Jack Randall

The World of Science has lost a Giant.

John Ernest “Jack” Randall, Jr., will forever be remembered among the greats of ichthyology, taxonomy, nomenclature and exploratory research. Whether you knew Jack personally, or only knew of him, his family would be very grateful if you could share your thoughts, memories, musings, and photos about how he touched your life. No matter how long or brief your comments are, they are all welcome and greatly appreciated.

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321 replies on “Remembering
Jack Randall”

Aloha friends, colleagues, and fellow fish-lovers. It is going to take me some time to process what it means to live in a world without my advisor, my mentor, my dive buddy and my friend. Nothing I can say here even remotely captures the enormity of what I owe to Jack. I have known him since I was seventeen years old, and he has been a major part of my life ever since. I have many, MANY fond and cherished memories that I look forward to sharing with everyone through this web page. For now, my thoughts are entirely with Helen, Lori, Rodney, Sandy, Sean, and the rest of Jack’s family.

This website was set up to allow everyone who Jack influenced in some way to share their memories, musings, and photos. Please feel free to post multiple times, if you wish. I know I will add more thoughts and photos to this site, after I have some time to reflect. I’m sure what I read here will inspire me, and I hope it inspires you as well.

Don’t be shy! Helen and the rest of the Randall ‘Ohana will greatly appreciate anything you are willing to share!

I first met Jack in 2015, a year before I started my career in fish taxonomy and systematics. We had sushi in his living room, together with his wife Helen, and friends Richard Pyle and Rufus Kimura. We’ve kept in close contact since, and over the years I’m humbled to have been able to call him a colleague and a friend. I would be here today without his influence. Rest well Jack. Mahalo, from all of your friends.

I met Jack back when I was a student in the 1980s. He encouraged me in my interests in fish taxonomy, and always had time for a chat when he called by the Australian Museum. About a third of my early papers were coauthored with Jack, including my first paper, and many of my other papers were illustrated with his photos, or relied heavily on specimens he had collected. It is hard to think of a group of Indo-Pacific fishes for which Jack hadn’t contributed significantly to our taxonomic understanding. His passing marks the end of an era.

What an extraordinary scientist! He inspired the ichthyologists throughout the world and more importantly the youngsters, who approached him for getting the fish identified. The revolution he brought in ichthyology, by incorporating high quality ‘live’ pictures, most of which are now available in FishBase, will remain for ever, as testimony to his contributions, besides hundreds of species bearing his name. Even during the later periods of his life, a picture sent to him was an excitement for him, as reflected in the immediate and prompt reply and he always directed me to contract appropriate persons, if he could not do the business. It is indeed a great loss for the ichthyologists across the world……May his soul rest in peace and ignite enthusiasm in the budding taxonomists…..

I never got to meet Dr. Randall but his books and publications have contributed a great deal to inspiring me to pursue fish taxonomy (although I’m still a novice at it). From the shores of the Philippines, thank you very much, and rest well, Dr. John Randall.

I have been thinking about Jack a lot recently as I have been referring – as I often do – to his monumental book “Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific.” Jack’s book is one of my most treasured possessions, and every time I use it I am filled with admiration for the depth and breadth of his knowledge.
This week I wanted to identify a species of fish from Niue that was in one of my old photos – so out came Jack’s book.
Jack – you were a legend. It was an honour to know you.

I had the honor of meeting Jack only once, at the Bishop Museum, around 1979. I had just returned from working as a research technician at Enewetak Atoll, and doing some fish collecting in Micronesia. I was describing some of my diving experiences to him, but I could tell he was starting to lose interest in my relatively mundane stories. When I mentioned an extremely large shark I had seen in murky water in one of the passes in Yap though, he perked right up. It may have been a whale shark or possibly a Tiger, it was too far away to tell, but Jack was immediately interested in the details of the encounter. I learned later that he was a legend with the military personell on Enewetak for catching a very large Tiger in the main pass there, and preserving the jaws for the museum.

Goodbye Jack — you’ll ever stay with us in memory and spirit, and tropical Indo-Pacific fish taxonomy will always be connected with your name. Hope you will have many good dives where you are now …

I never met Jack personally but we had considerable e-mail correspondence, him in Hawaii and me in Kenya. Not only did we discuss fish but our families, including my up-and-coming then 3-year-old marine biologist. Between our e-mail exchanges and reading his memoirs I feel like he was a personal friend. That’s the kind of man he was.

I never had the pleasure of knowing Jack personally but he has always been a reference as fish lover. I followed his work since much before I become a marine biologist and was always impressed on his amazing discoveries. My thoughts go to Jack’s family at this moment. Farewell Jack! You will be greatly missed.

I am sorry to hear about Jack’s passing.
I first met Jack in 2000 when I was a PhD student and met him every IPFC and in Hawaii. Although I met him only several times, we frequently communicated each other with emails. I counted emails between us and found more than 800 emails in my email box and the last one from Jack was on 17 Jan. 2020. He told me about a mental attitude toward fish taxonomy in addition to about joint researches. Publishing a paper on Neosebastes in Jack’s journal, Indo-Pacific Fishes, with his advice is one of my best experience. Many fishes were still waited for you to be named… May he rest in peace.

Dr Jack
We will miss you
Your passion and sincerity will be several milestones in the history of our science .Legends don’t leave they dwell eternal
Thank you so much
Rest well

In the 1980s, I learned from a number of his taxonomic works how important color photographs of fresh specimens and under water photographs are to fish taxonomy. Because the color when fersh cannot be keep in the specimens. I am very proud to share time with a great ichthyologist.

Dear Helen,

This makes me both sad and happy. Jack was an inspirational person who had a big impact on my own life – a fact that I record in my memoirs – due to be published this autumn. Paula and I were always happy to host him in Port Sudan and Saudi Arabia. His book on Red Sea Reef Fishes was a major help to many marine biologists and enthusiastic amateur fish watchers. His legacy to the world of fish taxonomy and coral reef ecology can hardly be overstated. I am not sure what the final count is but in my recent paper on Red Sea Research, I quote his personal tally of over 799 new species described and over 906 publications in marine biology, nine of which are regional fish guides.

But Jack was much more than that. Always interested in others and keen to help, there is a whole battalion of biologists around the world who owe their careers to Jack’s own work.

I grieve for your family, and am sure he will be sorely missed but have no doubt that you will be celebrating a life well lived and one that will long be remembered. If you do get around to publishing his autobiography I would love to buy a copy.

With love and wishing you peace and happiness in these difficult days,

Peter Vine

I passed through Honolulu and Bishop Museum in 1999 autumn, he was reminiscing the preservation of a basking shark within the museum compounds. Had the great opportunity to meet up with Jack and even had satay with him (he loved the peanut gravy), and even went to the Waikiki Aquarium and backdoor pass.
Next met him in Taipei the following year during IPFC where he was awarded the inaugural Bleeker Award for his contributions to marine fish taxonomy.
You will always be an inspiration for ichthyologists, young and old, novice and wise. RIP and dive well.

In 1998 Jack and Sandy came to Malaysia when I was living there. I picked them up in Singapore and we drove north to dive Redang Isles. Sandy had just graduated high school.
So the first dive there with a shop on Redang, we all stayed together….except Jack…which I gather he was notorious for…..he had swam off after some fish…and actually surfaced, crossed over a little sand bar between two little islands, and went down again on the other side.
After we all surfaced, we spent about 20 minutes searching for Jack. The DMs were a bit angry more than concerned. Then we saw him walking back across the sand bar.
They said, “who is this old guy? What is he doing”.
To which I replied, “well, you see all those fish books in your shop? And under the name of the fish, you see the name….Randall, on a lot of them”?
“Well, that old guy is Randall”.
They treated us like royalty after that. Jack even found what he believed was a new species of cardinal fish if I recall….and Malay Fisheries said we had to leave the specimen he collected with them, but they would send it to him. They didn’t…
It was fun diving with him. He showed me different species of shrimp gobies. I just laid….oops, I mean hovered above the bottom….watching him photo them.
He was
Always ready to do another dive.
Amazing man.
It was an honor to know him.

My – what has now tragically turned out – last chance to meet with Jack was in September 2019 and I am very grateful to him and especially his wife Helen to have allowed me to visit them again in their house in Kaneohe. Jack was eager as ever to talk about goatfishes. This fitted nicely to my visit at the Bishop Museum fish collection which has been becoming such a valuable resource for me after Jack, Phil Heemstra, and me had jointly decided in 2008 that I should do more research in Mullidae taxonomy. My thoughts are now especially with Helen and daughter Lori as well as with so many friends and colleagues who have the luck to share their memories about this preeminent ichthyologist.

The fisheries science fraternity has lost one of great scientist of all time. Sir has inspired several young researches across the globe including me. We will miss you sir. You will always be remembered for your great contribution to marine science.

We will really miss a great scientist in fisheries. He is an inspiration to all in the field of fisheries. Will always be remembered for his exemplary work. Adieu…

Our hearts are filled with sorrow upon hearing the saddest news of his demise. Dr. Jack Randall, the world-renowned fish taxonomist will be remembered for the new species described, books published with the best photographs of the fishes. I personally got lots of help from him for the fish species identification. A review paper on the Fishes of the Genus Bleekeria was published because of his immense help and encouragement. My prayers are with the family of Jack and accept my deepest and heartfelt condolences.

I never got the opportunity to meet Jack in person
But I had the honor and pleasure to have great exchanges by mail regarding new species that can still be collected in Mauritius and specially the new specie that come up after so many years
I still remember him telling D. Pelicier “how could we have missed that one”
FYI D.Pelicier together with Jack has been working on describing most fishes in the Indian ocean region.
A legend who will remain immortal through his work and memories of us all.
Heartfelt condolences to Jack’s family and friends
Much love from Gurroby family and our team (Mauritius)

Unfortunately, I didn’t know Jack personally. But we had contact via email for over 25 years. I’m just a hobby biologist, aquarist and diver, but Jack didn’t let me feel it. He always answered my questions incredibly quickly. He was also very grateful for new information. I am proud to have some of his dedication books in my library and that he chose photos of me for his books. For me, his books were an ichthyological Bible. He leaves a great life’s work. I share with him the enthusiasm and the love for the coral reef fishes. I will miss the contact with him very much.

PS: Enclosed a photo of Jack during a lecture on mimicry at the ichthyological conference in Taiwan 2005, which shows a photo of a black haired frogfish in the middle of sea urchins. The frogfish is mine and the photo was kindly taken by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

Jack was indeed one of the greats. Back in grad school, I was on a live-aboard dive boat with Jack, Rich Pyle, Deb Gochfeld and others. We spent two weeks diving throughout Papua New Guinea. Jack was decades older than the rest of us but everyday he was the first one in the water and last one out. He was always up late at night photographing his fish specimens while the rest of us were already passed out cold. I was amazed at his energy, passion and dedication! His contributions to science are too immense to list. He will be missed.

I’m so sorry to hear. Jack Randall was one of the great influences of so many young ichthyologists. I remember giving my first ever conference talk in 1990 ASIH I think, on the ecology and morphology of black triggerfish Melichthys niger. I was literally shaking with nerves and reading very monotone. Right after I finished, Dr. Randall immediately stood up and said ” A TRIGGERFISH BIT ME! THEY BITE HARD!” and sat down. It was nothing to do with my presentation really, but I appreciated the enthusiasm and making me laugh to break the tension of my first talk!

a great naturalist, and always cooperative colleague whose knowledge of reef fishes was phenomena – I will always remember his smiles

Without Jack Randall I would never have understood the complexity of parrotfishes, a group that went on to occupy most of my professional life.

Jack, you’ve been an inspiration to many generations of ichthyologists and your contributions to the field are invaluable. I often encountered your name on essential works before I had the honor meeting you in Hawaii and we started collaborating. You inspired me to describe my first fish and I will always be grateful for that. “The goat-fish guy”

LABRIDAE. In 1962 on Curacao a congress was organised by the CARMABI for Caribbean marine biologists. Also attended by Jack Randall, then director of the Institute in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I – a biologist from the university of Amsterdam, was working on the CARMABI on my PhD thesis on the color – and sex change during growth of Labrid fishes. Jack was a great help to learn me better to determine various Labridae, and told me a lot useful facts about their habits.
He even invited me to come two months to the small field station at the South coast of Puerto Rico for an amazing experiment. Two large meters long iron cages were lowered on the sea bottom in which I put small Labrids to measure their growth velocity in combination of change of colors. Alas, it did not work; at the end too many Labrids lost. Jack also arranged that one of the fisherman took me regularly with a small boat to areas with coral reefs to collect Labrids and I could perform an essential part of my research there. Two Sundays Jack came to the field station to check the progress, and brought his young son and daughter. What a pleasure to play and joke with these marvellous children. I still treasure the sweet Valentine cards they then sent me.
The Randalls left for Hawaii. But we always kept some contact because again and again reprints were sent to me on the so intriguing colorful Labrids.
I realized Jack was getting really old and fragile, nevertheless the message about his final diving trip is a blow, touches me deeply. I am so proud that I have known this unique man, once one of the very first divers, so full of humor, so kind, such a giant as scientist indeed.
My condoleances for the whwole family

Jack gave me my first job out of grad school at Bishop. Immediately, he & Helen enveloped me in the Randall ‘ohana. Jack drove us (3-4 technicians) to the pool every day at lunch to train for the annual rough water swim. He and Helen blessed us with Randall dinner parties, came to my wedding and 25th anniv. My heart aches at our loss as it overflows with gratitude for Jack’s mentoring, aloha, & contributions to ichthyology. And for the Randall family, please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss.

I met Jack in 7th IPFC in 2005, just before I went to Ph.D. program. Although not seeing him many times, we did correspond occasionally on the fish matters, such as verifying species, checking specimens, asking for photos, etc. The first Parapercis I described was named after Jack (Parapercis randalli) because he helped to verify the species. How dare I was to describe a new species that I don’t even know much!
When I visited BPBM in 2008, Jack came to the museum to see me and he encouraged me to work on fish taxonomy continuously. It was great that I eventually can do some help when I was in MNHN examined specimens for him.

I have had the privilege of knowing Jack for over thirty years, and like many who have already shared, I considered him a mentor and friend. From our earliest correspondence in the pre-email days via airmail letters until only a few months ago when he confirmed an identification of a juvenile damselfish for me, he has shared enthusiastically with each of us.
I have many memories of Jack, and am probably not the only one who can say that the deepest dive that they have ever done was with Jack! In my case we were in the Straits of Hormuz trying to locate likely habitat for possible deepwater Anthias. We followed an amazingly steep sandy slope near a small rock island confident that at the bottom of the incline we would find rocky habitat. At 100 feet the water became remarkably clear and when we stopped at 140 feet we could see the slope continuing far below with no sign of the habitat we were looking for. We headed for the surface after collecting a few small fishes on our way.
Although some of Jack’s early career were spent in the Caribbean, it was the Indo-Pacific where this ichthyological Adam has left his mark. Jack, however, not only named a myriad of fishes but did the hard work involved to research and confirm those new species, most often in collaboration with one of us now remembering him. There are few places in the Indo-Pacific where one could dive or snorkel and not be able to spot a fish with his name attached to it. I am currently sequestered on the shores of the Red Sea and am blessed to be able to snorkel regularly despite country-wide lockdowns. After returning from my snorkel today I realized that I had observed no fewer than six species which had Jack’s name attached to them.
I extend my condolences to Helen and family. He was one a kind and his legacy will continue for not only to future generations of the Randall family but also to future generations of ichthyologists and marine scientists. O Captain! my Captain! rest in peace – the era has ended.

I’m one of the undoubtedly many email-only fish friends of Jack. As a serious fish enthusiast I would send him images of unusual or new fish sightings, always leading to a lively discussion and often tips on who else to inform. It has been inspiring to see his passion for and knowledge of fishes, genuine interest in the work of others, and ability to remain active and creative in the field of ichthyology at a very advanced age. The impact of his parting is greater than it should be for ‘someone you just knew from email’. But as someone so aptly said, he had a way to make you feel we were personal friends and that is how he will be missed. My condolences to Helen and all other family and friends.

I first met Jack in 1983 at the McAllen Public Library, in McAllen, Texas, through his published works. On Saturdays, my mom would drop me off at the library on her way to work and pick me up when she was done. I spent that time immersed in Red Sea Reef Fishes, Caribbean Reef Fishes, Underwater Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes and Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. At the time I was under age and wasn’t allowed to check out books from that section of library…proof Jack was a pioneer on many levels…we could argue Jack pioneered “fishporn” :). In 1984 I wrote him at Bishop Museum – he wrote me back. Jack was a scientist in the truest sense and a passionate one. Ever willing and able to engage in a discussion from reef ecology, fish taxonomy or geographic distribution with the upmost ease and confidence that only first hand experience could tell. Perhaps what I remember most, was Jack’s openness and willingness to welcome me into his home on any visit to Oahu. Helen would meet me at the door and Jack would be waiting in the living room…he indulged and helped ignite a passion that has been with me for 40 years. I will miss his emails at Christmastime, during any tennis grand slam (Jack cheering for my cheering of Nadal) and the regular lot of jokes we would forward. My condolences to Helen and Jack’s children at this time and my sincere appreciation for sharing a little of him with me. Mahalo.

Jack a true inspiration when I started my work on fishes. He used to give vivid reply on various works he published, however old it was. His contribution of more than 10000 photos to fishbase inspired me to join in such a collective effort to document the fish diversity. In 70s he visited our facility … Mandapam centre of CMFRI to study of fish collection.

I first met Jack in the early 80s as a young graduate student. He took an interest in my work with gobies and started sending me samples and photos for identification and for use in published descriptions. Jack was so approachable, welcoming and supportive- he was a great assist to many new to the world of ichthyology and systematics. This is as great a legacy as his many publications. My condolences to you, his family, and hope it provides some comfort knowing his memory will be cherished by many.

My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed. I met Jack as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed researcher in the early 1990s. I remember that he was already having difficulty walking, but that didn’t stop him from merrily chasing after the fish at the reef we brought him to! I later had the privilege to co-author a (small) paper with him, when I wrote to him about a damselfish I had trouble identifying. He generously gave his time, and his sightings data during his travels through southeast Asia. I can only imagine that, wherever he is, he is merrily swimming with the fishes.

I first met Jack while interviewing for a curatorial assistant position at the Bishop Museum in 1978. A week later we were either swimming laps or playing tennis during our lunch breaks. During my employment at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, Jack made several visits where we collected fishes from the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. We spent evenings at sea sharing homemade wine and limericks. Upon returning to Hawaii, we continued to socialize and engage in long discussions ranging from environmental issues to politics. Jack was a father figure, mentor, and most importantly, a cherished friend who made a positive impact on my life.

I had the time of my life working with Jack on our barracuda paper. Visiting his home was lovely- Helen served us goldfish crackers, and I remember feeling like a real ichthyologist, sitting there. Goodbye Jack, and thanks for all the fish.

Jack was a great colleague and friend who helped me early in my career several years before we actually met. Over the years we corresponded, exchanged specimens, and he helped me immeasurably. He will be missed. Sympathy to his family at this time of sadness.

farewell dear Sir…..
never met him personally, but did contacted him many times when i started my MSc in 1997 and was very helpful with my IDs
use a lot of his papers and books for my works…
Heartfelt condolences to Jack’s family and friends

I first met Jack in the late 1970’s and he was always supportive of my taxonomic research. Being with Jack was like being with a best friend. I will always cherish my memories of the time I spent with Jack and Helen. You will be missed, but will never be forgotten.

Back when I was working as a marine biologist doing research for an interactive virtual reef, one name came up more than any other when amassing species for the system: “J. E. Randall”. To say that he had a massive impact on the world of ichthyology is an understatement, being an inspiration to countless who could only dream of following in his footsteps. I never got to meet the man, but his legacy definitely had a huge impact on my career.

Vale, Jack. The king is gone, but the candle still burns.

I first met Jack in 2005 when I joined the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. To say I was awe struck is an understatement. I was fortunate to be able to get to know him as a person and not just the ichthyological guru that he was. His encyclopedic knowledge of fish taxonomy was a gift that benefited the world. He will be sorely missed by all.

I am so sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. I consider him a “Giant” of science, in the company of Newton and Galileo.
I met Jack in 1994 on a trip to Sipadan, with his buddy Rob Pyle. I spent 10 amazing days with him. I dove way too many dives a day, trying to keep up with him, even though he was more than 30 years my senior. He as a force of nature.
I suffered a camera motor drive failure, and even though he didn’t know me, he graciously loaned me Rob’s spare, which I returned after returning home to Canada. Although I am an armchair “Fish Nerd”, that time with Jack became one of the most memorable events in my life. The enthusiasm for the subject and the salty stories left a mark.
After that trip I visited him a few times at the Bishop and at his home in Kaneohe, where we were graciously welcomed by him and Helen. One of the biggest regrets of my life was not attending his retirement.
I stayed in touch over the years and received the Christmas news letter and advance copies of Fish ‘n’ Ships, always eager to hear the details of Jack’s amazing life.
Congratulations to Jack on a life well lived:)
My deepest condolences go out to Helen, and the rest of Jack’s family.

On behalf of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS), I would like to express our profound sorrow at the passing of John E. Randall, PhD. John was an Academy Fellow who received the prestigious NOGI Award for Science in 2000. His contributions to the body of knowledge in marine science improved our understanding of and appreciation for global coral reef communities. The Academy and its Fellows mourn the loss of such a giant in our community and we will always remember him, not only for his contributions to science, but for his contributions to our lives. We are all better for having known him.

What an incredible life he had! It was a privilege know and spend a little time with Jack Randall. He will be missed. My first of many dives with Jack was on July 19, 1975, at Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Jack had arranged a trip to Kwajalein–not easy, as it was a restricted military base–after seeing some fish photographs taken there by Nate and Pat Bartlett, namesakes of Jack’s later described Pseudanthias bartlettorum. Nate asked me if I, a “hotshot” local diver and onetime aquarium fish collector, would dive with Jack, mostly as a caddy for his various collection implements. I could barely keep up! Nor could I usually even see what he was going for until I had to hand him a bag for the captured fish. The dives were long and we overloaded our “bends-o-matic” original Scubapro Automatic Decompression Meters, but it was a truly pleasurable experience and a real eye-opener.

Most people are content to do just one thing on a dive. Not Jack Randall. Here he is at Enewetak Atoll in 1983 fully armed with camera, two kinds of spears and probably a squeeze bottle of quinaldine tucked into his BC. I remember Dr. Albert Banner at the University of Hawaii, introducing Jack as a guest lecturer, saying that “Jack was out to get a picture of every fish in the ocean…and I don’t mean every different KIND of fish.”

I’m sorry to hear about your loss. The first letter I sent to you was an inquiry about the identification of the Indonesian labrid fishes in the late 1990s. You were kind enough to give me the results of identification. Occasionally saying, “Why don’t you know the characteristics of these colorful fishes?” The first inquiry from you to me was the identification of leiognathid and atherinid fishes. When I told you the result of the identification, you said, “Why do you know the name of the fishes whose body is only silvery?” And you praised my photographs of fishes very much. Your words are my real treasure. The last e-mail with you was about Naso caesius Randall and Bell 1992 in late January this year. My students and I will submit a manuscript about your fish, N. caesius, in the near future.

Dr. in peace..His passion for ichthyology has inspired me a lot. Though I have not met him his mails and copies of reprints which he sent me during my thesis period and during the publication of various manuscripts have helped me grow. Your books and works are surely going to inspire many a budding child to follow your path. I hope your family has the strength to bear the loss.

I’ve been lucky to be in touch with Jack many times over the years, and he has always been extremly kind to me, by providing information, photos and suggestions for my scientific publications. His work has been an example to me since the very beginning of my passion for sharks. I’ll remember him as one of the greatest shark specialists who has ever lived. His formidable countless publications will always represent a fundamental addition to our knowledge of marine life.
Thank you Jack.

Jack was always very kind and generous to me. I remember I was completely unknown to him when I was just starting a post-doc in Panamá in 1970. It would be very useful for me to know the ecological role of Caribbean reef fishes, so I wrote and requested a copy of his 182-page booklet he wrote in 1967 on food habits of Caribbean reef fishes. He sent it to me promptly and I have always felt humbled by his repeated generosity and how quickly he would provide advice or answers when I never really was able to give anything in return. We dived the whole east coast of Taiwan in 1978. He was always in good humor and fun to be with. There were memorable events that were unintended humor. He bought a shark at the fish market to photograph and temporarily stored it in the bathtub of his hotel room. It was a bit longer than the tub and freaked out the maid who went in to clean. He rigged a setup for photography by moving furniture into the hallway. An audience of Taiwanese children were watching as his lighting blew a hotel fuse and it was suddenly dark. I have never seen him in any but a pleasant or humorous mood.

I remember the fun times we had when our families were living on the Virgin Island of St. John. I always admired Jack and his many My accomplishments.
May his family find peace in a life well lived.

I’m sharing the acknowledgement section of the first international paper I wrote. I was an undergrad with zero publications when I first started corresponding with Jack in the mid-90s. He always answered my questions with great attention, and we exchanged many letters back then. The first time I met him was at the ASIH conference in New Orleans in 1996 and he thoroughly reviewed my first manuscript, the description of Haemulon squamipinna, which ended up being published in Copeia. I can count with the fingers in one hand how many other senior scientists I know that would do that for an undergrad student. Jack is literally the first person I thanked in the first paper I wrote! He will always be an example!


Jack liked fishes. This seems like an obvious statement, but what I mean to say is that his passion was for a very large group of organisms. I have worked with a lot of different families, and each time, Jack was at the heart of the taxonomy of anything I was dealing with. A quick email and he would instantly answer in great detail. The breadth of his knowledge was astounding, his willingness to share it and his generosity made him extraordinary. I am missing him, of course, but what is more important is that our community is missing a type of scientist that is incredibly uncommon. A huge stature, an encyclopedic knowledge, and a huge generosity that is not limited by age or scientific status. It will be a long time before a new person takes that place. I have many pictures with Jack, this is a weird one that for some reason I like. What I am pointing at, I am not sure, but Jack’s attentiveness is telling.

What I remember most about Jack was how generous he was with both his time and knowledge. Even in the days before email, he would always respond promptly to my fish queries with detailed letters and slide transparencies. He made me feel special, but I’m sure he did this with everyone.

My most vivid image of Jack Randall was seeing the tips of his flippers as I struggled to keep pace with him during dives we shared in the Persian Gulf in 1991. Fish everywhere in the world know Jack as one of their own. I know him as a man obsessed with discovering everything about everything, especially in the sea that was his natural home. It was my good fortune to know him and his beloved soulmate, Helen. My bookshelf sags with the many volumes of fish books Jack produced during an astonishingly productive, positive, lifetime of giving to the world an enduring legacy of knowledge and inspiration. Aloha, Jack, as you journey into the great blue beyond.

I am afraid that I only knew of Jack through his impact on the field of ichthyology. In 2009, I received his “Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands” for Christmas. A decade later, it is hard to find a paper on fish taxonomy that he has not contributed to. His meticulous descriptions will continue to serve as the cornerstone of ichthyology.

I met him once, and we talked for almost an hour. He was a rare, genuinely kind soul full of passion for the fishes and their home. I will cherish my ‘fish bibles’ for all time.

I am very sorry because of the death of Jack Randall, one of the greatest ichthyologists I had the honour to meet.. Already long before he visited the Museum of Natural History of Berlin, Germany, he generously provided the Fish department of that museum with his valueable scintific publications, which are highlights of the library of that department.
On September 26 and 27 in 1985, long time before the infamous “Berlin Wall” was broken down, he visited us in the former East-Berlin for two short but very busy days. Powerful and comradely, only with very short breaks, he was looking up to the late evening for type specimens most of Serranids.
I will never forget his impressive personality.
Hans-Joachim Paepke,
(already for 20 years retired)

Jack introduced me to Indo-Pacific ichthyology at the Bishop Museum when I arrived in Hawai`i in 1985. He kindly and without hesitation gave me reprints of many of his papers (a larger number, even then). We exchanged information about Hawaii’s fishes as he prepared his 2007 “Reef and Shorefishes of Hawaii” and I worked on my checklist of fishes of the region. As with others whom he mentored, I was the one who gained the most from those interactions. Having been a coauthor on a couple of his papers is one of the things of which I am most proud. Jack’s life was extraordinary and his knowledge unmatched. We can all look forward to the publication of his memoirs, which Rich Pyle is working to publish, to remember his unmatched contributions to ichthyology. For now, we have his 2001 “Reminiscing” at and Dave Greenfield’s 2001 biography of Jack in Copeia.

I’ve had the privilege of corresponding with Jack over the years, though sadly I never had a chance to meet the man. Opening my inbox to see an email from him was a bit like seeing a message sent from Cuvier or Bleeker or Jordan. Jack was a living vestige of those great naturalists, but one kind enough to send me pdfs and answer my esoteric taxonomic questions.


I was extremely touched when I woke up this morning to find so many wonderful thoughts shared on this site! Please keep them coming! This is not my first posting, nor will it be my last, so if you’ve already posted, and then think of anything you’d like to say, please feel free to share more!

In reading these wonderful comments, Greta’s posting reminded me of an anecdote I’d like to share. In 1993 I participated on an expedition to the Solomon Islands with Jack, Ann Fielding, Bruce Carlson, Marj Awai, Leighton Taylor, Owen McMillan, Rob Pyle (distant relation, brought together through Jack) and others. Owen and I were the two young grad students on the trip, in our 20s, and Jack was nearly 70. On day-one, Owen and I made a pact with each other to match Jack dive-for-dive on the trip. The first day wasn’t too bad — something like 4 or 5 dives. Near the end of the second day, I vividly remember feebly crawling onto the swim deck of the ship after Jack finally ended his night dive (our 6th dive of the day), only to see Jack switch out tanks for his SECOND night dive of the evening. Owen and I looked at each other, both utterly exhausted but determined to fulfill our mutual pact, and slowly switched tanks ourselves. I spent that entire dive shivering in shallow water just under the swim step, waiting for Jack to finally end his 7th and final dive of the day, so I could get some sleep. I barely made it to my bunk before collapsing, but Jack continued to process and photograph his treasured specimens into the wee hours of the morning.

Jack was up again bright and early the following day and already in the water before breakfast. I woke up late in the morning with a fever and absolutely no energy. Owen was likewise exhausted, and we both spent the day resting & recuperating without making a single dive. After that, Owen and I limited ourselves to a somewhat more “sane” 4 or 5 dives per day, while Jack continued his much more INSANE pace all the way up until the very end of the two-week trip.

On the last day we were at the cut-off time where the ship needed to head back to Honiara so that we could make our flight back home, but Jack, despite having been given strict orders to return to the ship by a certain time, was still out there underwater, photographing, collecting, exploring. Finally, Bruce had to go out in the other tinny with a slate and dive down to Jack to tell him the ship would be leaving soon, with or without him!

There will never be another person like Jack Randall.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him, however, learned from him in 1981 when I took an Ichthyology class a the Dept of Marine Science of the Unv. of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. He worked at the Dept in the 60 and to this day the Dept considered him a legend and founding father. His book Caribbean Reef Fishes is the go to reference for fish identification in Puerto Rico.

I did not know Jack but based on how the scientists that I look up to, look up to him, tells me everything I need to know. I am also forever grateful for the Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific for fish survey IDs!

I made friends with Jack many years ago when I went diving off Roatan Island (Honduras),and photographed a wrasse I could not identify. I had
his book CARIBBEAN REEF FISHES (I guess the first edition,I have 3 editions) and knew almost ALL the fishes! I wrote to him, and sent him a slide of the mystery fish. We became instant friends. At that time there was no email so he would answer in typed letters. We never lost contact! He was my MAIN inspiration as I loved too, identifying the fishes I saw,and photographed. At that time I had HIS BOOK, Fishes of the Bahamas,and adjacent tropical waters(Bohlke and Chaplin),and Los Peces Marinos de Venezuela (Fernando Cervigon). I just got out Cervigon’s two books, and they both say in Spanish,”Decisive was in every moment the help,and collaboration presented by Dr. John Randall,director of the Institute of Marine Biology of the University of Puerto Rico.” It was a WONDERFUL SURPRISE that Helen ,and Jack
came to New Orleans ,and my wife and I were able to MEET THEM!!!
Instead of us inviting them to dinner he INSISTED, AND INVITED US!!!
I always admired HIS FRIENDLINESS, AND HUMBLENESS! Having achieved SO MUCH, HE WAS NOT ARROGANT OR ABOVE YOU!!! That made me LOVE HIM!!! After dinner we invited them to our house, and saw of course, marine slides! He then gave us as a gift, his third Edition of CARIBBEAN REEF FISHES( I had bought the two editions before)! I have the book in front of me and when you open it,it says “To Richard & Mari with best wishes & aloha Jack”. I was HONORED when he chose
a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) I had photographed off Mona Island (Puerto Rico) in the 1970’s for his (I think) Memoirs. I knew something was wrong when he didn’t answer my last email. Think he
had emailed me he had been in the hospital for pneumonia and also had a kidney infection. He will live I think in the HEARTS OF THE MANY THAT LOVE HIM!!! That he be with GOD,forever! AMEN!
an HONOR!!! Thank you very much for the Season’s Greetings that I
imagine YOU wrote and I got thru the years. WHAT A WONDERFUL

I am fortunate to have known Jack and to have had opportunities to coauthor with him. I began corresponding with him in the early 1960s, but did not meet him until the 1972 ASIH meeting in Boston. I benefited greatly from my association with him. He was most generous in providing photographs, loans of specimens, data, advice, and constructive criticism. He was a giant. Many of our colleagues have described species and other taxa, but Jack out did them all–he described a fauna. The World and ichthyology in particular are much better for his having graced us with his presence. It has been a wonderful learning experience knowing him and a lot of fun. I’d like to be able to enjoy those marvelous times again.

I first met Jack while a graduate student at the Institute of Marine Science, Miami in the 1960s while he worked Caribbean Reef Fishes. He was popular among the graduate students for his wide range of marine interests. Between 1976 and 2011 we authored 11 papers describing various apogonids, a tiny fraction of fishes Jack described. He was an early friend and we corresponded over the years concerning apogonids. I looked forward to playing tennis with Jack while at some early Ichs & Herps meetings, an energetic departure at the time.

Aloha, Jack

One day I got an email from Jack Randall. We hadn’t met but I certainly knew and respected his work for years. He said he’d heard I’d gotten some OK photographs off Haena, Kaua’i, of a tiny, clear, “nondescript” nearshore fish, Schlindleria_ sp., what we agreed is probably the least known but most common of the reef and shore fishes in the Pacific. And might I consider allowing him to publish one of my photos in his upcoming book “Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands.” I was blown away by this humble ask from a colleague I held in the highest regard. Of course I sent him several images to choose from, and he did. Some time later Jack called and invited me to his home, not far from mine. I fondly recall meeting him, Helen and Lori, and talking about early life histories, neoteny (adult animals that are sexually mature in larval-like form), larvae, and recruitment, and about many of our other shared professional interests, and our respective adventures in the field. On that visit Jack gave me a copy of his new book with a brief inscription (attached). Since that day I have always thought of Jack as a curious, kind, generous and enthusiastic man and colleague. R.I.P. Jack Randall, aloha and see you in the big blue.

Just met Jack quickly at the Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Durban in 2001. Some of us went for diving during the social event day. We formed two groups, led by two local dive masters: Jack, with all his underwater photography material (was it digital? 🙂 ); and the rest of us! 8-10! which with the strong current went funny … It showed first how much Jack was dedicated to picturing coral reef fishes under and out of water in any circumstances, his life underlying pioneering and exploring activity, and how much respect he was already receiving from the ichthyological community. With Jack, disappears a legendary monument of the coral reef fish biodiversity, but no doubt that the shoulders of this giant are the foundations of many of our current works, and will remain indefinitely so. Condolences to his family and close friends.

He lived a beautiful story.
It was a spectacular life, full of light.
He was always wonderfully kind and considerate.
He has been my inspiration since I was 10 years old, when I got a copy of the “Caribbean Reef Fishes” from my dad.
It changed my life forever. Thanks for all your light, Jack.
We have never met face to face but I keep all your letters and messages with great affection.

I first met Jack when I saw a talk he gave at HIMB in 2000. His shark stories were incredible and he could have filled up books based on his observations. I am not a fish taxonomist but have read and cited many of his papers on sharks. A true Irreplaceable legend in the field

My Dear Jack and Helen, We met when I was leading dives on Maui for Mike Severns Diving. Your kindness to me over the years with my small questions was enormous. After an incredible rescue of a Manta from being wrapped in fishing line, I called Jack and asked if he knew of anything like this happening? He asked how I got the attention of the Manta and I told him I had called to it. His response was “Next time, call to it in your head.” I thought that was such an odd response from a world renowned scientist and so the next time I had a Manta approach me with a giant net hanging from it’s huge winged body I sent the message” please come back, I will take that off of you.” The manta had gone out of my sight on the outside of Reefs End at Molokini only to turn around and come straight to me making several passes until I had cut the heavy net from him, so heavy that I had to inflate my B.C. to keep it from taking me down. A Legend and my friend. See you on the other side Jack❤️

I feel privileged to have imposed myself at Sandy’s grandpa’s home to meet him. I knew he was extraordinary in his field and what I love as well… Fish!
But these tributes from his colleagues make me realize that I was one of many many who wanted his company, advice and just to be around his amazing energy.
How wonderful to leave what he has to this world. I am overwhelmed!!
And I am honored to have met John Randall. Thank you 🙏🏼

When I think of Jack Randall I will always remember him as someone who had a most wonderful and extremely productive life. His achievements in marine biology generally and especially taxonomy of marine fishes set a standard that will never be surpassed. As his numerous friends have all recounted, he was extremely generous with his help, always promptly answering letters and emails, sharing his fish photographs and specimens, and encouraging everyone who sought his advice. We exchanged hundreds of letters and emails and my research benefited greatly from his cooperation and publications. I have known jack since the early 1970s and two of my fondest memories are of the times we spent together in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. One of the great pleasures of my life was having the opportunity to get know him personally. It gives me great pleasure to know that one of the many fishes named in his honor is Opistognathus randalli Smith-Vaniz.

I want to extend my sincerest condolences to Helen and the rest of his family. He will be greatly missed.

My Dad, Dean Edgerton, referred to Jack as his best friend. They met in College and my Dad was so fortunate to go on so many of Jack’s adventures over the years. He visited he and Helen regularly from California for many years. I was fortunate to go on a trip with him to Hawaii and stay in their home and see his work at the Bishop museum. Jack was obviously an amazing man and we were so lucky to have him in our lives.

I met Jack in 1973, as a 19 year-old undergrad at UH. Frustrated that he was no longer teaching, I had no idea how much more he would mean to me. The following year he gave me my first experience exploring high-diversity reefs by hiring me to assist him at Enewetak. His door was always open. He never hesitated to share his knowledge, encouragement, reprints normally reserved for colleagues, or patiently identify fishes unknown to me in my poor photographs of those early years. He always had wonderful candid stories to share and his dedication was infectious. It was an honor to subsequently co-author papers, dedicate books to him, and design the layout of two of his books. My heart goes out to Helen, Lori, Rodney and his extended family.
Farewell Jack, my friend and most influential mentor. My heart is heavy as I bid you aloha on your final journey. You will be missed and never forgotten.

I will miss Jack as a dive buddy, mentor and friend. I started diving with Jack when I was a freshman at Univ Hi in 1972. On diving expeditions, he would always have great jokes tell and he did a wonderful ‘Donald Duck’ impression. These photos from July 1999 after the FAO conference hosted by Kent Carpenter in Belize, we spent a few weeks diving off my boat at Glovers Atoll studying goby-shrimp symbiosis.

The world is down one amazing Ichthyologist. In my early days on Maui I spent a few years driving a 6 pack dive boat for Mike Severns Diving. Jack Randall joined us on several occasions. It was an exciting day filled with talk of fish. Jack was humble and brilliant with an encyclopedic mind for his friends with fins, many of whom are named after him.

I first got to know Jack back in the 80s during my years at the Smithsonian and when Jack came thru for a somewhat extended visit in the Fish Division. Phil Heemstra from S. Afr. was also there on a long stay and he, Jack, Dave Johnson, I, and sometimes aide Nat Gramblin would get together each afternoon for doubles tennis matches. Jack bought himself one of the first of those giant tennis rackets with half acre of strings, etc. I was amazed they were legal. Anyway, I kidded Jack no end about it but he could wield it pretty well and often to his advantage. I never quite let him forget it, though. That and dining out, talking fish, etc. were great fun.

When I moved to Maui in 1996 I was eager to learn as much about the fish and critters that I would see while diving as I could. I had mastered many of the Caribbean marine life with almost as much prowess as my mom, an avid bird watcher had mastered the avian world of the North East. One of the first books that I purchased and which is well worn now is my copy of Shore Fishes of Hawaii. I and many of my dive buddies owe a heartfelt thank you for this book which endured as a prime resource. Years later when I observed a very unique fish that seemed to be an odd adaptation of a Moorish Idol I knew I had to describe it to an expert. Somehow with the aid of the Internet I found a way to reach out to Jack. I either left him a voice message or sent an email, I can’t recall. I really didn’t think he would have time or interest in calling back. I was merely a SCUBA Instructor and dive shop manager not a scholar, not a colleague. But I was very wrong. I received a call back from the most humble and down to earth man. He immediately put me at ease and we had the best talk. I felt like I had known him for years. He listened to my description he asked about the circumstances of the dive- where were we, what time of day, what was the underwater terrain, what other marine life was present. After stumbling over key points of my description as I did not always use the correct word for various parts of the fish’s anatomy, Jack explained that I had seen a juvenile recruit in its translucent stage. He made me feel as though this was as exciting to him as it was to me. He told tales of similar discoveries and thanked me for sharing my sighting. He reminded me of my most favorite college professor and friend. I wished I had known him when I was choosing a career. I will always appreciate his body of work but more so I will remember him as accessible, humble, and a natural at “talk story “

It was so sad to learn today about Jack’s departure.
I first met hi, 45 years ago, during one of his early visits to Israel, when I was a first-year MSc student at the Hebrew University of Jerualem. It was 1975 and together with Prof. Adam Ben Tuvia, Avi Baranes and Ofer Gon, we all travelled down to the Red Sea reefs on southern Sinai Penninsula for an unforgettable two weeks of ichthyology and diving/specimen collecting. At the end of each day, sitting around the campfire, we discussed fishes into the night and listened to Jack tell about his adventures in the many out-of-the-way places he had visited on his collecting research expeditions. He returned to Israel several times after that and it was always so wonderful to see him here and get the chance to discuss ichthyology with him; and, of course, to meet hima and listen to his wonderful presentations in international conferences. For me, Jack was the ultimate world authority in fish taxonomy and systematics. We kept in touch over the years and although he always had about a million things going on, he always responded kindly and promptly to inquiries and letters (1970s and 1980s…) and e-mails. It was always a true pleasure to correspond and collaborate with him. We co-authored several publications over the years, most recently in 2017.
Jack was a dear friend and a great, highly respected marine scientist and ichthyologist. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by countless colleagues.

Shalom, Jack, R.I.P.

When we arrived at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama in 1969, my wife and colleague Nancy and I were unfamiliar with Caribbean reef fishes. Jack’s eponymous book and its companion Food Habits of Reef Fishes of the West Indies shortly became our indispensable companions as we began a two-year project on the behavioral ecology of the striped parrotfish (then, Scarus croicensis). We heard stories about him and mused about meeting Jack long before it happened at my first job as marine biologist at the new West Indies Laboratory of Fairleigh Dickinson University on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Jack had a huge profile from his early work in Puerto Rico and the V.I. and we finally lured him to come over from Hawaii and have a look around. I was prepared to greet the kind academic striver which we were accustomed to hosting, but Jack was little of this. Yes, he was energetic, demanding and constantly in motion, but always friendly, full of good cheer and eager to show you something new in the field. I recall our divemaster came to me looking concerned and explained that Jack, over his awestruck protest, had just loaded four scuba tanks into a whaler and took off alone. Suffice to say that we finally managed to get him to follow a few custom-designed rules. After sundowners, Jack would often work in the Lab, revealing to anyone interested his ancient camera and his technique of preparing fish for photographic illustration. Jack came to WIL several more times for diving projects and workshops where he usually took a seat in the back and quietly wrote a draft manuscript on a legal pad. The last time I saw him was at the great 2016 International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu. I was completely surprised by my tears at Peter Sale’s emotional introduction of Jack’s plenary address and it continued as Jack was speaking. Many of us knew that this would be the last time we would see him, and that we would lose all but the memories of someone important in our lives and careers. In that vein, I hope that someone will lead a community effort to support the publication of Jack’s autobiography, Fish ‘n Ships, which is close to final draft form.

Hail and farewell, old friend and mentor.

In 1971, Jack was extremely helpful to me as a young man making lists of coral reef fishes in the western Indian Ocean. There were no real field guides then and I valued Jack’s patient help with identifications of fishes I had photographed or painted with watercolours. In 1975, I had the opportunity to meet him and watch him work on the fishes he collected in Sri Lanka. He had a group of people with him, including Helen as I recall. I walked unannounced and self-consciously up the steps to the veranda of the house he had taken over as their residence and lab. He greeted me warmly and stopped everything to introduce me to his team and to show me what they were doing.
Over the years we had the opportunity to meet several more times and to correspond, particularly over a new species of butterflyfish I had found in the Sultanate of Oman (Chaetodon dialeucos). Jack came to Oman during my stay there and was eager to join me and my assistant at the time along the Musandam coast. This is the peninsula that forms the southern boundary of the Strait of Hormuz. I had a boat and all the dive gear needed, including a compressor. It made perfect sense and provided me with an opportunity that is the stuff of dreams. This was the first time I had dived with Jack and with someone who used a dive computer. I was struck by Jack’s prodigious energy and the way he dived. He would be up and down the reef face stalking his quarries and would surface to finish off my tank and then my assistant’s, stopping only when all tanks were completely out of air – and way after the dive tables I still used said he should have been deep into decompression time. Such was his enthusiasm, his focus, and his confidence in dive computers. We were on the surface for only the time it took to recharge the tanks, and from dawn to dusk and into the night.
I was honoured to add one fish to his Fishes of the Sultanate of Oman. Jack’s fish books and volumes of publications illustrated with beautiful colour photos of the fishes he described have been and remain invaluable to me. I have been aided by these during surveys of remote coasts and coral reefs for conservation purposes. Jack has always been immediately responsive to the letters sent in early years and the emails in later ones. The time and energy to do all he did and his patience to respond to the needs of others have, I am sure, been an inspiration to us all.

Thank you all for the comfort and joy that reading these personal, heartfelt and humorous messages brings.

What a treasure he was! Jack flew over to Maui many times during the 80s and 90s to dive with us and to photograph fishes for his books and papers. He loved Molokini because he felt he could approach fish there more closely because it was a marine reserve. After a full day of diving he would immediately shower and leave to go play some tennis with friends before coming back to our house for dinner and slide shows of his fish – and having ice cream for dessert (which he claimed with a wink he was not allowed to have at home ☺). At the time I knew he was a major fish scientist and author, but as the years went on I realized that he was a LEGEND and what an honor it was to have spent all that lovely time with him and to have had his gentle guidance with our own projects and books. I was just a divemaster with an interest in fish, but the kind way he spoke to and corresponded with me made me feel like a colleague! Then about seven years ago he gave me one of my two most memorable compliments (the other from my mother). He had asked me to capture a fish that we all thought was a new species. So I attached a scoop net to the end of a telescoping boat hook and, with the help of two friends herding and 45 minutes of intensive swimming, we caught it. I had had NO idea how hard it was to catch a fish! I couldn’t wait to call him and tell him that we had caught one, and when I did he laughed and said “You’re amazing!!” (I knew he, of all people, knew how hard fish were to catch!). I was glowing inside and still do now when I think of how he made me feel in that moment. I know he must have made almost everyone he met feel special. One of the many legacies he leaves.

It’s wonderful seeing this outpouring of messages from people all over the world. Jack certainly cast a long shadow. Brian Bowen took me to meet Jack at his home in 2019. After he regaled us with many amazing stories, we were discussing a new Cirripectes species I was working to describe. I’ll always remember Jack looking at me and saying “a new Cirripectes, huh? How the heck did I miss it!?”

I first met Jack in 1988 when I was being interviewed for the position as Malacologist at the Bishop Museum, which I took up in early 1990. I got the impression that he supported my application and once I had moved to Hawaii I got to know him better, over the 11 years I spent at the Bishop Museum. I recall back in 1991, when my parents were visiting from England and I was living in Kaneohe, that my Dad, Jack, Allen Allison and I would play tennis at the courts in Kaneohe. My Dad and Jack were born 3 or 4 months apart in 1924, my Dad in February and Jack in May. They got on well. So they both made it to 95, not quite 96. Congratulations, Jack, on an amazing and productive life. You were indeed an ichthyological legend!

Vicky and I met Jack and his wife a little over 10 years ago. His books are a wonderful resource for divers. We purchased one for our friends as a wedding present and asked Jack to personalize it. Jack and Helen invited us into their home. We sat on their couch and talked fish and diving for quite a while. We are very grateful that we were able to meet you. Your life and work will continue to inspire us.

I had limited opportunity to work with Jack on fishes, but I am truly impressed with his productivity and creativity. He was a co-author on a paper which sunk a species named for him, Acanthurus randalli Briggs and Caldwell, 1957. He was most agreeable in the publication. May Jack swim in peaceful waters

I first met Jack at the Leigh Marine Laboratory in the summer of 1981-1982 when I was a student volunteer. Jack wanted to collect and photograph some of our endemic fish, and got approval to spear a few individuals in the reserve. Howard Choat (my supervisor) asked me to take Jack out, and I remember struggling to keep up with him as he raced about spearing fish. Of course these were then painted with formalin and photographed in the teaching lab.

Since then I have been fortunate to interact with Jack in many ways: playing volleyball with him on the lawn at the Bishop Museum, diving with him in Noumea (1997) and Sodwana Bay (2001), publishing with him, talking fish at various IPFC meetings, and exchanging many letters and then emails.

A couple of memories stand out. I was a PhD student at JCU in Queensland when I attended the 1989 IPFC meeting in Wellington, my home town. One night during the meeting Jack came for dinner to my parents’ house with Howard Choat, Vic Springer, David Bellwood and Jeanie Ackley. I uploaded a photo of the occasion, taken in my parents’ lounge. Of course we didn’t know then that three of these people would go on to win the IPFC Bleeker Award, with Jack and Howard being inaugural winners. It was a great night, and Jack identified a heap of underwater shots of fish I’d taken in Hawaii. I remember Jack and Vic arguing over a couple of the IDs!

The other memory (memories really) of Jack was the post-IPFC2001 diving excursion to Sodwana Bay. A bunch of us were on that trip, including Michael Berumen, Ross Robertson, Tony Miskiewicz, Jeff Leis and my then PhD student Tony Hickey. The dinners at night at Mseni Lodge (photo attached) were very memorable with Jack regaling us with endless stories.

I’m grateful that I was at the 2005 IPFC meeting in Taipei when Jack received the inaugural Bleeker Award. He was a true legend, and an inspiration to so many of those of us who study fish. It’s strange to think of him not being around any longer, as he was such an institution, but he leaves a legacy that will remain as long as people study fish.

I wish Helen and the rest of Jack’s family long life.

How sad can this be? Jack Randall gone to seek more creatures on one last dive? He was my Living Book of Fishes. Always pleasant. He was the real person who would reply to U.S. Mail which we used a lot before computers. Genius was Jack who touched a world of underwater adventurers who became scientists. I send peace and comfort to his family and all who knew him. Especially, you, Richard.
Thank you for this honor to praise and honor the Great Jack Randall.

I did my Ph.D. several years ago at the Department of Marine Sciences at Isla Magueyes, University of Puerto Rico. Jack worked there for several years, years before I became a student. I remember handling some of the fish he had collected at our mini museum during the Ichthyology course. For sure dived and snorkeled in the same reefs too. I do not remember where I bought my copy of Caribbean Reef Fishes 2nd Ed., but still has it’s $29.99 sticker. I remember vividly the different emotions of having this book in my hands. He introduced me to a more detailed view of this new fascinating world. Right now, I am holding in my hands the same book, but having totally different emotions, sorrow, respect, and above all gratitude! Rest in Peace John E. Randall, and really thanks!!!
José Guillermo

I seem, for some weird reason, to be in an era of losing good friends and admired colleagues — and Jack is the third in a few days. Helen, I have some small idea what you are going through. Jack was at my side or in my mind as a mentor throughout my years of reef fish research. You can see that if you look in the attached ancient review in which more than 20 of his papers are cited, and in which the bare patches around sea-grass beds are named after him. I’ve never known a scientist who dominated (in a friendly and helpful way) a field more, and for ridiculous reasons was vastly under-recognized by the scientific community as a whole.

But my most enduring thoughts about Jack are not about his scientific accomplishments, but about things more personal — such as my deepest dive ever off of Molikini with him, and the knowledge that he was my only friend who was an anaerobe. We’re all going to miss you friend; please remember not to hold your breath going up.


I am very sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. No one can dispute that he lived a full life. Following Brian Bowen’s excellent suggestion when I first joined the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in 2009, I had the opportunity to work with Jack on several fishy revision projects. Apparently, someone familiar with the ins and outs of genetics was in high demand.

His passion for ichthyology was unparalleled. He fast tracked my development in this field. He started me on my journey with the Bishop Museum and their fish collections, which Arnold and Lori kindly helped with along the way. I also looked forward to visiting his home and listening to his amazing collection of stories from diving trips in the “good old days”. The hundreds of active specimen jars in the house, and refrigerators filled with photo slides versus food, point toward a man on a mission. He was an amazing resource who took the time to carefully answer each and every one of my e-mails, sometimes in mere minutes!

Jack was highly supportive of my collection initiatives in the Indo-West Pacific even after I left HIMB, often slipping me the names of several fish to be on the lookout for in the field. Although to be fair, if Jack did not get it on his litany of dives over the years, it was probably an extremely elusive fish.

Jack supported my current position at the Australian Museum, and I am eternally grateful for that. I extend my condolences to Helen, Lori, and their entire extended family.

I first met Jack in the late 60’s when I was a student at Scripps studying eels. Jack sent met the lovely photographs and crushed and rumpled specimens that he and Jerry Allen had collected at Easter Island, and we began a series of elongate investigations over half a century. He invited me to join him on a dive trip to Catalina Island with LA donor Edwin Janss. I enthusiastically told my advisor, Dick Rosenblatt, of the invite but was warned “follow your decom meter and the Navy Tables, and don’t let him talk you into another unsafe deep dive. He’ll tell you “‘if we catch a new species I’ll name it after you.'” He said it, and I nervously followed him down.

Over the years we worked on many eel descriptions, reviews, and revisions, and a smattering of other tropical fishes and their behaviors. He was so prolific that I too felt that he was like Bleeker with a facemask, and wondered what Jack could have achieved had he been at those Indonesian fish markets a century earlier, or if Bleeker could have competed using SCUBA and ichthyocides.

The understanding of evolution, ichthyology and systematics may never again benefit from another naturalist as capable or driven as Jack Randall, but it will have the advantage of standing on his shoulders.

Decades ago, before I knew Jack well, I noticed a fish swimming upside down under a flat ceiling of rock on a shaded sheer wall at Molokini. It was 180ft. down to this fish’s inverted world and the unobstructed drop beneath it was another 90ft. to the base of the island. I sent Jack a photo of the fish for an identification he was always happy to supply. The fish was Holanthias fuscipennis then known from about 400ft.

Perhaps a week later Jack arrived on Maui and we went to photograph this rare and beautiful fish. When we arrived on a ledge just above the fish at 170ft., I stayed and Jack swam over the ledge then beneath the ceiling out of sight followed by a chest thumping shock wave. When he came back over the ledge a minute later he had a wise almost wry smile in his eyes and a dead strobe in an imploded housing. I saw that smile in his eyes many times and will never forget it.

Jack flew to Maui regularly in those days, often to photograph a single fish. His interest inspired people to pay more attention and he would often reward those lucky enough to find a new species by naming it for them.

Jack was never certified to my knowledge so to stay honest he never signed a waiver on our boat demanding he be certified to dive. He was our proud exception and he always got back on the boat in the same condition he got off, often contradicting his computer and always with that smile.

Jack, thanks for show your fish collections whenever I and my Japanese fiends visited you.

You are our dream.
We spend most beautiful time with you.

I will be forever grateful for Jack’s influence and guidance. I am so proud to have had the honor of knowing and working with Jack and to say he was an inspiration would be an understatement. Jack’s gone now, but his spirit will live on through the sheer immensity and quality of his accomplishments. So many great memories of the many trips we did together and those days as Jack’s grad student apprentice at the Bishop Museum. Connie and I send our best wishes and sincere condolences to Helen, Lori, and Rod, and their extended families.

Like many others, I met Jack when I was a graduate student. I echo what others have said about his many contributions to ichthyology and our understanding of fish biology. I will also point out that stories about his diving adventures were always included in my years of teaching ichthyology. I still use them when asked to provide lectures on the history of ichthyology. A truly remarkable career and legacy.

When I was a graduate student in 1978, I had a great opportunity to publish a joint paper with Jack on the triggerfish genus Xanthichthys in the Bulletin of Marine Science. During this joint project, I was greatly impressed by his fast correspondence. Since then, Jack was always kind enough to me, providing me with his great knowledge about shallow-water tetraodontiforms. I will never forget you, Jack.

Like many Early Career Researchers in the reef fish realm, to me Jack Randall was a legend, a giant, a name you instantly recognized on books/papers or in conversation. I feel fortunate to have met and talked with Jack in Hawaii while working with Joey DiBattista and JP Hobbs (June 2015). I remember his table filled with jars of Pempherids (Sweepers) for a revision he was writing for the group. I was in awe of his work ethic and even though I was a little tongue-tied talking with him, he was very kind and shared many amazing anecdotes about different fishes and stories from his career. I also got to see his talk when he accepted the Darwin Medal at the ICRS in Hawaii 2016. Even though I did not know him well personally, I feel a great loss as an ichthyologist. His impact on fish taxonomy is immeasurable & his legacy is sure to inspire many more future ichthyologists.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat (Irish proverb – may the road rise to meet you on your journey)

My first interaction with Jack was back in 1962 when I was starting my dissertation work and was considering revising the holocentrid genus Myripristis. Upon discovering that I was considering this group for a dissertation topic, Jack abandoned his plans to begin a revision, sent me many of his colored slides from his personal collection, collected specimens of Myriprists, and provided his help and knowledge. This was so typical of Jack, always ready to help a student.

It was not until 1987 when I moved to the University of Hawai`i that my close association with Jack developed. He helped me learn the Hawaiian fishes and together we worked on the fishes of Kane`ohe Bay, with a focus on gobies. In 1999 we started our survey work on the fishes of Fiji, and for the next four years I had the privilege of working with Jack in the field. While diving I remember Jack with his camera gear stationed underwater next to our collecting area waiting for me to bring him specimens to photograph, and sometimes feeling a tap on my shoulder asking if I had a specimen for him.

Jack was a special person! Unlike so many people who are great in their field, Jack was humble, friendly and always helpful to others. I will greatly miss his friendship and counsel. Attached is a photo of my last visit with him in Hawai`i in 2018.

Jack is part of my fish life, having first met him (at Lu Eldredge’s house) while I was an undergraduate at University of Guam. We corresponded for many years – he was always generous with his time, photos and information. Jack was good company.
But we never co-authored, possibly because he wasn’t very good at gobyology. It was great fun when he visited us at the NT Museum – stirred up the Museum photographer to help him with gear and eventually came with us out to Buchanan Island (Tiwi) – where the water was cafe au lait colour and crocodiles and box jellyfish thrived. He took a little convincing that box jellyfish actually existed and wouldn’t wear a hood while diving until I walked him into a shallow reef near a mangrove and a box jellyfish obligingly pumped by, trailing its metre-plus long tentacles. Jack then made a hood from a plastic bag for our next dive in Darwin Harbour. He did rather amaze museum staff at how hard he worked – just normal for Jack.
He has been around for so long that it’s hard to think he is no more – then I look up at all the books and filing cabinets around me and yes, he is here.

I will forever be grateful for Dr. Randall’s unselfish generosity for penning the foreword for my recently published picture book. I was incredibly humbled when he replied to my first email and kept up a conversation with me and answering all my questions about the goby fish and the pistol shrimp symbiotic relationship. He didn’t know who I was, he knew he would never meet me in person, and yet he so graciously contributed his voice to my book. Thank you again Dr. Randall!

Ia ora na Jack,
I feel so sad today. I have learned so much working with you during all these years; thank you so much for your patience and your generosity.
You’re now on the road for a long long dive, and wherever you are we all are thinking about you.

Jack Randall is one of the titans that inspired many of us to pursue marine science. I have heard the adventurous stories of Jack retold by many different people and in all cases they were entertaining. He was real easy to approach and was willing to invest his time to help no matter how simple the inquiry. I once called him to talk about a manini spawning event I witness knowing that he did his dissertation work on the fish that even included some early tagging efforts. I was surprised that although he had seen spawning of the fish elsewhere in the Pacific he had not encountered here in Hawaii. He was quick to point out that even though you can spend much of your time in the water no one see everything – although I would say he came pretty close.

I read Rich Pyle’s recollection above and have to add a bit more to his story: On the last day of the 1993 Solomons dive trip, the dive master told everyone we could make one more dive with no time limit but only ONE tank of air! Two hours later the dive master was visibly upset and told me to go fetch Jack Randall because it was time to leave. The dive master was upset not only because it was late, but also because he had observed Jack come back to the boat to get another tank of air! I snorkeled out to search for Jack and found him in about 25′ of water photographing a fish. I wrote a note on my slate that he had to come up immediately. Back on the boat I told Jack that the dive master was angry with him for coming back to get another tank of air. Jack said he was still using the original scuba tank (for over two hours!). He had come back to get another roll of film, not more air! Just one of many memories that make me smile when I think of times spent diving with Jack. As I have said to others, I cannot imagine an underwater world without Jack prowling around In it somewhere. Thanks Jack for all the stories, the lessons, the books, the photos – and even the Donald Duck impressions! You are truly a legend. I have some photos of Rich and Jack on the Solomons trip in 1993, and a few old video clips that I’ve edited into a very brief program you can view on the link below.

Per Rich’s suggestion, I’d like to submit an addendum to my earlier post with a few memorable stories. 1). Jack was an avid tennis player; and extremely competitive. In 1978, the first time I played against him, I had an easy lead. I decided to ease up a bit to not embarrass the “older man” and my boss. He proceeded to win the next six straight games. I learned a valuable lesson about his determination that day. 2). In 1984, Jack was invited to collect fishes with me in Saudi Arabia. Helen wrote and asked to be sure I watched out for him. On his 60th birthday, while swimming in the University pool, Jack decided he wanted to test the 9 meter high diving board. I watched Jack walk up to the tip of the board, then jump up and down, testing the bounce. I was extremely nervous just thinking of my promise to Helen, as Jack proceeded to run and execute an unbelievable “back layout one and a half, with a full twist”. I nearly passed out watching and had no idea he was an accomplished diver while attending college at UCLA back in the early 1940s. 3). Later in 2000, Jack was already suffering from peripheral nephropathy, to a degree where it was difficult for him to walk. He visited me on Maui and despite his condition, we both wanted to go diving. I dropped him off at a state park reserve, carried his gear to the shoreline, and helped him with his tank. He struggled into the water then immediately transformed into a fish – he had no physical limitations once in the ocean; it was my last and most memorable dive with him. In closing I’d like to reflect back to 1982, when Jack published his book, “Red Sea Reef Fishes”, along with a smaller waterproof version entitled “The Diver’s Guide to Red Sea Reef Fishes”. For those of you that may have that publication, note the picture of Jack on the back cover: he is surfacing from a photographic dive with his decompression gauge clearly displaying “in the red”. The caption on the cover reads, “Rinse in fresh water and towel dry after use. Store away from sunlight”. A perfect depiction summarizing Jack as I knew and loved him.

Forever grateful for your knowledge and identifying rare fish ; da fish world lost a legend…rest in love braddah

When I met Jack he was already at the top of Mt. Olympus in the world of ichthyology, and I was just a schmuck with a camera looking for some help identifying the fish in my photos. He had probably thousands of pickled specimens on his shelves waiting for his attention, and hundreds of papers to write, yet he always took time to look at my photos, give them his best shot at identification, and usually also sent along .pdfs of papers on the fish family in question, most of them authored by him. There are few people who rise to such a level of accomplishment and high regard in their field, and fewer yet who do so while always exhibiting generosity and good humor to others. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary human being.

It is a good memory to the description of new species.
Also, I will never forget the day when I visited your home.

We pray for the souls.

I want to thank the man who has done so much for tropical biodiversity….also in the Red Sea and Arabian/Persian Gulf: he has inspired dozens of divers to go out and photograph fishes, to become naturalists….. I never met him, but everyone I met who know him, talked about his generosity…. In Kuwait were I worked a few years ago, he contributed photos to a fantastic little reef coral and fish book (published 1997) – a keystone for reef biodiversity conservation there. May other scientists emulate such a scholar and gentleman.

I have been lucky to have known Jack since the early 80s. His enthusiasm and deep knowledge of fishes were astounding, and I was delighted by his willingness to share this knowledge with a young Yorkshireman trying to make his way in the world of science. He was one of my heroes, and up to now I am still in awe. I am so grateful for Jack’s guidance and for the honour of letting me describe a new species with him. He was, and remains, an inspiration. When Jack talked I took notes….

I’ve had the honor of collaborating with Jack years ago in the description of a new fish species Parapercis banoni Randall & Yamakawa, 2006. Thank you very much, we follow and will follow your love of fish taxonomy

I do not know how to express my sincere thanks to Jack, who acted as my guide in ichyology since late 1980. Rich proposed Bleeker’s Unit for contribution describing new taxa and I believe no one can exceed what you got the unit. You stayed at my home and your joke made my family happy. You played tennis with our former Emperor and showed very gentle paly and totally contrasting to my rough play. I learned not only ichthyology but also jentlemanship! Hope your last dive wil be peace!

A legend in Ichthyology. How many fish do you have seen in your life, Jack? Please keep them with you. I have meet you many times at the MNHN fish collection with your colleague and friend ML Bauchot. You are for me the best American specialist of coral reef fish. Respect.

I’ve spent much time pouring over and through his papers and fish ID books (especially his surgeonfish book and related works!). Though I never had the great fortune to meet Jack in person, from my limited knowledge and second/thirdhand stories it’s more than obvious the world and everyone commenting here and beyond were blessed to have such a genuinely wonderful person here.
As they say, “So long, and thanks for all the fish”

Cheers to you and your legacy Jack, you will be missed!

The world lost the greatest ichthyologist. Jack was my teacher. I am familiar with him since 1997 and I have more than 3000 messages between us, he was very communicable and never had errors in text. He teached me my English, I followed him a technique of photography of fresh fishes and underwater photography, collection of fishes with different methods.
I do not have scientific education but Jack allowed me to raise my enthusiasm to level of ichthyologist. We together improved knowledge on Red Sea fishes, a recent chapter about Red Sea endemic fishes our latest paper. Unfortunately our monograph “Coastal fishes of the Red Sea” almost ready but still not published, and I will add my effort to piblish it in memory to Jack.
Jack showed me his Memoirs about his amazing life. I have all Christmas Letters which he sent me every year. I greatly appreciate how Helen supported him all life, he spent a lot of time in field. I never understand how Jack can find time for family, examination of fishes and numerous publications.
I and my family never forget him. Thank you Jack!

Jack Randall’s death is very sad news. First and foremost, this is a great loss for Helen and the Randall family. We knew Jack personally. In the late 1980’s, Jack came to Jerusalem and stayed in our then rather tiny apartment. Jack was always busy, writing notes for future articles, examining fish specimens at the Hebrew University Fish Collection in Jerusalem, Israel. We were coauthors on several articles on Red Sea fishes. Jack also participated in teaching at a Hebrew University course in Eilat, Israel. On a personal note, it was great hearing Jack relating his experiences as a young man in southern California. He told us how he remembered when Jackie Robinson was a student at UCLA and a college football star; Jack said that even then in the early 1940’s, it was clear that Jackie Robinson would excel at any sport he chose. Jack also told us with pride about his sailing from LA to Hawai’i in the 1950’s. Of course we often check his books, especially on Red Sea reef fishes. We saw Jack and Helen in 2005 at the IPFC conference in Taiwan. Jack’s contribution to research on reef fishes, ichthyology, and taxonomy is unmatched and beyond measure. His death is a great loss. The world of fish research has a deep vacuum where Jack once was. Once again, our sincere condolences to Helen and his loved ones. Aloha, Jack! –Dr. Dani and Brenda Golani

The preceding tributes embody the man, the scientist, the mentor, the adventurer and friend to us all. Ichthyology has lost one of its greatest contributors – this truly is the end of a ‘Jack era’! Never afraid to ask a favour, he was never one the decline reciprocation. I personally will miss the many pleasant fishy interactions (particularly those involving sharks and rays) over the decades, as well as some gritty battles on the tennis court at early Indo-Pacific Fish Conferences! Jayne and I offer our condolences to Helen, Lori, Rod and their families.

The meal we had in 1999 was in one of Jack’s fav Thai restaurant. I was there with 3 other Singaporeans, Kelvin, Jim and Uma (I am the crew cut one). We had a great time with Jack, Helen and (I believe) his grand daughter.
Jack also brought us to the Waikiki Aquarium and took a photo of Kelvin and myself (much slimmer).
Fond memories!
My sincerest condolences to Helen and family.
(Thanks to Kelvin for digging up these photos)

It is difficult to add more words to acknowledgments for legendary contribution of Jack Randall to ichthyology. I was lucky to meet him in 2014 in BPBM and I was impressed with his unique personality, humor, great interest to all aspects of life and breadth of his knowledge. I am sure these features made his long life so full, bright and productive. My deepest condolence to family.

There are many people that I appreciate in this world for their knowledge, hard work and love for the ocean. Some of which I am blessed to know. Some of them I even worked with. Others I had the pleasure to write and communicate with them many times from a distance. Unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure to meet Dr. Randal in person. I do feel I know him well through his extensive and complete works. He is part of the family that truly dedicated their lives to the passion they were born with. There is a strong connection to all of the fish lovers through his works. Every time we grab a book to identify any fish we feel that strong connection. The essence of a true ichthyologist’s soul. You need to have it in your soul to be part of this family. A great example of seriousness and dedication. Thanks Dr. Randal for all you did, and for being one of us! Aloha!

Not only “Science ” has lost one of his great ichthyologists, but we all have lost a wonderful person, a true friend and a unique teacher.
I had the honor and the pleasure to meet Jack about half a century ago, Jack was my advisor for the PhD thesis, we conducted joint research and published some works together. Jack kindly accepted to give an MSc course for Israeli students and finally we organized a workshop on Red Sea Deep-Sea Fishes in Eilat (ISRAEL).
This “Encyclopedia of Fish” was not only the ultimate answer to our questions but we all remember how pleasant was the time spent around the camp fire, a beer in the hands.
Dear Helen, Jack surely grave his name in Science for eternity, but he will be always present in our heart.
Jack, already miss you! RIP

‘Lolo Randy’… That is how we fondly call him among ourselves in FishBase. ‘Lolo’ is the Tagalog word for Grandpa. We feel honored of receiving his mega slides collection (in a suitcase) and getting them all scanned and entered in FishBase. This is how i was able to have a close working relationship with Dr Randall, having been custodian of his more than 11,000 slides while it was here with us in the Philippines.

I first met him in 1995 during a workshop held here with the FishBase group. After all the taxonomists left, it was with Dr Randall that i continued communication. He made my work much easier during my early years working on pictures in the database. I only need to write to him to get a fish identified or verified and i always get an answer right 
away. i was amazed at how fast he could give a name, it was as if all those names were recorded in his head and he does not need to consult a book to identify a fish. He would even give me a title of a paper or reference where that particular fish was described, it was as if telling lazy me to do my own research and not to ask him all the time 😁. But it was so much faster and easier to just ask him and luckily for me, he would always obliged! But in later years, he would give me a name and email address of another expert to consult, because he was too busy trying to finish too many papers and reviews all at the same time. But still, he would never leave an email unanswered and provide whatever help he can give.

On the other hand, I was always happy to assist whenever he gets request from other authors for hi-resolution scan of his slides to be used in a publication or paper, he would just forward these emails to me asking me to please accommodate the request. He is very generous with his fish pictures. Sometimes he could not find a particular fish picture he has in mind and would ask me to please look it up in the database and send him the file.  That way i was able to give back, in a small way, 
for all the free services he has provided us throughout the years!

One incident i will not forget was during his second visit to our office in the early 2000. He went to this popular diving resort in the south, and I went with the van to pick him up to take him back to the office. In the resort, he was like a celebrity! Everyone was asking for his autograph when people learned who he was… Even the local amateur divers, they all know his name!

Thinking about it now, I regretted not having a picture taken with him, although I took several photos of him when he was with us. But one thing I will forever treasure – I received a signed copy of his Surgeonfish book when it came out in 2002, with my name on it, so I know it was a gift, not to the office, but to me.

Thank you, Dr Randall, for being a part of our life, and helping us in a very big way, with our work in FishBase. You will always be missed and loved!

It’s really sad to hear this message, even I was an undergraduate student during his visit to IPFC, Taiwan. I learn a lot from Jack and be honer to help his research in the past.
Keep working fish taxonomy and Systematics, maybe the good way to memorize Jack.

Message re the passing of Dr. John Ernst “Jack” Randall: We remember Jack who visited the Silliman University Marine Laboratory in the 1970s. He did some work at the laboratory photographing fish from the area. We are glad he was able to reap several awards from accomplishments he has done for many years. Our condolences to his family. May they find peace and comfort in the good memories and the lasting legacy he left behind.

A. C. Alcala, National Scientist and Chairman,Siliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management (SUAKCREM), Dumaguete City, Philippines

Very sad news surfaced about the passing of great researcher Dr. Randall who has hugely contrubuted in the filed of fish biology and fisheries, his great contribution will always remind us about him. I did not meet him but contacted him for sometime when I need his expert opinion. Great human great scietist is not with us but his contribution will always be with us.

I had the pleasure of knowing Jack and assisting him by lending fish to him from the Smithsonian’s collection during my tenure in the Division of Fishes from 1969 to 2004. He kept me busy! It was always an honor to assist him and answer questions about the collection’s contents. The one frustration I had was my inability to identify the many color slides he sent of Eviota. Having only ever seen preserved specimens during my research of the genus I was at a loss to identify them based on their color patterns. Many times I had to write that I couldn’t be of any help! During a visit to Hawaii three years ago I was able to visit Jack at his home after not having seen him for many years. It was a pleasure and I was stuck by how energetic he still was, seemingly never running out of steam. My condolences go to Helen and his family. As these tributes demonstrate, he had a huge influence on ichthyology and the many students of this science. May he rest in peace.

Dear Lori
I know Jack Randall from 1987 after joining my career in Zoological Survey of India, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he was a mentor to me for more than three decades for the identification of reef fish and encouraged me in fish taxonomy which were poorly known from these Islands through exchanging many letters and emails, the last mail was on 10 April, 2020. His age in 2016 made him unable to travel internationally, so it was a happy coincidence that he received the award the year ICRS had come to Hawaii in his home town, which gave me the opportunity to meet him personally for the first time on the dais and could present my book on Reef fishes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it was a breathtaking moment to watch the icon honored with Darwin Medal on 20th June followed by his valuable lecture on “Fish Taxonomy, Bio-geography and Evolution: A Tortuous Pathway”. I am fortunate to have several of his commitment books in my shelf, Jack introduced good number of his friends and students to me. We can all look forward to the publication of his Fish ‘n Ships, touching all aspects of his life journey. I will be forever grateful for Jack’s generosity for writing the foreword for upcoming book on “Fishes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands”. Amazing man, it was an honour to know and see him. My prayers are with his family and accept my deepest and heartfelt condolences.

Jack passed away, but he was already in the Pantheon …. of the ichthyologists! Indeed, according to a recent compilation named (cf CAS website), he was the only actual ichthyologist classified in the top ten, in third row, among the Günther, Bleeker, Boulenger, Jordan, Valenciennes, Gilbert, Regan, Steindachner and Fowler! Since 1955, Jack described 834 species with a very high validity rate or more than 96%. From the world beyond, Jack will remain a light for us.
Bernard SERET

The world of fishes has lost a legend. Dr Randall knew so much and was so generous with his knowledge. I can’t count the number of times I have referred to his many publications, across every location I have worked, and I have many colleagues with even broader experience who would say the same. I was working on a paper last night and, sure enough, Randall JE is in the citations. Vale, sir. My condolences to the Randall family – great personalities leave large holes when they go.

A thought moved from French divers passionate about underwater biology who work on the DORIS site.
The works of Jack Randall remain an incredible source of documentation and references for us, simple amateurs who try to share and translate for the community of divers what men like him have built during a busy life. Happy travels with flying fish, Dr. Randall and thanks for all!

It is with great sorrow that I have heard the sad news of the passing of a great ichthyologist. In 1985, I first met Jack in meeting place during the 2nd Indo Pacific Fish Conference in Tokyo. As soon as he looked my name plate, he said ” Are you Pseudamia hayashii ?” So I didn’t have to introduce my name fom me to him. I never forget his relevant hello that is just like fish-taxonomist. May his soul rest in pease, with dreams of many coral fishes.

I met Jack as a high school student. I may have not left any impression on Jack, but he did for me. He told me to chase my dreams. Fast forward, he was the reason why I had 50 aquaria in my parents’ basement as a high school student; he’s the reason why I was able to pay for my first year of college (by breeding fish); he’s the reason why I used aquaria in all of my years of teaching high school biology and environmental science; and he’s the reason why I continue to be a recreational diver, aquarist, and educational outreach coordinator at NOAA. Humbled and grateful to have met this man.

A typical workday. Jack in 1982 prepares rotenone for a fish collection in one of the reef quarries on the seaward side of still radiologically contaminated Runit Island at Enewetak Atoll.

Jack was truly a legend, both as a scientist and as a human. I met him as a grad student at UH in the 80s-90s. Even though he was based at the Bishop Museum, he often joined the Zoology fish gang to celebrate defenses, our rare off-island visitors or to share slides and stories from someone’s adventures. Greta beat me to my most vivid memory of Jack – our liveaboard trip with Jack, Rich and others on the Telita in Milne Bay, PNG. Aside from a terrifying moment trying to save Rich’s life, my most lasting memory of that trip is how Jack would be on his 5th+ dive of the day by the time we struggled, exhausted, into our wetsuits for our 3rd or 4th. At 70+, he did 5-6 dives every day and then stayed up half the night mounting and photographing his haul, then started over again at dawn – for 2 weeks straight. As mere mortals, we youngsters just couldn’t keep up! It’s been many years since I last saw Jack, but now that a lot of my work is in the Caribbean (and on sponges), I frequently cite his 1968 paper on sponge-feeding fishes of the West Indies. His many books still adorn my shelves, and are still opened lovingly now and then. Jack lived a long and remarkable life, and we’ve certainly lost one of the wonders of the world. I grieve for both those closest to him and for those who never had the opportunity to experience him first-hand.

It is really sad to hear the news! When I knew this, I sent a long message to Jack’s email to say Thank you. It was my last email to him.
I have been communicating with Jack since 2016 for the little filefish, Acreichthys tomentosus in Samal Island, Philippines. Jack responded to my emails so quickly. I could not sleep when Jack has pending queries and instructions. I was so inspired and motivated with his directions. I had several morning and night dives to observe and take photos and videos of our favorite filefish. I did aquarium experiments too. Jack knew what I was doing and he once said, Girley, how I wish I could help you on field, but my travelling days are over. I appreciate very much his words of comfort.  The collaboration took almost 2 years until we finally published the paper, Seagrass Filefish Acreichthys tomentosus, master of camouflage.

My students and my institution, Davao del Norte State College in Panabo City, Philippines are greatly benefiting from the collaboration. Jack is also very generous and he surprised me with packages from Hawaii containing books and references that he sent for free. He also sent me videos of reef fishes. When we started the collaboration, I was motivated to established a small Ichthyology laboratory and museum and collected and took photos of more that 300 species. I am truly inspired by the Jack nice photos in Fishbase. I even asked him how he did the photos and he answered me right away.

I am also glad to know Helen Randall, through email. Jack sent me Helen’s photos during her younger days.  Sometimes, we used Helen’s email when Jack’s computer is not working. Jack regularly sent seasons greetings with photos of him and Helen’s. The latest that I received was sent on Jan 3, 2020, Photo of Helen and Jack with pretty grand daughters. I was informed that he was sick in 2019.

I am so honored to be part of Jack’s Fish Journey. I will surely miss Jack, as a great mentor and a generous friend. I pray for his eternal peace. Tight hugs to Helen and Family and I am sending them lots of love from Davao, Philippines
I will send more messages and photos here for Jack.

Sad to read that Jack went on his last and final dive. During the 1980s Jack visited us regularly in Jeddah/ Saudi Arabia to collect material for his Red Sea Reef Fishes publications. One time Jack came into my dive shop with a dead 6 feet long shark in the boot of his car. This fish looked like a new specie to him and he wanted the animal to be send to a colleague of his in NewSeeland. I imagined the uproar with the custom officials at Jeddah Airport, to forward an un-packed dead fish to somewhere. Luckily our friend Jan Copeland was willing to deal with such a challenge. He came with his old Toyota Jeep and the entourage went to Jeddah airport. Surprisingly all worked out welll and the shark went off to NewSeeland. I still wonder in what a condition and what circumstances the fish, by than most probably pungent-smelling, would have looked on arrival.
Dear Jack, it was an honour to know you, all the best on your final journey!

As others have mentioned, Jack could do a perfect Donald Duck impression. I remember him singing that Merry Christmas song, “chestnuuuuts roasting…on an open fire”…. classic.
When I first met him he was….55? And he could still walk on his hands. He was strong as a bull at arm wrestling. Could play a mean game of ping pong as well as pool. He slaughtered me at tennis and as mentioned, could execute perfect dives off springboard. And he had a great sense of humor.
I spent time with him last year and he asked if I wanted to arm wrestle, as we had done years past. I declined….imagine getting beaten by a 94 year old.
Other than my father, Jack had the most positive influence on my life of anyone I knew.
I am so glad that he lives on in my daughter Sandy and her children.

I first came across Jack Randall’s name as the author of two illustrated books, one on the fishes of the Red Sea and another one on those of Oman. They became my “bibles“ when entering ichthology as the field of my profession. Both works were seminal enough to make him a champion of the ichthyology of the Arabian region. Being focused on the region it took a while for me to note that he’d authored similarily seminal works from many different parts of the world, making him a global not a regional champion. How could a single man possibly achieve that? Soon, I got the chance to join a dinner with him during his visit to the fish section at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt. It was telling, literally. The man could talk “fish“ the whole evening.
We were only occasionally in touch over the years until more recently when, by chance, I got to ask him about a case of converging body colouration in two species from different families which tend to school together. It turned out that he’d thought about it already in the 1970ies. A bit later he surprisingly named a fish after me; not sure I deserve it yet still feel utterly honoured.
I had one single dive with him, and Phil Heemstra who also sadly passed away too soon, during the IPFC 2001 in Durban, South Africa. Jack was already limping and had a bit of hard work carrying his tank. Yet, once in the water he became a fish. May his soul rest in peace, .. or in a fish, if he loved that.

I never met Jack personally, but we have been always in contact since 2013 when I first started working at FAO on the production of species identification guides. Jack’s support to the realization of these guides was crucial, not only for his personal contribution, but also for his ready help in providing contacts of colleagues with expertise on other families included in the guides. I learned a lot from Jack’s revisions of my manuscripts and from our professional collaboration…including rules for using hyphens in English language! For Jack was absolutely unacceptable to hyphenate compound adjectives made up of two adjectives that describe a colour with the suffix -ish (e.g. yellowish-red).
Jack was the highest fish taxonomist of our times, but he was also a genuinely friendly and humble man. Even if I didn’t know him, I feel like he was a personal friend. Goodbye Jack, I will miss you very much!

I became aware of Dr. Randall’s depth of work as I cited many of papers in my undergraduate ichthyology class at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (2014). While field sampling, we would refer to his books as our Bible. I even kept his Shore Fishes book next to my bed! In 2017, I had the privilege of sampling Easter Island with my current graduate advisor, Luiz Rocha. We would be doing deep dives and hoped to find many new species. I enthusiastically examined my collections from the first few dives to discover many of them had already been described by Dr. Randall. At that moment, at this isolated Pacific Island, I realized the breadth of his research.

The year before, I attended his lifetime achievement ceremony at the 2016 ICRS conference and will never forget the passion and humility he spoke with. While I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Randall, his work inspired me and countless ichthyologists. My sincerest condolences go out to his family and my colleagues that have lost their friend and mentor. I have no doubt that Dr. Randall’s legacy will continue to inspire ichthyologists for generations to come. Now it’s up to us to carry on the very bright torch he leaves us.

49 years ago I received my first book about fishes, from my aunt, Maria Flora, that lived in Texas. Caribbean Reef Fishes, the blue one, was, and still is, my inspiration. I wrote a letter to the author, concerning about the presence of Bodianus pulchellus in Brazilian waters and asking him what could I do to dive once a I had a sinus problem. He answered, I dove. It was his first words of hundreds to me and, for almost 50 years we, Jack and Alfredo, developed a lovely relationship, with all the proper stuff (letters, e-mails, greettings cards, Christmas gifts and so on). I love this guy. Some 3 years ago we started looking for a different Etelis from Northeastern Brazil…my last task with Jack. I´ll miss you, my friend, as will your friends, family, admirers, reserachers, really miss you.

When my children were learning to dive Jack’s Caribbean Reaf Fishes was the family bible. Later, when they met the great man they were amazed to learn that he knew more limericks than their dad.

Photo captions:
Jack as seen by a cartoonist on a dive boat.
Jack photographing a new species.

Jack following his plenary address at the 2016 International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu

I unfortunately did not get the chance to meet Jack personally, yet he’s had a wildly disproportionate influence on my career. When I was a beginning PhD student working at Palmyra Atoll, my ~10 lb. copy of “Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific” was a book that I lugged with me on every trip – sacrificing other research gear (and food!) to make sure it could be brought within my tiny charter-flight-baggage-allowance. It taught me most of what I learned at that time about fish ID. Fast forward 15 years and Jack’s Caribbean grazing halos are now the basis for how I spend much of my research efforts. Thank you, Jack, for everything you’ve done for both the field as a whole and me as a scientist. You will be sorely missed.

The first time I met him in 1987, I was a grad student visiting the fish collection of the Smithsonian at the same time he was working his way through the bottles of unidentified fishes from the same family (Holocentridae) that I was working on during my visit. We talked a bit about the group as he was picking up jars and looking in at the specimens. At least 3 times in one afternoon he picked up a jar, and without opening it up to look at the specimen any closer, he said, “Oh, that one’s a new species!” Truly remarkable to watch this guy work. He was kind enough to a grad student like me to send a number of his underwater photos so that I could use them for my dissertation proposal. That’s the kind of guy he was. RIP Jack.

I first met Jack in 1972, when I was a grad student At UH Manoa. I had the opportunity to dive with Jack on numerous occasions in Hawaii and it was always great and every dive was new to Jack, even though he may have been there 100 times before. What most people don’t know about Jack, is that he had great enthusiasm for marine life that lacked fins. He was a huge fan of inverts and took tons of photos of them, which we have at the Cal Academy. He would always finish off a roll of film (some may remember what that was) with shots of inverts. It was great to know Jack and like all of us, I will miss him, his richness of knowledge and the enthusiasm that his most recent dive always brought new observations, new insights and treasures. What an amazing and prolific scientist and a good friend who inspired generations of marine biologists! You had a great run my friend!

Our late son, Darrell Takaoka, was touched by Dr. John Randall’s extra ordinary abilities. The Bishop Museum was to Darrell his second home. We, the Takaoka family, are honored to have met Dr. Randall who is a warm and caring person with his loving family. Darrell’s mom, Lorraine, will forever remember this young looking, charming and handsome gentleman who has a treasure, his wife, Helen, who is just a sweet and beautiful person. Darrell is now strumming his guitar to his friend, Dr. Randall and talking about aholeholes. With our love and peace—We dearly miss you, Dr. John Randall

Jack Randall was one of the founding fathers of the Institute of Marine Biology of the University of Puerto Rico in the early 60’s shortly after I completed my MS in Oceanography at Texas A&M College of Texas. He worked intensively, doing research and publishing his work shortly afterwards. I surely admired him for all his efforts to make of the Institute of Marine Sciences a world known center of marine research. He and Helen shared the burden of doing the research while he worked earnestly also fighting the bureaucracy of a growing institution. He succeeded in creating a research institution devoted only to marine sciences thus setting the basis for what became later the Department of Marine Sciences under a future director. Jack was responsible for directing my career to the University of Rhode Island via a summer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and back to Puerto Rico. The world will miss for ever its top ichthyologist. Helen it was a real inspiration to work with you and Jack in Puerto Rico. My most deep condolences to you, the children and their respective families.
Juan G. Gonzalez

As an avid marine aquarium hobbyist during my teen and early adult years, I was quite familiar with Jack’s popular fish books. It was not until 1995 when I began work at the Waikiki Aquarium that I first met the man himself when he visited while I assisted him with photographing a fish we had in one of our holding tanks. I had the pleasure of meeting Jack many times over my 13 years at WAQ, including one of John Earle’s famous fish geek nights hosted in his condo. I had the honor of diving with him of Kahe Point, Oahu in 2000 as documented by Bruce Carlson’s video he uploaded to this page. I remember watching Jack pull on his tattered and patched wetsuit, don his huge fins and just roll off the boat as his fins struck me in the head. Off he went and was soon gone from view before the rest of us were in the water. I asked “Shouldn’t he be diving with someone?”, to which I was told, “He’s diving in the same ocean as us so he’s fine.” In 2008, I moved to San Francisco to work at the Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, where I was able to meet and befriend John McCosker. John and I would often trade information on Jack and his yearly Christmas updates and his jokes. Later, in 2009 I was fortunate to co-author a paper with Jack on the longevity in fishes particularly the Gobiidae, based on my experiences in keeping some of these species for up to 10 years when I was at WAQ, as well as write a popular aquarium article on this topic. When I told him we would be paid for that article he was very surprised and thrilled to learn he would actually receive money for an article!

Jack, you have been an inspiration to us all, your humble demeanor and your infectious enthusiasm for all things fishy was inspirational, your works will continue to inspire young and old for decades to come.

My condolences to Helen and the rest of the Randall family on your loss.

In 1972 my husband Ron Strong was taking Dr. Robert Jones’ ichthyology course at the University of Guam Marine Lab. I tested him using his flash cards. Those cards introduced me to my diving world for the next 50 years. Dick Randall. Helen Larson, Chuck Birkeland, Lou Eldredge, Rob Myers all shared Jack Randall stories with us. He’s Probably diving his 7th tank right now!

I still think, when I see a new fish (to me) and wonder what it is, how will I know? I remember trying to describe a small eel to Jack over the phone once. I thought I had it down, every characteristic. And after very patiently listening to me go on and on, he said, “Do you have it with you?” With me? No . . . and no picture – so… I could almost see him shrug in my mind, and yet somehow, he made me feel that it was okay. Maybe since then I don’t feel as bad about those ones – but I take a camera more often.
Just think of how many generations of us he has touched and inspired. And how many more generations he will reach through all of us and the totality of what his life was – and still is.

I am very saddened to hear about Jack’s passing. He was an inspiration to so many of us. I first met Jack in 1983 when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga. We spent a week together collecting fish, which ultimately led to me pursuing my career in marine ecology. Jack visited and documented some of the most pristine reefs on the planet long before anyone else and was way ahead of his time in advocating for marine conservation.

Aloha Jack – We are all going to miss you.

Many in the HIMB ohana have been inspired and mentored by Jack. One of my treasured memories is when Jack would tell me he has a fish that might be a new species, but he’s not sure, so could we do that ‘genetic thing’? This partnership resulting in many publications, and perhaps more importantly, he drove the acceptance of genetic data as part of a species description. Jack would generously include the student who did the DNA sequencing on these species description, providing an early career highlight. I had a privilege of a lifetime in calling him friend.

I met Jack on one of his visits to the Australian Museum many years ago. Since then we exchanged MANY emails. I was always in awe of his fast replies. I thought, “How can a person with so many active projects, be such a good correspondent?”. Without wanting to rehash previous comments, Jack’s contribution to ichthyology will become the stuff of legend.

“Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirits fly”

When I moved to Hawaii in 2014, one of the first things I did was send an email to Dr. Jack Randall to see if he’d like to “talk gobies”…Surprisingly, he answered right away and invited me to his home. I spent an afternoon with Jack and his wife, Dr. Helen Randall. A space in his Kane’ohe living room the size of my meager apartment in Honolulu was covered in jars of pickled sweepers, a family of fish that he was apparently (re-)describing. In his early 90s at the time, his hearing wasn’t “what it used to be”, so I would yell my questions and hope that he took my meaning. He answered some questions directly and promised to email some of his relevant re-prints, but most of his replies were choice stories about the early days of diving, sailing to Hawaii to start grad school (silly me, taking the plane!), collecting fish with rotenone, getting the bends, and a few other things in between…I left enchanted. Looking back, I’m humbled that he took the time to meet me, a fresh-off-the-plane, wet-behind-the-ears, fish-nerd. How special that a “living legend” like him would always take the time to answer questions, help, laugh, and inspire future generations. Thank you and “rest in pisces” >

As with many on this list, Jack was for me an inspiration, a legend, and a warm-hearted and always helpful friend. Though I met Jack several times at conferences and at Indonesian dive sites throughout the 90’s, I finally had the pleasure and honor to spend “quality time” with him in late 1999, when we spent a month together on a liveaboard traversing eastern Indonesia from North Sulawesi and across the Halmahera, Banda and Flores Seas til disembarking in Bali. My first child was merely a week old and I really should have remained at home, but my wife could see how excited I was at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go exploring with my long-time hero, and graciously granted me permission. We had an amazing trip – starting with several days diving together in the Lembeh Strait, where Jack’s insatiable interest in ALL things marine (not just fishes!) was immediately on display. He was fascinated by the stomatopod crustaceans I was working on at the time, and he quickly devised a micro-spearing technique to capture some of the larger burrow-dwelling mantis shrimps we suspected were new – later co-authoring the description of Lysiosquillina lisa. Most of the trip was focused on fishes of course, and – like Rich Pyle relates above – I remember doing my utmost to keep up with Jack’s 5, 6 or 7 dives every day. After every dive Jack would be cursing his old Ikelite housing, which seemed to spring a new leak on every dive and was so covered in jerry-rigged repairs it was hard to make out what the contraption was (made all the more strange by the feminine hygiene products he shoved into every corner to soak up the inevitable leaks!). Nonetheless, I was in constant amazement at the sharp focus of his dwarfgoby shots – in between every dive he’d be in the liveaboard’s E6 processing lab and every evening, after the last night dive, he’d show us his best slides of the day! His energy and enthusiasm was unflagging – he was the Energizer bunny (rabbitfish?) on steroids. I’ll never forget when he woke me at 1am one morning to slip into the water and marvel at the thousands of flashlight fish that had migrated up the steep wall of the atoll where we were anchored – absolutely magical, and all the moreso to experience that with Jack. Sadly those were my last dives with Jack, though he continued to provide never-ending advice and encouragement for the next two decades – during which time I have been entertained by countless additional stories of Jack by his former student Gerry Allen. As evidenced by this tremendous collective outpouring of fond memories in this commemorative site (thanks Rich for putting this together), Jack leaves an incredible legacy through all the people he inspired and educated and awed over nearly a century on the planet – a legacy of touched lives which arguably outweighs even his literary and taxonomic legacies. Sampai jumpa, Jack. You will be greatly missed, but never forgotten…

I am utterly overwhelmed by all the amazing posts on this site! Thank you all so much for all of your thoughts, and do please keep them coming!

I will post more photos and stories later, but for now I wanted to share that the Washington Post has just published an obituary on Jack. I haven’t read it, but wanted to get the word out to this group immediately.

The story in the Washington Post mentions Jack’s last SCUBA dive on the occasion of his 90th (no, that’s not a typo: ninetieth!) birthday. I was encouraged by several of Jack’s friends and family to post some photos of that event, on which I had the enormous honor of joining Gordon Tribble and Jack’s grandchildren Sean and Sandy for a very memorable dive. I have video of the dive, which I’ll edit and post on YouTube, and share the link here. Meanwhile, here is a photo of Gordon, Jack and myself on the stern of Gordon’s boat with Waikiki and Diamond Head crater in the background, immediately before the dive.

It is with great sadness that I hear of Jack’s passing.

He was a great man – but he was so much more than that.
On top of being the word’s greatest Ichthyologist and Fish taxonomist, and phenomenal scientific mentor, he was also humble, self-deprecating, always generous and helpful to others, endowed with unbridled passion and curiosity, and funny as hell.

But above all, he had a long, wonderful and exciting life filled with countless exhilarating and uplifting encounters, adventures and discoveries in far-away destinations. And from what I could discern, he really was a happy man, with a lovely family, and many lovely and loyal friends.
And ultimately, that is what really counts.

We were friends, and I will miss him greatly and always remember him fondly.

Goodbye Jack.
May you dive endless seas filled with beautiful undescribed Fishes.

As a grad student working on fish eggs and larvae at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in the early 1970s, I of course, knew of Jack Randall as a legend, but had no expectation of ever collaborating with him. But I managed to rear some unfamiliar fish eggs, and discovered that they were of a porcupine fish, and wanted to identify the sole survivor, which the information in Gosline and Brock’s book had failed to do, in spite of the fact they reported only two porcupinefish species in Hawaii. So, I called the Bishop Museum and Jack invited me to bring in my small spiny fish to compare with the specimens in the collection and to take a stab at identification. Jack was very generous with his time, and enthusiastic about what I was trying to do, and I was able to identify my reared fish as Diodon holocanthus. But, while doing this, I found a third species of Diodon in the collection. Jack said it was probably a new species, and I should describe it, but in the process of doing so, I would need to check out all the nominal species of Diodon, and while I was doing that, I might as well revise the whole genus. Of course, to him this would have been easy. Naively, I said, “OK, I’ll do this in my spare time, while I’m doing my PhD project”. Jack offered his assistance. I first learned there were 28 nominal species of Diodon, most described over 100 years before, and was then disappointed to eventually discover that my ‘new’ species had, in fact been described in a single sentence in French in 1846.

On learning this, Jack generously suggested that we describe together a new species of Chilomycterus he had collected. This resulted in my sole co-authored paper with Jack, and my sole new species description. Jack was a member of my dissertation committee, a friend, and a constant example to me throughout my career. While I was still a grad student, he offered to organize a job for me in taxonomic ichthyology, an offer I could not accept at the time.

All this is so typical of the man Jack was, encouraging, helpful, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about so many aspects of ichthyology. How Jack was so productive and how he carried on correspondence with so many people, with such a rapid response to each one, was always a mystery to me. He did, of course, expect that others would respond as quickly and fully as he did.

As Geoff Jones and I surveyed the ichthyological ‘big names’ present at a reception at the 6th Indo Pacific Fish Conference, Geoff suggested that the IPFC should present a career achievement award at each conference. I thought it was a great idea, as did the IPFC Supervising Committee, resulting in the Bleeker Awards. Everyone knew that Jack had to be the winner of the first Bleeker at the 7th IPFC. As so many others have pointed out, Jack was more than a legend, and I was so pleased to have been associated with that history.

This photo is of Jack after receiving the first Bleeker Award at the 7th Indo Pacific Fish Conference in Taipei, along with Helen Randall and Jeff Leis

I’d like to start by saying a HUGE thank you to everyone that has contributed something to this page so far. His family has been reading through every post with gratitude. I have always held a sense of pride that I am able to call myself Jack Randall’s granddaughter. I have always known that he has been an inspiration to many in his field and has contributed immensely to the ichthyology community, but reading through this page has given me an even deeper understanding of how many lives he has touched throughout the world.
When he was not working on his fish he always wanted to stay active. That included walking down nearly every Sunday when I lived in the studio below his house to knock on the sliding glass door and get myself and my now husband to come out and play doubles with him and my brother Sean. He was very competitive and enjoyed beaming the birdie right back at me when I inadvertently set him up for the perfect shot. Even in the last couple of months I found a way to set up a badminton net in the house and we would play, him seated and me running all over the place and diving across the carpet to keep the rally going. Apparently it is much harder to aim the perfect shot to keep the birdie going than it is to play a regular competitive game. My mom ended up being his last badminton partner and claim they had a rally of 14!
I’m so thankful that we lived next door and that my girls were able to get to know him. He would let them touch the specimens he was working on, play on his ancient typewriter, and was the first to try and teach them how to catch a ball. And he would always share his ice cream with them! (Those who knew him well understand that this is a BIG deal as ice cream was his absolute favorite dessert)
I look forward to continuing to read further contributions to this site. Thank you all again, so much.

Final dive of Legend, its very sad to hear that depart of Dr Randall.I read his books when i was in Jeddah, also my Boss ( Jonathan K.L.Mee) gave me Dr Randall’s books when i return my country(Sri Lanka). I want to remind Hagen Schmidt, Lewis Nigel Cocks. and Alex Shepeard.,those mentioned personels told me Dr Randall is a genious.Yes it is true..
Thank you Dr Randall.
Rest in Peace.

I first met Jack when he and Margaret Smith were on a field trip to the East coast of South Africa in 1976
Thereafter I corresponded with Jack over the years, sending him many fish photos from South Africa for ID and also for his numerous fish papers. I also had the honour to co-author with him some new fish species. In 2010 my wife and I spent a memorable morning at the home of Jack and Helen, together with John and Marcia Hoover and John Earl. To me this was one of the finest experiences of my life to be together with those knowledgeable fish people. I was always amazed and humbled by Jack’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication to producing so many fish papers. Also I enjoyed very much reading his memoirs as I could relate to them a great deal. He was a incredible person and contributed so much to the study of Ichthyology and we will sorely miss this fine man. May you Rest in Peace now dear Jack.
The attached photo was taken in 2010 at Jack’s home by John Earl together with Jack and Helen, John and Marcia Hoover and Dennis and Irma King.

Jack never dived with me in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve but I feel very privileged to this day that I had the opportunity to visit him in his home and discuss about the sharks (and echeneids) we are studying in this marine park. Fond memories indeed.

Dear Jack,

I feel very sad to know you’re gone…

…..For the first time I wrote to him in the summer of 1993 to know the name of a wrasse. He soon replied to me ‘It is Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis, male’ and I was so surprised. We started sending letters since then and I began to write a book on the genus, and soon he advised me to add the genus Parachelinus.

I leaned so many interesting stories about fish and ichthyologists of the world. We met at the 7th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference at Taipei, in May 2005. Then I brought a new book and he kindly gave an autograph on it.
You so kindly used an aquarium photo of Cirrhilabrus lineatus of my own.

We descibed a new Cirrhilabrus and he named it ‘dorsalis’, and I replied “If you are OK I want to call it naokoae”. Immediately he replied “Yes”.

Prof. Yukio Iwatsuki of Miyazaki University and I planned to meet him in Oahu last year but many medical tasks interrupted, and I deeply regret.
His letters, books, and emails are now my own treasury.

Much Much Aloha, Hiroyuki

Dear all.
I did not have the honor of personally meeting John. I have heard stories of his early work here at the Institute of Marine Biology at Isla Magueyes, La Parguera, nowadays, the Department of Marine Sciences. I sought help to “recover” memories and Juan Gerardo Gonzalez (Dr.G), back then a young zooplanktologist, now professor emeritus, provided this account which I am sure will be familiar to many of you, not in the specifics, but as part of his persona for which he will be remembered as. Here is Dr. G’s account:

“I am truly very sorry and of these news because when Dr. John E. Randall arrived at the Institute of Marine Biology, he worked inexhaustibly in our institution well known to the world. At the time, he and Hellen published dozens of ichthyology and invertebrate research in this region at an enviable rate. At our arrival to the office, early in the morning, he would frequently have been working for hours, at his old typewriter, avidly producing publication after publication about fishes of Puerto Rico.

His drive moved admirably forward the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean. El Carite, our vessel back then, made numerous research trips around the Island (Puerto Rico), Mona and Santo Domingo looking for rare new fish specimens. His students Francisco Pagán Font, who later became director of our Department and Luis Moreira, together with René Lallave, captain of the Carite, gave a real charisma to the Institute’s investigations. At that time of scarce resources John developed special technologies to take photos of fish that he used brilliantly for his publication of the fish of the Caribbean. Just a glance at the first volumes of the Department’s Contributions would be enough to appreciate his gigantic work.

I cannot add much, only to express that we need more like him.

Ernesto Otero, Director
Department of Marine Sciences
University of Puerto Rico

I remember with pleasure the good times our families had when we were living on St John’s the Virgin Island. Jack was doing research for the National Park.
May his family find peace in remembering a life well lived.

Reminiscences about Jack Randall

There are always two conflicting emotions when someone like Jack Randall passes. One is a sense of sorrow that he is gone, but the other is an intense joy knowing that he lived and accomplished so much, and that we had the privilege of knowing him.
Although I was aware of him since I first started studying fishes in college, I probably met him first at ASIH meetings, which I began attending in 1965 as graduate student, and which Jack always attended. I became familiar with his work and at some point began corresponding with him, mainly about reef-dwelling eels, in which we both had an interest (of course, Jack had an interest in every fish that lived on the coral reefs that he visited). Jack was part of the group that came of age after World War II and pioneered underwater field work. He was among the first who adopted the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) that was developed during the war and became widely available after the war ended. This gave scientists the freedom to move at will under the sea without being tethered to the surface by a diving helmet. Jack took full advantage of it and began a life-long exploration of the underwater world. He was also a pioneer in underwater photography and developed the techniques for photographing freshly caught specimens in a tank.
I was in the field with him only once, but it gave me a good window into how he operated. That was the trip to Lizard Island, Australia, that followed the first Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Sydney in 1981. Jack operated pretty much on his own and followed his own rules. I sometimes wonder how he managed to survive, but he did seem to know what he was doing. I remember one afternoon, he went out for a dive by himself – the rule that you should always have a companion apparently didn’t apply to Jack. The afternoon wore on and the sun set, and there was no sign of Jack. It started getting dark, but still no Jack. I began to grow a bit concerned and went out on the dock to check. Then, when the daylight was just about gone, in the distance I heard the faint sound of an outboard motor. It gradually got closer, and then came into sight. It was Jack. He tied up the boat, unloaded his gear, and nonchalantly got out. After that, I stopped worrying.
I corresponded with him regularly if intermittently in the following years. Jack always answered letters (and later emails) promptly, and one learned to do the same with him. I visited him once at his house in Hawaii on my return from a collecting trip in Tonga. I only co-authored three papers with him, one a short note on Thalassoma (Labridae), one a multi-authored paper on the fishes of Tonga, and one a short chapter on Albulidae in the FAO Species Identification Guide for the Western Central Pacific. When I began working on the recently published paper on Red Sea moray eels (2019, Zootaxa 4704 (1): 001–087), I did it with the idea that this would be an update of Randall and Golani (1995, Bull. Mar. Sci., 56: 849-880) and that Jack would be a co-author. He politely declined, however, implying that we were quite capable of doing it ourselves, and we respected his wishes. His influence can nevertheless be seen. In my view, the best paper on morays ever published was his paper with Genie Böhlke (another highly talented ichthyologist) on the morays of Hawaii (2000, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad., 150: 203-278), which went far beyond just a catalog of species in Hawaii. That was the standard I aimed for in the Red Sea update.
Jack lived a long and rich life filled with many accomplishments and remained active until fairly recently. He treated his colleagues as friends, and they reciprocated. He was one of those rare and fortunate individuals who was able to earn a living doing the thing that he loved best, and he made the most of it. Though he is gone, he will go on living in the minds of those who knew him and of those who will follow in his footsteps.

I think Jack Randall had an exemplary life. He arrived and left at the right points in time: beginning when the technological and logistical support became available for wide-ranging work diving to collect and photograph live reef-fish, and finishing before humanities disastrous destruction of coral reef environments has completely trashed them. This was a beautiful window in time that he put to amazingly good use with those many hundreds of species of reef fishes from all three oceans that he found and described. I only dived with him a few times, but he set an example I’ve tried to follow: go to as many places in the tropics as possible and dive (often by yourself, although not as deep as him) and study reef fishes. His Indo-Pacific fish books are marvelous compendia of his and others’ knowledge, with the photographs usable by any fishwatcher and the technical knowledge by professional ichthyologists. I use them regularly as there are lots of species found all throughout the Pacific. He was always cooperative about sharing his fish information. Whenever I wrote or emailed him with a question about some species back came a prompt, pleasantly written answer with a lot of relevant detail and personal knowledge. The great majority of the information flow between us was from him to me. I am really glad the ICRS2016 in Hawaii awarded him the Darwin Medal in recognition of his monumental scientific production. He and his knowledge will be sorely missed.

In the 1970’s Jack learned that I was keeping a new species in a home aquarium and probably thought that this guy might be useful despite his obvious rough edges and a useless degree in poetry. Thereafter for decades Jack invited me to accompany him on expeditions throughout the Indo-Pacific, mentoring me in ichthyology and, by example, on how to be a good, productive person and a friend. For me it was all a magnificent adventure and an intellectual feast.

In the 1990’s, for Jack’s first retirement (which didn’t stick) I read an overly long poem to honor him as a person and a scientist. Here are some excerpts from that tribute:

Hail scholar, gentleman, and friend
Homage to Jack Randall on the occasion of his first retirement, by John Earle

Jack started scuba way back when
‘Twas wooden tanks and iron men.
Before C-cards had made the scene
Or dive computers and neoprene,
Nikonos cameras, BCDs,
Pink masks and fins to ladies please.
With sodden sweatshirt, chilled to bone,
Doubly hosed, Jack dove alone
From shallow reef to Twilight Zone
And everywhere found fish UNKNOWN.
His mission grew from epiphany—
To name these fishes of the sea.

Jack’s scope is large. To be specific
His lab is named Indo-Pacific.
There he works, black rubber clad
With gear to make a Seal Team glad:
From powerheads of Jove-like Thunder
To teensy spears that make you wonder.
From formalin foul to dainty pins
For fluffing tiny Trimma fins.
With poison, nets, and spears of wire
The fishy body count climbs higher.
No species cryptic, small, or sly
Escapes the Caranx randalli.
Fearsome sharks all turn and flee
This predator of higher degree.

His camera woes have never ended.
The god of this he’s most offended.
Leaks and misfires are just a test
He surmounts to become the best.
With manual focus SLR
He coaxes fish to be the star
Of learned paper or magazine,
Then squirts his stars with Quinaldine.
But don’t recoil in shocked emotion,
This really is a great promotion.
These fish, who now have done their all,
Will swim forever in alcohol.
The glitterati of their race,
Such holotypes have pride of place.
Yes, museums are the place to be
When you’re too important for the sea.

As a diver Jack’s so able
Not for him the diving table.
On expeditions he’s a pleasure
With wit and charm we’ve come to treasure.
Of enthusiasm have no doubts,
He has more than a troop of scouts.
As empty tanks get piled high
Others may falter, Jack’s still spry.
His motto is the day’s not done
If air remains in even one.
He searches in the cylinder bin
That last full tank we’ve all hidden.
And heading home we hear his rhyme
“So many fish, so little time”.

Lab session over and home again
Jack Randall does the work of ten.
In science there’s no sight so mighty
As the Randall curriculum vitae.
In truth we will not see its equal
Till evolution has a sequel.

His species list you can’t surmount,
Five hundred named at latest count!
(We’ve kindly left anonymous
Those few since found synonymous)
At even the most remote atoll
Jack dove there first and got ‘em all.
To find new species on your own
You’ll have to plumb the Twilight Zone,
Or travel distant space to grope a
Sea upon the moon Europa.
En route you might see swimming by
Some author’s species randalli
Lubbock, Allen, Hoese, Steen
Thus laud the Randall name machine,
Which gives us species names like bellus,
(Such poetry can make one jealous),
And genus Ego, big of head,
Rhodonotus, whose back is red.
90’s names like femininus
Xutha, falco, longipinnis.
We’re in such awe we won’t ask why
Its Pseudojuloides atavai.
So give us more we fans all cry.
We need a Blenny goodmani.
How ‘bout something fresh and zany?
Scatophagus sodamninsaini?
If Island-style’s the way to go,
Might I suggest ChaetoDon Ho?

No man’s an island standing alone.
Helen helps to answer the phone,
Finds esoteric camera parts,
And lends his works her proofing arts,
Edits Indo-Pacific Fishes,
And feeds our man his favorite dishes.
Arnold, Lori, and Richard too
Help to support his pickled zoo
Of fishes, where you now can see ‘em
Lining shelves in the Museum.
In alcohol they seem to thrive.
Jack brings ‘em back (almost) alive.

Though standing on Olympian peak
Jack’s humble with the fish-world meek.
His gift of time and smile of trust
Can raise a grad student from the dust.
As noble work for all Fishkind
His support of Marine Parks comes to mind.
His only weakness it would seem
Is over-fondness for ice cream.

With this my tribute now shall end.
Hail scholar, gentleman, and friend.

Godspeed Jack Randall and condolences to Helen and family. John and Jackie Earle

I first met Jack in 1977 when he visited the Philippines where I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources tasked with doing coral reef fish surveys. I was assigned to assist Jack collect fish and without that experience, I would never have been able to do my job. Back then, very few Indo-Pacific fish books existed, and Jack cheerfully and tirelessly taught me everything I needed to know. He visited the Philippines several times and I accompanied him everywhere he went; diving, market surveys, and photographing fishes into the wee hours of the night. His endless anecdotes, jokes and Donald Duck impressions were not only amusing, but taught the value of camaraderie in the field. He took me under his wing and offered me a post-Peace Corps job at the Bishop Museum which I took and stayed with Jack and Helen for many weeks until I found my own place. Jack and Helen were very generous with their hospitality and I had the great pleasure of working with both of them at their home at night, at the microscope on descriptions of new species of wrasses from the Philippines. Jack taught me, hands on, how to be a taxonomist and introduced me to other ichthyologists who also helped my career. I later joined the University of Hawaii Zoology Department for my graduate studies. Jack had not mentored anyone directly at UH for many years but we managed to maneuver him back on to the faculty. Jack assigned me to complete a taxonomic revision of the very messy Caesionidae, the Fusilier fishes. Of course, Pterocaesio randalli was deservedly the most handsome of the new species described. I owe my career trajectory to Jack, and so much more for his support and help throughout the years. He will be sorely missed by all who relied on him to identify the unidentifiable, just an email away, by the greatest ichthyologist that ever lived. Heartfelt condolences to Helen, Lori and the entire Randall clan.

I had the great pleasure of writing together with Richard Pyle, the introduction to what I believe is the most appropriate award to Jack of all his awards, the Bleeker Award for taxonomy in 2005 at the Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Taiwan. I appended this below to contribute to honoring his career. It includes some additional verses from John Earle’s wonderful poem (posted above), which describe Jack’s place among the other giants of Ichthyology:

May, 2005
[note, fish species numbers here are 15 years old]

I have the honor of introducing the first recipient of the First Bleeker Award in Indo-Pacific Ichthyology.

For his lifetime distinguished accomplishments and outstanding contributions in the study of fish systematics in the Indo-Pacific region, this award goes to none other than Dr John E. Randall.

I’ve known Jack for about 30 years and the only true lament I ever heard him say was:
“My only regret in life is that I was born after Pieter Bleeker.” The idea, of course, if Jack had arrived in Indonesia at a time in history prior to Bleeker, that Jack would be at the top of the list in terms of numbers of fish species described, instead of Bleeker. Then this would be the first John Randall award that we would be giving out to who knows whom.

But History has it otherwise, in fact: In our time, there is no more appropriate recipient of the Bleeker Award in Systematics than Jack Randall. Bleeker himself was a man of undaunted energy and remarkable intellect. He channeled these qualities into ichthyology primarily in Indonesia, in a region where more fish species exist than any place else on earth, at a time when only a fraction of the species were known to science. The giants of systematic ichthyology built their reputations at a time when a small percentage of total fish species were described. Bleeker ended up describing 1,994 species, more than any other ichthyologist.

Jack’s accomplishments are no less impressive. Similar to Bleeker in terms of boundless energy and keen intellect, Jack adds an indomitable spirit of underwater adventure. Unlike in Bleeker’s time, Jack mostly has to hunt for increasingly more rare new species, spending long hours underwater. This has required fearless and intelligent use of SCUBA, the ability to recognize all known species, and skill in capturing the elusive valuable specimen. In these, Jack has no equal.

Above water, he applies the other traits that earn the reputation of a productive scientist: attention to detail and accuracy, sleuth in search of truth, and dedication to publication.

In terms of productivity, superlatives are insufficient; the numbers speak for themselves. Jack has described (to date) a total of 607 species. This places him as number 15 on the all-time list of authors of fish species. However, all those above him on this list had the distinct advantage of working at a time when there were still many species unknown to science. Jack sits at the top of the list in terms of ferreting out remaining undescribed species and in one other notable category: coral reef species. He described 582 coral reef fishes with only Bleeker coming close to this with 537.

To be fair, Jack had one other big advantage aside from SCUBA that Bleeker lacked: photography. Jack invented an excellent method of taking photos of newly collected dead specimens. This, together with superb underwater photographic ability has helped him communicate new discoveries and the diversity of coral reef fishes. I would like to close this introduction with a small excerpt from a poem about Jack Randall that was authored by John Earle:

Jack’s modesty cannot be silenced
He builds upon the works of giants.
Karl Linné of Systema fame
Gave fish (and himself) a Latin name.
French poissonists flocked to science’s aid,
Cuvier, Quoy, Gaimard, Lacépède.
Deutch fischwissenschaft marched as well
Mit Bloch, Schneider, Günther, und Rüppell.
With what they had some went quite far,
Like David Jordan, super-Starr.

But greatest was Pieter Bleeker
Who must have got help from der Maker.
Our wise Dutch doctor’s justly famed.
Five hundred coral reef fish named
From fishes bought from fishermen,
Studied and drawn, descriptions penned.
From Java to the Celebes
He missed few species in the seas
With dry-boot ichthyology.

So things remained a century
Till now with new technology,
A kindred soul saw Bleeker’s vision,
And dove in to complete his mission.
In fact it might be fairly stated
Pieter’s been reincarnated.
Who is this masked man? Here’s a clue:
His name has seven letters too.

It is altogether fitting and appropriate that the first Bleeker award for fish systematics go to Jack Randall.


I met Jack in 1967 and at the time I did not know I would have the privilege of diving with him for many years to come in Hawaii & Fiji. A couple years later I was living in Tahiti where he had spent considerable time so I sent him a specimen I could not identify and that started a lifetime of sending him fish for identification or collecting specimens that he might want for a project.

When Jack would visit Fiji I would take him out in my small, single engine, open boat to distant ocean reefs so that he could find something really good but we often were badly beat up by weather coming home. Finally I realized this was not necessary as when we stayed close to shore he still always came up with at minimum a new geographical record if not a new species.

So a Jack story of which there are so many. I surfaced from a dive and I could not believe what I was seeing, Jack was licking various scooter type blennies on board. I rubbed my eyes and sure enough he would pick one up, lick it, and then put it back in the container to pick up and lick another. When I enquired about this he said he was trying via taste to eliminate known species to find the new species and kept on licking.

As the years went by Jack had a little more difficulty to maneuver in and out of my funky boats but as soon as he was in the water that all disappeared and he was at home. I am confident that will continue to be the case. Aloha Jack, and my Condolences to Helen & Family, Tony

Ever since joining Bishop Museum in 1971, I have known Jack not only as a pre-eminent scientist but also as a fine human being–upstanding, kind and compassionate. If the world had just one more like him we would all be so much better off.

Jack inspired me and so many others and his Indo Pacific fish titles are well worn on my bookshelf. I recall house sitting for him in Kaneohe in the 1980s..he was off to Palau with Richard Pyle..I dropped them at the airport but as they left Jack ran back and we had to drive back to the Museum for his favourite speargun…cool as a cucumber. Jack’s plenary talk ICRS 2016 was one of the best…full of history humor insights and irreverence. Best to all his family

BJ Short, retired librarian, Bishop Museum Library

I first met Jack in 1975, when I joined Bishop Museum Library. Through the years whenever I had a question about fish references and publications, no matter how busy he was, he always promptly sent a reply to my ignorant queries. He would periodically send over stacks of reprints, and his publications had the most gorgeous color illustrations! I knew he was prolific in research and writing, had a delightful sense of humor, and was most personable –but I did not realize how much so till I did a marathon reading of all of these tributes! In later years, I would send him a fish illustrated birthday card from Papyrus. He made a HUGE deal of that, and overpaid me to get some more for him to send to assorted fish colleagues! Then on my birthday, he’d send me an e mail at 12:05AM so he could be the first to wish ME a happy birthday! It’s mind boggling how one person, with the help of family and so many colleagues, could accomplish so much! We are all the richer to have had him with us. He will always live in my heart.
With deep sympathy and very best thoughts to Helen, Lori, Rich and all of the family, BJ

Jack’s Family, Friends, and Colleagues
We have been saddened by the death of a fabulous person and a great scientist. I never met Jack in person but I was honored to be introduced to him by Peter Vine in 2016 during my hunt for a scientist who would contribute a chapter in our book on the fishes of the Red Sea. We got very friendly in a matter of a few weeks and then we started sharing our personal stories, adventures, and research experiences. I remember asking him for a recent photograph for the book. His reply was “…this is the only one I have and I look good”. My last email to him was early this year requesting him to contribute a page on the facts and figures related to the fishes of the Red Sea but unfortunately, it did not materialize. It was a privilege to have known him and a great honor to publish his research in our book (probably his last major contribution) – Thank, you Sir!
We will miss you, Jack!
Our heartfelt condolences to Helen and the entire family.
Najeeb Rasul

Oceanographic and Biological Aspects of the Red Sea
Chapter 14 “Endemic Fishes of the Red Sea”
Sergey V. Bogorodsky and John E. Randall
Springer 2019

BIOGRAPHY (attached) of an Ichthyologist and a Great Scientist
Preface of the book in which we talked about his achievements

…….”We would also like to mention Dr. John E. Randall who is a Senior Ichthyologist Emeritus at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, and is a co-author of the chapter on endemic fishes of the Red Sea. He has been carrying out research in marine zoology since obtaining a B.A. in 1950 from UCLA and a Ph.D. in marine zoology in 1955 from the University of Hawai’i. He has
received numerous awards for his work, served on the editorial board of several journals, and remains as editor of the scientific series he founded, Indo-Pacific Fishes. He has over 900 publications, including 13 guidebooks on fishes. He has described 799 valid new species of marine fishes”.

As a 17-year old budding marine biologist, when I first met Jack in 1975 at Miyake-jima, Japan, I was tasked to be his dive guide to our local sites… we all know how well that went! It was an experience which left a permanent impression on me. Probably my most memorable moment, though, was several years later at Enewetak. He and Pat (Colin) were spearing the surgeonfish Naso caesius in order to get specimens for the type series and description, always tricky at Enewetak with its aggressive gray reef sharks. He had been all ears and his eyes had lit up when earlier I told him, “there’s another Naso out there; it’s different from N. hexacanthus”. Anchored on a lagoon pinnacle, he and Pat dove to collect, and soon Jack came to the surface towing something behind him. He grabbed the side of the boat, saying to me “can you pull this into the boat?” and passed me the tail of 5 foot long gray reef shark. Rather unexpected, but Jack said he had to shoot it with his powerhead because as being extremely threatening underwater. I wasn’t convinced it was totally dead, but Jack disappeared down into the depths leaving me leaning over the side of the boat hanging onto this shark. I was, and still am, so honored to be his coauthor of the description of N. caesius, a very special fish to me.
All of us 20 something year olds at Enewetak could not collectively keep up with him! Everyone has a story like that. We couldn’t even keep up with him when he visited Palau decades later! His reach was universal. What a special, exceptional person; he engaged with everyone and even more so, he made everyone else feel special with his sincerity. Knowing Jack through all these years has been a privilege; thank you for many great memories. He was everyone’s living legend, and his family’s treasure. To Helen and Jack’s whole family, thank you for sharing. My sincere condolences.

I must have met Jack for the first time at one of the ASIH meetings that I attended in the early 1960s as a graduate student. As my research was on lanternfishes, we didn’t have much interaction until I moved to the Australian Museum. In 1973 both of us were part of a team of eight fishos that spent a memorable month on Lord Howe Island collecting fishes by a variety of methods, that resulted in 200+ species newly recorded from the island (Allen et al., 1976). After dinner we often played table tennis, and Jack did not like to lose; neither did I but I learned to live with it. Later, whenever an IPFC conference was held we found a table to renew the battles. The only time I won was by default at his house, when he slipped and sprained an ankle. I fared even worse with tennis, frustrating as Jack always ran around any shot to the left side so he could hit a forehand. All were played with good spirit.

Many have commented on how rapidly he would respond to correspondence. Before email this wasn’t a problem. Afterwards, Jack expected answers pretty quickly. I found that if you responded straight away, the next question followed quickly, related to the previous question or maybe a new area. I Iearned to wait some time before answering, unless some free hours were ahead.

Many have commented that Jack’s book on their particular area is the best identification reference available. The same is true of the Coral Sea off northeastern Australia, where two editions of the Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea by Randall, Allen and Steene fill that niche.

Both Jack’s exploits and achievements are legendary, a remarkable foundation for future scientific advancement. It has been a pleasure to know him for some 50 years. Helen, Hannelore and I send our commiserations you and your extended family.

Jacob Dafni – Eilat Israel,
I was privileged to know and cherish this wonderful man. I knew him as early as 1980s when he was frequently visiting Eilat and always told us what a great nature we have. To this day, I remember him as a skilled diver. He once took me for a dive and during entrance I couldn’t balance the pressure and had to give up as he went on and on and deepened like he was born with gills, always discovered more and more new species adding to our fish records.
When I started to develop my Red Sea fish site, I sought to base it on the international site “fish Base”, where most of the pictures there were his, and asked his permission to use his photographs to compare with the species recorded in the Gulf of Eilat. He immediately agreed and I frequently corresponded with him to find out about the photographed species whose identity was in question. About a year ago, he confessed that his amazing memory was not as sharp and he had trouble answering my questions, and he would direct me to one of his many friends and not calm down until he gave me a satisfactory answer. He will be remembered as one of the scientists who contributed enormously to tropical animal knowledge. I would like to welcome him to each of his letters – Aloha Jack – we will remember you.

I met Jack in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the late 1970’s or early 80’s. He had come to work on a book of Red Sea Fish and had contacted my friend and dive partner, Hagen Schmid, who had a dive shop in Jeddah. Hagen drove him to dive spots north of Jeddah and was his dive partner, but, when Hagen couldn’t go, I went with Jack. My strongest memory was one dive where the wall of the reef descended to about 110 feet. Cruising along at about 80 feet, Jack saw some garden eels at the base of the reef and decided (as I recall) to poison one or two and retrieve them. We were already near the end of our bottom time, but apparently Jack wasn’t thinking about bottom time. I didn’t want to go that deep, so I stayed above him at about 90 feet hoping that he would come up soon. He eventually did, obviously, and for some reason didn’t suffer any decompression sickness.
I later visited Jack and Helen on Oahu and dove with Jack on Maui on 1/10/1992and again, I think, in Jan., 2000. Jack led a wonderful and enviable life and had a beautiful family I feel honored to have known him. (in the photo, Jan Copeland, Mike Severns, Pauline, Jack, ?)

I had to laugh when I read Kathryn Kavanaugh’s post about Jack’s comment after her first ASIH talk. After my first ASIH talk in the early 1980s, for which I was insanely nervous, mostly about Jack being in the audience because I was talking about anthiine serranids (what we used to call them), Jack’s hand was the first one up, and he asked “Ms. Baldwin, have you ever considered entering a fast-speaking contest?” Everybody including me laughed, finally breaking the tension. Years later, I had the opportunity to work with him on a couple of co-authored papers, and as a young systematic ichthyologist studying tropical reef fishes, that made me feel as though I’d won the lottery. A true gentleman, scholar, and pioneer and a life well lived.

Jack Randall was a remarkable person, and was always an inspiration to me (and so many others) with his indefatigable energy and interest in nearly everything marine and/or fishy. There are a thousand others whose scientific spheres intersected with Jack over the years, nearly invariably positive, but in the total scope and level of collaborations, he was singular. Look at his voluminous list of publications and see how many others were co-authors with Jack and this provides one measure of his influence. I (and my colleagues) had the honor of hosting him at the locations I where I have worked and lived over the years; Puerto Rico, Enewetak, Papua New Guinea and Palau; having known and worked with him for nearly 50 years. My first scientific reprints were from, part of a rather large packet that arrived in the mail one day in 1968. He would spend more time in the water than anyone I have ever seen, and after he was done making 4 or 5 dives during the day, he would stay up half the night preserving specimens, taking fish photos or writing notes. The next day, he would do it again and the day after that. We had to take turns diving with him as no single person could keep up with him.

His correspondence and notes were voluminous, typed out in the days before computers on a manual typewriter. When I was a grad student at the University of Miami in the late 1960’s, we had in the records of the fish collection a type-written set of the field notes he had banged out years earlier when he and Helen were in the Virgin Island. Browsing through those was an object lesson in how a superb scientist would go about recording their field work and make certain it would be there for others to carry forward from in the future. At the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez where I ended up in 1974 (with no small thanks to Jack) he was a legend among the clerical staff, known as “el hombre de las cartas”, the ‘man of the letters’, as his daily intake and output of mail from and to all points of the world kept them in awe. That continued throughout his life.

Jack Randall, in addition to his unparalleled expertise in systematic Ichthyology, was a superb underwater naturalist. Starting from his early days, he discovered and published the first scientific records and knowledge of so many things; reef fish spawning aggregations, ciguatera and clupeid poisoning, grazing halos around reefs, food habits of reef fishes, shark attacks, artificial reefs, marine reserves and parks, mimicry, symbiosis between fishes and shrimps, cleaning behavior, and a dozen more subjects that have become individual areas of study in tropical marine environments. One of the most esoteric of those, was an article entitled “Triggerfish bite – a little-known marine hazard”, published in 1990 in the Journal of Wilderness Medicine. As was usually case, Jack’s interest (as detailed in the paper) in this arcane subject was the result of personal experience, having himself been bitten several times. Another famous story is the time in the Florida Keys he put a speared soapfish (Rypticus)in his swim trunks, lacking anywhere else to put the specimen, and thereby discovered the slime of these fishes was a powerful skin irritant.

Jack (fortunately) collected a lot of fishes, but all those specimens went towards his goals of building collections, and then using those collections to inform our taxonomic, zoogeographic and ecological knowledge and understanding. None were wasted. In a lesson for young biologists today, who seem to be eternally embarrassed to admit to collecting any specimens for their work, you do not have to apologize for doing what you need to do. Just collect wisely and use those specimens. Jack epitomized that ethic.

The way things have changed in tropical marine science and today you probably could not have a “Jack Randall”, at least in all his various personas, coming up through the ranks today. Jack was known, particularly in his early decades, for diving at what might be called the “outer limits” of scuba diving; depths today known as mesophotic (just “deep reefs” back then), because that is where new fishes were found. As a result, Jack ended up on a few occasions having bouts of the “bends”, eventually resolved without permanent damage. Same thing goes for repetitive dives, today so simple with dive computers, which were a game of figuring out from the tables what you could and could not get away with. To him it was just part of the risk, which he personally accepted, but today a diving officer, or someone thinking themselves the diving police, would try to stop you.

There are, of course, thousands of ”Jack Randall stories”. One of my personal favorites has to do with the western Atlantic parrotfish Sparisoma ribripinne. Jack and Helen worked on this fish while in St. John, and discovered its spawning aggregation when he found them gathered on the edge of a reef off Reef Bay in late afternoon. This led to a landmark study published in Zoologica in 1963, including photos taken from frames of movie footage Jack shot documenting the fish’s spawning. Based on this pioneering study, I was able to revisit the site (after following Jack’s specific notes in this time long before GPS) in 1977 and 1988 to find the fish still using this same site. When I told Jack of this he was immensely pleased to know that “his” fish were still at it a quarter century later (and then proceeded to tell me again the whole story of him getting “bent” while working on this study).

I will cherish the visits with Jack and Helen in their “botanist’s paradise” in Kaneohe. His library was immense, as was his knowledge of reef fishes and the ocean. One last story. Jack was always the “source of last resort”, when it came to fish identifications. Whenever we had an underwater photo or specimen we could not identify, after every other option had been deployed, off went a letter or email to Jack. He would immediately come back and say, “it’s this or that”. If was likely something new, he would suggest it belonged on one genus or another and tell us to get a specimen. He was always right on his IDs (and especially interested if it was a new geographic record or had some other new twist). Ten years ago, I had a photo of a strange fish, which looked like to brotulid to me, taken in a reef cave in Palau. I could not find anything like it in any definitive guide book, so I emailed the picture to Jack. He quickly wrote back saying, “he had never seen this fish before” and had no idea what it was. Jack Randall stumped? This was very strange, as he knows every reef fish under the ocean. Turns out the fish in question was (at that time) the unpublished new family, genus and species of eel, Protanguilla palau; and represented the most “primitive” group of eels known (described by Dave Johnson et al. in 2011). That is what it took to stump Jack Randall!

He has always been there, throughout my tenure of working in the ocean, and will be with us in spirit whenever we leap into the ocean to discover the new and unknown.

Pat Colin

Jack Randall has and will always be a great inspiration to fish enthusiasts. I met Jack at the 6th IPFC in Durban (2001) where I was nervously presenting my molecular phylogeny of unicornfish Naso. He was very excited about the N. lituratus morphs’ (Indian – Pacific Ocean) and explained the colour difference he had always noted. Shortly afterwards, thanks to Jack they are 2 distinct taxonomically recognised species.
Jack will always be remembered as long as there are fisho’s out there roaming the oceans. My deepest condolences to his wife Helen and family.

Jack Randall

In the early days of skin- and scuba diving from the 1950-ties on, it could happen you met a fish you were not able to determine. The reason why was on the one hand the lack of good fish-guides (Jack and many others have filled that gap meanwhile) and on the other hand many new species were found at places where fishermen could not get them and these waited for descriptions. Jack used that opportunity like nobody else. That times I often found fishes with special colour forms or I had difficulties with determination. If I was able to take photographs of them, I sent these to Jack and he always took time to give detailed informations about the points I wanted to know etc.
In the years before computers and internet it took quite a long time to get an answer, not only because of postal delay but also because Jack was out for “fishing”. Many of those answers I store in my archives and they are unique with an original autograph of Jack. So I enclose one for example. Jack most times used an aerogramm unknown to many of the younger people. So I give a description here. This was a prepaid sheet of thin paper, on one side imprinted with a stamp and words (plus pictures) of famous people and spaces for adresses. The backside was free for the letter. For sending you had to fold the paper the right way three times to get the right size, to fix the gummed hinge and to show the addresses and stamps. Then the post transported it via airmail (or not). So one week or sometimes one month or more later I’ve got the letter.
Though I have not met Jack personally, I had a lot of correspondence with him and so he was since decades a good companion on my way through the world under water

Horst Moosleitner

Just a longtime (1970) marine enthusiast who revered Mr. Randall and his legacy then and now.
I can still recall seeing his name again and again when I first started taking an interest in fish keeping and diving.
My best to his family and friends as they remember him.

Its a great miss. More than the wonderful dives, the science which was brought out from these dives will be remembered forever.

Mom, Eugenie Clark, considered Jack “The” Ichthyologist, and an inspiration for divers and fish lover’s through out the world. Jack was the watery planet Earth’s greatest Ambassador! I can just imagine the interesting marine life stories Jack and Mom are having right now.

Reading through these pages drives home what I missed by leaving a youthful indiscretion aimed at fish, to focus on the spineless instead – getting to know Jack better. I first corresponded with him in 1979 when setting out for a long trip to Rapa Island. Jack has of course been there, “did” the fishes and explored the underwater habitats. I was planning to study weevils, but being the marine type, wanted to check out the ocean as well. Never having spent time in the tropics, I asked Jack whether a wetsuit would be advisable at Rapa’s latitude. His reply was yes, unless you have a fair supply of adipose tissue. He has always been helpful with information about the Pacific above and below waters as we corresponded over the years.

Having been born and raised on St. John and made a career in marine science, It is truly sad to hear of Jack’s passing. But he certainly had a long life, well lived. Although I never met him ( I was around 10 years old and living on the north shore of St. John when Jack and Helen were at Lameshur Bay on the south side) there have been many connections of which he was never aware. While pursuing an undergraduate degree in marine science at the College of the VI, I had numerous opportunities to stay at the ecological research station at Lameshur and study the preserved fish that Jack collected when writing his book on Caribbean Reef Fish. After my Masters in Marine Science from the University of PR in Mayaguez (where Jack also taught for a while), and while working for the VI Division of Fish and Wildlife, I did some follow-up work on Cittarium pica (a la Helen) at Europa Bay and other places. I also did a lot of benthic mapping, sometimes using a similar towed sled to the one that Jack used with Herb Kumpf (whom I spent a lot of time with on turtles). We used Jack and Herb’s initial benthic maps of St. John as the basis for our more intensive mapping efforts. Much of the work I did surveying fish populations around St. John and elsewhere used Jack’s reef fish book for identifications. Later, as chief of resource management for the VI National Park and VI Coral Reef National Monument, I was involved with transferring Jack’s fish collection to the University of Florida Natural History Museum for safekeeping. So Jack (and Helen) were very much a seminal part of marine science on St. John and of my career. I still live on St. John at Trunk Bay, where my family has since 1928.

An honor and an unforgettable rewarding experience for a – at that time young – ichthyologist to meet and work, even little, with John ‘Jack’ Randall. Thanks for your fantastic work, wonderful pictures of fishes and your kindness. Pour tout cela, soyez-en remercié !

Around 2005 on one dive outing Jack wanted to do a dive at Hanauma Bay. He also mentioned some of his important friends where going to be there too, a couple from Maui with their young son. I had arrived early and found his friend on the beach, after introduction we noticed Jack walking down from the top of Hanauma Bay with two tanks in hand his grand daughter Sandra caring the dive bags. After he got to the beach without resting we noticed he was wearing his weight belt, all of our jaws were agape as he walked towards us. He said to put his BCD with the tank in the ocean then he scooted from the beach into the BCD. We followed the telephone cable out to the mouth of the bay that is where they ditched me. Later I found them heading back to shore . I have asked Jack a couple of times what he did to keep in shape he did not reveal much. I did hear Lori was driving him to a friends house to swim, he played ping pong with Sean, badminton with Sandra and tennis with some graduate students. He must have been doing more than that but what…

Some people never die and Jack Randall is certainly one of them. He may not be with us any more in a physical sense, but he will be around forever through his monumental body of research papers and books. Helen, Lori, Rod and families, my heart is with you at this sad time. Jack was a very special person and he didn’t have to work hard at it. He just had to be Jack Randall. I think I won’t be wrong in saying that all who had known him personally will agree.

Reading through earlier postings, I am also one of the many who owe their career to Jack’s encouragement, guidance and mentorship. I met him in Jerusalem in the summer of 1974 when I had just completed my BSc. I walked into Prof. Adam Ben-Tuvia’s office and he introduced me to an American visitor he named Jack Randall. I had no idea who Jack was at that time, but by the end of the meeting he asked me to be his diving assistant while working in Eilat. This was the beginning of a long lasting relationship, both professional and personal, in which I worked at the Bishop as a research assistant and had the pleasure of getting to know Helen, Lori and Rod. The first couple of days with Jack in the field made it quite clear to me that I’m in for the hard work. We were driving, diving, collecting, pinning out fish and photographing them till late at night. Sometimes there was no stopping him and I had to go and get some food for dinner while he was carrying on with photography. Jack returned to the Gulf of Aqaba every year until 1977 and I joined him on every one of these memorable trips which lasted several weeks at a time – the best introduction to fish taxonomy one could hope for. Jack wouldn’t just give a name for a species – he always had a story to tell about it. This was a very special time in my life and it will stay with me to my last day.

The photo was taken at the Randall’s home during my last visit to Hawaii (2005).

Reading about so many of the fascinating adventures so many have shared with Jack inspired me to convey one of my own Jack Randall adventures. In 1986, I was working at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Vic Springer had organized a major expedition to Rotuma Island, Fiji, with Dave Johnson and me as participants on the expedition. At the end of the expedition, Vic had arranged for us to stay with Jack and Helen for a few days so we could examine specimens at the BPBM fish collection. The Rotuma Expedition was a fascinating, but challenging expedition. When we arrived in Honolulu, Vic was suffering from a damaged eardrum and Dave and I were both battling some bad cases of blood poisoning. Jack picked us up at the airport and took us straight to see a diving friend who was also a medical doctor. Once the doctor finished with us and got us on the appropriate antibiotics, we continued onward to Jack’s house, where Helen graciously welcomed us. Jack asked us if we wanted to go scuba diving while we were there and Dave and I both said yes. Jack, John Earle, Dave and I went to an exposed, high swell beach (I believe it was the North Shore) and we went out for a dive. We were swept back and forth along with the heavy surge for a fun “roller coaster” dive. Even under those challenging conditions, Jack was able to collect a specimen of a new species of goby! What an amazing man!

I will always cherish the experiences and interactions I had with Jack and Helen over the years. His accomplishments will live on forever.

So strange: I had the strong impulse to check-in with Jack and Helen the day before Jack’s passing. Too bad it was via e-mail. Life is bizarre that way.

Jack Randall was my hero, not because of all the insanely deep dives he did (on air), or even because of his many hundreds of impressive publications on the taxonomy and systematics of coral-reef fishes, but rather because of his seminal field experiments on the ecology of reef fishes early in his career. Jack paved the way for all following subtidal marine ecologists, providing mechanistic insights revealed by manipulations, using cages to show the effects of herbivorous fishes on the standing crop of benthic algae (1961 Ecology), and benthic transplants and artificial reefs to document the role of herbivores in the formation of patch-reef halos (1965 Ecology). Of course, as the consummate undersea naturalist, Jack also made a vast number of observational contributions to the ecology of reef fishes, spanning topics as diverse ciguatera, mimicry, food habits (citation classic!), and zoogeography.

I first heard about Jack from my graduate mentor, Al Ebeling, who was an undergraduate with Jack at UCLA in the 1940s. Jack had asked Al to sail with him to Hawai‘i, yet Al’s parents intervened. I learned about Jack’s remarkable adventures from Gordon Tribble, who was my undergraduate field assistant in the 1970s. Although I was introduced to Jack now and then at various conferences, it was not until I moved back to Hawai‘i in 2013 that I started to spend time with him and Helen at their Kaneohe home, thanks to Brian Bowen taking me on my first visit.

Jack was always exceptionally kind to me – publishing with me and even nominating me for awards – and to my graduate students, who loved hearing Jack’s stories. I did my best to honor Jack by featuring him as one of the “foundational cornerstones of 20th century coral reef fish ecology” in a review paper (2011 Bulletin of Marine Science), and by nominating him for the Darwin Medal (“not Darwin Award” he loved to remind visitors) bestowed by the International Coral Reef Society at their 13th symposium in Honolulu in 2016 (many thanks to Peter Sale for carrying my nomination forward).

I was fortunate to take Jack on his final snorkel trip in 2016. It was a typical beautiful Tuesday morning at Hanauma Bay, the day of the week closed to the public. We carefully wheeled Jack to the water’s edge in a dune-buggy wheelchair and helped him don his fins, mask, and snorkel. Once in the water, he was gone, blasting around the inner bay, all the while chasing fish! It reminded me of the final scene of the movie “Big Fish,” where the son lowers his dying father into the water, and the old man transforms into a giant fish.

Swim on, Jack, in my heart forever.

Jack with Peter Sale, Mark Hixon, Ryan Jones, Erik Brush, and Eric Dilley, Kaneohe, HI, 12/10/17.

For any fish lover Jack was a hero, a reference, someone to follow, listen and absorb all the incredible science, passion and example he transmitted through his writings. I briefly met Jack at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in La Paz, Baja California in 2000. I had obtained my PhD recently studying blennies and this was one of my first international conferences. I was amazed and thrilled to realise that someone like Jack, for me a master, a hero, a role model, would be interested in hearing about my research and we spent a couple of hours talking about blennies. We even engaged in a ping-pong game and Jack beat me 3-2.
Jack’s legacy is unsurpassable and will persist through the Ages.

Silk Screen print inspired by the Ichthyology collections at Bishop Museum, most of which are collected by Jack Randall.

I have known Jack through innumerable correspondence for more than 40 years, although only having met him in person twice. What struck me initially was his willingness to give of his time and expertise, and to collaborate, despite his preeminence in the field, and permanently overflowing schedule of fishy projects! As has been articulated many times, his appetite to take on any project that involved discovery of species was boundless, no matter how many others were already in his pipeline. His single-minded determination also meant that very few of those ever went into the too-hard basket; almost all were followed up, seen through to completion and published. This generosity to peers continued right throughout his working life, as well as throughout his retirement, which of course never really occurred! I had the pleasure of sharing authorship on several species descriptions and taxonomic revisions with Jack, but no matter what involvement he had, he gave freely of his time and outstanding image collection. On reaching his latter 80’s and beyond he sometimes related his disappointment with eyesight, memory, and most often ability to wrangle computer files. I could only respond by saying that I would be proud if I could claim half that level of proficiency at his age! Jack was a champion in many fields, not just ichthyology and marine conservation. His legacy will ensure he is never forgotten.

I met Jack since I was a reserach assistant in Academia Sinica in 1970’s. He was my mentor in fish taxonomy and a good friend of mine and we communicated all via e-mails. He was so generous, kindness and very quickly to answer all of my unidentified fish questions. It was my honor to have the opportunity to award him the 1st Bleeker Award in 7th IPFC in Taipei in 2005. The last time I met him was at his home when I attended the ICRS13 in Hawaii in 2016. He received the Darwin Award in the Conference. He still looks very well and heathy and so warmful. So, it was sad and sorry to hear Jack’s passing. My sincere condolences to Helen and the rest of the Randall family on your loss.

20200504–Jack Randall’s two photos —SKT

Reading Pat Colin’s reminiscence about what it took to stump Jack Randall reminded me of a similar story, although in my case Jack did not have a photo to guide him. At the end of my last collection dive of a field trip in Southern Oman in 1989 I had seen the head end of a remarkable fish, but I was nearly out of air on my last tank and my quinaldine bottle was now basically full-strength seawater. I tried to coax the yellow and purplish fish out from the crevice between the sand bottom and large reef rock where it was hidden with the end of a hand net but it refused to cooperate. I thought about this strange fish on the 12 hour drive back to Muscat where I was then based. I looked through my library, including a page by page search through the best reference for Indian Ocean fishes at the time – the 1986 revision of Smith’s Sea Fishes (which included seven systematic family sections which were authored or co-authored by Jack). I could find nothing remotely similar. The shape of the head reminded me of a rare South American catfish that I had maintained when I had previously worked at Steinhart Aquarium, but I knew that this fish was no catfish, and my glimpse of the fish’s eyes made them seem very oddly placed.

One year later, we had managed to get Jack out for a visit to Oman and he and I were once again on the long drive to Southern Oman and had lots of time to talk. At some point in our journey I brought up this strange fish that I could not identify. I had met Jack once prior to his visit and we had corresponded for several years, but I did not – like Pat Colin – have any photographic evidence to back up my story. Jack was too kind to say anything, nor to venture even any suggestion as to what this fish could be, but I had the distinct impression that he was probably quietly thinking that this guy is probably not perhaps such a good observer of fishes.

A few days later we were on a dive “together”. As many have already shared, Jack was single minded when diving and focused on his own targets, and he was soon near the limits of visibility when I spotted another one of these strange fish. This time I had enough air and quinaldine and had soon collected a specimen that was about 25 cm. I put the fish into a large clear plastic bag and swam off in the direction of where I had last seen Jack. When I got near I held up the bag for him to see, and his eyes widened and seemed to almost bug out when he saw the fish. I was elated at his reaction.

When we got out of the water we both marveled at this amazing fish which he confirmed was definitely something new and was some sort of toadfish. I said let’s describe it together and he – surprisingly to me – said no, that this was “something special” and I should collaborate with David Greenfield who was a toadfish specialist. This fish with false eyespots on cephalic flaps was ultimately described by David, Jack and I in 1994 so it could be included in Jack’s Coastal Fishes of Oman, as Bifax lacinia.

We kept the fish alive so we could bring it back to the Marine Science and Fisheries Center in Muscat where I then worked as the Aquarium Curator. It was kept in the field in an aerated and filtered plastic tank where I had also put a couple of other fishes and a small starfish that I had collected. The next morning all of the other marine life was dead but the new toadfish seemed fine despite the soapy look to the water. Jack immediately surmised that the toadfish released some toxin and decided to rub his finger on the skin and taste it! He immediately stated that his guess was correct. I told him that I knew that some of the skin toxins from the most toxic poison dart frogs could be dangerous if even a few molecules were ingested. He seemed surprised and we were both pleased that he had no ill effects from tasting this new genus and species of toadfish. He was indeed monotypic!

Like many aspiring fish researchers, i thought Jack was the king of fishes. In 2015 i working at HIMB and my supervisor (Brian Bowen) told me to go see Jack up at his house. I didnt think i was worthy of his time and was too nervous to go by myself so i tagged along with Brian. Jack put me at ease straight away and we talked fish for so long that I didnt realise it was dark and that Helen was waiting to cook dinner. Sorry Helen and thank you for your patience. I visited a few more times and learnt so much. I was amazed that someone who achieved so much, was so humble and would take the time to talk to students/post-docs. Mahalo Jack, you will always be an inspiration. My sincerest condolences to Helen and the family.

Jack was one of those special people that are few-and-far between in life! I feel fortunate to have spent just a little time with him. He was always enthusiastic about his projects, and his love for the ocean. His stories were endless and they were always fascinating. My brother Paul Struhsaker first met Jack in Puerto Rico, around 1963 and they struck up an immediate friendship. Later, at the University of Hawaii, Jack was on my brother’s Doctoral Committee. A few years later, Jack named a fish after my brother: Chromis struhsakeri.

My brother introduced me to Jack in 1974. In 2005, I moved to Hawaii and became an avid underwater photographer. I shared many fish photos with Jack and always enjoyed his comments. On several occasion, my wife Georgia and I would visit Jack and Helen at their home in Kaneohe; Helen and I would go get Chinese carry-out for lunch. Jack’s memory of all his diving adventures was mesmerizing, and a true inspiration. Few people in the world stay as productive and focused on their work into the later years of their life. He was one of the few people I have met in my life who I thought worthy of emulation; a memorable individual.

My condolences to Helen and his family.

Jim Struhsaker,
San Rafael, CA

BIOGRAPHY of a LEGEND (published in the ‘Oceanographic and Biological Aspects of the Red Sea’, Springer 2019.

John E. Randall
Research Scientist
Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St.,
Honolulu, HI 96817-2704, USA

Dr. John Randall is a Senior Ichthyologist Emeritus at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. He obtained a BA in zoology in 1950 from UCLA and was awarded Phi Beta Kappa. In 1950, he sailed a 37-foot ketch from California to Hawai’i where he earned a Ph.D. in marine zoology in 1955 from the University of Hawai’i. With support of a fellowship from Yale University and the Bishop Museum, he sailed the ketch to Tahiti and spent two years in research on fishes and ciguatera fish poisoning at the island of Moorea. From 1961 to 1964 he was an assistant professor at the University of Miami, the last three years directing a marine biological survey of the Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John. He accepted a position as Professor of Zoology at the University of Puerto Rico in 1965 and became the Director of the University’s Institute of Marine Biology a year later. He returned to Hawai’i in 1965 where he served for one year as director of the Oceanic Institute on O’ahu before taking a split position at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology and the Bishop Museum for one year. He was then full time as Senior Ichthyologist at the museum until retirement in 2009. He has served on the editorial board of several journals and remains as editor of the scientific series he founded, Indo-Pacific Fishes. His awards include the Stoye Award in 1954 for the best student paper in ichthyology at the meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. In 1980, he received the Robert H. Gibbs, Jr. Memorial Award in Ichthyology. In 1983, he became a Distinguished Fellow of ASIH Society, an honorary position he holds to the present. In 1985 he was selected as an honorary member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan, followed by the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Hawai’i in 1989, and the Nogi Award in Science in 1990. In 2005 he received the American Diving Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2007, the Hawai’i Living Reef Award, followed by an honorary doctorate from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 2008. He has over 900 publications, including 14 guidebooks on fishes. He has described 799 valid new species of marine fishes.

Although I never had the pleasure to meet Jack Randall in person, his Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific book inspired my early curiosity in fish. In 2004 while working at the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, I recall fondly the office competitions of who would attain the coveted status of “fish nerd”. Jack Randall’s books featured prominently in these memories. After days in the field, we poured over this book hoping to figure out what our mystery fish were. 
During Christmas of 2008, I painted a series of fish greeting cards based on photos from this same book. I sent them out to a number of my contacts and friends in Hawaii, letting them know I was moving to Hawaii soon. I later added Jack’s Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands book to my collection and continued my love for all things fish. I am truly moved by the enormous legacy that Jack Randall has left behind and know that he has inspired so many “fish nerds” to continue doing what they love to do.

Jack always made himself so accessible and he took every new fish as an adventure. Whether it was a marine biologist or a local fisherman, anyone felt welcome to bring their weird fish up to the Museum where he would examine it eagerly, whether it was new to him or not. That fun combination of a scientist, an explorer and a kid in a candy shop put everyone and ease and ensured new ideas were always coming his way. We will miss this humble, kind and knowledgeable kupuna across the Pacific and the world. Fortunately, because of the ease with which he shared his interest, he has left many new experts in his powerful wake. Aloha and mahalo nui loa!

Jack was my early inspiration in ichthyology and encouraged me to become a taxonomist. Over the years, we worked together and dived together on a number of expeditions and fish collecting trips, including the now legendary National Geographic – Australian Museum Expedition to Lord Howe Island in February of 1973. I vividly remember Jack working late into the night with his specimen photo rig, carefully pinning out specimens, painting them with formalin (to which he was allergic), replacing scales and touching up marks with his pastel colour pencils, and producing beautiful 6×6 transparencies in the pre-digital age. He had a great, sometimes wicked, sense of humour and could be a larrikin, like the time he posed on a bicycle on board Walt Stark’s El Torito with Ball’s Pyramid in the background.
Jack was an inspirational figure to those of us fortunate to work with him and will be remembered as a Giant amongst the many generations of young ichthyologists he mentored during his lifetime.
Rest in Peace Jack, your legacy will live on forever.

Dearest Helen, our thoughts are with you during this time of sadness. Sally and I will always treasure the time spent at your home in Kaneohe with you, Jack and Lori. Over the years we had met with Jack at various fish seminars. Although we were just hobbyist fish watchers he always had time to chat about what he was busy doing, and give advice on fish behaviour and Id fish for us.
I corresponded regularly with Jack for more than 20 years. He was always quick to respond and often surprised me by the large amount of detail he went into when answering a fairly simple question. His
enthusiasm was infectious and he was extremely supportive of the work I was doing on my website. He also kindly gave me access to his treasure trove of fish pictures. He could however become extremely pushy if he wanted someone to collect a specimen or send him pictures.
We were extremely surprised and delighted when Jack together with Allan Connell and Benjamin Victor named a fish after us. This was the type of kind gesture which Jack was known for.

From reading the many sentiments and wonderful stories; we now all know now that how we felt personally about Jack is a shared emotion among so very many. For all of us, he was our friend and mentor with whom to talk about nerdy aspects of obscure fishes. We are all so very fortunate to have known and been inspired by this great scientist and human being. Thank you Helen for always being the gracious hostess to all of us who visited your home.
We have a few photos to add to help remember Jack. This one is from Johnston Atoll 1982, using his “traveling” system for photographing fishes, which was carefully packed by Helen in Jack’s suitcase with his clothes. Lisa and I are thankful that we were able to finish our last paper with Jack this past December 2019 on Johnston Atoll fishes, ( ).

I’ve never met physically Jack. But he has always been a genuine gentleman to provide kindly answers and clues to identifications of fish species. A certain idea of sciences you were, Jack.

Aloa !

I can scarcely add to all the wonderful things that Jack’s friends have written above. I was lucky enough to spend several weeks on expedition with him to the desert shores of Oman as guests of the Sultan, to find and catalog what fish lived in those strange waters, where kelp and coral grow side by side. The end result was a number of new species, (one named after my wife!), and a big heavy book on the Coastal Fishes of Oman. Jack was certainly kind to me, and made me feel like a special friend. I realize now that he made everyone feel that way! What a remarkable man!

It’s an honor to be among an international who’s who of ichthyologists remembering Jack. He deserves no less. I know Helen and Lori and Rod can only take pride in this outpouring of admiration and appreciation.
I found out after the fact that Jack’s reputation for memorable dives made it difficult for him to enlist buddies. The fact in this case was I went diving with Jack several times. Each time was . . . memorable.
It was 1968 and I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the fisheries program in Palau. Jack was on a collecting expedition with a stop in Palau. The fisheries program got tabbed to lend him boats and equipment. No one else seemed interested so I innocently volunteered to pump tanks, drive the boat, and serve as the requisite dive buddy. I had made maybe a dozen or so dives up to that time. Little did I know.
Our first dive was on a forereef, running a poison station – my first — in 50 feet. As we were gearing up, Jack mentioned that he had been diagnosed with kidney stones and if he passed one underwater to not even try to get him to the surface, just leave him thrash and drown. An inauspicious beginning.
On the bottom, we spread rotenone and Jack pulled out his micro-spear and got to work. Soon we were surrounded by dead, dying, and struggling fish. Jack gave the out-of-air signal, pointing to the back of his tank. He was still diving with a double hose regulator which was malfunctioning. He pointed up to the boat and ascended, signaling for me to wait on the bottom. All I could think of was Lloyd Bridges’ reminder to never dive alone. No sooner had he disappeared than a very large Silvertip Shark (C. albimarginatus) started circling me – I still remember that it had a Rainbow Runner accompanying it, right between its pectorals. This is one of the sharks the Palauans respected greatly. When Jack returned, the shark disappeared. It must have known better.
Our next dive was a shallow poison station in the lagoon, next to the Koror boatyard. The rotenone cloud got away from us (!!) just as a large school of akule scad (Decapterus sp.) swam through. Fish started dying all over the place. Jack immediately began gathering up scad in his net bag, pointing to his mouth and making eating motions. I followed suit. When we surfaced with our “catch,” we were met by a dozen angry workers from the boatyard standing on the concrete wall. I received an official reprimand from both the Peace Corps and Palauan Government on that one. The scad were delicious, fried in butter, Jack’s favorite fish recipe.
Having not yet learned, I joined Jack and four other visiting ichthyologists on a drop-off poison station in 100 feet. It was one of Jack’s “planned” decompression dives – basically use up your air at depth then ascend to the shallow reef flat with a second tank to blow off the nitrogen. And run another poison station. Dying fish tumbled down the reef and I dropped repeatedly to maybe 150 feet picking them up. As the smallest person, and an incorrigible skip breather, I was last to return to the boat for my second tank. Unfortunately, only eleven tanks had been loaded into the boat by the dive manager (me), leaving me without a decompression tank. We raced back to Fisheries, grabbed a double, and put me down in ten feet for two hours to burn off the gas. The dive yielded a dozen new species and one new genus, a wrasse. And I got slightly bent, with a sore elbow for a year. And another reprimand.
After each trip, Jack would photograph the fish we collected long into the night. He had an elaborate set-up with lights, water bath, and a large reflex camera. He spent hours prepping each specimen, filling in details with colored pencils, moving scales from the right side to the left to cover holes created by his micro-spear. Then inevitably he would take the roll of film out of the camera and set it down in a pool of formalin while he moved to the next fish. My job was to rescue things.
A real highlight of Jack’s visits to Palau over the next two years were trips up and down the archipelago, collecting fish and spending evenings in the men’s houses. We would show reef fish photos to the Palauans while I recorded Palauan fish names (I think all we had for photos were JLB Smith’s Sea Fishes of South Africa). The old men chewed betel nut and argued long into the evening over local names, where and when to find the fish, etc. Jack quickly became respected because he was the only Westerner they had met who knew that two very different parrotfish with different Palauan names were actually the male and female of the same species. The Palauans knew this because they caught them together in spawning aggregations. This resulted in my first fish paper, “Palauan fish names” (1973. Pacific Science 27), with me as first author! Jack was always gracious about authorship and included me on two other papers, giving me three pubs coming out of the Peace Corps, a real jumpstart to my career.
More than a jump start. I really owe my becoming an ichthyologist to Jack’s continued generosity and encouragement. We maintained correspondence over the years and I don’t doubt my acceptance into grad programs for a Master’s at U. Hawaii and a Ph.D. at Cornell were due to Jack’s letters of recommendation. They must have been convincing to make up for a less-than-spectacular undergrad academic record (Hey! It was Berkeley in the 60s; lots of distractions). I was delighted to be able to dedicate the first edition of our ichthyology textbook to Jack for his mentorship. And he never once expressed disappointment that I strayed from taxonomy to behavior. Thanks Jack for everything, and thanks to Helen and Lori and Rod for their gracious hospitality to Judy and me over the years.

I found this just now in one of Jack’s books. I think the drawing might have been by Ron Holcom, who I believe found and collected several new species for Jack right here on Oahu, in Jack’s back yard!

I first met Jack as a M.S. student at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory in the late 1970s. We did a number of collecting dives together over the years, most notably on Guam, at Miyake-jima in the Izu Islands of Japan, and Christmas Island in the Line Islands. Jack was a mentor during my Ph.D work on hawkfishes (Cirrhitidae) and remained so throughout my professional career. He was always helpful and generous with his time, access to the Bishop collection and his library, and the hospitality of his home, too. He had a certain energy about him. I thought he’d be describing fish species forever. My condolences and best wishes to Helen and the family.

Dear Helen, Laurie and Rodney
Memories from 1959/1960, Lameshur Bay, St John, VI.
My introduction to Jack and you three was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Your stories of life on a yacht and your travels through the Pacific lead me to do the same.
After my military service in 1965 we again came together with the adventure of the “Lois Munoz Rivera” in Porto Rico. You were in Hawaii and I managed to get together with you on my way to Fiji.
Fortunately you and Jack supplied all of us with a yearly account of the Randall’s” activities.
In 2018 I was able to stop off in Hawaii for a short visit with you, Jack and Laurie a very warm welcome and a lot of reminiscing.
This is let you all know how much I cherries and pries your friendship and the blessing for directing me onto yachts.
You three and Jack will always be with me.
Nick Hylton

When I saw an email from Jack last week, I knew what that meant and was so sad. I emailed with Jack pretty much every day the past few years, and it was amazing to see how much he wanted to continue his projects and papers as long as he possibly could- a measure of devotion unparalleled! I was so lucky to be an amanuensis of sorts for him the past decade or so where as an editor and publisher and coauthor and correspondent, I did all I can to get his work out fast and furious- we got a lot of stuff done- a lot of his back-burner projects to the front and I am proud to be part of the group who made sure he did not leave too many projects unfinished- and he truly did manage to clear his board of backed up work over the past 5 years or so..

Sort of stunning to think he had been working on his passion every day, literally since I was born- and that was a heck of a long time ago. It sounds trite now, but it is so true– what he accomplished is incomparable- it can never be repeated- not enough fish in the sea! All we can ever hope to do is a fraction of his achievements (but that is certainly enough). Like everyone else above has noted, how open and helpful he was-I met him as a grad student in the 80s on my way back from Palau- he was kind and helpful- and when I mailed him my set of photos of fresh “baby wrasses in a bowl” (that I had collected and wanted to ID so i could estimate the larval duration of a hundred wrasses), he sent me a long typed multi-page listing of what they were and why and all.. (and, being Jack, asked me to send in my Pteragogus to his collection). I had my first inklings of the passion one can get into for taxonomy from that, although at the time taxonomy was the furthest ichthyological field from my mind. Little did I realize, mailing fishes back and forth with Jack was to become a regular occupation many decades later. So, like everyone else in the field who has clutched one book of his or another from the day they started exploring a reef (in my case, the old blue book we had in San Blas Panama in 1979), his name was synonymous with reef fishes. There will be a big absence now in our field- pretty much all I did and all we published went past Jack first- rarely was there a fish or subject he hadn’t already worked on and had an invalubale insight. Anyway.. i could go on for pages…. just so so lucky to share such a fun and wonderful passion with Jack at the right time and the right place! it is going to be a so much smaller world without him.

Jack Randall (1924 – 2020): a friend of FishBase
Daniel Pauly
Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

The public at large and scientists who are not taxonomists share a view of taxonomists as hard to connect with and sometimes remote; this may apply to some of them, but as with everything, there are exceptions. One of these exceptions was Jack Randall.

John Ernest Randall was born in 1924 in Los Angeles, California. He studied at UCLA and then went to the University of Hawai’i, which he left in 1955 with a Ph.D. After various jobs in Florida and Puerto Rico, he became a Senior Ichthyologist at the Bishop Museum in Hawai’i (see Wikipedia), the position he held when he began his association with FishBase.

Given that he already was, at the time, the author of 10 books, over 500 scientific papers, and the person who described over 600 new species of fish, we were delighted when he accepted an invitation to an international workshop held in October 1995 in the Philippines. Jack (see photo) and other taxonomists verified the contents of FishBase and made constructive suggestions for its improvement. It is also when he decided to give FishBase access to a collection of over 10,000 underwater photographs of Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reef fishes he had spent decades assembling.

At the time, FishBase suffered enormously from a lack of fish pictures, most of which are copyrighted and, therefore, could not directly be incorporated as is possible with other content. The situation was so bad that we resorted to scanning and showing fish stamps (which, in the process, made FishBase the largest repository of scanned fish stamps). While we are now still missing photos for many species in FishBase, Jack’s gift and support of FishBase contributed crucially to its current near-universal acceptance.

Rainer Froese wrote: “What a role model; Jack is one of my heroes. I still remember how I was ‘schlepping’ his suitcase full of outdated photo-equipment through Manila airport, and how he gave a highly educational talk about taxonomy, showing slides of underwater photos in alphabetic sequence of the scientific names…”

Nicolas Bailly recalls: “I have seen Jack diving in strong current conditions in Durban during the 6th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference with his underwater camera of course. He was 77 then, and still continuing making underwater photos of coral reef fishes, his life-lasting pioneering and exploring activity. With Jack, a legend of coral reef fish biodiversity has passed. However, there is no doubt that his work will remain the foundation of much of ichthyology”.

Nicolas Bailly, incidentally notes that as of early 2020, Jack has described 834 species of which 802 are considered valid. Given that further descriptions will appear posthumously (Richard Pyle, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, pers. comm.), Jack might beat the record of the Dutch taxonomist Pieter Bleeker (1819-1878), who has 837 currently valid species to his name.

In 1998, Jack was a resource person at a FishBase workshop held in Trinidad and Tobago. He went diving among the reefs of Tobago with Deng Palomares who wrote “I remember how elated I felt when I was given the privilege of going on a dive with Jack Randall in Tobago (I have his signature on my dive log to prove it). He was on the lookout for a fish that exhibited perfect camouflage. I remember how graceful he was underwater and how quiet he swam in spite of all the hardware he was carrying while looking for the fish he wanted to photograph. A true naturalist transformed into a fish as soon as he hit the water! That was the epitome of my diving experience as a marine biologist, which I took and will take with me on each dive.”

I was on the same dive, and we observed how he patiently took many close-up photos of fish. I remained in the background, marveling at how he could make such beautiful photos without flash. But when we surfaced, he exploded “[expletive], my flash didn’t work!” which shows that this famous ichthyologist lived in the same world that we all do.

This was also evident from an earlier story he told me about a South African ichthyologist trying to convince him to come work in South Africa in the 1970s, during the darkest days of apartheid. He had a good sales pitch, Jack said to me, but then the guy casually mentioned that, obviously, he could not bring his wife Helen along, because she was of Chinese ancestry….

Jack Randall was not only a fish taxonomist and an accomplished underwater photographer. From 1961 to 1965, while a professor of Zoology at the University of Puerto Rico, where he wrote the classic on Caribbean Fishes (Randall 1968), he also tagged an immense number of fish and published his entire data set. This enabled their re-analysis, and the assessment that even a small summer-winter temperature difference (2 °C), affected the growth of fishes (Pauly and Ingles 1981).

Also, he published an extensive study of the food and feeding habits of Caribbean reef fishes (Randall 1967). Again, he made all his data available, and they were used by one of my first doctoral students, Ms. Silvia Opitz, to fill in the diet matrix for the most comprehensive ever Ecopath model of a coral reef (Opitz, 1996). We also used Jack’s food and feeding habits study to guide us in designing the ‘Diet Table’ of FishBase, which now contains thousands of entries and has helped hundreds of colleagues parameterize Ecopath and other food-web models.

Ms Emily Capuli, the FishBase team member who keeps track of new species wrote “I worked with [Jack] in Hawaii for a month and during the WCP workshop. I told him that he reminded me of Harrison Ford as the Indiana Jones character searching for new treasures and adventures, both in looks (when he was young) and career in life. […] He gave] us a lot of photos and references and have always been helpful. Every time and any time (literally) I wrote him for help, he answered my emails.”

Ms. Rachel ‘Aque’ Atanacio, who is the FishBase artist, and who therefore processed the many slides he donated to us, should have the last word. She described Jack as follows in a FishBase newsletter of 2017:

“Collaborator since 1990 (; main contribution: more than 11,000 fish pictures for 178 families, generously made available to the public under a Creative Commons license allowing the use of the images for non-commercial purposes. Jack, as he is fondly called by friends and colleagues, has been and still is a very active collaborator of FishBase. He has visited the FishBase team [in the Philippines] twice, once in 1995 and another time in the early 2000s, thus giving us an opportunity to work with him and benefit from his expertise as a leading authority on coral reef fishes.

Now, even at his advanced age, he is still very busy describing new species, writing and editing scientific papers, and ensuring that FishBase gets a copy of his latest paper and publication. Dr Randall never disappoints and will answer whenever he is being consulted for his opinion on a fish ID. For these reasons, Dr Randall will always be considered, not only as an invaluable collaborator, but a friend of FishBase.”


Froese, R. and D. Pauly (Editors). 2000. FishBase 2000: Concepts, Design and Data Sources. ICLARM, Los Baños, Philippines, 346 p. [Previously with up to 4 CD-ROMs; previous annual editions: 1996 – 1999. Also available in Portuguese (1997, transl. of the 1996 edition), French (1998, updated transl. of the 1997 edition by N. Bailly and M.L.D. Palomares) and Chinese (2003, transl. of the 2000 edition by Kwang-Tsao Shao, Taiwan); updates in

Opitz, S. 1996. Trophic interactions in Caribbean coral reefs. ICLARM Technical Reports 43, 341 p.

Pauly, D. and J. Ingles. 1981. Aspects of the growth and mortality of exploited coral reef fishes, p. 89-98 In: E. Gomez, C.E. Birkeland, R.W. Buddemeier, R.E. Johannes, J.A. Marsh and R.T. Tsuda (eds.). Proceedings of the Fourth International Coral Reef Symposium. Manila, Philippines.

Randall, J.E., 1967. Food habits of reef fishes of the West Indies. Studies in Tropical Oceanography 5: 665-847.

Randall, J.E., 1968. Caribbean reef fishes. TFH Publications, Jersey City, 318 p.

Randall.J.E.1962.Tagging reef fishes in the Virgin Islands. Proc. Gulf and Caribb. Fish. Inst. 14: 201-241.

Photo: Jack Randall at an FAO/ICLARM/MSI/NORAD workshop held in early October 1995
in the Philippines, and devoted to the creation guide the fishery resources of the Central
Western Pacific (see Froese and Pauly 2000, p. 13). Photo by Rachel ‘Aque’ Atanacio.

I want to emphasize again how WONDERFUL it is that everyone is posting such amazing stories and thoughts and photos of Jack! It has been incredibly helpful to me, personally, and I know it means a lot to Helen and the rest of Jack’s family as well. I’m still trying to absorb the enormity of it all, and it will take me some time to fully process it.

I noticed in many of the photos posted, Jack’s face is often rather “stoic”. I’m not sure why he tended to put on his “serious” face when the cameras came out, but as anyone who spent time with him knows, he had a wonderful sense of humor, and was almost always smiling and laughing and joking. When I imagine him in my mind, it is always with a big grin, usually presented in the wake of some wry or ironic comment, the likes of which often filled our conversations to the point where we forgot what we had been talking about.

This prompts me to recount one of my all-time personal favorite memories of Jack. It was in the early 1990s during one of our expeditions to the Ogasawara Islands with Hitoshi Ida, John Earle, Johnson Kimura and others. We had been staying at a bed-and-breakfast type house run by an incredibly sweet and small elderly Japanese woman. She didn’t speak a word of English, nor did we speak any Japanese, but we somehow developed a friendship with her as we returned every evening after a long day of diving, and every morning when she served us breakfast.

One evening, after a particularly long day of diving (as has already been reported amply in the posts on this page, every day of diving with Jack is a long day of diving…), Jack and I wearily walked up to the house, shortly before sunset. The wonderful caretaker was standing by the front door of the two-story building waiting for our arrival. As we approached, she launched into a long monologue in Japanese, while pointing up to the window of the second-story room that Jack and I were staying in, all the while gesturing in a very animated way. Of course, I didn’t understand a single thing she was saying (nor did Jack), but I saw that the porch light just outside our bedroom window had a swarm of termites flying around it (a very familiar phenomenon to anyone from Hawai’i, during certain warm, windless evenings). Even though I had no clue what she was saying, I had a pretty good hunch she was letting us know that it was going to be a “termite night”, and we should keep our bedroom window closed (we had been keeping it open to allow a cool breeze through). My parents raised me to be polite, so as she went on for several minutes with the rapid Japanese soliloquy, I periodically blurted out one of the only two Japanese words I knew (“Hai“) along with a short mini-bow, to let her know I was (probably) understanding what she was trying to communicate.

The whole time Jack just stood there in awe, marveling at my ability to engage with this sweet elderly woman and carry on a detailed conversation for several continuous minutes. As the woman and I finished our “conversation”, I uttered the other of the only two Japanese words I knew (“Arigatō“), then headed through the front door and up the stairs to our bedroom. With Jack right behind me, he asked “What was that all about?”. I said, “Oh, she was just explaining that it’s going to be a termite night tonight, and because that light is right outside our window, she closed our bedroom window to keep them out. She also recommended that we keep the window closed tonight, even if it’s a bit warm.” (Of course I was embellishing pretty heavily, but I’m pretty sure that I was accurately conveying her basic message.)

From just behind me as we both walked up the stairs, Jack said (in a tone that conveyed how impressed he was), “Wow — I had no idea you can speak Japanese!”, to which I replied “Oh, no — I don’t speak a word of it.”

A moment after I said this, I heard a small thump behind me on the stairs and I turned to see Jack had sat down, mid flight, doubled over with his forehead in is hand, mouth open, with not a sound emerging. For a brief moment I thought he was having a stroke or maybe bent or having a heart attack or something, but when he was finally able to draw a breath, he let out the loudest and most intense belly-laugh I had ever heard come from him, before or since! It was the kind of unbridled laughter that is extremely contagious. It took him a couple of minutes to regain his composure, before he finally had the strength to say, “You mean you were just pretending to chat with her? You certainly had me fooled!”

I don’t know why my little ruse that day hit Jack’s “funny bone” (as he liked to call it) so perfectly, but I often think of that moment of pure, intense joy coming from a man who so often made me laugh out loud with his dry wit and off-color jokes and limericks. We also continued to laugh about it for the rest of the expedition, because from that day forward, she would regale us every morning at breakfast and every evening when we returned from diving with long descriptions of … who knows what (certainly neither Jack nor I) — evidently being under the impression herself that I spoke fluent Japanese. “Hai“, I would say periodically as she spoke to us. And then, as she wrapped it up and headed back into the kitchen each morning or back to tending to the garden in front of the house each evening, I would dutifully bid her, “Arigatō!”.

Below is a photo I took during one of our trips to the Ogasawara Islands, showing Jack (sitting), John Earle (standing), and Johnson Kimura (at the helm).

Jack was not entirely without his minor quirks. He sometimes worried unnecessarily about his health–strange for someone so energetic and physically fit as he. Gene Helfman relates (in his post above) that just as the two of them began a dive in Palau “Jack mentioned that he had been diagnosed with kidney stones and if he passed one underwater to not even try to get him to the surface, just leave him thrash and drown.” Reading that, I recalled that at the start of our first expedition to the Sultanate of Oman in 1993, Jack felt some discomfort in his abdomen. X-rays revealed some sort of irregularity in his liver. Jack right away assumed it was cancer and made plans to return to Honolulu. The Omani government offered to give Jack VIP treatment and perform a CAT scan immediately, but Jack was adamant–he wanted to go home. Back in Honolulu, Queens Medical Center put Jack on a 2-week waiting list for a CAT scan. This was clearly unacceptable, but Jack’s doctor told him not to worry. If his liver was cancereous, said the doc, Jack would be a very sick man by now and his skin would be jaundiced, or yellowish in color. Whether Jack continued to worry or not I don’t know, but sure enough, when the CAT scan was eventually done, it revealed only a hematoma in Jack’s liver, a harmless clot of blood that would eventually be reabsorbed.

The story has an interesting sequel. Some years later my mother called to say that doctors had found a strange mass in her liver and that she was afraid it might be cancer, but that they wouldn’t be able to give her a CAT scan for a month! She was greatly worried and couldn’t stand the idea of waiting a month for the diagnosis, but there didn’t seem to be anything to do. I asked her how she felt physically and if here skin looked yellowish. I feel fine, she said. Then don’t worry, I said. If you have cancer in your liver you’d be very sick by now, and I told her the Jack Randall story. She was able to relax after that, and sure enough a month later she called to say that it was only a harmless hematoma.

But I digress. Back in Oman, when Jack left, he asked me to try to find and collect a specimen of the strange toxic toadfish that he and Jonathan Mee had collected a few years earlier. It seems the original specimen had been lost or damaged (see Jonathan’s second post above). This I was able to do and I later wrote up the adventure in an article called “Marcia and the Two-Faced Toadfish” published by Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Magazine (now sadly defunct). If interested, you can read it here:

Lastly, here’s a photo of Jack with the motley crew of the 2nd Oman expedition, which took place a year later in 1994.

Almost 30 years …. that is how long I have known Jack …. I have I had the pleasure of calling him friend before I worked on fishes, when I worked on fishes, and long after I gave up on fishes. Through so many events, he has always been a good friend. Always helpful, always curious, always wanting to do more. He is a character that comes along once in a long lifetime – a man imbued with immense passion and drive – an almost singular drive to go where few or none have gone before – to find, to see and to know as many fish as he could … He was a scientist par excellence yes, but he was more than that. He was a role model and a teacher for so many. He showed what could be done if one’s passion is not corrupted. Jack was a “madman” …. He would go to every length to catch a fish … whatever it took … but that same “madness” also produced fabulous results. Madness after all, is merely the consequence of being “affected with a high degree of intellectual independence” according to Ambrose Bierce …. Jack was all that and more. The mountains of discoveries he made will live on. Beyond his mortality. Many of us once believed he was immortal. We used to have a standing joke that he is protected by the Sea Gods because he was too valuable to be lost. At the end – we were half-right – he was irreplaceable – so Poseidon and Father Time claimed him for themselves. Good bye old friend – you will be remembered and you will be missed. One less “madman” to make this mad world of ours more human and liveable.

Dinner with Jack and Richard as well as Charles Fransen (Naturalis, Leiden), during the sidelines of a crustacean meeting in Honolulu (5 June 2011)

While searching for the best legal marine fish images to compliment a citizen science program in an attempt to document South African recreational fish catches the name John E Randall often popped up but, depending on the URL, many were copyrighted. I subsequently sought to contact the author directly for permission. At this time Jack was 93 so one of his colleagues and associates, yes, Richard Pyle, actually corresponded on his behalf and granted me the permission sought. His generosity in this regard was legendary as so many of you have testified to.
It was while getting an update on the upcoming five volume publication: Coastal Fishes of the Western Indian Ocean ( where I noticed his name listed as one of the co-editors. On Googling him I learnt of his passing.
I just wish that all scientific literature was freely available and especially thank Jack for permission to use his images. The recreational fish catalogue he assisted me with covers 450 marine species South African recreational anglers have the pleasure of encountering so they may correctly identify which species they come accross. Without people like Jack, where would we be? R.I.P.
He gained my respect and admiration. May he rest in peace.

I have known and corresponded with Jack since my graduate student days, but only published one short paper with him. As all have said, he was always always gracious and generous in his correspondence and personal interactions. He helped me with several taxonomic problems, and I always appreciated his reticence to change classifications. Jack rarely looked at the osteology of fishes, but he seemed to appreciate at least some of my suggestions about relationships based on that evidence. As for molecular data, on the other hand, he firmly stood his ground, e.g., for Serranidae. In recent years he had encouraged me to organize a “movement” in that regard, but I felt it was a losing battle. Two of my favorite “Jack” stories have already been told – what it took to stump him by Pat Colin – Protanguilla – and the “walking dead” experience following our field trip to Rotuma by Jeff Williams. Wayne Starnes also mentioned our tennis playing and Jack’s skill. He was a fierce, but courteous competitor, and that carried into Ping Pong. When Jeff, Vic and I stayed with Jack and Helen after his doctor had shot us up for our various infections., the conversation soon turned to pin pong, and I found myself downstairs, paddle in hand. I made the mistake of beating Jack in the first game and soon realized that we would not stop playing until he beat me! I’m not sure how many games that took, but we laughed at the fact that Jack would always be able to say, “The last time I played ping pong with Dave Johnson, I beat him!”
Condolences to Helen and the family, and Safe Passage, Jack. We will miss you always

Two photos from Oman, February 1993
1) Jack on the beach near Salalah
2) signing the publishing agreement for Coastal Fishes of Oman. From left to right, myself; Hamida Al Rashdy; Ralph Daly (the Sultan’s environmental advisor); Jack; and publisher Tony Crawford.

Here’s photo 1 from the previous post: Jack on the beach near Salalah, Oman, February 1993. (It had failed to upload)

To acknowledge the enormous contribution that Jack made to IPFC we have set up a memorial page with a eulogy from Jeff Leis. This page can be accessed from the main IPFC11-ASFB conference website. Here’s the link:

IPFC Home Page

We have included a link from there back to the active memorial page here, and the intention is for those who wish to leave a message to do so here.

John E. “Jack” Randall has reached the end of a groundbreaking and fulfilling career as a marine biologist. His career spanned from the time when Marine Biology was in its infancy to the current day when it is a sought-after career and a highly prized field of scientific inquiry. The past 67 years that we have been privileged to collaborate have been inspirational. He was a close friend, and valued colleague, It has been a distinct privilege and a pleasure to have been associated with Jack and his wife Helen.

Jack grew up on the coast of California and developed an overwhelming curiosity and desire to know all about the biology of marine animals, particularly the fish that lived in the near shore environment. Jack arrived in Hawaii on a boat that he had sailed, with an inexperienced all girl volunteer crew, from California to Hawaii. He was lucky enough to meet Helen here and, when I first met them in 1953, the two of them were docked in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Jack was working on his later degrees.

Jack Randall’s underwater observations were legendary. In his career he spent more hours underwater observing than most of us spend in a classroom in our whole lives! Jack was truly a Man-for-All-Seasons. He could go on for hours telling of his experiences throughout the world–all with the central theme of fish.

Jack had a passion for his work, and an unbelievable work ethic. He was possibly motivated somewhat by his mentor, William Alonzo Gosline, but I believe that Jack was self motivated as well. I learned more about the marine environment from Jack than I did from all of the professionals I encountered in my lifetime.

Jack was a keen observer, even though he suffered from poor eyesight and, as time went on, he had difficulty seeing underwater. His solution was to develop and construct his own diving mask complete with corrective lenses.

There was never a conversation with Jack, regardless of the original intent, that did not become a fascinating discussion of the marine environment peppered with his experiences and examples from hundreds of locations throughout the world. Although his principle focus was fish taxonomy, he included all aspects of his experience, with remarks about the behavior of the fish in question, their food habits, parasites, mating behavior, color patterns, and interaction with other fish and invertebrates.

Jack had an outstanding relationship with his family. His wife Helen was supportive in all of Jack’s activities; his daughter Lori was also most helpful in managing the fish reference collection at the Bishop Museum and thus allowing Jack to continue to pursue his work from home during these last few years.

Jack expanded his work to include taxonomic and ecological studies that involved all families of tropical marine fish in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. His lifetime record is prodigious, and based largely on collections and observations that he personally made throughout the world. It is noteworthy that much of his taxonomic research is based on his own collections of specimens and recorded with a photographic process that he developed over the years. Diving with Jack was often a trial of endurance and patience. Many a diving partner was exhausted trying to keep up with an older Jack Randall. The science always came first. Post dive activities like photography, preservation of specimens, etc. always came before personal comforts like eating, showering or sleeping,. But that was the Jack Randall that I knew: rigourous, inspiring, adventuresome, fascinating, and a good friend. Jack was an inspiration to everyone he encountered. He was truly a legend in his own time, and he will be greatly missed!

Aloha, Jack– thanks for the lifetime inspiration.

I met Jack in the 7th Indo Pacific Fish Conference in Taipei in 2005.
My most deep condolences to Helen and their respective families.

Jack was a popular friend of the South African marine science community and paid a number of visits over the years. He was a fiendish diver and an expert with the Hawaiian sling with which he could collect the smallest of specimens. He did so with great care, so as not to damage the specimen. His scuba diving skills were legendary: he had his own personal decompression tables– which would give him a few more safe minutes of downtime. It was always an experience to assist Jack on a dive. Before entering the water, Jack would hand you a bunch of harpoons of different sizes. Once in the water Jack would ask you to carry his bevy of harpoons. No sooner was he lined up to take a shot – when the fish moved with Jack in hot pursuit frantically gesticulating his need for another spear size…all of that whilst swimming at great speed with absurdly large fins. Exhausting!
Jack and Helen undertook several fish surveys in South Africa often accompanied by Margaret Smith and several ORI staff. These were fine expeditions and those of us who were privileged to partake in these surveys greatly appreciated his expertise – which he shared freely.
His photographic skills were an institution. The thousands of Kodachrome slides, that was his life’s record, were stored in a bank of frost free fridges at the Museum, as recommended by Kodak to assure long lasting quality. Jack was self-critical. I would take him to collect his newly processed slides from Kodak, always an event with apprehension. But then, to my horror, he would discard most on the floor of my Landrover. Those ‘duds’ were often recovered and now reside in the ORI collection. Jack was generous to a fault. He was always ready to assist in commenting wisely on a draft paper and he was always prepared to loan his photographs to enhance the quality of a publication prepared by other authors.
Just before you took Jack too seriously as an academic, he would reveal one of his other passions: limericks! He would recite endless numbers of these excellent little poems – deep into the night, with his friends in stitches.
Jack’s impact is certain to continue. Notable will be his four chapters in the forthcoming set of West Indian Ocean fishes: Labridae, Scaridae, Holocentridae and Mullidae.
Thank you Helen, Lori, Rodney, Sandy and Sean for sharing your dad and grandad with us.
Aloha! Jack – you are missed but never forgotten!

I originally posted this on coral-list. Today I saw Dan Barshis’s post alerting me to this memorial site. I hurried over, expecting to see a couple of dozen messages. Half an hour later, tears in my eyes, I got to the end. So many people I have lost touch with, whose lives also were impacted by Jack Randall.

My last occasion seeing Jack was at his home in Kaneohe in 2018 — Mark Hixon was kindly satisfying my need to reminisce about the Hawaii I remembered, and we dropped in for lunch. Mark beat me to the draw by posting the photo of that meeting earlier in this stream of stories. It was a great visit — thank you, Helen — and a memory I will treasure.

Here’s what appeared on coral-list:
I echo Luiz Rocha’s sadness re the passing of Jack Randall. We all knew it had to come sometime, but the world seems a smaller place now.

I had the pleasure of introducing Jack as he gave his plenary at the Hawaii ICRS, 2016, the latest recipient of the ISRS (now ICRS) Darwin medal. Jack played an immense role in my early career, without being physically present for much of it, because he had written his PhD in Bill Gosline’s lab on the biology of the Manini. Two thick volumes – don’t try and tell me that standards have not been relaxed in academia – one on the taxonomy of the Acanthuridae and the other on the biology of this wonderful fish. I read the second, cover to cover. It gave me my start in trying to understand the juvenile life of that fish.

My first real meeting with Jack occurred late in my PhD career, when again, he only talked to me second-hand, via Gosline, as the anonymous reviewer of a tiny paper I had submitted to Copeia. I did not like his comments, that demoted my note from the next best thing to a moon shot to the tiny contribution it was. I railed to Gosline about ‘that damned reviewer’ and Gosline, always wise, with a twinkling eye, and also eager to keep peace within the ‘family’ said’ “Do you want it published, or not? Do what that damned reviewer says.”

My next encounter with Jack was at Heron Island, where he took the time to demonstrate to me how he pinned out his fishes to obtain taxonomically useful photos (before the days of routine UW photography). And shortly after that we were on the Marco Polo (3rd ICRS) and I saw him in his wetsuit. You know marine scientists pride themselves (or used to) on having well-worn dive gear. Jack’s wetsuit was a ragged, patched old thing that he had painted in bold white stripes because he’d read somewhere that sharks did not like zebras – or something to that effect.

Great scientist, amazing human, he will be missed.

Peter Sale

In September 1994, I joined the Fisheries Research Centre (Sabah Department of Fisheries), and from the intense field samplings discovered oh so many fishes… the biodiversity (!), and soon after, John Randall – through his books and his many fish papers. I have never met him in person, but have always held his works in high regard.

Farewell to a Science Giant! Deepest condolences from my family to his wife and family.

I am grateful to have known Jack for the last 50 years. I met him when I was a student in the Zoology Dept at UH Manoa and a volunteer in the Dept of Invertebrate Zoology at B.P. Bishop Museum. I was newly arrived in Hawaii in 1967 and while I knew the California intertidal system fauna well, I knew nothing about the tropics. Friends knew I was studying marine biology and they wanted to learn about Hawaiian marine life, too, but didn’t want to go to college for it, so I realized some public education classes were necessary. Other graduate students and myself decided between all of us we knew enough to cobble together marine life education classes at the Waikiki Aquarium, and so we did. Jack was our mentor in learning the fishes.

A few years later I started a travel program at the Aquarium so that lay people could learn about marine life farther afield. Bruce Carlson, Mike deGruy and I co-led the first trip to Pohnpei, Guam, and Palau in 1977. Later, I moved to Maui but kept up the marine life travel business. Giving educational slide shows is important on a trip, and Jack would identify photos I had taken to help me increase my slide library. I would also take his fish books and relevant monographs along so we could look things up as needed.

In 1993 Jack participated in a live-aboard dive trip to the Solomons, along with Richard Pyle, Bruce Carlson, Marj Awai, Leighton & Linda Taylor, and Owen McMillan. This is the trip where Bruce had to get Jack out of the water on the last dive! In 1997 I asked him if I could arrange a trip to take him someplace he would like to go, and he said yes, the Marquesas! We went as a group of eight (including John Earle) on a small live-aboard.

Jack helped me with picking good dive destinations. Since he was always traveling off the beaten dive path, he had good suggestion for new places to go before they were well known. Manado, Indonesia, and Sipadan, Malaysia, were two of my favorites.

Thank you Jack, for your passion and hard work to help all of us appreciate and understand our vast world of marine life. People like me wouldn’t have much to teach if it weren’t for people like you.
Thank you Helen and the rest of the family for being his support. What a great team you all are!

My name is Bob Iversen and I live in Melbourne, Australia. From 1950 until 1994 I lived in Hawaii and in Australia from 1994 until 2020. I was a mature age graduate student in zoology from 1954 to 1956 at the University of Hawaii and that is where I met Jack Randall. We had adjoining offices in a left over World War II office building. Jack helped out a bit when I was in the ichthyologist course under Dr. Bill Gosline. I was only a graduate student until 1956 when I went to work for the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. The BCF research vessels went all over the tropical Pacific Ocean. One cruise I was on in 1957 stopped off in Papeete for some R & R and to meet Jack Randall and Vernon Brock, then the Director of the Hawaii State Division of Fish and Game. They had been over at Moorea collecting snappers for introduction into Hawaii. The next thing I knew Jack and Vernon Brock were on the R/V Hugh M. Smith making arrangements to place their catches in the Smith’s live baitwell (the baitwell was empty of the fish and ready to receive the snappers). My job was to handle the dip nets with the snappers in them. I did this and the snappers made it back to Hawaii and were dumped overboard where they happily took up residence and began to reproduce.
Now comes my Jack Randall story, After we had completed transferring the fish from Jack’s boat, Jack approached me and asked if I would ride ‘shotgun’ on him when he was scuba diving down amongst some big corals with a lot of fish that he wanted to photograph. I said no way – how was I going to see you when you disappear among all the corals. No problem, said Jack. You will be on he surface watching my bubbles as I swim below them. Okay? he said. I said okay and the two of us went in the water. It wasn’t more than ten minutes, maybe less when I lost track of Jack’s bubbles. I looked left and right and even dove down eight or ten feet and looked sideways under the corals. ‘Jack, where the hell are you?’ I said to myself. I looked around but no bubbles. Finally, I had to say to myself ‘Holy shit, I’ve lost Jack! How am I going to explain this? What am I going to tell Helen?’ So I took my flippers off and started walking towards the Hugh M. Smith. I hadn’t gone very far and there he was – as big as life. He had an explanation
Where Jack went professionally after our little ‘bubble’ escapade I don’t know. Together with Dr. Phil Helfrich I used visit with Jack occasionally during the last 10 years of his life. Jack knew everybody in fish taxonomy and had lots of anecdotes about them.

by Bob Iversen, May 10, 2020, Melbourne, Australia

I first met Jack and Helen Randall at ASIH meetings as a graduate student in the late 1970s. The first talk I ever saw Jack give was at ASIH in Tempe, AZ, in 1978, on marine preserves. He narrated a slide show of marine fishes that he had photographed in situ. This was a serious scientific discussion informed by his unique perspective—who else was focusing on marine preserves in 1978?—but also humorous and human. The common name of the state fish of Hawaii, the triggerfish Rhinecanthus rectangulus, rolled off his tongue, humu humu nuku nuku apua’a, as he broke into a smile.

I didn’t get to know Jack until almost a decade later. Gerry Allen and I planned a survey of the fishes of the freshwater and coastal streams near Madang, Papua New Guinea, in 1987. Toward the end of our six-week stay, Jack alone came to our lab alone, an independent scholar, to collect and photograph marine shorefishes.

One day Jack asked me if I was a diver. Me? No. “Then I will teach you,” he said. The next day, he chose the equipment I would need and explained what each item was for. After the most minimal instruction, we headed to a quiet lagoon. He flipped over the side of the boat and I followed. We descended to no more than 10 m. I had a net and a bottle of quinaldine. I squirted it into a crevice and collected a specimen of the cardinalfish Sphaeramia orbicularis as I indelicately knocked into some coral. Only later did I appreciate that he took me to one of the safest of dive sites.

Nearly thirty years later, I began field projects in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. Naturally, I went to see Jack and Helen in their comfortable home where they were welcoming, gracious hosts to a continuous flow of visitors. Jack not only remembered our diving adventure, he recounted the details, even the size of the lagoon, and my encounter with the coral. It was a most kind gesture and it was not unique to me. That was Jack.

Photo: Jack Randall and Lynne Parenti, Kaneohe, HI, May 4, 2013.

I was a little surprized and sad that so few comments were posted on the Coral List, but to see here so many tributes to Jack is truly reassuring and make my eyes wet as reading many of these testimonies reminds me of who Jack was and the numerous great moments we had together. Like many of us I could write pages of stories about Jack. What was very nice with Jack is that he paid attention to you, he made you feel like you were a unique person. Being in the field with Jack was not only a continuous source for learning, but also superbe good time, with all kinds of stories, true or not, but always with a bit of humor so characteristic of Jack. He had always time to answer my mails or messages, and one day I asked him how he could stay at level with the huge number of messages he was receiving, he told me that I should think of the person who is sending the request, if that person was in front of me, would I turn my head around and ignore the question ?
In French we say “Personne n’est irremplaçable, mais chacun de nous est unique” (which translate roughly as “nobody is irreplaceable, but everyone of us is unique”), but I think that Jack is one of the few who is irreplaceable.and for certain more than unique.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack only once; I was working on a paper on large Caribbean parrotfishes with Mary Donovan (photo) and we asked Jack for any additional information or photos he had that he hadn’t published. He offered to meet with us in person, and he was incredibly generous with his time. His enthusiasm was infectious, and his memory of reefs in the USVI from 50+ years ago was astounding. Time for us to finish this manuscript!
(and my first exposure to fish surveys included learning Johnrandallia nigrirostris. I had no idea at the time just how significant that genus was!)

I spoke with Jack a few times at ASIH meetings and corresponded with him about our surgeonfish work. What I remember most is his breadth of curiosity and his modest, sharing, gracious manner when dealing with students and colleagues. The impact of his systematic and taxonomic work is obvious, but his methods for photography of fresh specimens literally changed the nature of images common to ichthyological publications. He has given us all much to live up to.

There are so many great recollections and photos of Jack presented here, but I didn’t see any recordings of Jack on video actually telling one of his stories. At the end of this short video, Marj and I did just that. Jack was awarded the Pioneer Award from the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) at the annual conference in Las Vegas on Saturday September 10, 2018. Jack was not able to travel to the conference so Marj and I presented the award to him at his home in Kaneohe. At the end of this video, Marj recorded Jack relating one of his childhood memories of keeping fish in an aquarium.

MASNA Video Link

I have been struggling to find meaningful words to contribute. Jack was always kind and enthusiastic. Around 1973 he welcomed me as young helper at the museum while I was still in high school. He took me on spectacular trips, introduced me to life-long friends and exposed me to the world. He taught me more than a bit about diving. He always encouraged me in my pursuits, even when it was evident my enthusiasm for ichthyology far eclipsed my talent. He was a giant in my life; more than words can capture.

Here is a photo of Jack from Manado in 1978.

He is smiling – he had just collected three new species of Cirrhilabrus. Using his powerhead to stun them because they were evading both the rotenone and his multi-prong spear. I don’t think there was a way to collect fish that he did not use

Jack was a wonderful man who had an extraordinary life.

I only had the pleasure of meeting him in person a few times, but we had quite a steady correspondence over several decades. Of course, he was legendary for always responding to letters and then emails.

When first starting out as a graduate student in marine ecology, I relied heavily on some of Jack’s now classic papers and books, including Caribbean Reef Fishes. And his Food Habits of Reef Fishes of the West Indies is one of my favorites of all time—I use it often even now. It is amazingly comprehensive.

As someone who has lived on St. John for so many years, I have valued Jack’s incredible contributions to the ecology of the Virgin Islands. He and Helen published many papers when they were living here from 1959 to 1961. He and Robert Schroeder were so impressed with the reefs around Buck Island, St. Croix, that they recommended the area be protected under the National Park Service. Soon after, President Kennedy established it as Buck Island Reef National Monument. Robert Schroeder’s book Something Rich and Strange is a wonderful, entertaining account of many of the adventures he and Jack had in the early days in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida.

While snorkeling in the mangroves and coral reefs around St. John, I occasionally have come across bizarre or rare fish (a Sargassum Pipefish, Unicorn Filefish), fish in unusual places (Sargassum Frogfish and Balloonfish in mangrove prop roots), or fish doing unusual things (Scrawled Filefish nipping at sea fans and fire coral). I always knew that if I contacted Jack he would happily identify the fish or tell me more about what it was doing—and he always did.

I do not know if Jack grew to like his computer, but I doubt it. He resisted switching to a computer from his typewriter until one day the issue was forced when he arrived in his office to find a computer on his desk and the typewriter gone. He sent me a cartoon drawing showing someone using a sledgehammer to “crash” a computer. A few months ago he told he that his “computer decided which of his email messages it was going to keep”.

I was still learning from him.

My sincerest condolences to Helen and the rest of his family, as well as to countless others whose lives he touched.

Reading through the many accounts of Jack and his achievements one feels humbled in presuming to add to so many revealing anecdotes. I corresponded intermittently with Jack for some 50 years, and was so impressed by the time and energy he was prepared to dedicate to assisting younger researchers. In the end I only collaborated with him on one paper, on Red Sea parrotfishes. I was amazed that not only had he managed to track down dozens of synonyms for the species we were trying to sort, but he seemed to have done most of it during a spell in hospital. As one who is hard put to read a Raymond Chandler when ill, I was awed! (But perhaps, as one previous reminisence implies, not every one of his earlier hospital visits was so essential?) Most recently it was a pleasure to correspond again and propose him (successfully) as the recipient of the Darwin Medal, the premier honor of the International Coral Reef Society. Clealry delighted, he was presented with the award at the International Coral Reef Symposium held in Hawaii in 2016. That was the last time I saw him, surrounded by and chatting happily with a swarm of budding reef scientists.

I first met Jack some 25 years ago, but our work seldom intersected given my predilection for aquatic creatures of the shelled rather than scaly kind. Even so, his energy and enthusiasm for marine discovery was ever present and he was always generous in answering any questions I tossed him. In 2001, we had a chance to work together on a giant Indonesian mantis shrimp, captured with the help of Mark Erdmann — I like to think it as doing my bit to tempt Jack over to the ‘dark side’, but alas, that would never be possible!

With so many new discoveries over such a long career, Jack will remain an inspiration for a long time to come.

Jack, you’ll be missed.

I first met Jack when I went for an interview for a Curatorial Technician position at the Bishop Museum. I was an avid snorkeler and had recently been SCUBA certified. After every dive, I would look at my books to try and identify what fish I had seen, struggling to learn (and pronounce) their scientific names. Yes, I was a fish nerd. And now, here I was, interviewing with THE Jack Randall, premier ichthyologist, skilled diver and accomplished underwater photographer…don’t be nervous….

Jack immediately put me at ease with his friendly and easy-going manner. Looking at my college transcripts, he smiled and said, “Oh, I see you got an “A” in your Ichthyology classes!” His next question was somewhat perplexing: “Do you play volleyball?” To which I nervously replied, “yes,” and he smiled again. Arnold Suzumoto later explained to me that Jack was very serious about the volleyball question, as he had been wanting to set up a volleyball court in one of the yards at the Museum.

Thus began my time working for Jack, and what a wonderful experience it was! I learned so much about ichthyology and taxonomy, and also all those exotic locations where Jack dived and collected his fishes. This was before Google Earth, so whenever I was typing up a museum label, I would have to find the sites on the huge map of the Indo-Pacific Ocean in our office. Jack would share some great stories about his collecting trips and especially his camera problems. I was always amazed by Jack’s ability to look at a tiny, 1″ long preserved fish that was tan with a small brown marking, and tell me what species it was. I spent much of my time typing labels for fishes on an old manual typewriter. Every once in a while, Jack or a colleague would make a major revision of a genus or family. Not only would I need to re-type each label, but I would also sometimes have to re-arrange every bottle on the shelf to make sure that everything was filed correctly.

Another one of my tasks was handling incoming and outgoing fish specimens, so I learned the ins and outs of record-keeping with the Museum Registrar. This also gave me a lot of experience packing and shipping specimens. One year, Jack sent me to Enewetak to pack up the Smithsonian’s collection of fish and invertebrates to be sent back to the Smithsonian Institution. I was especially excited when Jack said that I might be able to do some diving while I was there. What a fantastic opportunity! Jack even lent me an old Nikonos III camera to try my hand at underwater photography. Of course, none of my photos were anywhere as nice as his, but that gave me my start in UW photography. Jack went to Enewetak a couple of weeks ahead of me. This turned out to be unfortunate in one small way. When I arrived, the staff was showing me where all the food was, and they said that they had just about everything except ice cream, as Jack had eaten it all.

During my time at Museum, I met a lot of visiting ichthyologists and doctoral candidates. Jack would often ask me to take them SCUBA diving. He would seem so apologetic when he asked me to take someone diving, but I’m sure he knew that I loved it. As many others have mentioned, Jack was much more than a world-renown Ichthyologist. He also took genuine interest in the people he met, and was kind, generous and thoughtful. He was always very supportive, and although I did not stay in the field of ichthyology, the things I learned while working with Jack have stayed with me to this day. I eventually went from working with preserved fish to live ones but kept in touch with Jack. As Curator at The Florida Aquarium and now at Disney’s Aulani Resort, I learned the scientific names of the animals under our care and encouraged and challenged my staff to learn them too. Just before I left the Museum, I bought an SLR camera, housing and strobes and was learning to take UW photos. I could now commiserate with Jack about the challenges of taking photos underwater. He would give me tips, and encouraged me to keep diving and taking photos. After a while, I got the hang of it, but I sure wish that Jack was still around to exchange dive and photography stories.

One of the last times that I saw Jack was at his home in Sept. 2018. Bruce Carlson and I went to visit Jack and Helen so that Bruce could present Jack with the 2018 MASNA Pioneer Award. Jack was jovial as ever, and we had a great time talking and listening to more of his stories. It was a fun time, and I will remember it every time I look at the photo that I took of Jack and Helen (see attached photo).

First dive with Jack: a day to remember
As I mentioned in my first instalment above, I met Jack in Jerusalem in 1974 and agreed to be his diving assistant. We went down to the Marine Lab (now the Interuniversity Institute) in Eilat, it was early September and still very hot at the Red Sea. We spent the day getting Jack set up in the lab, rigging up his photographic apparatus, painting wooden boards in his signature black and green and checking that the flashes fired. He also checked his new Ikelite housing, Nikon F camera and strobes and all worked fine. The next morning we went diving off the north corner of the lab fence line (left of the ponds in the photo). It is an area without coral and it drops down along a steep slope of coral rubble. Jack took off carrying the camera and his Hawaiian sling. I carried the diving bag and his powerhead. He stopped his descent at 50 m and followed the contour of the slope to a relatively flat area with some scattered small rocks. Suddenly he turned, handed me the camera and pointed to a small elongate fish with dark stripes on the body. He then chased the fish and speared it with an accurate shot that penetrated only one side of its body. As he was putting the captured fish in a jar I had pulled out of the bag he looked at me with his eyes showing a big grin, he was very happy. By the end of the dive he was even happier because while decompressing he picked up a shrimp goby he didn’t recognize. Back in the lab the dark stripes of the fish turned into bright red. While preparing the fish for photography Jack said he had known that the stripes were red and he believed that both fish he had caught could be new species. If I remember correctly, David Friedman, the director of Coral World who had seen the striped fish while diving previously and hadn’t recognised it, had written Jack about this fish before he came to Israel. Needless to say, as a rookie I was impressed by this experience. While the goby did turn out to be a new species of Amblyeleotris, the striped fish wasn’t, it was identified as Bodianus opercularis.
While we were processing the two fish in the lab there was a shark attack on North Beach, where the hotels are. A young German female tourist had been badly bitten on her arm and again on her thigh while being pulled out of the water by two vacationing soldiers who were nearby in a small boat. Two days later local fishermen caught a Mako shark in the same area. I don’t remember any more how Jack got involved, but we ended up going to the hospital and talking to the surgeon who had operated on the tourist. Jack agreed to determine whether the captured Mako was the culprit and I was sent shopping for material for making a mould of the tourist’s thigh. Jack photographed the shark then we cut off its head and went back to the lab, made the mould, fitted it into the shark’s mouth more or less to the level of the wound on the tourist’s leg. While I was holding the mould Jack closed the mouth of the shark in a gentle bite. The teeth marks on the mould were perfect. The next day he took the mould to the hospital and confirmed that this was the shark that attacked the tourist by comparing it to the cuts on the woman’s leg. Jack later described this incident in a scientific paper.
This was a real Jack Randall experience, and I was hooked!

The Marine Lab in Eilat as it was in the early 1980s (photo by Arik Diamant)

There are so many memories but I will share one that is not really fish related. Jack, Phil and I were staying on Middle Caye of Glover’s Atoll, Belize while they were working on goby/shrimp observations as well as many other projects. After one of our long days of diving, during which Jack outlasted us in the water as usual, we were in our horribly uncomfortable “dorm” rooms trying to have some rum and squash and get comfortable on the crazy bunk beds they had in there. It was really the only place to escape the sand fleas. We were chatting about fish and research of course, when Jack looked at Phil and said “When are you going to marry her”. Phil was flabbergasted and mumbled about not knowing how to find an engagement ring…. Jack replied, not to worry as he was friends with a New York jeweler who had a passion for tropical fish, and he would take care of it. Nothing more was said about it for the remainder of the trip, but when we returned to Woods Hole, the jeweler called Phil right away and basically a ring was fedex’ed to him within a week. So thank you to Jack for helping us to make it official! Thank you to Jack and Helen for the many wonderful visits, dinners and parties where we shared fabulous fish stories with so many friends on this list. The photo below was taken during the dive excursion during the ASIH meeting that was held in La Paz many years ago. It does not reach Jack’s standards for photography but it captures Jack with Johnrandallia

Bruce Carlson shared with me some more images from the 1993 Solomon Islands trip with Jack and others. Among his finds was the image just now added to Bruce’s post of April 30th, depicting the infamous slate he wrote to get Jack out of the water on his final dive on that trip.

Also among those images Bruce shared were a pair of photos of Jack and me from that same trip that emphasize what I tried to convey in my own post of May 6th, describing Jack’s ubiquitous sense of humor. I’ve posted these images below, and I think they speak for themselves….


From Mike Gawel, coral reef biologist and environmental planner in Guam, one of many mentored by Jack and his long time friend.

Our family and many friends express our condolences to wife Helen, daughter Lori, son Rodney and Jack Randall’s family over his passing.

Just as so many who have benefited from Jack’s work and influence I must join in, to honor him and share some personal memories. I was extremely fortunate to have many fish collection dives and learning experiences with Jack in Fiji and the Philippines from 1971 to 1981. I was impressed that he was so brilliant, scientifically productive, inspirational and supportive.

For those who have inter-acted with Jack, often in widespread, remote and exotic sites, you may wonder what he described to me as his best dive. If you can read this lengthy note, I’d like to maintain your attention to read to the end, where I will identify what Jack told me was his best dive.

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer at the University of the South Pacific (USP) researching, writing fish identification materials, teaching and collecting fishes for the University’s depository, Jack had me support him in his collecting efforts including rotenone stations (this was an accepted method 50 years ago).

At one Fiji rotenone station a few meters deep we found a large moray eel showing effects but still active. Jack signed me to go back to our nearby boat and quickly bring him a large 3-pronged pole spear to use to safely collect the eel. When I returned with the spear I saw no sign of the eel. Later after completing collection of every fish we could find and not leaving any, Jack explained that while I was getting the spear a large shark had shown up and eaten the eel!

At another Fiji site (Makaluva) on the slopes of a barrier reef channel we were seeking specimens to spear. I believe we were about 10 meters deep when a scary bull shark came to investigate us. For defense Jack responded by unscrewing the point and barb from his spear which was loaded in his spear gun and replacing it screwing on a powerhead with explosive shell that he carried up his wetsuit sleeve. But just then we saw an Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus, which Jack needed to collect and photograph. So Jack traded his powerhead back for the spear point and quickly speared the grouper while the shark was still circling. I was shocked and sped to the surface and to our boat and fortunately Jack followed unharmed and with his prized specimen.

Later Jack told me how his friend Rhett McNair had perfected development of power heads and practiced their use bull-fighter style. Jack also talked about using black and white banded wetsuits to possibly discourage sharks.

We also discussed ciguatera, which led me a decade later to work on ciguatera bioassay tests with mice and mosquitos and finally helping the ciguatera poke-stick test development at the University of Hawaii. Jack had suggested that he had tried his own instant in-the-field bioassay by taking slime off the back of a fish suspected to have ciguatera and rubbing it on his gums above his front teeth. If he felt a tingling the fish was probably very toxic.

In another story Jack explained how he discovered that the soapfish gives off an irritating toxin from its skin. He had speared one soapfish and lacked a stringer or collection bag, so he stuffed it inside his swim trunks. That’s learning the hard way.

When I was with Jack in those days he had the main goal of authoring a book with color photos of all the reef fishes of South Pacific Islands. He said he couldn’t get it printed without the support of two millionaires (one alone wouldn’t be able to handle the costs). He finally did get that excellent volume published in 2005.

Although Jack was interested in having me do a thesis on fish taxonomy at the University of Hawaii and had me check specimens by visiting the Smithsonian, the Field Museum, the California Academy, and his Bishop Museum, he noted that spending years as a student at the University of Hawaii (UH Manoa) might neglect the knowledge and experience I had developed with the high diversity of fishes in Fiji (e.g., I was able to discover, describe {with Dave Woodland} and name Siganus uspi and compiled a teaching tool of a dichotomous key to Fiji’s 140 fish families). Jack suggested that I check the new graduate program at the University of Guam which would place me in an area of high species diversity and opportunities of learning coral and marine plant species from Guam experts and finding new species. In retrospect, Jack was the major influence for my move to Guam for graduate studies and my career based in Micronesia dealing with coral reefs.

However, I did later study at UH in the 1980’s but for a planning degree with a thesis on Marine Resources Planning for Pacific Islands, followed by my return home to Micronesia. During that academic period I managed to dive in the Philippines with Jack and collected fish at Dumaguete and with John McCosker at Mactan (where we almost lost Kent E. Carpenter deep in a cave searching for flashlight fish). I think Jack lost about 15 pounds during that trip and he said that was about average loss on his many marathon collecting trips.

I have kept in touch since and my last email from him was late in 2019 confirming our belief that Siganus uspi is endemic to Fiji. But I have not dived with Jack for almost 40 years now. Some of our remote interactions since then included identifying a Cirrhilabrus species I had caught and kept in my home aquarium in Pohnpei while I was Chief of Marine Resources for the Federated States of Micronesia. In those days before computers and email I described it in a letter to Jack and he asked for a photo. That involved taking the photo, having film sent to the US for development, getting photos back to Pohnpei then mailing them to Jack in Hawaii. Ever helpful, Jack replied that no wonder I couldn’t identify the species because it was undescribed and he had also seen it from Kwajalein.

Finally I’ll mention that we were culturing a species of local rabbit fish at the Guam Aquaculture Center, thinking it was Siganus vermiculatus. But on closer inspection we saw differences and this led to its being named a new species Siganus randalli after Jack.

Back in the 1970’s when we were relaxing between fish collecting efforts (probably having some Fiji Bitters) and while Jack told stories of his years of unique and amazing experiences, I asked him what his best dive had been. He thought a few seconds and then described how he did a full twisting one and one half dive off the spring-board when he competed on the swimming and diving team at UCLA!

I have dreamt that Heaven would be a place offering endless discoveries of new species. I pray that Jack is realizing and enjoying that.

Mike Gawel

I never had the pleasure (or perhaps I should say challenge) of diving with Jack, but I was lucky enough to meet him and even collect a few fish for him while I was in Papua New Guinea. Not only was he a giant in the world of ichthyology, but a truly nice and decent person.

Deepest condolences to Helen and the family.

The passing of someone that has touched our lives is a moment to remember the things we love about them or the impression they have had on our lives. It is also a moment to reconsider ones one life. No one will ever accomplish as much as Jack, but more importantly, Jack touched peoples lives in ways that are indescribable. I had only directly interacted with Jack a few times, but he nonetheless has influenced me in my career. One of the most memorable moments was in the mid 90s when Bruce Carlson brought me on a short trip down to South Point to dive on black coral. Jack was on the trip and we spent three days diving from Kona to South Point. I still hold the memory of diving on a huge black coral tree at about 150′. At the time, this was the largest colony I had ever seen and was fascinated with it. As I was stumbling around excited and fumbling with my camera, Jack was trying to get a photo of a pair of Tinker’s and I was clearly in the way. I attempted to get out of the way and he continued to photograph the fish. He never said anything after the dive, but I knew I was the kid in the way, but instead he was generous in sharing the moment. After that trip, he contacted me to ask whether I saw Tinker’s around black coral colonies elsewhere. I felt a great sense of honor that he would reach out to me. He had wondered why it was more common on the Big Island. I, of course, had no idea, but I was sure that I had not seen it on other islands. His curiosity and generosity was obvious after that trip and it is one small memory that I will cherish.

Rest in peace Jack, and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

In about 1987 I sailed into Madang Harbour on my 37’ steel yacht and discovered that Madang Harbour was not a good anchorage and I was informed that there was a much better place a little to the north at the Christensen Resort, so I picked up anchor and headed there.

The Christensen Resort was just crazy, in the nicest sense of the word. Apparently, an American billionaire had passed away and he had left money to create the best marine research facility in the world, and the place was brimming with enthusiastic scientists who were doing research into the minutiae of fish guts etc. I have no idea; they were simply wonderful people whom I admired and every night there was a dinner and I had the privilege of sitting down with these people for the evening meal.

Jack Randal was one of those people, and we struck up a friendship. He was an engaging American who had many wonderful stories that left us awe. I will tell you only one as it affected me greatly; while Jack was researching in the Red Sea he was down in the ocean doing what marine researchers do, and along came a Tiger shark. Jack explained the warning signs of Tiger sharks when they are aggressive; they arch their backs, they drop their lateral fins (or whatever they are called) and they start to circle. Well this shark did exactly this Jack, and Jack calmly put a shot gun shell into his spear gun just as the shark came at Jack to kill. The shark lost.

I swear; the next day I went scuba diving on a reef just off Madang and as I fell into the sea from my rubber dinghy, and turned, I was looking at a 5M Tiger shark directly below me. I was in about 7 M of water, so it felt as I had landed on the shark’s back. That is only time in my life that I managed to jump into a rubber dinghy with all of my dive gear on. Impressive how a 5M Tiger shark gives one motivation.

Jack always said; whenever he saw a Tiger shark he got out of the water, because even if the shark was only 1M long it probably has a mother nearby.

That was one tale of many. Did you hear about the moray eel that attacked Jack and he used his elbow to stop the bite? That was a good one. (As Jack explained, when a Moray eel bites he is most weak when his jaw is fully flexed, so if you can stick you elbow in the eel’s mouth he can do less harm). Oh Jack!

I dived with Jack a lot of times while I was looking for dinner and Jack was doing what Jack did; science.

I gave Jack a nick name; Two Scoops, as he always had two scoops of ice cream and he was the embodiment of health, so it seemed ironic.

Some of the other scientists would whisper to me; “That’s Jack Randal…” he was royalty. Jack was just a mate, and great friend for the little time I got to be in his presence. Even today I think of him. God bless. He left the world a better place.

Today is Jack’s birthday and I am sharing my 2nd message here.

Jack inspired me to take countless underwater photos of the filefish, Acreichthys tomentus (attached). The photo here was taken on December 2016, after I got his first instruction and inspiration. It is my best photo that day!

When I first shared my photo of A. tomentosus to Jack, he said, Girley, it does not look like a fish, it looks like a turtle (photo below). Until now, I still smile, when I remember his comment.

When I got more photos of the species, Jack finally said, Girley Thank you for taking so many photos of our favorite filefish.

You are a great inspiration Jack!

Happy first Birthday in Heaven Jack!

Davao del Norte State College
Panabo City, Philippines

John Randall,

I never met Jack in person. But looking at the very long list of friends that replied on Remembering Jack Randall I feel we had an extra strong connection .,being a tech diver we learnt about Pyle Stops and enjoyed Dr. Richard Pyle’s seminars on CCR to find new fish species down at extreme depths beyond 200 M.
However In the early 1980’s my long life friend Hagen Schmidt helped Jack collect fish samples in Jeddah and the samples were photographed in Hagen’s kitchen for Dr. John E. Randall’s publication Red Sea Reef Fishes book.
During this beautiful time period I dived and photographed the reefs of Jeddah when pristine coral reefs were abundant and unexplored .

Hagen Schmidt introduced me to Jack .My passion, motivation and satisfaction increased tremendously as Jack provided me with a shopping list of creatures that needed in situ imaging and sampling for his papers and publications .
Jack was very generous with his time and information . I found species that needed identification. In the event he did not have the information he then introduced me to his former students and colleagues .
In North Obhur Jeddah Municipality on Jack’s Birthday 22nd of May 2018 we dedicated a dive day to our master and friend.. I had the pleasure and privilege to dive with Sergey Bogorodsky, the author of the upcoming comprehensive Red Sea Fish Species book.

On this day we found many species described by Jack .Sergey even found a new species of Electric ray yet to be collected and described !
Jack told me that he dived until the age of 87/88 !!! That’s encouraging to hear for us nitrogen junkies.

Jack always replied to all my mail within 24 hours, myself three decades younger having a struggle to do.We are grateful to Jack’s wife Helen for her help and assistance with Jack’s replies .
I still have Jack’s shopping list and keep searching to get these creatures captured on camera .
Let’s celebrate the fantastic life of the legendary Jack Randall .

Dr. Randall, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”! I will always remember the first and special day you greeted me at your Bishop Museum. You made me feel very comfortable cause you were wearing a cute “nemo” T-shirt. I thank you for spending time to look over Darrell Takaoka’s fish collection notes with your sweet daughter Lori, Darrell’s good friend Arnold and me. Also, so nice of you to have climbed a ladder just to show me the Kuhlia Zenura that Darrell caught in 1996 with a hand net. Today, Darrell wants to give back to you to enjoy his “Santana” guitar playing (while eating your ice cream) to have a wonderful, relaxed, and peaceful birthday. You will always be remembered with lots of super love from the Marine World–Dr. John Ernest “Jack” Randall, Jr. our GIANT!!!

I, Lorraine Takaoka, would like to share an article “My Friend Darrell”, written by Mike Yamamoto, aquatic biologist in 2002. Mike had mentioned that Darrell thought like a scientist. Dr. John Randall and John Hoover are acknowledged in Mike’s article. When time permits, click on google and type Darrell Takaoka. Today, I am very happy and feel that Dr. Randall and Darrell are having fun conversations about the marine realm. Dr. Richard Pyle, thank you very much for comforting Randall’s family thru your website. You’re AWESOME!

Lori, Dr. Randall who is looking at Darrell’s notes with Arnold Suzumoto, & Lorraine Takaoka at the Bishop Museum.

I want to add to my previous comments some time ago ,that in July 4,2010, Jack emailed me the following:
Bill Eschmeyer informed me that I have described more valid species of marine fishes than anyone in history (666 species).

I have his GIANT BOOK,”Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific…” which I told him I had bought, and he sent me a sticker autographing it!

To Richard
with best wishes & aloha

I put it inside the book along with the email of the # of species PLUS
the MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR HELEN & JACK RANDALL 2007 Christmas card that has a picture of him and family.

Jack was truly a GREAT, GREAT man in SCIENCE(in that HUGE book he is the ONLY AUTHOR), and more importantly , a LOVING HUMAN BEING! The great number of LOVING comments here is GREAT EVIDENCE OF THE LATTER. I also have the BIG book, “Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea where he is the MAIN AUTHOR, and other books where again, he is THE ONLY AUTHOR!

Back in the mid to late 1990’s I was taking small groups of experienced divers into the islands of Indonesia north and east of East Timor. These islands were known then as the “Forgotten Islands”. It was among these islands H.G. Wells had set The Island of Doctor Moreau so there was that to look forward to besides the diving.

The Komodo Plus was not a luxurious dive boat by todays standards. It was made of local ironwood in South Kalimantan and was a slow coastal freighter with a galley that required a small agile cook.

We all slept below in the modified cargo hold. There were eight compartments with two bunks, four on either side of a planked gangway. Privacy was supplied by thin walls fore and aft and a curtain fronting the gangway. We each had a compartment with a spare bunk for gear, or in Jack’s case an armory of fish spears and a processing lab.

On two previous trips on this same boat small personal items had gone missing. Money in several currencies, a toothbrush, a woman’s bathing suit bottom and a pair of women’s underwear among other items. The theft of the money or even the toothbrush we could understand but the items of women’s clothing began to raise concerns.

The handful of circumstantial evidence pointed to a poor lonely sailor. One was designated by the captain and put ashore in Maumere, Flores. He was wrong.

A year later, when Jack joined us for the first time, I was concerned for Jack about the shortcomings of the boat, but to my relief, Jack was happy and seemed comfortable from the start.

Two days later Jack’s dentures disappeared.

When the boat entered Alor’s deep slender Kalabahi Bay we all climbed onto the roof to watch for Mola Mola on the surface and dolphins chasing tuna to fishermen in dug out canoes.

Jack stayed below without a word to anyone and began lifting the loose planks of the gangway floor then climbed into the dry bilge with a flashlight. When I came down to check on him there were boards stacked all along the gangway and Jack standing in the dry bilge. “You have a rat.” he smiled as he handed up his dentures, the underwear, the bikini bottom and some foreign currency. No toothbrush.

The linked PDF file contains three letters of correspondence between Jack and Darrell Takaoka:
1. January 1, 2000 – letter to Dr. Randall about the moray eel.
2. February 2, 2001 – note to Jack about the major characteristics of the golden Seriola
3. December 22, 2004 – thank you letter from Dr. Randall (Jack) to Lorraine Takaoka.
4. Jack’s autographed copy of Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands.

Darrell Takaoka Letters

When I joined the Marine Fish section at the British Museum (Natural History) in October 1973, as Assistant Scientific Officer (Collections technician in international terms) it was a thriving centre for ichthyological research. Among the professional clientele I came to know, Jack Randall was clearly a giant and he routinely donated type specimens and paid a number of visits to us in London. This would set up a flurry of visit requests as ichthyologists from the UK and elsewhere tried to plan visits to the Museum to coincide with his stay in London. The Fish group’s research expertise at that time lay predominantly in freshwater ichthyology (Greenwood, Howes, Trewavas, MCconnell, Banister and their respective students) and the Marine side was captained by Peter Whitehead who, since he was largely focused on clupeoids and anatomical studies, did not occupy much of the same field as Jack, the master diver and the doyen of alpha taxonomy in marine ichthyology. So in London it was Roger Lubbock and Alasdair Edwards at Cambridge University with whom Jack chiefly interacted and among the Museum’s staff he found a particular ally in Alwyne Wheeler who was a curator in the Marine Fish Section who later became Head of the Fish Section (Marine & freshwater groups combined and somewhat diminished) in 1985. Jack corresponded voluminously with Wyn Wheeler (sometimes two or three letters/postcards would arrive in a day, all packed with questions), and it was at Wyn’s residence that Jack would stay whilst in London. Wyn described to me how if he got up at any time of the night, Jack would be downstairs typing up notes and correspondence, never seeming to sleep. Jack exuded drive and focus but he was warm, friendly and paradoxically relaxed in demeanor. After Wheeler’s retirement in 1989 and Peter Whitehead’s in 1992 we did not see Jack again in London and he had much less contact with the Museum, corresponding only occasionally with Nigel Merrett (Head of Fish Group between 1989 and 1999) and Tony Gill (NHM fish researcher between 1994 and 2003) and the two remaining collections staff (myself and James Maclaine). But of course Jack’s towering achievements continued and gave us great cheer. A colossus in his field, and a nice guy with it.

These three photos were taken at the Fish Section, British Museum (Natural History) [now The Natural History Museum, London), 21 December 1981.

The New York Times has just published a very nice obituary of Jack. I am accurately quoted in the article (I checked my emails and confirmed), but on one of those quotes I provided incorrect information (Gerry has far more new species to his credit than my mis-spoken quote suggests!! Sorry, Gerry!)

Great tribute brah. I only met Jack once or twice but his reputation was giant within our small ‘ohana. Best to all right now.

Jack invited me to visit him when he was at the University of Puerto Rico and I was a graduate student in the early 1960’s. He was very helpful getting me acquainted with some of the “Geminate species” of Panamanian fishes I wanted to examine for my thesis.

Invited to stay at his house, he inquired the first morning about how I had slept. “Quite comfortably, at least until a rooster held forth under the building around 4AM. “

Jack allowed as how the roosters bothered him too. They were fighting cocks belonging to the owner of the neighboring house who was also the landlord of the house Jack was renting.

Jack told me that he had solved the problem for a while with a bow and arrow, and then cooking the offending roosters to conceal the evidence. This worked nicely until one victim managed to run home still transfixed by an arrow. Jack had to give the bow to his landlord as good faith promise to stop dining on the fighting cocks.

Jack left Marine Biology a richer science and the world a poorer place.

An extraordinary man. When I was a wet behind-the-ears young fish biologist, he welcomed me to his house for a barbecue where I met Helen and somehow managed to stay in touch through the decades. Thing is – he did that for everyone. There are so many wonderful anecdotes about Jack here that made me smile. The one about the conversation in Japanese cracked me up. I spent an absorbing hour reading every post – time well spent. The entire ichthyological world mourns your passing Jack – but we’ll also celebrate an extraordinary life ,extraordinarily well lived. Hugs to Helen and the family.

To follow up, I’d like to tell a little family story that occurred during Rich’s PhD defense. Our mother Leilani had kept a family secret close to her vest for 75+ years, that her father (our grandfather) was not who we all thought he was, Dr. Harry Holmann (a cool dude in his own right; look up the Alice Ball story). Instead it was Edwin Bryan, well-respected Pacific geographer and Jack-of-all trades at the Bishop Museum for over 50 years (sound familiar, actually twice?). Our mother chose to tell us a day before Rich’s defense and also told Jack Randall so that he could announce the news when introducing Rich. When he did, there was a loud and audible gasp in the room full of friends and researchers. Jack of course pulled off his end of it flawlessly, as our mother trusted he would, and why she chose this moment and Jack to share this bit of family history.

Thanks, Pete, for sharing the Ed Bryan “reveal” story, which as you say, Jack pulled off flawlessly at my PhD Defense. So… this gives me an excuse to tell the back-story to that, which is probably my all-time favorite personal Jack Randall story (at least among non-diving-related stories…)

So, to understand the context for this story, it’s helpful to appreciate what a Giant Ed Bryan was in his own right. He was a true Naturalist, and spent his 66-year(!!) career at Bishop Museum doing truly pioneering work in many different fields (botany, ichthyology, entomology, ethnology, history, cartography, astronomy, etc.). So he is/was extremely well-known and respected among the natural history contingent in Hawaii — especially among the generation that knew and worked with him (Jack included).

Anyway, I had actually learned about the true identity of our grandfather a couple of weeks before my PhD defense. My wife (Lisa) was having breakfast with our mom (Leilani), and asked about my grandparents. The reasons why Leilani kept this information a secret from even her own family is a very long (and fascinating) story, which I won’t go into now. The reason she decided to reveal this three-quarter-century-old secret to Lisa that morning remains a complete mystery to this day (Lisa confirmed just now that Leilani made no mention of the fact that it was a secret when she told her the story). When I came home that evening from work, Lisa mentioned to me casually, “You never told me Ed Bryan was your grandfather.” To which I replied “What?!? He’s not.” Suffice it to say it took more than a little convincing (and confirmation from our mom) before I finally believed it.

A few days later, I was over at Jack’s house working with him on some manuscript (can’t recall which), and we needed to confirm the correct spelling of an island in the Pacific (again, can’t recall which). Jack said, “Just a minute, I want to show you something…” and he proceeded to climb on top of his small office bed to reach a particular box of reprints among the many such boxes on the shelves that line the walls of his home office. He found what he was looking for and showed it to me while asking, “Have you ever heard of Ed Bryan?” He was holding a copy of a manuscript written by Ed that cataloged all the names of the islands in the Pacific. I chuckled to myself as I had only just learned of my relationship to Ed a few days before. I casually told him, “Yes, I know of Ed Bryan.”

Jack spent the next ten minutes regaling me with story after story about what an amazing guy Ed was. Jack had worked with Ed for decades at Bishop Museum, and one of the stories Jack told me was how Ed was the one who showed Jack where the fish collection was on Jack’s very first day working at Bishop Museum. It was obvious that Jack had enormous respect for Ed, because his praise for him was both extensive and effusive. The whole time Jack continued this monologue, I sat quietly, smiling and nodding.

When Jack finally finished, I said (again, casually), “I know something about Ed Bryan that you don’t know.” Jack gave me a look of extreme incredulity. He said something along the lines of “How could you know something about Ed Bryan that I don’t, when you didn’t even start working at the Museum until a year after he died?” (If he didn’t say something like that, the expression on his face certainly conveyed it.) With all the calmness and casual inflection that I could muster, I said, “He’s my grandfather.”

The look on Jack’s face was absolutely priceless! He was literally stopped cold, and seemed to be at a complete loss for words. I sat there looking at him and smiling wryly and it was clear that he was trying to process this information in a way that could make some sort of sense to him. After an awkward moment of watching him be completely perplexed, he finally said “What do you mean he’s your grandfather?” The way he said it made me think he was asking in the sense of “Is this some sort of expression the kids use these days to mean something different from what I know that word to mean?” I calmly replied, “I mean that he is my mother’s father.”

Of course, Jack had known our mother very well also, as she had also worked at the Museum since about 1975, overlapping with Ed there for 10 years. As Jack knew them both so well, he could not reconcile how this fundamental piece of information had escaped him. I told him the whole story, and explained that it was a secret, and after what seemed like a very long time, I finally convinced him of its truth.

That entire exchange with Jack will remain clearly etched in my mind for the rest of my days, as not just one of my favorite moments with Jack, but one of my all-time favorite moments in my entire life.

A couple of days before my PhD Defense, Jack called me up and asked me to ask our mom for permission to reveal this secret to the world when he introduced me at my defense presentation. When I asked our mom after explaining the context, there was a long pause, and she said, “I guess it’s time the world knew.” As Pete suggested, she agreed only because it was a special moment in my life, and only because she trusted Jack. If it had been anyone other than Jack, it’s very unlikely she would have agreed. And, exactly as Pete described, the reveal itself was absolutely perfect. Everyone in the packed audience who wasn’t a new graduate student knew who Ed was, and reacted with the same shock that Jack had. There was indeed an audible gasp, and at that moment I looked up at Jack, and he was absolutely beaming. I have never been so proud in my entire life as I was at that moment, and a large part of that was seeing the pride in Jack’s face as well.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him but have learned a whole lot from his books and papers. I’ve always admired him and his work. A brilliant and legendary ichthyologist.

Dr. Randall reached me and my family through his Shore Fishes of Hawaii, a book he designed to allow the layperson to easily recognize and record where fish are found. When snorkeling on the various islands, I always refer to it to help recall what we have seen and what may await. I imagine I am not the only he reached in this way and am in his debt for a good part of the joy I have found in the waters of Hawaii. My condolences to his family.

I met Jack on 2011 when I visited BPBM, Hawaii. We discussed many about Pempheris, and it was a wonderful experience for a beginning researcher. Unfortunately, we could not reach to a same goal, but his passion still burning in my mind. He is a true legend. He is a true giant. I know his DNA are already in all of the ichthyologists in the world.

Sometime in the early 2000s, I had pictures I’d taken of three fishes that I couldn’t identify. I thought that two were hybrid butterflyfish; the other was just a mystery to me. I looked up the institutional affiliation the author of the fish books I found most helpful, John E. Randall, and sent email with pictures. This wasn’t a scientific quest; I’m an occasional snorkeler with a drive to identify what I see. But I thought that I’d take the chance. Soon after, I got a response that ended “Aloha, Jack’. One fish was a dusky gregory (Stegastes nigricans) in courtship coloration, and the other two were hybrids. Jack corrected one of my guesses as to parentage.

Four years ago, I sent Jack another picture, of what I thought was a juvenile blacktail snapper (Lutjanus fulvus). Jack said that he wasn’t sure, but forwarded the picture to the collection manager for ichthyology at the Bishop Museum. I got a response from that manager confirming my id; the confirmation cited a description of a fish collected by Jack and a colleague in Fiji in 1973.

I can’t imagine more gracious responses. I never met Jack, and had only these two correspondences, but he felt like a friend.

Reader’s of the accounts of Jack’s rich life might jump to a conclusion that, in order to photograph, collect and name all those fishes, Jack must have spent all of his time studying them, probably was reclusive and solitary. Ha! Jack’s life was filled with friendships— he made friends easily, valued them, and cared for them.

Often, in airports awaiting to return from a collecting trip, we would be off to get a beer and pass Jack writing postcards to other friends and colleagues, reporting about the trip, and asking about their work. Jack’s hand-writing was tiny, but readable and a lot of info was on each postcard. We beer drinkers swallowed a little guiltily thinking of the dozen cards on the seat by Jack, as he wrote another one.

As told throughout this memorial site, Jack influenced many careers. As long as his taxonomic list is, I’m sure it is far surpassed by the names of friends, colleagues and mentees whose professional lives were made better by his help and support.

He certainly improved mine: he was partly responsible for my getting the best job I have ever had— working at the UH’s Waikiki Aquarium. Once I was on the job, Jack continued to help in many ways, most notably by introducing a young Michigander Peace Corps volunteer, posted in Fiji, with an interest in fishes and coral reefs— Bruce Carlson. Jack and Bruce made the Aquarium a much better place for fishes— and people. Thanks, Jack!

The Aquarium occasionally had to make compromises with Jack, however: a rare fish would come to the Aquarium, potentially a new species. We knew it was rare and novel because Jack would come to check it out (usually with a jar). “I need that fish!” he would say. “Wait ,wait— we need to get that fish on display so visitors can see it.”
“Well, OK, how about for a week?” Seven days later Jack was back (with a jar) and the fish would go off to Bishop Museum to recline, perhaps forever, in a jar of liquid that was not sea-water, sharing space with a carefully written label in Jack’s hand, stating its new scientific name and crediting the collector and the Aquarium.

We all know Jack was much more than The Champion Taxonomist. He researched and published on many subjects— behavior, ecology, public health (e.g., ciguatera). Jack was an early and influential proponent of marine reserves in Hawaii and elsewhere.

And of course, he was a loving father and husband—very cognizant and acknowledging of the critical collaboration of dear Helen.

Aloha Jack— and thank you for everything….

Como no recordar y apreciar a John E. Randall. Su libro sobre los peces del Caribe fue como la Biblia para mi cuando comenzaba a explorar el mar y a identificar los peces de la bahia de Cartagena en el Caribe colombianio. Ese libro lleno de colores, de buenas fotografias y de descripciones utiles fue mi ventana al conocimiento de los peces del Caribe. Nunca conoci a John personalmente pero lei sus publicaciones constantemente. Siento una conexion profunda con John y un sentimiento enorme de admiracion y gratitud por sus contribuciones importantes al conocimiento de los arrecifes del Caribe. Gracias John, bendiciones y que descanses en paz.

My first encounter with Jack was in 1981 at Enewetak Atoll when HURL conducted 3 months of dives in and around the Atoll. Jack was there doing fish studies and one moonlit night I was out on the reef and this apparition came out of the dark in scuba gear from the ocean side of the reef. It was Jack coming back from a solo dive and he was holding something in his mask with a look like he had just discovered Spanish treasure. It was a mass of fish eggs he had discovered and having no way to collect them he had put them in his mask and continued the dive with them sloshing around on his face.
In 1983 during 3 months of submersible dives at Johnston Atoll, I was getting Makalii ready to dive while Jack mixed a bucket of Rotenone to carry down on Makalii. He started climbing in the sub with rotenone all over his arms, legs, shirt, and shorts. I said ”Jack, you can’t get in here like that” He didn’t miss a beat and washed the rotenone off his arms and legs and ditched his shirt and shorts and did the dive in his skivvies.
Jack was the real deal. His enthusiasm was infectious. I loved diving with him.

I don’t dive and I don’t (normally) work on fish, but Jack Randall looms large in my life. I probably knew him first from his fine 1964 paper on Strombus (now Lobatus) gigas, but later we met in Guam, and we corresponded about molluscs in fish guts. His curiosity about fishes as animals and not just as names was exemplary, and sadly rare. In Guam where we met, his enthusiasm for tropical marine life was as abundant as were the creatures he studied and loved.

Rich Pyle and his wife Lisa introduced me to Jack Randall at a birthday party celebrating his 80th(?). I knee his books and photos and used them diving all over the Pacific, hoping I might see the rare ones, but actually enjoying reading about what I had seen. Jack did something every scientist should try to achieve: He brought his clarity and insight to us all, Ichthyologist and interested laymen alike. By doing so, he enables us to understand the linkages in our world. Links not just between groups of fish, but to ourselves. I argued with Jack (and Rich) about the ability of genetic sequencing to tell us all we needed to know about these linkages. They (quickly and politely) persuaded me that behavior not genes is what is fascinating about all species. How true! Thank you Jack, Lisa and Rich, for re-grounding me in what is important in life.

I met Jack when I was a new grad student at UH in 2000. I was interested in studying whitetip reef sharks, and Jack had published a fantastic review of what was known about the species. I had spotted him on campus a couple of times but he kept eluding me. Even with an obvious hitch in his gait he was surprisingly fast! Finally one day I ran to catch up with him and introduced myself. Much to my surprise he invited me to his house a few days later where he spent over an hour telling me everything there was to know about whitetips, listening to my research ideas, and offering advice. It felt like I was a little kid and Jacques Cousteau had just pulled me into the TV with him. If Jack was interested in my ideas then surely they were worth chasing for a few (8!) years. This story is not an unusual one, as you can tell from the other comments here. But what an unusual man to be able to share his intellect and generosity with so many people. Aloha, Jack

A legend has left us! Jack will be remembered, most of all, as an extraordinarily productive scientist, a very nice human being, and one about whom there will be many stories, to be related to ichthyologists (and others) in the years to come who never had the privilege of knowing him.
I first met Jack, probably in the late 1950’s, when he gave a presentation on his ground-breaking work on ciguatera in the south Pacific. The talk was accompanied by striking photographs of freshly-caught and in situ fish, which were to become a staple of his many papers and books in the years ahead.
In 1964, Dr. Elizabeth Wing and I received a small research grant to work on the lesser Antillean island of Antigua. Liz was a new faculty member at the Florida Sate Museum, in the early stages of her pioneering work in Meso-American zooarcheology, and which was to culminate years later in her election to the National Academy of Sciences. She was involved in collecting artifacts relative to the island’s original inhabitants. Since fish were a major dietary item, accumulation of a properly identified reference bone collection was a necessity. My goal was collecting material for the museum’s growing fish collection. Jack’s expertise with Caribbean reef fishes would be an obvious plus for both of us, and he readily accepted our invitation to join
Jack was then at the University of Puerto Rico, located at the marine station in Mayaguez. After spending a couple of days with Jack and Helen, we left for our final destination. Our host on Antigua was a wealthy individual with whom Liz had been in contact (unfortunately I’ve forgotten his name), who owned a luxurious home on ocean-front property at the “Mill Reef Club,” on the east side of the island. Shortly before our trip, he had written to apologize for not being present during our visit, as he would be abroad overseeing the sale of his collection of “Persian antiquities.” However, his home and staff would be at our disposal. (The house was an open-air facility, and I will always remember sharing breakfast with little birds [Lesser Antiliean bullfinches] that were hopping around the table eating whatever food items they could). Collecting permits? No problem. Jack had made contact with the island’s fisheries officer (Ralph Camacho), who not only issued the permits (including use of rotenone), but later accompanied us on some of our collecting forays. The next several weeks were spent collecting (and occasional sight-seeing at places such as Nelson’s dockyard), during which time I learned to appreciate Jack’s skills with the Hawaiian sling and watching him photographing specimens.
Early during the trip we became acquainted with Brad Endicott, a wealthy young New Englander, who owned a shoe company in Venezuela but spent much of his time at his Mill-Reef property. Brad became a keen participant in our work, which involved taking on the job of refilling our Scuba tanks during the night.
The above narrative, in addition to being an interesting story, also serves the purpose of showing how much less complicated things were back then, in terms of collecting permits and (particularly) use of rotenone.
Jack left Puerto Rico not long afterward to return to Hawaii, the locale of his early ichthyological work and the home base for his many trips throughout the Indo-Pacifc region in the years to come. He had already begun establishing contacts relative to planned future work on Easter Island, the most remote of all eastern Indo-Pacific islands and famous for its massive stone monoliths. If I am correct, he was to make two trips there, as he did also to equally famous and nearly equally remote Pitcairn Island (more on this below).
Early on we co-described a couple of new goby species (genus Ctenogobius), but that was the limit of our joint “new species” efforts was concerned, as most of my subsequent work involved my first love, North American freshwater fishes. Nevertheless, we continued to exchange e-mails and publications, although Jack surely came out on the short end of the stick with regard to the latter. Many e-mails involved exchanges of jokes, limericks, photos, etc., of which the last were occasionally a little off-color. My personal favorite was one, taken from the back, of a half-dozen young women in beach attire, seated side-by-side at an outdoor bar, above which was a sign stating “No shirts, no shoes, no service.” All had the required items of dress – but nothing in between! The photo was titled “the girls know the rules.”
Jack’s work extended beyond traditional taxonomy, and included ecological work involving food, feeding and behavior (e.g., detailed observations on Atlantic parrotfish spawning). His taxonomic work employed mostly traditional methods (meristics, morphometrics, morphology), always accompanied by his outstanding color photos. Although his training had occurred prior to the incorporation of genetics in systematic research, he was well aware of its importance, and a number of his later papers involved co-authorship with colleagues trained in this area.
During my eight years as Secretary of the American Society of Ichthyologists (ASIH), a decision was made to revive the long dormant category of “distinguished fellow,” intended to honor individuals for long and distinguished careers in the study of cold-blooded vertebrates. Tangible rewards included yearly payment of society dues (if not already a life member) and indication of the title on the inside cover of each issue of the society journal, Copeia. Jack was one of the nominees. In the years to follow, this was again allowed to lapse (supplanted by the Gibbs and Nelson awards), so that Jack will almost certainly be the last so honored. This bit of society history is mentioned, not only because it involves Jack, but also because its origin and history might otherwise be forgotten with the passage of time.
Jack was very generous with his time, exchange of information, specimen loans, and in steering young students toward the study of fishes. As one example, when deciding on a topic for my 1993 ASIH presidential address (actually delivered in 1994 as the Los Angeles meetings), I settled on the non-traditional topic of fish on postage stamps. In early 1984, a set of 14 stamps had been issued by the British government for use in the Pitcairn Islands (a British colony), for which the subject of each value was one of Jack’s live color photographs. Upon request, Jack willingly loaned me (a) a set of his original slides, and (b) a second set of slides showing “proofs” (replicas of the forthcoming stamps, to be checked by Jack for errors and/or corrections). I myself had slides made of the final issued stamps. Each stamp was accompanied by the appropriate scientific name, and in this regard one featured Chaetodon smithi, named for C. Lavett Smith of the American Museum of Natural History. Needless to say, the loan was greatly appreciated by me, and provides yet another example of Jack’s generosity and spirit of cooperation. Jack was truly “one of a kind” (in the most positive sense), who led a full personal life and had an incredibly productive scientific career. He will be missed by all.

The only time that I “dove” with Jack with only snorkling was 1968 in Guam. Acanthaster had just struck the reef and many of us were called out to witness this and, of course, a conference. Jack & I snorkeled out from the beach and he, of course, had his minispear. I had been doing some work on the purported “poison fang” blenny Meiacanthus atrodorsalis and we happened on a small group. Jack loaned me his minispear and I collected a few. Lacking a bag I carefully twisted their necks and stuffed them in my swim suit. Minutes later an intense pain came from my frontal area, an area where no man wants to feel that sort of intense pain. Not knowing what to expect we went back to the hotel and Jack, being Jack, said we should document the wound “just in case”. He set up his Rollie and lights and ran a series of shots of my unfortunately placed bites as the wound developed some interesting swelling and colors. I was hoping that no one would blunder into the room. Over the years Jack said, and I believed, that those photos were being preserved “just in case.” Thank goodness they have not appeared over the years as Facebook Porn or whatever. And I will thank you Rich to see to their destruction… Please!

It is with great sadness that I hear of Jack’s passing. Luckily I had the honor to dive with him years ago. Back in September 1987 I was a young German dive instructor collecting some experience as a dive guide at the Gloria Maris Dive Center in Bali, Indonesia. Jack was a frequent guest and I had the luck being assigned to him as a personal dive guide for two weeks. I learnt a lot from him in these few weeks about science, diving and especially about passion for nature. I had never met anyone working so motivated. We did dives mainly in Padangbai and in Tulamben near the Liberty wreck site. I was impressed on Jack’s diving skills, I never met anyone who could dive for so long on one tank, often my tank was empty and I snorkeled on the surface watching Jack 10 feet below still taken photos of Goby and shrimp behavior for another half hour… On some dives Jack was collecting fish as scientific samples and so I would carry several spears and nets for him. So he started to call me his “squire” for fun. After this experience I would always look for new books being published by Jack. And of course was hoping to one day dive with him again, but it never happened. Still I’m very thankful that I had the chance to share these special weeks in Bali with Jack. I have attached two photos I took September 1987 in Bali, one shows Jack with his camera rig and the other Jack describing to a balinese dive guide a particular fish species he was trying to find in Bali. (See scribble on car window). Farewell Jack from your “squire”.

I was a young learning-on-the-job fish taxonomist in Port Moresby (PNG) in the early 1970s. A collection of fishes had been started a few years earlier and it grew and grew. Through the assistance of the AMS fishos, I wrote to Jack for IDs of some of the fishes coming in; he always replied.
Can’t remember what year it was, but Jack actually visited Port Moresby to check out the fish collection: I remember hubby and I picked him up at the airport and then, when driving this VIP to his hotel, we sort-of sped down the main road along Ela Beach and surprisingly, were pinged by a traffic policeman! So embarrassing … That was the first (and only) time I met Jack.
But he was a marvellous and enthusiastic supporter, always interested in the fishes coming to the KFRS Fish Collection.
And later, when Thomas Tarp and I worked on the IDs of the fishes described in our book ‘Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwestern Australia’, we found Jack to be a walking encyclopaedia – even of fishes from that little-known part of our world.
Thomas and I are owe much to Jack: such a marvellous man!

Aloha and mahalo to the fish guy! You inspired fish nerds all over the world and even some of us invertebrate people. I knew Jack only from the Bishop Museum, but he had an aura about him that was welcoming and awe-inspiring! Hanging out in Ichthyology with Arnold and Lori, looking at the type collection in Ichthyology, his name was on almost every jar I examined. I used to wonder, “how is this even possible?” But then I realized this man dedicated his entire life to his passion. That’s how. He is an inspiration, and a shining light for all of us to see that following our hearts and passions can make a truly full and meaningful existence. Thank you Jack.

Last night, while reading the latest edition of Hawaii Fishing News, I was saddened to learn that Jack had completed his last dive. The world of tropical reef fish taxonomy and ecology will never have another person as productive and loved as Jack. I met him in 1965 when I began attending graduate school at the Department of Zoology, University of Hawaii and was honored by his willingness to serve as an advisor on my Masters and PhD committees. I also spent considerable time diving and corresponding with him throughout my career. Jack’s assistance was particularly valuable to me as a Fishery Biologist in American Samoa in the 1970’s and 80’s while I was collecting, identifying and photographing fishes leading to my checklist of Samoan fishes. If a fish species had a name, Jack could identify it or he would tell me to whom to send it for identification. During that period, I occasionally traveled to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to compare my specimens with those in Jack’s collection. On one occasion, he came all the way to Pago Pago to capture and photograph a new species of angelfish that I had collected a few months earlier. He generously offered me the choice of him naming the species “wassi” or coauthoring a paper with him that described it. I chose the latter but still got to recommend a name for the fish (Centropyge aurantius, photo below). During one of my infrequent visits from Samoa to Honolulu, I remember going with him and a couple of other “shark buddies” to see the movie “Jaws”. You can imagine the fun we had critiquing that movie when it was over. The stories Jack and others told of his diving and fish collecting adventures are legendary. I have one to add here: Jack and I were collecting fishes in deep water near Aunu’u Island, American Samoa. Many experienced divers, including Jack, practiced “skipbreathing” (shallow slow breathing which resulted in a slight oxygen deficit) during a SCUBA dive and sucking the last possible breath from the tank to maximize underwater time before returning to the surface. I was already back in the boat when Jack surfaced gasping for air and yelling for another tank and regulator so he could go back down to decompress. To make matters worse, he had kicked off a fin as he began his too-rapid ascent from 100+ ft. Fortunately, he escaped the bends that day though I remember him saying he was not always that lucky. Mahalo nui, Jack, for the good times and memories, to Richard Pyle for setting up this website and to the rest of you for sharing your memories of Jack.

Jack, I’m really sorry to hear that you passed away.
I first met Jack when he came to Japan in 1992 for sampling. It was at the home of Dr. Hitoshi Ida, Jack’s longtime friend and my supervisor. After that, we accompanied his fish sampling tour for Chichijima of Bonin Islands. We continued to collect fish samples with hand nets from morning till night after taking underwater photographs of the target fish, for more than 10 days. I think Jack was already 67 or 68 at that time, and I was amazed at his physical strength and passion to continue the sampling every day. After the sampling, we then enjoyed a little Japanese sake. After the trip, our exchange via email continued. Especially when I was dispatched to Mauritius as a JICA expert from 1998 to2002, I was greatly assisted by him through on various advices on remote identification of coastal fish. After that, we were able to see each other again at the 2005 IPFC in Taipei. The photo is of that time. At that time also, I remember that I received various precious advice.
Jack, it was already 15 years ago. Somehow, we had little communication for the next 15 years. But I think you have had a great influence on my life.
Thank you for all the kindness you gave me.
May you rest in peace.

Susan was told by Tap Pryor in 1970 that if there was one important thing to do in her life, it was to support Jack Randall. When we move to Australia and fell in with Roger Steene, stories were told about Jack and Lord Howe Island dives. We then got to know Jack well in Hawaii, and dives in Molokini and Maui, plus enjoyable time with Jack and Hellen in Maui and Oahu. Susan continued her support of Jack thru the Bishop Museum, and we marveled at all the beautiful photos and scientific papers Jack sent us thru the years. Indeed one of a kind, and we will all miss him.

I first learned about Dr. Randall after graduating from Univ. of Miami in 1964 and getting my first job as a fisheries technician at UM Marine Institute, as it was called then. I had read many of Jack’s publications on fishes. Dr. Randall had predated my tenure at UM by a few years, then moving on to the Marine Institute in Puerto Rico for further research on his subsequent book on Caribbean fishes.
During my days at Miami I was being partially mentored at that time by Fred Berry from NOAA Tropical Atlantic Biological Laboratory, who in 1965 had taken an interest in my Sargassum fish collections from the Gulf Stream. My first publication was a very modest four page note published in Copeia on the unusual juvenile morphology of the filefishes Cantherhines that I had collected from Sargassum in the Gulf Stream. At some point, Fred Berry had apparently corresponded with Jack regarding my filefish note. I was dejected to hear that Jack had told Fred, referring to my note, “everybody knows that”! Fred thought that was a bit harsh at the time. I thought that wasn’t exactly auspicious start to my budding fish career. I felt a little better when Carl Hubbs sent me my first reprint request, most students today don’t know what that was, “please send me a copy of your interesting paper on Cantherhines – O.K., it was a little hyperbolic but I took it.
Little could I have imagined that five years later in 1972 while working on my dissertation at UNC Jack wrote me whether I would be interested in co-authoring a generic revision of Hoplolatilus. I was somewhat shocked, based upon what I thought his impression was of me earlier, and very delighted to have the opportunity to working with such an ichthyological icon. The Hoplolatilus project allowed me to appreciate what an inciteful, supportive, and hardworking scientist Dr. Randall was. Jack spent many hours with me, working on the MS, visiting museums, etc., to produce the best paper possible. I better got to appreciate more Jack’s generosity and supportiveness when I had the opportunity to talk with him later at length at various fish functions, and subsequently dive with him.
While diving with him on several occasions in the Philippines and in Belize, I was more than impressed with his focus, skill and tremendous diving endurance. He generally always dove deeper and longer than anyone on the boat. I had said to him don’t you think collecting fish at more than 50 meters by yourself on compressed air was a little risky, he emphatically said “no” !
I have learned so much more about Jack upon reading all the wonderful and great tributes to him by his many esteemed ichthyologists and friends.
Icons are rare, especially today, and should be given all the well-deserved accolades possible. Bon voyage my friend, we will all miss you dearly. Also, I would like to relay my belated condolences to Helen and the Randall family.

I was so sad to hear that Jack had passed away when I was sending my birthday greetings to his 96 anniversary. I had hoped so much to meet him again. When an USB stick with one of my films got lost, Jack wrote: ” Why not save your stick when you visit Hawaii?” I always wanted to meet him again, it’s too late now.
I met Jack on El Torito in 1973, we went to Lord Howe Island on Walter Starck’s boat. I had arrived from Germany with my huge Rolleimarin and wanted to get as many underwater shots as possible, but the motor of the outboarder, bringing us to the different dive spots, had broken. No diving for several days. Jack didn’t have the patience to wait, nor did I. We took a tiny little dinghy with a 3 PS motor and off we went. We had to sit still, so that the dinghy didn’t tip over. Difficult with a huge camera and Jack’s equipment. It was not easy to get in the water and even more difficult to get out. Once Jack in the water, he didn’t want surface. We both could stay a long time, we didn’t use much air, but I felt responsible for him, I had just passed my examens as a dive instructor. A lot of times I had to drag him to the surface making sure that he observed his decompression stages. We had a lot of fun together, we did what we wanted to do, dive, dive, dive.
Jack did not live on the boat, but in a hotel room on the island. When we went for dinner at night, we passed to pick him up. He was still working, he never stopped, he was obsessed with his work. While waiting for him, we had a drink in his room. But you had to be careful and wash your glass before using it. Not only did Jack’s room smell formal-dehyde, sometimes there was a little drop in one of the glasses and you surely did not want a formal-dehyde cocktail.
Great memories, we kept in contact all these years, he was always answering my mails immediately the next day, when I needed information for my films. He sent me his last publication, no. 900, on Diodontidae. I was very proud that he had used one of my photos.
This is my last good-bye to you, Jack.
Christa Holdt

Oilei!!! Richard, Helen, Dave Greenfield and all Jack’s friends!! Am so embarrassed that I’m only just posting (if I’m successful in posting!!) something in recognition of Jack now! But, honestly, I am a computer coelacanth who tried to send a message to Richard when I first received the news of Jack’s passing, and only tonight, when searching for Rich’s email address did I happen to open up the site, realize what it was and read all of your wonderful tributes to Jack! Anyway, as all of you has said so wonderfully and passionately, Jack was unique, there never was, and probably will never be anyone so passionate and selfless about fish, science, ethno-science, friendship, family, etc., and as so many of you have said, there has never been someone so lofty (of such depth!) who gave their time and attention to (and answered queries from) anyone who was interested in what he was doing or needed help or mentoring. I first met Jack, when I helped organise an NSF collecting trip with Jack, Dave Greenfield and others, in I think the early 1990s (?) during which we spent most nights at our favorite restaurant and bar with the team having a few Fiji Bitters and cementing our friendship! I had also known Mike Gawel when he was here, but at the time hadn’t met Jack . . as I’m sure I would have remembered. As with many of you he was the ultimate mentor, like a father that doted on anyone who was interested in finding or identifying a new and an old fish. There are only two scientists, who have ever been awarded an Honorary Phd (Doctorate) of The University of the South Pacific. All of the others have been Heads of State, mostly from the Pacific Islands, other famous people, including Indira Ghandi. These two scientists, who are in my mind, probably without doubt the two greatest field scientists in Pacific history (Darwin was good, but not as truly Pacific/Indo-Pacific), were Jack and Ray Fosberg, who was clearly the the land and plant Jack Randall of Micronesia and Polynesia, although not one of Rich’s grandparents, was probably more iconic than Edwin Bryan. As the person who nominated both of them for the honour, I really think that it might be the most important contribution that should be (but isn’t) included in my CV. Since first meeting Jack and Dave we have been in contact ever since. As with everyone else he met he engaged our families, my wife Konai and our kids Batiri and Baravi, who will forever remember when Jack and Helen took our whole family to Bubba Gumps, his favorite restaurant, which later became a family institution for us when we came to Hawai’i . . . second only to Duke’s!! Anyway, I will sign off and maybe post something a little more appropriate when I see if this gets through (?), but via this message I send both Konai and our family’s and USP’s condolences and thanks for having been part of Jack’s Pacific family to Helen and the family and all of our mutual friends who have loved and shared in the love of Jack for family, friends and fish!!! ‘Ofa atu and loloma levu yani Randy, Konai and USP P.S. Will search fro some old photos!!

Like Kent Carpenter before me, when I arrived in Honolulu in November 1979, Jack and Helen took me into their home until I found my feet in what was a strange, new place for me. I stayed with them for three weeks before moving to shared accommodation in a house near the UH campus at Manoa. The living room at the Randall’s had an upright piano that I believe is still there. One evening during my first week with Jack and Helen, after dinner and after the TV news that Jack liked to watch, he went over to the piano and played it for a few minutes. I do not remember any more what piece of music he played, but I will never forget this amazing performance. To say that I was dumbfounded, totally speechless, is an understatement. Anyway, when Jack finished playing he turned around with a big smile obviously amused by the look on my face. But before I was able to say anything he explained that he had had some piano lessons as a boy and had later taught himself to play this particular piece of music very well. He would often stage a performance, as he did for me, because he would get a kick from seeing people’s reactions.
Having studied the piano when I was younger, I could tell that the music Jack had played required a good technique and speed on the keyboard, and that takes some work. Jack was a good story teller and while working together in the Gulf of Aqaba he told me many stories about his life, but he never mentioned that he could play the piano. Despite his admission that he used the little he could play mischievously, there was certainly a hidden talent there.

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