When Professor J. Beete Jukes, M.A., F.G.S., naturalist to the surveying voyage of H.M.S. "Fly," landed on 7th January, 1843, on a small islet - First Bunker's Island - in the northern part of the Capricorn Group of islands, there began the first real investigation oi. the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The interest taken in the reef by Jukes was different from that of Captain Cook, whose main interest was to avoid collision; and in the narrative of the voyage of H.M.S. "Fly," vol. i., a very faithful description of the reef is given.
It is fortunate that one with the training of Jukes was the first historian, for since then a generally accurate idea as to the nature of the reef has been available. Many investigators -- notably W. Saville Kent, A. Agassiz, E. C. Andrews, C. HMley, T. Griffith Taylor, P. Marshall, A. Mayer, and W. M. Davishave investigated this great epicontinental mass of coral, and while, with the exception of Agassiz, there is a general support of the Darwinian subsidence hypothesis for the origin of the reef, there are many points of difference between the various investigators.
Of the existing examples of epicontinental reefs, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is the best representative, and yet we :find that for the last fifteen years there has not been any systematic work by Australian scientists. The amount of literature on coral reefs is stupendous, and many men of great eminence-such as, Charles Darwin, Sir John Murray, J. D. Dana, A. Agassiz, and W. M. Davis-have devoted much time and attention to the problems associated with coral reefs.and atolls. ...............................