Renowned Scientist Dr. Steve Gittings Welcomed to Board of Directors

September 14, 2021

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute announces the appointment of Dr. Steve Gittings to the institution’s Board of Directors. Dr. Gittings brings a wealth of scientific knowledge and international perspective to his role. His background in conservation science includes characterizing and monitoring marine ecosystems, assessing damage and recovery following ship groundings and oil spills, and applying science to management.  He has over 40 years of experience in scientific diving, ROV operations, and submersible use.

Growing up on the shores of Lake Erie, Dr. Gittings was inspired to become a marine scientist during a college field course in tropical ecology.  He received a B.S. in Biology at Westminster College in 1979, then M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Oceanography at Texas A&M University. After graduate school, he established a monitoring program on two coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico called the Flower Garden Banks that is still operating.  In a series of saturation missions on the undersea habitat Aquarius, he monitored changes in deep reefs in the Florida Keys.  He became NOAA’s first manager of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in 1992.  In 1998, he became Chief Scientist for the National Marine Sanctuary System, and now works with scientists to better understand the ecosystems of the U.S. marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, track changing conditions, and reduce human impacts that diminish environmental quality.

“I look forward to contributing to the positive growth and trajectory of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute as a member of the board of directors,” Dr. Gittings said. “I have been fortunate to conduct research as a visiting scientist in the Cayman Islands and have immense respect for the natural environments of these islands and the people working to protect them.  The excellent facilities at the Little Cayman Research Centre and their proximity to the reefs create an exceptional opportunity for marine scientists from around the world.  Here, they can conduct innovative research that contributes to the survival of coral reefs, while also working with and training students immersed in impactful education programmes.”

Dr. Gittings also works in the U.S. and internationally in the Caribbean and Mediterranean on invasive lionfish response planning.  Recently, he has been developing traps designed to catch lionfish in waters beyond scuba depth.  The traps minimize by-catch, eliminate ghost-fishing, and could help fishermen provide a steady supply of lionfish to seafood and other developing markets, supplementing their income while protecting native ecosystems.

“We’re pleased to welcome Dr. Gittings to the board and see great possibilities ahead,” said Peter Hillenbrand, Chairman of CCMI’s board of directors. “His scientific credentials speak for themselves, and we are eager to have his insight as CCMI looks to our future as an institution, taking on greater research questions and introducing more students and citizen scientists to the wonders and importance of the marine world as shown off on the beautiful reefs of Little Cayman.”