As explained in my article titled “MLSSA replaced the SA Museum Underwater Research Group, “MLSSA, formerly MARIA (SA Branch), followed on from the SA Museum Underwater Research Group. The Museum URG was established in 1957. It was part of many international URGs which commenced in France in 1945. The first URG was established in Toulon, France in 1945 and was led by Philippe Tailliez. Several URGs sprang up throughout Australia during the mid-1950s. The SA Museum URG was established in 1957 by John Mitchell, Curator of Reptiles at the SA Museum at the time. The group comprised diving enthusiasts who wanted to enhance knowledge of marine life.”

Our Patron, Scoresby Shepherd thinks that “the URG first met in a room in Rechabite Chambers in Victoria Square, Adelaide, and later meetings were held in the SA Museum building. Scoresby himself was Secretary of the URG during the early 60s.”

Scoresby Shepherd (facing camera)
at the unveiling of the portable diving chamber
at Glenelg North in 2016

“Scoresby says that the Museum URG “finally petered out” and had entirely wound down its activities by the early 70s.” He was, however, still referred to as being a member of the group by the Sunday Mail in December 1977. A scan of several old newspaper cuttings reveals that:-

In the 1960s, the Underwater Research Group of the SA Museum (URG) lobbied against spearfishing activities.

The Museum URG actively lobbied for Port Noarlunga reef to become a marine sanctuary in 1963.

The Museum URG actively lobbied for bag & size limits for spearfishermen and the declaration of marine sanctuaries in 1967.

The Museum URG actively lobbied for Aldinga reef to become a marine sanctuary in 1968.

The Museum URG actively lobbied against spearfishing to protect Blue Groper in 1977.


This would indicate that there was actually an overlap of activities between the establishment of MARIA(SA) in 1976 and the eventual demise of the Museum URG after 1977. We can, with all this in mind, claim to have reached a 60-year milestone in 2017.

By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve was a keen diver, underwater explorer & photographer before illness struck. He is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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