Fishy smiths

Professor Mike Bruton.

With rays, turtles and parrot fish languidly floating by, there is no better venue to launch the Fishy Smiths: A biography of JLB & Margaret Smith, by ichthyologist, author, researcher, academic, consultant, and consummate man of the sea Professor Mike Bruton. Held on Sunday October 14 at the Two Oceans Aquarium, the discovery of the living coelacanth – one of the greatest biological finds of the twentieth century – will forever be linked with the name of JLB (James Leonard Brierley) Smith, 1897 to 1968 when he took his life. This story tells of his early (unhappy) years in Graaff Reinet, his studies at Cambridge on mustard gas and explosives. His first marriage before meeting Margaret who changed herself to fit into his life and stayed with him for 30 years and was by his side during the time when he identified the coelacanth on February 16, 1939. He achieved so much despite poor health which possibly explains his cavalier attitude to life.