Barbara Banks and her husband Paul are sailors and frequent visitors to Lizard Island aboard their yacht, Aquasafari.  Barbara is also a keen photographer and has contributed over 1,080 of the 28,250+ records in the Lizard Island Field Guide (LIFG).

Barbara & Paul Banks aboard their yacht.  © Barbara Banks


The LIFG serves as a species reference for scientists at the Lizard Island Research Station and other visitors to the island.  It supplements the Station’s extensive information on local reefs and species and its library of over 2,200 scientific publications based on local research, all providing a valuable context for new research projects. It is especially helpful for scientists who have not previously conducted research in the area.


Home screen of the Lizard Island Field Guide – website view.  Download the mobile LIFG app for your Apple or Android device here and take them with you for offline use while visiting Lizard Island.


The LIFG is powered by Gaia Guide, a non-profit initiative of LIRRF Trustee Dr Geoff Shuetrim.  Geoff’s goal is to make it easier for people to recognize and understand life around them; its great variety, its needs, its beauty and its value. He is planning to extend the LIFG to cover the whole of the Great Barrier Reef.

Geoff and Research Station co-director Dr Anne Hoggett have donated many thousands of hours pro bono to the development and population of the LIFG.  Data entry has recently been accelerated by a grant from The Ian Potter Foundation.

Back in 2014, Barbara encountered difficulties using the LIFG on her Android tablet. She contacted Anne, who referred her to Geoff.  Barbara sent Geoff her tablet so he could investigate the problem. That was the beginning of a long collaboration that has improved both the species coverage and the user experience of the LIFG. An inspiring example of citizen science!

The LIFG now includes descriptions of 1,956 marine species and 407 terrestrial species. There is also an accompanying guide to introduced plant species on Lizard Island that now includes 93 species. While those numbers are impressive and cover many of the animals and plants likely to be encountered on and around Lizard Island, there are over 7,000 species already known to exist on and around the island.  More are found and scientifically described each year.  Much work remains to be done.

Here are 7 of the mollusc images Barbara has contributed – marine snails, slugs and nubibranchs. Many have extraordinary colours and forms.  Barbara’s photography reminds us that in searching for life on the Reef, we should also be mindful of the very small species that are part of its wonder. Click on the links to see them in the LIFG.


Sea snail a.k.a bubble snail Haminoea cymbalum © Barbara Banks


Sea slug Elysia ornate © Barbara Banks


Nudibranch Goniobranchus coi © Barbara Banks


Nudibranch Hypselodoris emma © Barbara Banks


Nudibranch Nembrotha rosannulata © Barbara Banks


Nudibranch Notodoris gardineri © Barbara Banks


Nudibranch Roboastra gracilis © Barbara Banks