Whitley Awards 2019: Recognising the best of Australasian zoological literature

October 3rd, 2019

Each year the Royal Zoological Society of NSW celebrates the best of Australasian zoological literature by awarding the Whitley Medal. In 2019 we are thrilled to announce the winner is Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching.
Three people standing standing in front of banner holding medals and a book

Zobi and the Zoox is awarded the 2019 Whitley Medal (L to R: Briony Barr, Briana Melideo and Gregory Crocetti)



Front cover of Zobi and the Zoox with Whitley medal logo

The winner of the prestigious 2019 Whitley Medal, Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching

In 2019 we are thrilled to announce that the winner of the Whitley Medal is the children’s book, Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching. Furthermore, this is the first time since the inception of the Whitley Awards in 1979, that the Royal Zoological Society of NSW (RZS NSW) has awarded the Whitley Medal to a children’s book.

Dr Noel Tait, Chair of the RZS NSW Awards Committee, believes that “as a children’s book, Zobi and the Zoox will inspire whole generations of children to a life dedicated to natural science, and through this the conservation of our environment.”

“The story is set in the Great Barrier Reef, and is a scientific adventure story of utmost concern for the survival of life, as we know it. The book is challenging but in the best possible way” he further explains.


Zobi and the Zoox is part of the Small Friends Book series, co-published with the art-science collective known as Scale Free Network (external link). The collaborative team for Zobi and the Zoox includes Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr and Gregory Crocetti.


Briony and Gregory were thrilled to accept the medal on behalf of the team:

“Winning the 2019 Whitley Medal is particularly meaningful for Scale Free Network and the Small Friends Books creative team as it is the first time this prestigious award has been given to a children’s book. Together with our co-publisher CSIRO Publishing, we are very proud to receive this honour. It is our belief that communicating complex science through stories is a powerful way to reach not only young people, but curious minds of any age. Recognition of this calibre will help Zobi and the Zoox find a wider readership in Australia.

Given the challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef at this time, a greater understanding of reef ecology and the microbial communities at the heart of every coral animal, is more important than ever. We’d also like to acknowledge coral ecologists Professors Linda Blackall and Madeleine van Oppen as well as the Australian Institute of Marine Science – who made valuable contributions to this project.”


Seven people seated and standing in group on stairs

Many of our wonderful authors attended the awards ceremony. L to R: John Woinarski; Briony Barr; Briana Melideo (Books Publishing Director); Chris Dickman; Andrew Baker; Gregory Crocetti; Peter Robertson


Given the number of exceptional publications nominated for the Whitley Awards, as well as the Whitley Medal, the RZS NSW also bestow a selection of Certificates of Commendation for outstanding publications that profile the unique wildlife of Australasia.

In 2019 the following CSIRO Publishing titles were awarded Commendation Certificates:

Highly CommendedSecret Lives of Carnivorous Marsupials by Andrew Baker and Chris Dickman

Children’s Book – The Great Lizard Trek by Felicity Bradshaw, illustrated by Norma MacDonald

Natural History – Reptiles of Victoria: A Guide to Identification and Ecology by Peter Robertson and A. John Coventry

Guide – A Guide to Native Bees of Australia by Terry Houston

Conservation Biology – A Bat’s End: The Christmas Island Pipistrelle and Extinction in Australia by John Woinarski

Biological Resource – Australian Bryozoa Volume 1: Biology, Ecology and Natural History, and Australian Bryozoa Volume 2: Taxonomy of Australian Families, edited by Patricia Cook, Philip Bock, Dennis Gordon and Haylee Weaver



CSIRO Publishing would like to congratulate all the winning authors of the 2019 Whitley Awards. We’d also like to thank the Royal Zoological Society of NSW for presenting these awards, and the outstanding work they do in promoting and celebrating science writing in the Australasian region.