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You are here: /main/research expeditions/July 2007/Scott Godwin Interview

Interview with Scott Godwin

by Keeley Belva

Scott Godwin at work
Scott Godwin in action.

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1. What is your affiliation, and where are you from?

I am a research specialist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. I grew up in Alabama but have spent most of the last 20 years living and working near the ocean.

2. How did you become interested in your particular field/profession?

I became interested in marine invertebrates during my undergraduate studies but my first job in marine science was working with reef fish in the Bahamas. I did a Smithsonian Institution research internship the summer before I graduated, which focused on marine invertebrates in the Chesapeake Bay. Since then I have focused exclusively on marine invertebrates.

3. Have you worked in the Hawaiian Archipelago before? Or the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands?

I worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 8 years and came to Hawaii to work for the Bishop Museum in 1998. Since my move to Hawaii I have had the opportunity to work throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and have been coming up to the NWHI every year since 1999.

4. Have you worked on a ship at sea before, such as this one?

I began working on research expeditions such as this while at the Smithsonian Institution and am out at sea for 2-4 months a year.

5. What are your areas of interest, or your expertise?

I tend to be a generalist and am knowledgeable about a variety of coral reef invertebrates. I focus on non-coral marine invertebrates such as echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers), mollusks (snails, sea slugs), crustaceans (crabs, shrimps and lobsters) and tunicates (sea squirts). My particular focus is crabs and most echinoderms.
Another specialty of mine is marine alien species and how they are transported by man-made mechanisms and what their ecology is on coral reefs.

6. What excites you about working with these organisms?

The diversity of shapes, how they move, how they eat and how they reproduce is very fascinating. Many of these organisms are some of nature’s best artwork and it is enjoyable to be able to be exposed to it.

7. Any favorite stories about a particularly unique organism from your field of interest, such as a unique story of working with them, their ecology or unique adaptation the organism may have?

I have always been fascinated by the variety of adaptations shown by crabs to camouflage themselves, which can create some stunning images but at small scales.

Pom pom crab
Pom-pom crab Lybia edmondsoni. Credit: J.W.Martin


8. Why were you interested in coming on this expedition?

This is the most isolated archipelago in the world and there is very little known about how or if populations of marine organisms are connected with one another. The collections of marine invertebrates we are conducting on this cruise are geared for answering this question through the use of modern genetic analysis and more classical taxonomy. I am interested in both biogeography and classical taxonomy and therefore was glad to be asked to participate in this effort.

9. What do you hope to find during this research trip?

We have a set list of permitted organisms we are tasked with collecting during a short time and I hope to be able to fulfill our goals. I always see both new and familiar things while diving in the Monument and it is always a pleasure to have these experiences.

10. What do you think is the benefit of this work to conservation in the Monument?

The kind of knowledge gained from this type of project has benefits to both science and management. Knowing how connected the populations of marine organisms are throughout the archipelago, assists in dealing with choices in management strategies that are in response to human and natural impacts on these isolated islands. It is a privilege to have been allowed to journey to this area for these many years and have your work provide benefits back to those making decisions on how to provide management.

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Coral bleaching

Galapagos shark

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