the Great Barrier Reef — the beginning of an epic series of Pacific-Indian Ocean expeditions led by a sixty-one-year-old American zoologist and mining millionaire, Alexander Agassiz. His young biologist assistant Alfred Mayor recorded that Agassiz would for the next twenty-five years ‘wander further and see more coral reefs than has any man of science of the present or past’.

Alex Agassiz’s aim in visiting the Great Barrier Reef was simple: he wanted to blow Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of coral reefs out of the water. His Croydon expedition marks the moment when Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was first catapulted into global prominence as part of a fierce debate then engulfing many of the world’s leading geologists, marine scientists and oceanographers. Why, though, should an ageing and reclusive expert on starfish, who’d shunned involvement in the Darwinian evolution rows of the 1860s, be mounting such a belated and quixotic mission to the other side of the world?"