Tuesday, 5 June 2012

And for 2013 at Fairlynch... Sea, Salt, and Sponges!

Naturalists and geologists worldwide will be celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Henry John Carter, the subject of Fairlynch’s main exhibition next year.

Carter has the distinction of being the only Fellow of the Royal Society who was born in Budleigh. Having trained as a doctor, he spent much of his working life on the Arabian and Indian coasts. He is celebrated above all for his research into sponges. For the last years of his life his home was Umbrella Cottage on Fore Street Hill. 

He is celebrated for his significant contribution to our knowledge of the natural world.  A species of gecko, Pristurus carteri, is named after him, as well as the frankincense tree Boswellia carterii. 

“No writer  better deserves the respect  and gratitude of Indian  geologists” was one of the points made by the writer of Carter's obituary, published by the Royal Society in 1895.

This army surgeon wrote a staggering total of 1,894 pages in 127 publications during his lifetime, including observations not only on geology but on marine invertebrates and on the archaeological remains that he visited, as well as on his work as a doctor. 

Above: Rhabdastrella globostellata, also known as yellow pot sponge, is a marine sponge of the order Astrophorida. First described by Carter in 1883, it has been discovered, like many other sponges, to contain compounds which show promise in treating cancer.  

Above all he is noted for his research into sponges. "Most taxonomic papers I write on sponges refer to one or more of his many works", writes Dr Rob van Soest, a leading spongiologist and editor of the World Porifera Database who thinks it would be a wonderful idea to honour Carter.

"Carter is one of my scientific heroes!"  said Clare Valentine, Head of  Collections in the Department of Zoology at London's Natural History Museum, which has offered to work with Fairlynch on its 2013 exhibition. 

The exhibition, to be staged from Easter until the end of September, will provide opportunities for Fairlynch to work with various outside bodies including:

- The Natural History Museum http://www.nhm.ac.uk/ 
- Seafish http://www.seafish.org/, the national organisation which supports all sectors of the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable future.
- East Devon AONB Partnership http://www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/
- The Marine Conservation Society http://www.mcsuk.org/

If you think that you'd like to be involved with the team putting the Fairlynch exhibition together do get in touch with us via email to mr.downes@gmail.com or by phoning 01395 446407.

You don't have to be a marine biologist, just have an interest in the environment. We're seeking to showcase not only Henry Carter's work as a scientist and doctor, but also aspects of Budleigh's coastal location.

The 2013 exhibition will include displays of local art with a maritime theme, the history of fishing in Lyme Bay and the salt industry in Budleigh Salterton and some important issues of marine conservation.

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