Page 822 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

He was buried earlier this month. Unfortunately, I could not attend, as it occurred on a full-day hearing of annual reports by the planning committee. He was buried in the new natural burial site at Mitchell. Mr Rattenbury and some Greens staff attended the funeral. I am told that it was a beautiful event, and everybody agreed how fitting it was that Bryan was buried in such a place.

As I have a minute or two left, I might talk about something which I know Bryan would be talking about if he was still alive. In today’s Guardian the World Meteorological Organisation says that an analysis of recent heat highs and ice lows has pushed the world’s climate into uncharted territory, which is truly depressing. The only positive thing we can say about Bryan’s death is that he is not here to read it. The World Meteorological Organisation refers to unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice across both poles and surging sea-level rise.

Mr Stuart Harris

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (4.35): I rise to congratulate the Canberra citizen scientist and local long-time Belconnen resident Mr Stuart Harris on his most recent discovery. Stuart has found an entirely new genus of peacock spiders, the Saratus genus. Stuart first discovered this spider while working at the Mount Majura vineyard four years ago. Collaborating with two taxonomists, Stuart was able to identify a significant anatomical difference between this variety and the many species of peacock spiders in the Maratus genus. This difference led to the classification of Stuart’s latest discovery, the Saratus hesperus, as a new genus of peacock spiders.

It is impressive, but this is not the first time that Stuart has discovered a new spider. Stuart previously worked as a garbage collector and vineyard worker, when his passion for science led him to his very first spider discovery in 2008. Stuart first stumbled upon the spider during a bushwalk in Booroomba Rocks in 2008. Taken by the spider’s beauty, Stuart snapped a photo and shared it on the internet, primarily for its beauty. A jumping spider expert in the USA, Dr David Hill, contacted Stuart through photo sharing website Flickr a few days later.

By sharing a picture of a pretty spider, the internet fed him a response he was not expecting—he had probably just discovered a new species of Maratus spider. To formalise the discovery, Stuart would need to find a live specimen. What followed was 2½ years of scouring the 1,000 square kilometres of the Namadgi bushland for a live specimen of the tiny creature. To make life especially hard, the spider is 4.8 millimetres or the size of a grain of rice.

I encourage the chamber to watch the excellent short film, Maratus, which documents this gruelling task. Without giving too much away, the species of spider Stuart discovered in 2008 takes his surname—Maratus harrisi. Since then Stuart has been credited with the discovery of three more species of Maratus spiders and has co-discovered another three. He currently works as a gallery assistant at Questacon and was previously team leader at the Questacon live exhibit during the very successful Spiders exhibition in October 2016. He also works every Saturday at the Brindabella winery, managing the cellar door and promoting Canberra wines and the region in general. He spends his free time looking for new peacock spider varieties.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video