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