Julian Finn

Senior Curator, Marine Invertebrates

SCUBA diver
Julian Finn diving with a camera.
Source: Museum Victoria

Dr Julian Finn has 15 years experience in marine invertebrate research (primarily studying cephalopods - octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses) and is involved in diverse projects revealing and promoting Victoria’s unique marine environment.


For over a decade Julian has conducted marine invertebrate research from the tropics of Indonesia and Baja California to the shores of Antarctica. Julian has spent thousands of hours diving underwater collecting and photographing new species. He has tracked cephalopods using radio acoustic positioning telemetry, conducted blue and black-water-hangs (hanging under the boat in open-ocean, during the day and night), designed, constructed and deployed specialist light traps for capturing planktonic fauna and spent many months on ocean voyages collecting and studying deep sea life.

Julian has discovered and described new species and genera, reported novel behaviours in octopus and cuttlefish and even described how dolphin master-chefs prepare their cuttlefish meals.

Julian’s cephalopod research has received intense media attention. A recent study describing tool use in octopus was covered by over 500 websites with the story on BBC receiving 1.3 million views in the first days alone. When posted on YouTube, Julian’s footage received over 1 million views in the first weeks and remains amongst the ‘Most Discussed’, ‘Most Viewed’, ‘Top Favorited’ and ‘Top Rated’ Australian Science & Technology stories of all time.

Julian has worked as a freelance cameraman and scientific consultant on over 30 international documentaries shooting stories in diverse locations including Japan, Indonesia and Mexico. Julian’s footage has appeared on all Australian TV channels and featured in documentaries produced by BBC (UK), National Geographic (USA) and NHK (Japan).

Julian is an avid underwater stills photographer with a passion for macro (close-up) photography. Julian took the majority of the underwater images in Museum Victoria’s Marine Life Exhibition and his images feature in marine field guides and publications produced by Museum Victoria.

Current activities

Systematics and biology of the argonauts or ‘paper nautiluses’ (Cephalopoda: Argonautidae)

Julian’s PhD research (conducted through Museum Victoria and La Trobe University) examined a family of open-octopuses known as argonauts (or ‘paper nautiluses’). Julian reviewed thousands of years of literature, examined specimens in museums around the world and dived intensively to gain an understanding of these mysterious marine creatures. Julian is currently writing scientific papers about his findings.

Under the Lens – documenting and promoting Victoria’s marine parks

In collaboration with Parks Victoria, Julian is documenting the biodiversity of Victoria’s marine parks through regular photographic surveys. Julian is taking underwater imagery (photographs and video) to document the park’s inhabitants and aid in the understanding, promotion and protection of Victoria’s marine life.

Museum Victoria guides to marine life

Julian is authoring guides to marine gastropods and cephalopods, and coauthoring a guide to sponges. Julian’s underwater images feature in the published guides An Introduction to Marine Life (2008), Crabs, Hermit Crabs and Allies (2008), Barnacles (2009) and Shrimps, Prawns and Lobsters(2009).

Museum Victoria diving operations

Julian oversees diving operations at Museum Victoria, assisting staff and students with diving research and ensuring that safe diving practices are implemented.

Museum Victoria animal ethics

Julian has been working in association with Museum Victoria’s Animal Ethics Committee, to author The Standard Operating Procedures for the Ethical Use of Live Aquatic Animals (fishes, cephalopods and decapod crustaceans) by Staff and Associates of Museum Victoria.

Last updated 5 Feburary 2013