CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Vision in the ocean: a comparison of animals with and without legs

Dear CIE staff and students in Geelong,

This week’s CIE seminar will be given by ARC Laureate fellow Professor Justin Marshall (details below) and hosted by Professor Andy Bennett.

Justin will be at the Waurn Ponds campus from about 11am on Friday and will be around for lunch and dinner.

You are welcome to attend these meals but please let Natasha Kaukov ( know no later than 1500 on Thursday, 18th July so I can book for the right numbers.

If you wish to book an appointment to talk to Justin during the day, then please also contact Natasha.

Friday, 19th July: 1200 noon, Lunch at Natural-1 café, GTP Building, Waurn Ponds campus (note: staff will need to pay for their own lunch).

Friday, 19th July: 1830 Dinner at Real Thai Café, 12/14 Pearl St, Torquay

Friday, 19th July: 2115 onwards, beer at Blackman’s Brewery, 26 Bell Street, Torquay.

SPEAKER: Professor Justin Marshall, ARC Laureate Fellow, Sensory Neurobiology Group, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland

DATE: Friday, 19th July 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – Room ka4.207 (Green room).

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl).


Animals that live in aquatic environments face different challenges to those that live on land. First of all, it is wet and that means that optics to focus need to be internalized and not reliant on an air-eyeball interphase.

There are no eagles underwater, or indeed any animal that might need to spot things at a great distance as it is not possible to see beyond a few meters due to the absorption and scatter of light. In fact, the visual world many aquatic species seldom strays outside the range of a large goldfish bowl.

The attenuation of light by water also changes its colour and its polarization content and this talk will focus on these two aspects of difference to terrestrial-world. From animals with 20 channels of information (12 spectral, 6 polarisation and 2 for B&W) to those with 2; fish, crustaceans and cephalopods will be compared for visual capability, colours, camouflage and any other word beginning with C that the audience might like to suggest. Confusion might be one, and indeed there is a fair bit of it to talk about.


Much of the work in my laboratory within The Queensland Brain Institute focusses on the marine environment, in particular reef systems and the deep-sea. One label for what we do is neuroscience in the real world; that is, we examine neural function and vision in animal systems that are not the usual model systems. I am more interested in the retinal design of a mantis shrimp than a mouse and the brain design of an octopus than a rat.

As part of this effort I have become acutely aware of man’s influence on both these environments and have run two projects: The Deep Australia Project, and CoralWatch, the world’s largest citizen-science-based coral health assessment program (137 countries, 12 languages) that examine, educate and involve everyone in these very different habitats.

My research efforts fall into six areas:

  1. Vision in stomatopod (mantis shrimp) – the world’s most complex visual system.
  2. Reef fish vision – the evolution and diversity of colour vision.
  3. Cephalopod vision and behaviour – complex visual capability in invertebrates.
  4. The Deep Australia Project – unlocking the sensory systems of the abyss.
  5. Coral Watch – using colour to save the reef.
  6. Bio-inspired sensor design and applications from reef-vision.

Appointments with speaker may be made via Natasha Kaukov (

For more info:

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

  • For external guests, you can connect as a web guest by clicking HERE. If using Chrome you it will prompt you to install the Cisco Jaba Plugin, then it will prompt you to download the extension which you will need to install. Once this has been installed, you will have a black screen with a call button. You will just need to click call and it should connect into the VMP.
  • For Deakin staff and students, please join via Skype for Business (Lync) – if you have office installed you may already have Skype for business or Lync installed. You just need to look for it on the start menu. If you find it, you can log into skype using your Deakin email and password and then dial 36958.
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As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone – thank you!