John H. Day

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John H. Day
JH Day.jpg
John H Day at the University of Cape Town
Born(1909-08-25)August 25, 1909
DiedApril 24, 1989(1989-04-24) (aged 79)
NationalitySouth African
CitizenshipSouth African
Alma materUniversity of Liverpool, Rhodes University
Scientific career
Fieldsmarine biologist, zoologist
InstitutionsUniversity of Cape Town
Author abbrev. (zoology)Day

John Hemsworth Osborne-Day (25 August 1909 – 24 April 1989 ) was a South African marine biologist and invertebrate zoologist who was born in Sussex and who died in Knysna. He is best known for his work on the taxonomy of Polychaeta and for his studies on the ecology of South African estuaries.


John Day received his BSc from Rhodes University in 1931, his PhD from the University of Liverpool and subsequently lectured at Durham University. In 1938 he was appointed as research assistant to Professor T. A. Stephenson in the Zoology Department of the University of Cape Town.[1]

During World War 2 he joined the Royal Air Force and become squadron leader in Bomber Command. He lost a leg after a bombing raid and received the Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom) and bar.[2]

Following the War, John Day returned to the University of Cape Town and in 1947 was appointed head of the Zoology Department, a position he held until his retirement in 1974.[3] He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.[4] In 1967 John Day published his two volume Monograph on the Polychaeta of Southern Africa,[5][6] and this publication is still a widely used identification tool to the major groups of these common and diverse marine worms. He also authored books on South African marine life [7] and on estuarine ecology in South Africa [8] as well as numerous journal articles.


  1. ^ George, David (1991). "Obituary: John H. Day, 1909-1989". Bulletin of Marine Science. 48 (2): 178–179.
  2. ^ Brown, A.C. (1991). "Reminiscences of John Day". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 47: 779–783.
  3. ^ Brown, A. C. (2003). "Centennial history of the Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, 1903-2003: A personal memoir". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 58 (1): 11–34. doi:10.1080/00359190309519932. ISSN 0035-919X. S2CID 82286351.
  4. ^ Brown, A.C. (1991). "Reminiscences of John Day". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 47: 779–783.
  5. ^ Day, J.H. (1967). A Monograph on the Polychaeta of Southern Africa. Pt 1, Errantia & Pt 2, Sedentaria. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History).
  6. ^ "A Monograph on the Polychaeta of Southern Africa". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  7. ^ Day, J.H. (1969). A guide to the marine life on South African shores. Rotterdam.
  8. ^ Estuarine ecology with particular reference to southern Africa. J.H. Day (ed.). Rotterdam. 1981.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]

Simon, Carol A.; van Niekerk, H. Helene (2012). "A brief history of John Day". A guide to the shell-infesting spionids of South Africa. Retrieved 28 August 2019.

Wilson, Robin S. (26 September 2019). "A Day for Worms on BHL". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 29 July 2019.