Legendary linefish scientist Dr Bruce Mann retired on 28 February 2023, following an “official” career at the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI, the research division of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research), that spanned more than 30 years.
Bruce’s unofficial relationship with ORI goes back much further, starting off as a volunteer when he was just a schoolboy.
Bitten by the fishing bug, Bruce earned an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, where he met and skilfully angled the greatest catch of his life, his future wife Dr Judy Mann. Judy and Bruce graduated in 1991 and moved to Durban the following year, to take up positions at ORI. Bruce became Prof Rudy van der Elst’s understudy, heir apparent to ORI’s world-leading marine linefish research programme. Bruce continued to grow the research portfolio with a remarkable and diverse list of projects; and moved into innovative fields of research such as Baited Remote Underwater Videography Systems (BRUVS) and radio-tag telemetry.
A consummate applied scientist, Bruce excelled in the field, and revelled in a life that revolved around angling, boating, and SCUBA diving field trips along the KZN and Eastern Cape coasts, and on several occasions, the waters of our Western Indian Ocean neighbours. Like Bruce, his field trips were legendary, according to those fortunate enough to be invited to take part. Bruce’s angling prowess is well recognised, and his high standing in the South African fishing community meant that his wise words, always backed up by his excellent research, were usually well heeded.
In between field trips, Bruce found time to analyse his data and write up his discoveries, producing a remarkable 117 papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings (with many more still in the pipeline), on topics ranging from fish diets to fishermen’s attitudes, and everything in-between. He co-authored a couple of books and 21 chapters in books, developed a fishing app for mobile devices, produced countless reports for a truly diverse range of stakeholders, presented his work at 113 international and local conferences, and wrote at least 120 popular articles for both print and electronic media. He also managed to earn his PhD, besides supervising seven BSc (Hons) and 13 MSc postgraduate students.
“Bruce’s rapport with the non-scientific community has been one of SAAMBR’s greatest assets; his science engagement with people from all walks of life, from government officials to coastal resource users, to local communities and school children, has been invaluable. His colleagues in ORI’s sister divisions, uShaka Sea World and uShaka Sea World Education, will attest to that” said SAAMBR CEO Dr Larry Oellermann.
Although retiring from active duty and moving to the Eastern Cape (to fish, naturally), Bruce hasn’t cut his ties with ORI and KZN completely; he will remain a part of the family as a Research Associate, we hope for many years to come.