Monday, August 16, 2010

Marine Life: My studies of marine invertebrates and reef fish life

With the treasure and income from my first book on the Elingamite I was able to set up home on the Tutukaka coast near the Poor Knights Islands. And with Kelly Tarlton, Jaan Voot and my underwater photographer wife Jan, I began to explore marine life intensively both around offshore islands and along the New Zealand coast, documenting each species.  From this work I came to appreciate the diverse components of the reef community, essential for understanding how they fit together in an ecosystem.  [Later I was to do the same in mangroves and native forests.]

Kelly Tarlton and I, and other pioneer Poor Knights divers like Bill Palmer, found there was so much down below that was unknown to science.  Until the advent of scuba it was hard to study deep-sea cliff faces.  We saw male and female wrasses courting that were separately described as different species, in the books of those days!  A new lizardfish at the Poor Knights was named after me: Synodus doaki.  I found I had to literally write the books on fishes and marine invertebrates that went further than the bottom of the tide and samples from trawl nets etc.  But that meant studying their behaviours and getting good photos of them.  With my own high-speed fizz boat I spent a huge amount of time underwater.  Eventually the first generation of diving scientists emerged from the varsities with PhDs.  Many of them, like Tony Ayling and Barry Russel, joined my boat trips to the Knights and I gained hugely from their observations.

Still Image Bank: extensive transparencies on CD ROM;
Books: Marine Invertebrates:
                                                     Beneath NZ Seas  1971
                                                    The Cliff Dwellers  1979
               Reef Fishes:
                                                   Fishes of the NZ Region  1972
                                                  Wade Doak’s World of NZ Fishes  1991
                                                  I Am a Fish  [for children] 1999
                                                 A Guide to NZ Sea Fishes  2003
Masters of Inner Space  1990:  explores how a reef fish works: its form and function, sensory systems and capacities.  Jan and Wade conduct a novel series of fish experiments underwater to show these aspects.

Explore NZ Seas: Doak’s own film.  Explores a series of short themes related to aspects of my books which movie can best illustrate such as locomotion in fishes and inverts; head shapes and swimming styles in fishes; etc.  On DVD.



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