Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Green Is Mean and White Is Nice

By Stephen Luntz

Public understanding of rip research is saving Australian lives each summer.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The man who has done the most to educate Australians about dangers lurking off our coasts grew up in icy Canada, completing his undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Toronto.

Dr Rob Brander has made great strides in unlocking the behaviour of rip currents on Australian beaches, but has made an even greater contribution to safety through his efforts to teach beach-goers safe swimming.

“I always liked working in the outdoors,” says Brander. “At school I gravitated to geomorphology. I thought I would end up studying mountains and glaciers. However, I was inspired by a lecturer who was studying the coasts of the Great Lakes.”

Brander did his Masters on sediment transport in the Lakes. Visiting Australia, a friend pointed out a rip at a beach. “I couldn’t see it,” Brander says. “And I’d been studying rips. I got interested and this became my PhD.”

After completing his doctorate at the University of Sydney, Brander spent 3 years in New Zealand before landing a position at his current home in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of NSW.

Rips were difficult targets in the mid-90s. “We used current meters mounted on heavy transport. We had to walk them into the surf at low tide, and retrieve them again at next low tide,” he says. This equipment is still in use, providing detailed information...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.