Diving helmet, Low Isles, 1928

Diving helmet in use during the British Expedition to Low Isles, 1928. Collection of the National Library of Australia

Extended caption: 

Cool logical explanations dissolved many curiosities about the natural world in the late twentieth century, but the Reef is something of an enduring mystery. The underwater world remains elusive to everyday human experiences. The earliest naturalists depended on simultaneous good fortunes in tides, weather and wind to glimpse living corals and fishes beneath the surface. This view was often unattainable. The liveliness of the coral reefs could not be contained, and many squirming creatures brought to the surface died in the name of scientific curiosity.

The desire to gain greater access to the underwater spurred scientific invention. Scientists improvised equipment and trialled new technologies in an effort to better access and observe living marine life. Simple equipment like the water telescope and black box evolved into glass-bottomed boats and underwater observatories. The most daring individuals experimented with eye goggles, diving helmets and scuba equipment. Photographers explored the possibilities of underwater cameras and colour emulsion. In this way the history of new technologies parallels the history of Great Barrier Reef science.  

Collection of the National Library of Australia

Location Node: 
Low Isles, QLD
Date captured: 
19 November 2010
Date created: 
19 November 2010