Still time for the Great Barrier Reef

I first dived a coral reef in 2001. Back then, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area was a poster child for conservation success. Coastal managers I worked with in Fiji, Thailand, the Seychelles and Red Sea saw the GBR governance framework as a blueprint for sustainable coastal environmental management. How, then, has the Australian Government become…

Charles Darwin’s debt to marine science

We were recently lucky to be visited by Dr Alistair Sponsel from Vanderbilt University  in Nashville, Tennessee. Alistair gave a talk in which he described Darwin’s debt to marine science. This debt took the form of an amphibious approach to natural history that shaped his approach to theoretical reasoning and which was developed by working closely with hydrographic surveyors during…


Putt putt, over the ocean for women in coastal science

‘I love science. The reason I’m in it is because it’s so exciting. It’s such a great career and it never gets boring. Women should be able to access those jobs that are so exciting … I think the thing to hold onto is how much you enjoy the actual research and that structured inquiry and finding data and working things out, because that’s what will get you through some of the tougher times’. Emma Johnston

Is science creative?

This post begins with a short story: A couple of months ago I was looking for a venue with a desk and a view for a writing retreat. I rang up the Bundanon Trust on the banks of the Shoalhaven River. The Trust was set up in 1993 when the Australian artist Arthur Boyd gifted…

Women whose research will change the world

One of my favourite things about being an academic is watching postgraduate students grow into intelligent, critical and capable researchers. At the moment, I am lucky to be part of a supervisory team for two excellent students who have been on the receiving end of multiple awards and accolades, while also holding down jobs and carrying…

Tobler’s First Law of Geography

Tobler’s First Law of Geography states: “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things” (Tobler, 1970). This is a feature of most phenomena because the world is spatially structured. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. But don’t think about it too much, or else you will start to interpret everything in relation to this Law (an affliction I have had for several years now, and one that I have passed on to many of the students I teach).

I was reminded of this Law when I recently completed a map of the countries I have visited. Low and behold, the distribution of those countries was spatially structured. This makes sense because some of them I will have visited by travelling over the border from the neighbouring country; I dropped in because I was in the area. For the same reason, I have never visited the Chagos Islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, or Antarctica. Never seemed to find myself in the area (although I have definitely wanted to!). There are lots of spatially structured processes and patterns in the world: disease, competition, rainfall, gossip, predation, fashion, the way light penetrates the ocean. Tobler’s Law is everywhere when you look for it. Have a go at your own map here and see whether your travel behaviour is also spatially structured.

shamylto’s Travel Map

shamylto has been to: Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, Brazil, Canada, Cocos Islands, Cyprus, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Reunion, Saint Barthélemy, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican. Get your own travel map from Matador Network.