David Staples

Collection Manager, Marine Invertebrate Collection

David is part of a small team responsible for managing and maintaining the museum’s Marine Invertebrate Collection. The origin of this collection dates back to the museum’s founding director Prof. Frederick McCoy in the 1850s with the acquisition of specimens from prominent natural history dealers of the time. The collection is now one of the largest collections in the museum, with over five million specimens.

David Staples
David Staples on a diving trip


David’s participation in the first environmental study of Westernport Bay with the Underwater Research Group in turn led to a personal research in the study of sea spiders (pycnogonids). Beyond this group, he has a broad interest in all marine invertebrates and in 1979 he was appointed an Honorary Research Associate in Marine Invertebrates.

David was a foundation member of the Marine Research Group of Victoria and served on the committee of that group for many years including terms as President and Vice president. He participated in the survey of the Victorian coastline 1979-1984 and was co-editor of the resulting publication Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria.

Prior to joining the Museum in 1999, he worked with a marine environmental consultancy which involved extensive diving particularly in NSW, Victoria and South Australian waters. He has participated in diving expeditions to Darwin, the Cobourg Peninsula, Osprey Reef in North Queensland, the Bass Strait Islands, the north island of New Zealand, Norfolk Island and several South Australian off-shore islands.

His deep-sea research includes participation in expeditions along the West Australian coast, a US Oceanographic Institute /CSIRO collaborative voyage to the southern seamounts and most recently a British research expedition to the Southwest Indian Ridge in the Indian and Southern Oceans researching seamounts and hydrothermal vents. These expeditions utilized remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to depths exceeding 4000 m.

David’s contribution to marine science has been recognized by the naming of three species; the pycnogonid Austrodecus staplesi Stock, 1990; the holothuroid Prototrochus staplesi O’Loughlin, 2007 and the deep-sea stone crab Paralomis staplesi Ahyong, 2010.

David has authored scientific papers, chapters for academic texts and articles for popular magazines.

Current activities

David is presently writing a field guide to southern Australian sea spiders. As part of an ongoing revision of pycnogonid taxonomy he is currently unraveling the confused and ambiguous taxonomy that has bedeviled pycnogonid families over the past 50 years.

Last updated 1 November 2012