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Andrew Bentley
Collection Manager
Biodiversity Institute

Specify Software Usability Lead

Contact Information

Office Phone: 
Dyche Hall

Recent Blog Posts

March 25, 2011
A week before the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, an omen washed up on its...

Marine fishes of the Indo-Pacific

Wet collection standards and protocols

Dangerous goods shipping for natural history collections

Ichthyology Collection Management


  • MSc – Zoology; The ecology of the sand dollar, Echinodiscus bisperforatus. University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (1991 - 1996).
  • BSc (Hons) – Zoology; University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (1990 - 1991).
  • BSc (Zoology); Majors - Zoology, Complementary Biological Sciences and Genetics. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. (1985 - 1988).

Academic Appointments

Current Appointments

Collection Manager
Biodiversity Institute

Specify Software Usability Lead

Previous Appointments

South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) (Jan 1997 – Jan 2001) Somerset Street, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa

Collections Manager - Ichthyology

University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) (1992) Walmer Boulevard, Port Elizabeth, 6000, South Africa

Laboratory technician - Zoology department

Professional Positions

Kansas African Studies Center, University of Kansas

  • Affiliate Faculty

Professional Societies

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC)

Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA)


Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) President's Award for outstanding service to the Society



Bioinformatics/database and web design:

  • Experience in hardware setup and repair
  • Database design and utility with special emphasis on natural history database applications in
  • Access, SQL server and MySQL
  • Specify collection management software usability and design
  • Network setup and utility
  • Software – Mac, Linux, Windows, MS Office suite, Adobe Photoshop, GIS software (Arcview,
  • TNTMips), networking and HTML homepage design.

Database administrator

  • Administer, repair, test and upgrade SAIAB Specify database
  • KUNHM database specialist – setup of database utilities and web accessibility for individual divisional Specify databases.

Geographical Information Systems:

  • An Introduction to GIS for Earth and Life Sciences; GEODATEC, Grahamstown, South Africa: TNTMips

Research and field work:

  • Fish identification; sub- and intertidal fish and tissue collections using rotenone on SCUBA for SAIAB and KUNHM (South Africa, Namibia, Seychelles, Saipan, El Salvador, United States).
  • Research vessel trawl collections (NMFS Gulf cruise).
  • Invertebrate research and identification.
  • Assisted with projects associated with the Zoology Department, University of Port Elizabeth involving collection of specimens and data from the entire spectrum of habitats – terrestrial and marine – sub-tidal and surf-zone, beach, estuary and rocky shore.

Teaching experience:

  • University of Kansas African Studies - Afrikaans
  • University of Kansas Museum studies – Topics in Curation and Collection Management
  • (MUSE 710) - Fall 2002, 2003 and 2008.
  • University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth, South Africa 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate
  • laboratory practical classes. 1992

SCUBA certification:

  • Nitrox Diver, Durban, South Africa (1999)
  • Scientific Divers Course (Class IV - Supervisor), Port Elizabeth, South Africa (1994)
  • Scientific Divers Course (Class IV), Port Elizabeth, South Africa (1991)
  • Openwater I, Johannesburg, South Africa (1988)

Skipper’s certification:

  • Diving boat skipper (Class A III (1)), Port Elizabeth, South Africa (1990)

First Aid certification:

  • St. John's Ambulance First Aid Level 1, Port Elizabeth, South Africa (1991)
March 25, 2011

A week before the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, an omen washed up on its beaches. The appearance of the oarfish, a ribbon-like, deep sea fish has long been perceived as a warning that seismic activity is on the way. This fish has become a feature of speculation as to whether they can be used to predict an incoming earthquake.


An 1860 drawing of an oarfish


There are many news reports that speculate on the issue, as well as impressive photos of this critter, which can reach lengths in excess of 50 feet:

The Star,, A11news, Yahoo News

The important message here is that so little is known about the habits, breeding, biology, and ecology of these fishes – and deep water species in general. It is difficult to say what they are reacting to – small tremors signaling a larger quake to come, poisonous gases released by shifting tectonic plates or perhaps water temperatures affected by subtle movements in these plates. So little is known about deep water fish species due to the difficulty involved in studying them in their natural environment. They do not survive long (or act erratically/unusually) in shallow water, making it difficult to glean anything about their behavior based on these shallow water sightings. Their natural environment, depths below 1000 feet, is the place to study them, only possibly by using submersible or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) but these tools are very expensive and not very numerous.

It is estimated that we have only described about a quarter to half of the species in the deep oceans. Who knows what lives down there and what sort of interactions they have with their deep water environment, as well as what sort of future events they may be able to sense before we know anything about them?
It is also interesting that local folklore (dismissed or ignored by many in the scientific community) says that these fish appearing in shallow water signal not only an earthquake, but also a good catch! These two are likely related in that tremors or earthquakes will scare or force deep water fish into the shallows.

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From the Biodiversity Insitute blog

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August 19, 2010
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August 16, 2010
    Jonathan Coddington is the head of research and collections at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. He recently told National Public Radio's Guy Raz that the ...