Pioneering scientists get doctrate

Hamar and Mary Midgley receive Honourable Doctorates in Limnology from the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Hamar and Mary Midgley receive Honourable Doctorates in Limnology from the University of the Sunshine Coast. John Mccutcheon

CLEM Jones has a tunnel, Frank Nicklin has a Way, but the achievements of Mary and Hamar Midgley have to trump them both – they have three fish species named in their honour.

Now the Midgleys have another accolade to add to their name after receiving Honorary Doctorates from the University of the Sunshine Coast yesterday.

The Bli Bli residents, both in their early 90s, were each recognised for their life’s work at a special ceremony at their home with close family and friends.

Mr Midgley worked for the Fresh Water Fisheries department, but it was in the couple’s spare time that they became self-taught authorities on the freshwater biology and ecology of northern Australian streams.

Anyone who catches a perch or saratoga at Borumba Dam over the school holidays can tip their hat to the Midgleys because they pioneered the process of stocking dams with freshwater fish.

They also made a wide variety of scientific discoveries concerning the behaviour of fish – such as that the Australian bass migrated to breed in brackish water.

Their son Stephen said they did it “all on their own funds”.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill praised the couple for their extensive scientific research.

“They are recognised as being two of the first limnologists and indeed scientists to emanate from the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

Stephen said what had made his parents happiest was the knowledge that their work was to be given to the University of the Sunshine Coast as “a treasure trove of data for future scientists”.

“Their big fear as they got older was that it would sit in a carton some where in a dusty shed,” Stephen said.

The three fish named after the Midgleys are the silver cobbler (arius midgleyi), Midgley’s grunter (pingalla midgleyi) and Midgley’s carp gudgeon (hypseleotris sp).

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