salute to colleague

Posted by Andy Lamb on Mar 20, 2012 - 1 comment

From time to time, we are going to feature colleagues and scientists who continue to assist us with our quest to make Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest a helpful resource. Our initial salute to Neil McDaniel is timely as he has shared an excellent note on an inconspicuous but fascinating little sponge of which virtually nothing is known. This post typifies Neil's curiosity and excellent observational skills as well his dogged determination to find out what species is involved.

Neil has been photographing marine life since 1969 when he learned to SCUBA dive while completing a BSc degree in marine zoology at the University of British Columbia. After graduating, his first employment was at the Pacific Environment Institute in West Vancouver. It was there, while he was toiling as a technician for a study primarily focusing on the ecology of marine life in nearby Howe Sound that Andy and Neil first met.

Totally smitten with diving and wanting to 'focus' on a a career in underwater photography, Neil decided to leave government service and soon became the editor of DIVER Magazine in the early 1970s. Not only did this provide an employment opportunity but allowed him to free lance utilizing his ever improving skills in underwater still and motion picture photography. He continues along this path, providing excellent cinematography, primarily for nature documentaries. Next time you are watching one of these underwater epics, check the credits and you might find Neil's name listed there.

Neil is also a published author and we highly recommend his efforts -- both via Harbour Publishing.In Super Suckers: The Giant Pacific Octopus and other Cephalopods of the Pacific Coast with James A. Cosgrove, 2009, he provides the easily read but definitive reference on the subject. In 2011, Neil created A Field Guide to Sea Stars of the Pacific Northwest -- a superb pocket size but total treatment of this obvious and fascinating group of marine creatures.

Neil continues to pursue his passion for Pacific Northwest marine life in many ways. In one of these projects, he is working with Dr. Bill Austin (Khoyatan Marine Laboratory), Dr. Henry Reiswig and Dr. Bruce Ott to document and describe the poorly understood sponges that occur in the Pacific Northwest. We hope to work with these researchers as part of this online project.