Tom Harrisson, noted turtle scientist and conservationist, first began turtle observations as curator of the Sarawak Museum in Borneo and as chief executive officer of the Sarawak Turtle Board, posts to which he was appointed in 1947. His activities included turtle tagging, hatching young turtles, and keeping detailed records of eggs collected. In 1974 he was appointed co-chair, with Archie F. Carr, Jr., of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Survival Services Commission (SSC), and undertook a reorganization of the group.
Upon retiring from Sarawak, Harrisson joined the Southeast Asian studies faculty at Cornell University (1967-68) and for the remainder of his life was involved with IUCN activities and as director of the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex. Harrisson died along with his third wife, Barronne Christine Forani, in a traffic accident in Thailand, January, 1976. Before assuming his duties in Borneo, Harrisson had been active in mass observation in his native England. Earlier in his life, he attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, participated in several scientific expeditions, and lived among native tribes in the Pacific. He was the author of numerous books, primarily based on his experiences in the Pacific and on mass observation. He was the author of many articles, but no published books on turtles. (Cf. Who Was Who, 1971-1980).