ology logo
card
207

Ian Harrison

OLogy Series
ologist
card
207

Ian Harrison

OLogy Series
ologist

Ian Harrison first became interested in sea life during family vacations to the southwest coast of England. But an internship at the Natural History Museum in London convinced him to become an ichthyologist -- a scientist who studies fishes. Ian explores how fish are related and how they evolve, or change over time. He studies fish anatomy, their physical structure, and how fish are adapted to their environment.

Local Experts
When Ian travels to a new place to study the fish, he likes to talk to local fisherman and villagers. He finds that they often know a lot more about the kinds of fish that live in their area than do scientists. While Ian was studying the mullet fish in Africa, a scientist friend of Ian's told him about a totally different mullet. Unlike other species, this one had yellowish fins. The local fishers knew this species well, even though very few scientists knew about the fish. What's more, this mullet tasted much better than the others. Ian went on a quest to catch this mysterious mullet. According to Ian's friend, some fishers had caught 50 specimens to study, but this mullet tastes so good, the fishers ate 49 of them!

When Ian was a boy, his dad gave him a gift. What do you think that was?

snorkel

baseball bat

guitar

Are you right?

Correct!

Even today, Ian is still amazed by the "alien world" below the surface of the sea. The sea is always changing, and it's filled with life.

Ian Harrison, ichthyologist

If you're interested in looking for new forms of ocean life, just remember the possibilities are limitless.

Ian studies different species of goby fish. The shortest adult fish in the world is a goby fish that's eight millimeters long.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

This tiny goby fish, Trimmaton nanus, lives around coral, sea fans, and sponges in the Indian Ocean. Ian looks at how their small size helps them survive.

Scientists like Ian are trying to learn about lesser-known species in remote places.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

About 300 new species are identified each year. Ian has come across unidentified fish in his travels to Africa. The more scientists know, the more they can help protect fish.

Ian Harrison
Date of Birth: August 11, 1962
Hometown: Hythe, England
Position: develops educational materials and researches fishes for the American Museum of Natural History
Education: B.S., University College of North Wales at Bangor; Ph.D., University of Bristol, England
Field of interest: ichthyology

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH, Ian Harrison; Ian Harrison: courtesy of AMNH, Denis Finnin.