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October 2005 Issue
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Obituary - Jarrod Stehbens

Jarrod Stehbens 1982-2005

Jarrod Stehbens was a young man of enormous character. He died having spent his short life living every bit of his potential doing the many things that he loved. Those who knew him deeply admired the way he lived and are proud and privileged to have been able to call him a friend.

Jarrod (or 'Stehbo' as many of us knew him) grew up in the seaside town of Beachport on the southeast coast of South Australia. Here, while catching rabbits and searching for craypots washed up on the beaches, he developed a deep appreciation for the ocean and for wide-open spaces.

During more recent times spent in the city and overseas, it was clear that you could take the boy out of the country but you couldn't take the country out of the boy.

Jarrod loved adventures. He dived remote locations across the country, from southern Queensland to coastal NSW and along the full length of the southern Australian coastline from Beachport to Perth. He rolled his swag out a metre from the edge of the limestone cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. He drove to Darwin on a whim, swam in freezing lakes in Norway with friends from Sweden and came home from Europe when his bank balance couldn't buy him a beer. He lived and worked on Roko Island in the Torres Strait (with resident crocodile) and was just about to move to another - Helgoland off the coast of Germany in the North Sea. For a bloke who loved a yarn, he was never short of material.

Jarrod's passion for all things marine fuelled his career in marine ecology. Jarrod completed his undergraduate degree in marine biology at Flinders University, where he was president of the Flinders University Marine Biology Association and was heavily involved in the university dive club.

For his Honours degree at the University of Adelaide, Jarrod investigated the roles of disturbance and productivity on the diversity of subtidal benthic marine communities at West Island, South Australia. During this work, Jarrod collaborated with scientists from Europe, South Africa and Chile in an international research effort coordinated by the Leibniz-Institute for Marine Science in Kiel, Germany. In September, Jarrod was to begin a PhD at the Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

Despite his age, Jarrod was the most capable field worker many of us have ever worked with. He was strong and practical, thoughtful, and a genius under pressure. This, combined with his infectious enthusiasm, made Jarrod invaluable in the field. If you ever needed someone by your side during moments of chaos or long periods of low morale, it was Jarrod.

On the third Southern Ocean expedition, when the camp got flooded, when we couldn't find habitat, or relief, we could find heart by singing along with Jarrod and his $1.50 CD of questionable German music. Jarrod was in charge of morale on field trips and group singing was one of his innovative and inspiring solutions that united field teams through celebration and difficulty. Jarrod was also in charge of retrieving snagged anchors - we will lose many more for his loss.

Jarrod was tragically taken by a shark while diving on August 24. It is now that we need him most. He'd be the first to show us the steps towards returning to what we love. He'd rekindle our passion for the sea. He was a relentless optimist who saw the best in every situation and helped others enjoy life for all it was worth.

His bond with the sea and humanity will continue to be an inspiration for all who knew him.

A contribution from all in the University of Adelaide's Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories

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Jarrod Stehbens 1982-2005
Photo by Maya Linnell Courtesy of <i>The South Eastern Times</i>

Jarrod Stehbens 1982-2005
Photo by Maya Linnell Courtesy of The South Eastern Times

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