Sir David Attenborough honoured by Qld Museum

20 January 2010

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough at the Gladstone Yacht Club during his latest visit to Queensland, December 2009.
Image courtesy The Gladstone Observer. Photographer Chrissy Harris.

Sir David Attenborough has been honoured with the Queensland Museum's highest award, Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said.

Ms Jones said internationally renowned marine sponge research scientist Dr John Hooper also received the 2010 Queensland Museum Medal at the awards ceremony on 20 January.

The awards mark the anniversary of the founding of the Queensland Museum 148 years ago on 20 January 1862. This year's awards are themed around the International Year of Biodiversity.

"The Queensland Museum Medal was introduced by the Board of the Queensland Museum in 1987 to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution in a field relevant to the Museum," Ms Jones said.

"Sir David Attenborough's career as a naturalist and broadcaster is without peer.

"It spans more than half a century and there are very few places on the globe he hasn't visited and delivered into our homes via his television documentaries.

"This includes filming in our own incredibly biodiverse state as recently as last month when he visited North Queensland, Heron Island and the Sunshine Coast.

"Sir David's role in educating people all over the world about respecting and preserving the great biodiversity of our planet makes him an exemplary choice for the Queensland Museum Medal in the International Year of Biodiversity."

Dr John Hooper in diving gear

Dr John Hooper at Lizard Island.

Ms Jones said Queensland Museum Head of Biodiversity and Geosciences Dr Hooper had dedicated 30 years to creating greater understanding of the biodiversity of life under the sea, the past 19 as a scientist with the Queensland Museum.

"Dr Hooper is a world-renowned expert in marine sponges and is part of an international team of research scientists working to unlock the secrets of the natural therapeutic compounds contained in sponges that may have potential pharmaceutical benefits," she said.

"This team has collected over 35,000 specimens in more than 4000 species of sponges - most new to science - which has more than tripled the previous estimates of this biodiversity.

"In his career, Dr Hooper has described over 600 new species of sponges and he oversees the Museum's biodiversity and geosciences programs that discover and document Queensland's unique marine and terrestrial, living and fossil faunas."

Queensland Museum Board Chair Professor Peter Swannell said staff members Glenn Price, The Workshops Rail Museum's Sales and Marketing Manager, and Sally Anna Hamilton, Queensland Museum Foundation Client Relationship Manager, will share the 2010 Queensland Museum Scholarship.

The annual scholarship is awarded to staff identified as the Museum's future leaders.

Mr Price will undertake a study tour of interstate cultural heritage attractions to identify product development and revenue raising opportunities while Ms Hamilton will tour arts, cultural and animal conservation institutions interstate and in New Zealand to learn new approaches to fundraising.