Melanie Mackenzie

Melanie Mackenzie

Collection Manager, Marine Invertebrates

About me

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I am a collection manager in Marine Invertebrates with a research interest in holothuroid (sea cucumber) taxonomy.

I started working at the museum as a volunteer docent (and squid-sucker counter) while studying zoology at the University of Melbourne. I have worked in various positions at the museum and in other institutions in Australia and abroad since, but have been in my current role as Collection Manager, Marine Invertebrates at Museums Victoria since 2012. As one of the collection management team I’m responsible for ensuring long-term viability and access to the Marine Invertebrate collection for ongoing morphological, genetic, and environmental research along with public exhibitions and educational programs.

I have been an editor on the Museum Victoria Field Guide series and was project coordinator for the whole of museum valuation project in 2016. I contribute to various department biodiversity surveys and research projects through specimen collection and processing, logistics and data management. Shipboard fieldwork has included marine benthic work on the RV Investigator (Tasmanian Seamounts 2015, Sampling the Abyss 2017, Investigating the IOT 2021) and the British Antarctic Survey’s RRS James Clark Ross (Antarctica: Weddell Sea 2012, South Orkney Islands 2016, Antarctic Peninsula, 2018), and volunteer field work has included penguin isotope studies and Millennium Seed Bank collecting on the Falkland Islands, and Dinosaur Dreaming digs and marine intertidal work along the Victorian coast.

I also work closely with Museum Honorary Associate Mark O’Loughlin and colleagues on echinoderms – primarily sea cucumbers (holothurians), contributing through fieldwork, lab work, research and photography to a variety of scientific projects and publications.


Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne   1994-2000


Projects and events

Some Career Highlights

  • RV Investigator voyages
    • trial benthic biology research voyage, Huon Reserve seamounts off southern Tasmania, April 2015
    • Sampling the Abyss, eastern Australia, May/June 2017 (#abysslife #RVInvestigator)
    • Investigating the IOT, Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories, June/July 2021 (#InvestigatingTheIOT #VoyageToTheUnknown #RVInvestigator)
  • RSS James Clark Ross British Antarctic Survey benthic biology research voyages
    • Weddell and Scotia Seas, Antarctica, Feb/March 2012 (EVOLHIST)
    • South Orkneys, Antarctica, 2016 (#SoAntEco / SCAR AntEco research)
    • Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2018 (#LarsenCBenthos / NERC urgency project)
  • Shackleton – Escape from Antarctica : exhibition text panel content development, narration, lecture and exhibition tours, press and public launch, Australian National Maritime Museum, April 2015
  • Shackleton Scholarship: Holothuroid taxonomy and Natural Science Collection Management Strategy, Falkland Islands, Feb/March 2013
  • University of Łódź – Echinoderm Summer School for undergraduate and PhD students: instruction and lecturing in holothuroid taxonomy, museum-style collection management and initiation of first registration system for the university’s Antarctic specimen collection, Łódź, Poland, June/July 2011
  • Australian Synchrotron – infrared beamline work in 2017 – part of the project team analysing growths on preserved marine invertebrates


  • Bush Blitz Lake Condah
  • Wilsons Prom Bioscan
  • Alps Bioscan
  • Otways Bioscan (Public Day)
  • Murray Explored (Gannawarra) Bioscan
  • Bush Blitz Little Desert
  • Weddell Sea, Antarctica – 2012 (British Antarctic Survey)
  • Falkland Islands (Millenium Seed Bank / Penguin Isotope study – 2013)
  • South Orkneys, Antarctica - 2016 (British Antarctic Survey – #SoAntEco)
  • Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica – 2018 (British Antarctic Survey - #LarsenCBenthos)
  • RV Investigator trial benthic voyage
  • RV Investigator Abyssal voyage (#abysslife)
  • RV Investigator Christmas & Cocos Islands Indian Ocean Territories (#investigatingtheIOT)
  • Dinosaur Dreaming

Public engagement and programs

Promotion of scientific research and collections through various radio and television programs, social media and exhibitions  e.g. Shackleton – Escape from Antarctica, Deep Oceans press launch, Making History, Meet the Scientists, Science on Show, National Science Week, Lunar New Year family day, Sampling the Abyss, #SoAntEco, #abysslife, #investigatingtheIOT, ABC Radio Hobart, ABC Radio Melbourne (with Hillary Harper/Claire Bowditch), ABC Radio South East, 3CR radio Lost in Science, Triple R radio, BBC World TV, ABC TV Brisbane, Kinderling Radio - The Fact Detectives (podcast episodes)

Presentation of public lectures to a wide variety of audiences (school groups, community talks, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, SmartBar, Nocturnal, Laborastory, AMSA career talks, Science Week programs etc.)

Provide collection tours for a range of groups (including schools, universities, conservation and emergency management groups, public, and key government stakeholders)


General Publications

Melanie Mackenzie, 2016. Discovering the Nudibranch. Australian Wildlife Magazine Vol: 2/2016, Autumn 2016.

Melanie Mackenzie, 2015.  Searching for Sea Cucumbers – Scientific Research in the Weddell Sea. Signals Vol: 111, Australian National Maritime Museum

Museum Victoria Field Guide Series

Peer-reviewed Publications

Mackenzie, Melanie; O’Loughlin, P. Mark; Griffiths, Huw; Van de Putte; Anton. 2021. Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata, Holothuroidea) from the JR275 expedition to the eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. ZooKeys 1054: 155–172 (2021) doi: 10.3897/zookeys.1054.59584

Almond, P.M., Linse, K., Dreutter, S., Grant, S.M., Griffiths, H.J., Whittle, R.J., Mackenzie, M. and Reid, W.D.K. 2021. In-situ image analysis of habitat heterogeneity and benthic biodiversity in the Prince Gustav Channel, Eastern Antarctic Peninsula. Frontiers in Marine Science [18 pages] (published online, 28 January 2021, DOI 10.3389/fmars.2021.614496).

Linse, K., Grant, S., Whittle, R., Reid, W., Mackenzie, M., Federwisch, L., Polfrey, S. and Apeland, B. 2020. Benthic seafloor images from Prince Gustav Channel and Duse Bay, Eastern Antarctic Peninsula, March 2018. GB/NERC/BAS/PDC/01405. Discovery Metadata System, British Antarctic Survey. Polar Data Centre, Natural Environment Research Council, UK (published online, 13 October 2020, DOI: 10.5285/48DCEF16-6719-45E5-A335-3A97F099E451).

O’Hara, T.D., Williams, A., Ahyong, S.T., Alderslade, P., Alvestad, T., Bray, D., Burghardt, I., Budaeva, N., Criscione, F., Crowther, A.L., Ekins, M., Eléaume, M., Farrelly, C.A., Finn, J.K., Georgieva, M.N., Graham, A., Gomon, M., Gowlett-Holmes, K., Gunton, L.M., Hallan, A., Hosie, A.M., Hutchings, P., Kise, H., Köhler, F., Konsgrud, J.A., Kupriyanova, E., Lu, C.C., Mackenzie, M., Mah, C., MacIntosh, H., Merrin, K.L., Miskelly, A., Mitchell, M.L., Moore, K., Murray, A., O ’Loughlin, P.M., Paxton, H., Pogonoski, J.J., Staples, D., Watson, J.E., Wilson, R.S., Zhang, J. and Bax, N.J. 2020. The lower bathyal and abyssal seafloor fauna of eastern Australia. Marine Biodiversity Records, 13(11) [27 pages] (DOI 10.1186/s41200-020-00194-1).

M. J. Brasier, S. M. Grant, P. N. Trathan, L. Allcock, O. Ashford, H. Blagbrough, A. Brandt, B. Danis, R. Downey, M. P. Eléaume, P. Enderlein, C. Ghiglione, O. Hogg, K. Linse, M. Mackenzie, C. Moreau, L. F. Robinson, E. Rodriguez, V. Spiridonov, A. Tate, M. Taylor, C. Waller, H. Wiklund & H. J. Griffiths, 2018. Benthic biodiversity in the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf Marine Protected Area. Biodiversity Vol 19, 2018 Issue 1-2: Marine Protected Areas and Ocean Health

Mark O’Loughlin, Jessica Skarbnik-López, Melanie Mackenzie, Didier VandenSpiegel, 2015. Sea cucumbers of the Kerguelen Plateau, with descriptions of new genus and species (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 73: 59-93

Mark O’Loughlin, Melanie Mackenzie, Didier VandenSpiegel, 2015. New taeniogyrid species of sea cucumbers from the Weddell Sea (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Synaptida). Zootaxa 3995(1): 271-283 special issue

Thomas Saucède, Huw Griffiths, Camille Moreau, Jennifer Jackson, Chester Sands, Rachel Downey, Adam Reed, Melanie Mackenzie, Paul Geissler, Katrin Linse, 2015. East Weddell Sea echinoids from the JR275 expedition. Zookeys 504: 1-10

Mark O’Loughlin, Melanie Mackenzie, Didier VandenSpiegel, 2014. New dendrochirotid sea cucumbers from northern Australia (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Dendrochirotida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 72: 5-23

Mark O’Loughlin, Melanie Mackenzie, Gustav Paulay, Didier VandenSpiegel, 2014. Four new species and a new genus of Antarctic sea cucumbers with taxonomic reviews of Cladodactyla, Pseudocnus, Paracucumidae and Parathyonidium (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Dendrochirotida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 72: 31-61

Mark O’Loughlin, Melanie Mackenzie, 2013. Asterinid seastars from the Mozambique Channel (Echinodermata: Asteroidea: Asterinidae). Zootaxa 3613 (2): 176-180

Mark O’Loughlin, Melanie Mackenzie, Didier VandenSpiegel, 2013. New sea cucumber species from the seamounts on the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Aspidochirotida, Elasipodida, Dendrochirotida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 70: 37-50

Melanie Mackenzie, Emily Whitfield, 2011. An overview of the Australian psolid sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Psolidae) with the description of 5 new species. Zootaxa 3037: 21-36

Mark O’Loughlin, John Eichler, Leon Altoff, Audrey Falconer, Melanie Mackenzie, Emily Whitfield, Chris Rowley, 2009. Observations of reproductive strategies for some dendrochirotid holothuroids (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Dendrochirotida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 66: 215-220

Song, Xikun, Zefeng Xiao, Cinzia Gravili, Bernhard Ruthensteiner, Melanie Mackenzie, Shaoqing Wang, Jinjing Chen, Nan Yu & Jianjun Wang. 2016. Worldwide revision of the genus Fraseroscyphus Boero and Bouillon, 1993 (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa): an integrative approach to establish new generic diagnoses. Zootaxa 4168(1): 1–37.

Contributions to other publications & projects

O’Loughlin et. al. 2016 The Discovery Expedition sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) Memoirs of Museum Victoria 75: 53-70. 

O'Loughlin, P.M. 2002.  New genus and species of southern Australian and Pacific Asterinidae (Echinodermata, Asteroidea).  Memoirs of Museum Victoria 59(2): 277-296. 

O'Loughlin, P.M., Waters, J.M. and Roy, M.S. 2003.  A molecular and morphological review of the asterinid, Patiriella gunnii (Gray) (Echinodermata: Asteroidea).  Memoirs of Museum Victoria 60(2): 181-195.

O’Loughlin, P. M., and VandenSpiegel, D. 2007. New apodid species from southern Australia (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Apodida). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 64: 53-70.

Xikun Song et al 2016. Worldwide revision of the genus Fraseroscyphus Boero and Bouillon, 1993 (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa): an integrative approach to establish new generic diagnoses Zootaxa 4168 (1) 001-037

Ongoing systematic determinations and tissue sampling for various other holothuroid projects and contributions through collection management to various research projects.

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