Isle of Cumbrae, United Kingdom
Isle of Cumbrae, United Kingdom

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News Article | October 11, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

My sister Christine Howson, who has died of ovarian cancer aged 61, was a highly respected marine biologist and diver who undertook survey work in the UK and around the world. Christine was well known in the sports diving world; she was one of the first female divers to attain the First Class grade. She trained divers and other instructors, and organised national events and conferences. Committed to developing swimming for young people, she worked tirelessly at her local swimming club in Tranent, East Lothian, where she was a committee member and coach. Born in Belfast, Christine was the third child of six of Patsy (nee Davey), a legal secretary, and Arthur Howson, a tax inspector. The family moved often with her father’s civil service job, to Nottingham, Malaysia, Brighton and Jamaica. Christine attended St Francis’ college in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, where she became head girl. After A-levels, she spent a gap year in Kingston, Jamaica, where she discovered scuba diving, which became her life’s passion. At Durham University she changed from French and Italian to zoology on the basis that she had reached A-level standard in various sciences during her summer vacation. A PhD at Glasgow was thwarted by the long recovery from a fall on the lab stairs, which meant she had to repeat some work. A sublittoral survey – one examining the organisms found close to the seashore – of Northern Ireland for the Ulster Museum followed, then she compiled and edited, in 1987, the first catalogue of British marine flora and fauna. From 1988 to 1991 she organised and ran the Scottish sea loch survey programme for the joint nature conservation committee for University Marine Biological Station Millport. More recently she was involved in bids for commercial survey work around the UK and compiled Scotland’s list of priority marine features. In 1986 Chris married Iain Dixon, a fellow marine biologist and sports diving enthusiast. They had two sons, Christopher and Timothy. Love of the sea developed into open water swimming and triathlons. Two weeks before her death Chris completed the Great Scottish Swim across Loch Lomond. Despite all this activity, ill health stalked her. She was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, developed Guillain-Barré syndrome and had septicaemia and coeliac disease. In 2013 Christine swam across Scotland with two friends, through a string of freshwater lochs and rivers, including the Shin, from Luxford to Bonar Bridge, raising several thousand pounds for Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh and Water Aid. Although she was suffering from cancer at the time, this was great fun, and many others became involved, as canoeists, drivers, caterers and in other back-up roles. Tim died last year. Christine is survived by Iain and Christopher, by two brothers, Paul and Tim, and by her sisters, Mary, Judith and me.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2012

The nineteenth-century growth of biology, particularly as developed in Germany, was focused initially on morphology and anatomy. In Britain, the growth of biology followed T. H. Huxley's principle of teaching the characters of certain plants and animals selected as types of vegetable and animal organization, which brought demands for marine specimens for dissection. The history of the provision of such material in Britain is investigated, particularly apropos of the Marine Station at Millport. Supplementary information is presented on the equally long-standing specimen trade at Plymouth and on two small commercial concerns that supplied marine specimens (from the Isle of Luing and Shoreham-by-Sea). The demise of the specimen-supply trade in Britain in recent decades has resulted from curriculum changes in schools and universities no longer requiring students to do dissections (relating also to Health and Safety concerns about formalin-preserved material); and biology departments that can often no longer, as a result of financial stringency, afford the "luxury" of supplying students with the range of practical experiences that previous generations once valued so highly. The concern among some students about the ethics, or religious strictures, surrounding dissection is acknowledged. The need for biological conservation is stressed, as too, the need for awareness of the risks posed by alien species introduced into foreign ecosystems via international trade in live marine organisms. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2013

The Reverend Robert William Fraser (1810-1876), a Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh, published on religious, historical and scientific (physical science, natural history) themes. His natural history titles Ebb and flow (1860), Seaside divinity (1861) and The seaside naturalist (1868) were aimed at the popular market. Appearing in the years immediately after Darwin's On the origin of species (1859), the tone of Fraser's books sheds light on the response of a popular, science-inclined clergyman in Scotland's Enlightenment capital to the idea of evolution. His avoidance of the issue of evolution by natural selection is evident but was not shared by all contemporary clerics. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2014

Dugald Semple (1884-1964), living in Ayrshire, Scotland, was a prolific twentieth-century author of books and articles in local newspapers on natural history, as well as on diet and simple living. Forsaking a conventional urban life he chose to live close to nature in rural surroundings. Espousing vegetarianism he emulated Thoreau, following for fifty years a Ghandi-like philosophy of simplicity while earning enough from his writings and lecturing to provide for what he could not grow himself. It was his life outdoors and his enthusiasm for the natural world that he imparted not only in the printed word, but also in lectures to all who were prepared to listen. He illustrated many of his articles with his own photographs, a collection of which survive as deteriorating glass-quarter-plate negatives and lantern slides, along with three decrepit, but extensive, scrapbooks of his personal press cuttings. These form the basis for his contribution to the popularization of natural history, which deserves to be more widely recognized. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2014

The literary and pedagogic style of books popularizing marine natural history for the British public shifted during the nineteenth century. Previously, natural history books had been written largely by men, with notable exceptions like Isabella Gifford, Mary Gatty and Mary Roberts. Gentlemen naturalists tended to be clerics or medics; educated men conventionally viewing their interest as revelatory of the Divine in nature. Typically, women were less well educated than men but some from clerical backgrounds, having better access to learning, became significant popularizers of natural history. Gosse's works promoting aquaria and "rock-pooling" (typically among the middle classes), helped to develop a ready market for the plethora of popular seashore books appearing in the 1850s; with coastal access being facilitated by expansion of the railways. Controversies concerning evolution rarely penetrated works aimed at a popular readership. However, the style adopted by marine natural history writers had changed noticeably by the end of the nineteenth century. The earlier conversational dialogue or narrative forms gave way to a more terse scientific style, omitting references to the Divine. Evolutionary ideas were affecting populist texts on littoral natural history, even if only covertly. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Allen J.A.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2011

A detailed account is given for the first time of the biological morphology of pinnid larvae taken from the north-west Atlantic. Three species were present in plankton samples taken from depths of 150-200m. These were maintained in small aquaria and details of their anatomy, development and metamorphosis recorded and illustrated as far as the young adult stage. Copyright © 2010 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of natural history | Year: 2010

Twenty nine items of correspondence from the mid-1950s discovered recently in the archives of the University Marine Biological Station Millport, and others made available by one of the illustrators and a referee, shed unique light on the publishing history of "Collins pocket guide to the sea shore". This handbook, generally regarded as a classic of its genre, marked a huge step forwards in 1958; providing generations of students with an authoritative, concise, affordable, well illustrated text with which to identify common organisms found between the tidemarks from around the coasts of the British Isles. The crucial role played by a select band of illustrators in making this publication the success it eventually became, is highlighted herein. The difficulties of accomplishing this production within commercial strictures, and generally as a sideline to the main employment of the participants, are revealed. Such stresses were not helped by changing demands on the illustrators made by the authors and by the publishers.


Allen J.A.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Journal of Conchology | Year: 2015

An account is given of two hadal bivalves obtained from box core and epibenthic sled samples taken from the bottom of the Philippine Trench between 9600m to 9807m. Additional data on the protobranch Parayoldiella hadalis are presented and a new species of Thyasiridae (Axinulus philippinensis sp. nov.) is described.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2011

Food shortages, particularly of proteins, in Britain during the Second World War led to the suggestion re-surfacing that marine plankton might be harvested on an industrial scale first as human food, then turning to its potential use as a supplement to stock and poultry feed. The notion emanated in the United Kingdom from Sir John Graham Kerr, at Glasgow University. He encouraged Alister Hardy, at Hull, to develop the idea and the natural testing ground was the Clyde Sea Area (given the extensive history of plankton researches at Millport). Unpublished documents from the archives of the Scottish Association for Marine Science shed new light on the interactions behind the scenes of this project between Kerr, Hardy and the Millport Marine Station's then director, Richard Elmhirst. Elmhirst, who was sceptical about the feasibility of the plan from the outset, went along with it; not least as a way of attracting welcome research funding during lean times but also, doubtless, regarding it as his patriotic duty in case the proposal proved worthwhile. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Moore P.G.,University Marine Biological Station Millport
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2013

The Lochbuie Marine Institute on the Isle of Mull (Inner Hebrides), established in 1886, had links with the short-lived National Fish Culture Association of Great Britain and Ireland (inaugurated 1882). Its amalgamation with the Scottish Marine Station at Granton (Edinburgh) was informally suggested in 1887, but it ceased to exist about this time. © The Society for the History of Natural History.

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