Walter Starck grew up on, an island in the Florida Keys and began catching fish in salable quantities off the family dock at age five. At 6 he helped his grandfather build his first boat with which he began diving using a face mask.
He started scuba diving in 1954 (before scuba was a word). In 1964 he completed a PhD degree at the Institute of Marine Science of the University of Miami. In the process he determined that the world of academia was not to his taste so started his own business as well as a private research foundation. In 1968 he took delivery on a purpose built 150 ton research vessel, El Torito, and spent the next two decades exploring widely from the Caribbean to the Western Pacific.
Walter arrived in Australia in 1979 before boat people became unfashionable and established a home base on a 164 acre rainforest property on the north shore of the Daintree River.
His research interest has centered on coral reef biology and has included research grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research and National Geographic Society as well as various private foundations and individuals.
Walter has been a research associate of the Institute of Marine Science in Miami, the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, The Australian Museum in Sydney and the Western Australia Museum in Perth.
His wide experience of reefs around the world has encompassed the full spectrum of conditions ranging from heavily impacted to untouched as well as several opportunities for decade or longer familiarity with individual reefs. His views on reef biology derived from direct observation are not always in accord with popular theories.
But the articles that Walter now writes are increasingly read by practical environmentalists. His paper ‘Threats to Great Barrier Reef’ was the most popular online publication at the IPA website last year and shortened versions where published in ‘Go Fishing’ (Aug/Sept 2005) and ‘News Weekly’ (18 June 2006).
His presentation, based on the paper ‘Marine Resources and The Growing Cost of Precaution’, was a highlight of the recent Australian Environment Foundation Conference.
You can read more on Walter Starck’s perspective at his website www.goldendolphin.com, click Eco-Issues for a list of recent environmental writings.
Walter’s favourite quote is by John Maynard Keynes:
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
Quotable Walter quotes include:
“You are never so comfortable as when doing what you’ve always done but never so alive as when doing what you’ve never done.”
“One of the most important lessons of history is that most people most of the time are wrong.”
“The eco-bureaucracy has become a sheltered workshop for those afflicted by the saviour syndrome.”
“Environmental management is characterized by the application of hypothetical solutions to imaginary problems.”
“Ecology is above all holistic. Everything we do or don’t do has consequences. We can’t save nature by locking it up.”
Walter is no fan of environmentalism and I once jotted down this comment from him:
“Environmentalism is about much more than concern for a healthy environment. You could describe it as a quasi-religious bend of new-age nature worship, junk science, left-wing political activism and anti-profit economics.”