Scripps's Paul Dayton honored with Diving Lifetime Achievement Award

December 04, 2002

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, 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.

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.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and graduate training in the world. The scientific scope of the institution has grown since its founding in 1903. A century of Scripps science has had an invaluable impact on oceanography, on understanding of the earth, and on society. More than 300 research programs are under way today in a wide range of scientific areas. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration. Now plunging boldly into the 21st century, Scripps will celebrate its centennial in 2003.

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University of California - San Diego

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