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About the book
  • Published: 17 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781760143633
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

A Life Underwater




A Life Underwater is the extraordinary memoir of marine biologist Charlie Veron, a maverick Australian who transformed our understanding of coral reefs.

Hailed by David Attenborough, proclaimed a second Charles Darwin, John 'Charlie' Veron almost didn't become a scientist. Disheartened at school, by chance he won a scholarship to a university where he could indulge his passion for the natural world. It was scuba diving that returned him to his childhood love of marine life, and led to a career as a self-taught coral specialist, a field he revolutionised. His discoveries include an original concept of what a species is, and the mechanism that dives their evolution – matters that lie at the heart of conservation. He has named more coral species than anyone in history, becoming widely known as the Godfather of Coral.

Charlie has dived most of the world’s coral reefs, revelling in their beauty. Here he explains what they say about our planet’s past and future, and why it’s critical they be protected. And also why it’s critical that scholarly independence be safeguarded, for it was the freedom Charlie had as a young scientist – to be wayward, to take risks – that allowed his astonishing breakthroughs.

'Charlie Veron isn’t just a coral scientist, he’s a pathfinder, a scout who’s been sending back dispatches on the future of our planet for decades. If ever there was a moment for Australians to listen up and act on what he’s learnt, it’s now.' Tim Winton

‘Charlie Veron is a ravishing writer. He shares Darwin’s passionate love of nature, forensic brilliance, courage and compassion. His gritty, inspiring and thrilling life symbolises why we must all work to save our planet’s most spectacular marine environment.’ Iain McCalman

‘This is the story of one of my heroes, not just a world expert but someone who has been fearless in trying to protect a natural wonder. And to think he became a marine scientist by chance. Charlie’s story reads with flair, clarity and a sense of adventure. A compelling book for our turbulent times.’ Robyn Williams


  • Pub date: 17 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781760143633
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the Author

Charlie Veron

Charlie Veron was born in Sydney and now lives near Townsville. He has three higher degrees in different fields of science and was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef. He was the first scientist to be employed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, becoming Chief Scientist of that organisation in 1997. He has published a hundred pieces on all aspects of corals, from palaeontology, taxonomy and biogeography to physiology and molecular science, and has also published widely on other subjects, notably evolution and mass extinctions. He has also established a major website at coralsoftheworld.org. His many awards include the Darwin Medal, the Australian Marine Sciences Association Jubilee Pin, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Underwater Science. His work has underpinned most major reef conservation initiatives over the past two decades, inside the Coral Triangle and beyond. Charlie has been diving since the age of eighteen, logging six thousand hours underwater, and has participated in sixty-seven expeditions to most of the world’s key reef regions.


Awards & Recognition

  • Waverley Library Award for Literature

    Longlisted • 2018 • Waverley Library Award for Literature


Discover More

Article
Charlie Veron unlocks the thrill of diving our Great Barrier Reef.

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