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About Oceanguard Society

The GUARDIANS OF THE REEF Organisation was formed in 1989 to draw up a workable plan to combat a third starfish outbreak which co-founder professor Robert Endean first predicted would begin around 1995.

That plan was ready in 1995 as growing numbers of juvenile starfish appeared on the Great Barrier Reef heralding the beginning of the predicted third outbreak. As funding became more difficult and problems in our ocean intensified, the GOR Organisation decided to take advantage of the growing popularity of the internet to launch a new, even more ambitious preservation program – one which could encompass a broad range of ocean issues on a global scale – together with a new name – OCEANGUARD SOCIETY.

The Team

CO-FOUNDER: Dr. Robert Endean

A specialist on venomous and poisonous marine animals, Dr. Endean was a founding member of the International Society on toxicology and a pioneer in marine pharmacology. As an acknowledged expert on the toxic crown of thorns starfish, Dr. Endean published extensively on starfish outbreaks in the scientific literature. As supervisor of the first intensive study of the crown of thorns 1966-68 in his report he concluded that the cause of the outbreaks was due to lack of predator pressure and that a control program should be implemented immediately. He also warned that to not act on the problem, the well-being of Great Barrier Reef was at risk. But no-one heeded his warnings.

CO-FOUNDER: Frank Shields

Frank is an award winning filmmaker. Among his credits was the first film made about Breaker Morant, “The Breaker”. He has also directed five feature films, “Hostage”, “Fatal Sky”, “Hurrah”, “The Finder” and “The Surfer”, the latter being invited to the prestigious Director’s Fortnight, Cannes in 1987 and was the only feature to represent Australia that year. In the same year a retrospective of his work was shown at Le Cinematheque in Paris from which several of his films were invited to other International Film Festivals. Shields is also an experienced diver, having run a charter boat business in the Bahamas where he took hundreds of divers on underwater tours of local reefs and chartered to organisations experimenting with habitat living underwater and developing heliox gases for deep water diving.

MARINE CONSULTANT: Richard Chesher, Ph.D.

A graduate of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Richard Chesher took up teaching at the University of Guam, in evolution and invertebrate zoology. When the first plague of starfish attacked coral reefs in the Pacific region in 1969, Chesher trained 69 professional scientists in field survey techniques for U.S. Department of the Interior Pacific Crown of Thorns Survey. He has 30 years of experience in scientific assessment and monitoring surveys on coral reefs, black corals, pearl oysters, giant clams and crown of thorns starfish throughout the Pacific Islands and is the author of more than 48 scientific papers. Chesher is also an expert in multimedia and underwater photography, having used “Google Earth” technology before it became popular.

MARINE CONSULTANT: John Paterson, B.Sc, Ph.D.

John Paterson studied under Professor Bob Endean at the University of Queensland from 1977-86 where he learned first hand the crown of thorns problem on the Great Barrier Reef. He then turned his attention to the starfish’s main predator, the giant triton, founding Chronia Research in 1988 and has continued that research to the present day. Paterson would be the foremost expert on the triton, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef. Paterson has also been a member of the Djulin Marine Aboriginal Corporation since 2010. 

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