Biographies and obituaries

A place for information about people.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2002 (March 17) Biographies and obituaries. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

Professor P.R. Bergquist

September 14, 2009
From: Bill Rudman

In one of today's messages [#22658 ] the topic is Halisarca laxus (Lendefeld), a pink sponge, which lives commensally on ascidians, and is the preferred food of Hallaxa michaeli. The identity of the sponge, remained a mystery for over 100 years until a living specimen was examined by Pat Bergquist. She also observed that it seemed to grow commmensally on the ascidian Pyura. Like Hallaxa michaeli, many species of nudibranchs have extremely specific food requirements, and the key to the study of their natural history is the ability to accurately identify their food. Unfortunately, finding experts who are willing and able to do so is very difficult. Professor Bergquist DBE, D.Sc., FRSNZ was one such expert.

Sadly, Pat died last week. She will sadly missed by her family and friends, and as a leading expert on sponge biology and phylogeny her passing will leave a gap which will be hard to fill. I first met Pat when I attended her classes at the University of Auckland, NZ nearly 40 years ago, and we have remained friends and colleagues ever since. Fortuitously the sponge groups which she was most interested in are the very groups which are the desired food of chromodorid nudibranchs, which I am interested in. She was also a pioneer in researching the chemical metabolites of sponges, showing that many phylogenetic branches have their own unique metabolites. These same metabolites are re-used by their nudibranch predators and it seems they can be re-used  as indicators of nudibranch phylogeny as well.

Without her enthusiastic and knowledgeable participation, our review of chromodorid feeding (Rudman & Bergquist, 2007) would not have been possible. It was exciting to see patterns emerging, how each chromodorid genus could be linked to particular sponge genera, but it was also exciting to see how anomolous groupings could now be explained. For example we could show that a group of Chromodoris species eating the 'wrong' family of sponges confirm that the genus Chromodoris is polyphyletic, and that a species of Glossodoris eating the 'wrong' sponge was evidence that the sponge genus Hyattella should be moved from the family Spongiidae to the Thorectidae. This may sound like esoteric minutae, but evolution occurs at this level, and if we are ever going to understand how our environment works this is a level that cannot be ignored

Thank you Pat.  

Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2009 (Sep 14) Professor P.R. Bergquist. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Alec Cameron - Family History

August 8, 2006
From: Melissa Hellwig

I was wondering if you could help me. My great-uncle Alec Cameron of Harwood Island, on the north coast of New South Wales, near Grafton, was an amateur naturalist in the 1930's-40's 50's?? His house was full of nudibranch specimens in jars >100, and he made numerous trips to the Great Barrier Reef, apparently with groups from the Australian Museum.

It is family lore that a specific species of nudibranch was named after him, found off the coast of Angourie.

I was wondering if you have any record at all of any contributions made to nudibranch taxonomy by Alec Cameron. I am sorry but I have no more specific information, am continuing to research his side of the family.

Melissa Hellwig

Hellwig, M., 2006 (Aug 8) Alec Cameron - Family History. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Melissa,
Your family memories are correct. Here is a short obituary, written by Bob Burn, that appeared in Australian Shell News, the newsletter of the Malacological Society of Australasia.

Alexander Allen Cameron 1899-1973
Though A.A. Cameron was not a member of this or any other Society, his death on the 4th July 1973 at the age of 74 has deprived New South Wales of a great naturalist and collector who made significant contributions to the marine fauna of his home State. Alex. Cameron was born and bred in the Clarence River Valley not far from Grafton. His people were on the land and he too farmed, mainly sugar cane and maize on his property on Harwood Island in the lower reaches of the Clarence River.

At an early age he was the ever observant naturalist, and through a chance meeting with staff members of the Australian Museum on the Great Barrier Reef about 1930, gained an insight into the necessity of careful systematic collecting and observation. From this time on, he made large systematic collections from the coastline at the Clarence River Heads, sending crustaceans to Frank McNeill and Melbourne Ward, molluscs to Tom Iredale, and lamellarians and opisthobranchs to Joyce Allan.

From shells collected by Alex.Cameron, the eastern Australian cowrie Evanaria hirundo cameroni was described in 1939 by Tom Iredale.   In her 1947 paper on the opisthobranchs of the Clarence River Heads, Joyce Allan named a yellow dorid Archidoris cameroni for him and from the same area, a bright red dorid Noumea cameroni was named after him by Robert Burn in 1966.

Vale Alex.Cameron.

Robert Burn [Australian Shell News, 1973, vol 4, p, 12]

Of these three names I'm afraid the only one that survives is Archidoris cameroni, which we know today as Doris cameroni. If you look at that Fact Sheet you will see some photos of the animal.

The name Noumea cameroni Burn, 1966 was also based on specimens collected by your great-uncle. Joyce Allan mentioned it in her 1947 paper [asGlossodoris sp - Allan, 1947: p 445], but did not officially name it as a new species . I am afraid I was the one who decided Noumea cameroni was not a distinct species.  I consider it to be one of the colour varieties of Noumea haliclona. If you look at the top right photo on the Fact Sheet of that species, it is the very pink variety on the left of the photo.

The third species mentioned, Evanaria hirundo cameroni Iredale 1939 is also found in some books as Cypraea hirundo cameroni.  It is a cowry snail, but most scientists today do not consider it to be a distinct subspecies.

  • Allan, J. K. (1947) Nudibranchia from the Clarence River Heads, north coast, New South Wales. Records of the Australian Museum, 21(8): 433-463, pls. 41-43.
  • Burn, R. F. (1966) On three new Chromodoridinae from Australia (Opisthobranchia: Nudibranchia). The Veliger 8(3): 191-197.
  • Iredale, T. (1939) Australian Zoologist, 9(3): 3-4.
  • Rudman, W.B. (1983) The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris splendida, C. aspersa and Hypselodoris placida colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 78: 105-173.

Best wishes with your family history
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Aug 8). Comment on Alec Cameron - Family History by Melissa Hellwig. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Joel Hedgpeth

August 7, 2006
From: Mike Neubig

Dear Bill,
I thought you might like to know that Dr Joel Hedgpeth, after who Polycera hedgpethi was named, died recently. He was 94.

Jim Carlton posted the following biographic note on the crust-L mailing list on 1 August.

Mike Neubig


Joel Hedgpeth

Joel Hedgpeth was one of the great icons of 20th century marine biology. His archives contain correspondence with every well-known marine biologist of the 20th century. Joel was a world-class expert on pycnogonids, wrote hundreds of articles and essays (including many philosophical and environmental pieces in the Quarterly Review of Biology, disguised as book reviews), edited the massive volume 1 of the Treatise on Maine Ecology & Paleoecology in 1957, still a gold mine of obscure 19th and 20th century literature and known in earlier years as "The Big Red Book"; edited and authored much of Between Pacific Tides through several editions (and objected very vigorously when Stanford University Press declined to name him the editor of the 5th edition of BPT), became a champion of the rare freshwater Californian shrimp Syncaris pacifica, and monitored the state of the environment from the 1930s through the 1990s. Joel's first scientific publication was in 1939, and he will appear as a co-author of the pycnogonid chapter in the 4th edition of Light's Manual (now the Light & Smith Manual) due out in early 2007 (University of California Press).

Joel took his undergraduate degree in 1933, his Master's in 1940 under S. F. Light (on diaptomid copepods), and his Ph.D. in 1952 under Ralph I. Smith, all at the University of California at Berkeley. His doctorate was on the distribution and ecology of invertebrates along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Joel traveled extensively, including Pt. Barrow, Alaska; much of Europe; three visits to Antarctica, and one expedition to the Galapagos Islands (producing one of the first essays on the intertidal life of the Galapagos), although he never took a formal sabbatical. He was director of the extinct Pacific Marine Station (Dillon Beach, CA) and the OSU Marine Science Center (Newport, OR), served on innumerable panels and committees, received the Browning Medal in 1976 for environmental stewardship (often proudly pointing out how he had made the "EPA hit list"), wrote Seashore Life of the San Francisco Bay Area, and could speak knowledgeably about thousands of species of marine invertebrates and vertebrates around the world. He was honored in 1976 by a special symposium at the Linnean Society of London (a Hedgpeth festschrift resulting from that meeting was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society in 1978).

He founded the Society for the Prevention of Progress, and wrote poetry under the pseudonym Jerome Tichenor (for whom he had special stationery printed, showing Joel's famous red squirrel logo, and with an extensive entry at the bottom on a "bardic tradition" that the first environmental impact report was submitted by a delegation of squirrels at the time of Elizabeth I: the stanzas are written in Welsh and English). Joel had an abiding interest in poetry of the sea, and produced a 500-page unpublished manuscript on sea poetry.

Our last extensive conversations were in November 2000 (when Joel and I sat on his couch in Santa Rosa, and turned each page of Seashore Life, discussing the needed revisions), and December, 2001. I last saw him in 2005. In 2001, at the age of 89, Joel still fluidly laced his conversations with phrases in Latin, German, Welsh, and Russian (and expected his listeners to keep up). Joel Hedgpeth lead a long and distinguished career as a scientist, environmentalist, writer, poet, historian, traveler, critic, and philosopher, and represented the grand tradition of an earlier generation who took great pride in the depth of their knowledgeof the natural world.

Jim Carlton,
August 1, 2006

Neubig, M., 2006 (Aug 7) Joel Hedgpeth. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Thanks Mike,
Bill Rudman

Jim Lance

March 3, 2006
From: Bill Rudman

Dave Behrens has just let me know that Jim Lance passed away this week. He was one of the active team of opisthobranchs workers on the west coast of north and central America and described a number of species from the region, including Stiliger fuscovittatus, which has been a topic of discussion on the Forum in the last couple of days. I'm afraid I only knew Jim from his published work and a few helpful letters over the years.

  • Lance, J. R. 1961. A distributional list of southern California opisthobranchs. The Veliger, 4(2): 64-69.
  • Lance, J. R. 1962. Two new opisthobranch mollusks from southern California. The Veliger, 4(3):155-159, pl. 38.
  • Lance, J. R. 1962. A new Stiliger and a new Corambella (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia) from the northwestern Pacific. The Veliger, 5(1): 33-38, pl. 6.
  • Lance, J. R. 1962b. A new species of Armina (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia) from the Gulf of California. The Veliger 5(1): 51-54.
  • Lance, J. R. 1966. New distributional records of some northeastern Pacific opisthobranchiata (Mollusca: Gastropoda) with descriptions of two new species. The Veliger 9(1): 69-81.
  • Lance, J. R. 1967. The holotype of the abyssal dorid nudibranch Bathydoris aoica Marcus & Marcus, 1962. The Veliger 9(4): 410.
  • Lance, J. R. 1968. New panamic nudibranchs (Gastropoda; Opisthobranchia) from the Gulf of California. Transactions of the San Diego Society for Natural History 15(2): 3-13, pls. 1-2.
  • Lance, J. R. 1969. Portraits of California's colorful sea slugs. Oceans 1(5): 33-37.
  • Lance, J. R. 1980. Splendor in the sea. Discover 1(3): 58-63.
  • Lewbel, G. S. & James, R. L.. 1975. Detached epidermal sheaths of Lophogorgia chilensis as a food for Polycera atra. The Veliger, 17(4): 346.
  • Sphon, G. G., & James Robert Lance. 1968. An annotated list of nudibranchs and their allies from Santa Barbara county, California. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th series,
    36(3): 73-84.

I would like to pass on my sympathies to his family and friends
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Mar 3) Jim Lance. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Derivation of the name Verconia

March 19, 2002
From: Dave Behrens

Can you tell me the derivation of Basedow & Hedley's 1905 names Verconia verconis and Tambja verconis? Several author's have given these species common names of Verco's this and that. Aside from my disdain for common names, this does not seem correct to me and I do not have access to Basedow & Hedley's paper.
Dave Behrens

Behrens, D., 2002 (Mar 19) Derivation of the name Verconia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Dave,
They were both named after Sir Joseph Verco (1851 - 1933) a prominent 'citizen' and amateur naturalist in the early days of Adelaide, South Australia who is still held in high regard there, with various scientific and medical prizes being named after him, and also the State Government's fisheries research vessel.

He practised medicine in South Australia from 1878 and in 1885 helped found the Medical School of the University of Adelaide where he lectured in medicine 1887-1915. He was a very enthusiastic naturalist and shell collector, doing what was probably the first extensive study of sublittoral marine life in the region by dredge. Shells, specimens, books, apparatus and money gifted to the South Australian Museum between 1914-33, eventually helped to form an extensive collection of the South Australian fauna.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Mar 19). Comment on Derivation of the name Verconia by Dave Behrens. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from