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December 3, 2002

Scripps Contacts: Mario Aguilera or Cindy Clark, (858) 534-3624 or scrippsnews@ucsd.edu

Scripps’s Paul Dayton Honored with Diving Lifetime Achievement Award
Marine ecologist also honored with award from the Aquarium of the Pacific

Paul Dayton during a 1967 research diving expedition at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica 

Recognizing more than three decades of scientific contributions to biological oceanography and marine ecology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Paul Dayton has been awarded the 2002 American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dayton is receiving the award “for advancing underwater science and technology,” according to AAUS.

Dayton, a biological oceanographer at Scripps, researches coastal and estuarine habitats, including seafloor (or “benthic”) and kelp communities, as well as global fisheries. He has conducted investigations in several parts of the world, including spending more than 50 months in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, performing research during more than 500 dives under the ice. The scientific papers resulting from these research projects are largely believed to have set the standard for Antarctic undersea ecology.

Dayton’s studies also include the impacts of overfishing on marine ecosystems. He recently served as a director for the Ocean Conservancy and the National Research Council Panel on Marine Protected Areas.

His career has been motivated by the belief that one must understand nature to protect it, and he has attempted to use analytical techniques to understand marine community systems.

“Paul Dayton’s contributions to Scripps and the science of marine ecology have been virtually unparalleled,” said Scripps Director Charles Kennel. “As just one indicator, he is the only person ever to be awarded both the George Mercer and William Cooper awards from the Ecological Society of America. It is the stature of scientists such as Paul Dayton that has made Scripps such a prominent institution during its 100-year history. In Paul’s case, I would add passion for science.”

Recently, Dayton coauthored a study released by the Pew Oceans Commission on the ecological effects of fishing in marine ecosystems of the United States. The report (available at pewoceans.org), which has been called a “watershed” study, describes overwhelming evidence that the unintended consequences of fishing on marine ecosystems are “severe, dramatic, and, in some cases, irreversible.” Dayton and his coauthors found that current fishing activities are harming the ecosystems on which future fishing depends and that the situation is worsening. The authors propose a new approach to fisheries management based upon understanding and monitoring ocean ecosystems and a proactive approach founded upon ecosystem-based planning and marine zoning.

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., also recently honored Dayton with an Award for Merit for outstanding scientific research and for his work in management and policy.

A resident of Solana Beach, Calif., Dayton was born in Tucson, Ariz., and received a B.Sc. in zoology from the University of Arizona in 1963. In 1970, he earned a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Washington, Seattle.

American Academy of Underwater Sciences

Aquarium of the Pacific

Pew Oceans Commission

He is a member of the Ecological Society of America and the American Society of Naturalists, and he is both a member and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1990, he was appointed a member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission by President George Bush. He has served the United States Marine Mammal Commission and the University of California Natural Reserve System.

Previously he received the Louise Burt Award for excellence in oceanographic writing from Oregon State University.

AAUS is a nonprofit, self-regulating association dedicated to promoting safe and productive underwater scientific exploration and to advancing the state of underwater technology. AAUS membership includes institutions and individuals that pursue scientific objectives beneath the water surface across the North American continent and beyond.

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