Plenary Panelist

John Veron, "Godfather of Coral", Corals of the World


J.E.N. (Charlie) Veron has three higher degrees in different fields of science: reptilian physiology, insect neurobiology and coral taxonomy.

Was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and the first scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. He became Chief Scientist of that organisation in 1997, a position he held for 7 years.

Has 100 publications on almost anything to do with corals from palaeontology, taxonomy and biogeography to physiology and molecular science. He has also published widely on other subjects notably evolution, mass extinctions, more recently, a major website. His best-known publications are:

  1. The five volume monograph Scleractinia of Eastern Australia which created the basis of a new, now universally used, coral taxonomy.
  2. Corals in Space and Time (Cornell, 1995)
  3. The three volume Corals of the World (2000).
  4. Coral ID, CD-ROM (2002).
  5. A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard, 2008).
  6. (2016) a compilation of all taxonomic and biogeographic information about corals.
  7. Autobiography A Life Underwater (Penguin Random House, 2017)

Veron was awarded the Darwin Medal for his work on evolution, the AMSA Jubilee Pin for his coral taxonomy, the Australasian Science Prize and other wards for various publications. His last award was for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Underwater Science.

Veron has named about ¼ of the world’s coral species, and mapped and re-described them all. This work has underpinned most major reef conservation initiatives over the past two decades including the ‘Coral Triangle’ which he discovered.

He has been diving continually since he was 18, logging 6000 hours underwater. He has participated in 67 expeditions to most major reef regions of the world.

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