Richard C. Murphy, PhD

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Scientist, educator, and photographer, Dr. Murphy’s publications span a wide spectrum of subject matter.  His book on coral reefs offers a totally unique look at the most diverse ecosystem on Earth; his book about the miracle of water shows the many dimensions of water and our vital connections to it; his articles offer insights to the wonders of nature and what it is like to study them.

Water Alive

We, and all life forms, are water alive. This book dramatically illustrates the historical, genetic and ecological connections all life forms share – through water.  The magic of water not only keeps us alive but it keeps our planet habitable.  The incredible diversity of forms that water can take, as water and as living organisms, are a feast to the eye and a treat to the intellect. Water Alive can be enjoyed in, under or on top of water as it is printed on synthetic, recyclable paper.

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Coral Reefs – Cities Under the Sea

The coral reef is a city full of life and mystery.  It is a very special kind of community where the buildings are alive, where roof-top gardens provide food, where there is no pollution and waste is used for beneficial purposes.  The reef offers lessons for those of us who are concerned about making our own communities more sustainable and, in general, living more gently on the planet.  In Coral Reefs – Cities Under the Sea the subject matter is serious, but it is not taken so seriously that it isn’t entertaining.

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The articles below are a sampling of how Dr. Murphy combines information with personal experience as a way of communicating important principles of ecology and adventure.

  • Cosmic Ecology explores the environmental worldview of the Australian Aboriginal.
  • A Day In The Life Of A Fijian Bushman, offers insights to the environmental wisdom embodied in the culture of Fijian people.
  • Pororoca is a description of the tidal bore that advances as a breaking wave up the Amazon River as a howling, shoreline ravaging wild beast.
  • The Ugly Dolphin describes an intense personal experience with an Amazon River dolphin.
  • One Cold Day of Beauty and Dust offers a personal insight to life in the high Andes during the Cousteau Amazon Expedition.


Dr. Murphy makes presentations to a wide variety of audiences about the wonders of nature, its value and lessons that can be applied to human communities. The list of lecture series and conferences to which he has been invited include:

  • Smithsonian Associates Lecture Series 
  • University of Santa Cruz Seymour Center Lecture Series
  • Aquarium of the Pacific lecture series
  • Biosphera World Ecotourism Conference in Brazil
  • Pacific Economic Cooperation Council on Conservation in Ecuador
  • ExpoEcoturismo 2003 Conference in Venezuela
  • Young Presidents Organization (YPO) 
  • Schools, Rotary Clubs, DivelubsRead Testimonials

Current Lecture Topics

Enlightened capitalism – lessons from the reef
What would life be like in a city based on the model of a coral reef? Surprisingly capitalism and evolution have much in common and as we search for efficiency, increased productivity and long-term economic success, we may find that the reef can provide valuable guidance.

Coral Reefs – Cities Under the Sea
The most fascinating aspects of coral reefs relate to how corals and reef residents meet the challenges of survival and live together. By viewing coral reefs in the context of a human city, one can more easily appreciate the wonder of reefs, why they are vulnerable and what we have to gain by protecting them. In addition to inspiring people to care and motivating them to take action there is another benefit from this perspective. 

Search for Sustainability
Good news from the frontiers of enlightened development, with examples of green buildings, environmentally responsible communities, ecotourism, eco-technologies, and new ways to conduct business.