Member profile - Richard Ling

Few members of the Australasian Fishes project would trace their naturalist origins to a television show they saw at age seven, but for Richard Ling, this was the catalyst which motivated his love of nature and placed him in the top spot on the Australasian Fishes project observations leader-board.
A quick look at Richard’s impressive output shows he has, to date, contributed 2,829 observations of 745 different species to iNaturalist and 1,702 of those observations are of Australasian Fishes.
Richard recalls watching David Attenborough's ground-breaking 1970s TV series "Life on Earth" when he was only seven. The program was everyone’s a first look at the type of high definition nature videos and photography to which we are accustomed today, but to a seven year old boy, in rural Australia, it started a chain of events which has greatly benefited our citizen science project. He recalls that the show’s segments of life on the African plains were his favourite but Africa seemed a million miles away from his home and big game safaris were not possible in Australia. His second favourite segments on the show were the underwater scenes, and with the ocean far more accessible, it has now become part of his passion as an underwater naturalist.
Richard starting diving in 1998, discovering that the waters off the coast were exotic and have become the “Serengeti on his doorstep”. Like the plains of Africa, Australian coastal waters offer a range of both large and small creatures, the delicate and the deadly. Like Africa, he could easily witness creatures in the same life and death struggle which is still documented by David Attenborough.
Richard’s search for wildlife adventure has taken him up and and down much of the eastern coast of Australia, and his rich diversity of photographic subjects illustrates that he has a keen eye and substantial patience. He is a trusted recorder of the rich diversity of sea life which surrounds him on every dive. While many of us keep close to our own marine patches, Richard’s observations record a passion for travel, especially along the entire coast of New South Wales where he seems to have explored and faithfully recorded many areas of fish concentrations.
Members are encouraged to examine Richard's 93 pages of Observations in the project, as they form an extensive guide to the location and identification of many fish species found on the east coast, from the southern border of New South Wales to the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef.
His photography has become his dive log book, where he has recorded all that he sees in his underwater safaris, creatures large and small, invertebrate, hard-boned and with skeletons of cartilage, however, the breadth of his work shows a familiarisation with his subjects and their environment. This only comes from hours of patient observation, a keen eye and a desire to stalk the game of his adopted environment. He would be the person to ask for diving tips and the best fish hot-spots on the eastern seaboard.
To photograph such a wide diversity of marine life requires a knowledge of cameras which only comes from practice and experimentation. He bought an early IXUS digital camera and underwater housing in 2004, which was primitive by today’s standard, but immediately hooked him on underwater camera safaris. It led to the purchase of numerous marine field guides and a desire to put a name to every fish he saw. Since that time Richard has owned several camera and housings, and lives by what he calls Rule #1: “Never take any camera underwater you can’t afford to destroy”. He has assembled a collection of flooded cameras, and has settled on working with Cannon cameras (favoring the G series, he is now using a G15) as they come at reasonable price, and have affordable housings. For lighting he uses Ikelite AF-35 strobes which he describes as “horribly temperamental but I've become fairly adept at fixing them when they break or flood”. Words to live by if you happen to be good at soldering.
While his list may seems vast there are other members of the project barking at Richard’s heels, all working to build up the Australasian Fishes database to increase knowledge and understanding of our waters.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on October 11, 2017 04:13 AM by markmcg markmcg


:-) With a last name like that, he was always meant for the water! :-)

Posted by sascha_schulz over 6 years ago

Ha! Back on your 'perch' @sascha_schulz :):):)

Posted by markmcg over 6 years ago

Wow, chuffed! Makes me sound a lot more important than I feel. Great work by Harry.

Posted by richardling over 6 years ago

@sascha_schulz full to the bream with jokes, by cod!!

Posted by richardling over 6 years ago

Richard, I am glad you were pleased by the bio, as you've worked very hard for the project, and we are extremely grateful. I will resist the urge to make a fish pun.

Posted by harryrosenthal almost 6 years ago


Posted by markmcg almost 6 years ago

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