Dr. Mark Butler is Professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia. Mark grew up in the Midwest – the birthplace of marine biologists - where he received a B.A. from Wittenberg University (1980) and then a M.S. from the Ohio State University (1983). He then moved south to Florida where he obtained a Ph.D. from Florida State University (1988). Before joining the faculty at ODU in 1990, he held postdoctoral positions at Florida State University and the University of Wisconsin. Among other accolades, Professor Butler is a recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, Virginia’s highest faculty honor.
For over 30 years, the Florida Keys and Caribbean have been the home base for his research, on which he and his graduate students have published over 150 scientific articles and book chapters on tropical marine ecology. Much of his research over the years has focused on the ecology of Caribbean spiny lobsters, an iconic species that supports the most valuable fishery in the Caribbean. Currently, Mark and his students are conducting experimental restoration of marine habitats as a means to better understand the ecology and sustainability of spiny lobster, coral reefs, and sponge communities imperiled by environmental change.
Mark’s dynamic presentations at Sea & Learn will center on the ecology of spiny lobsters and other crustaceans that profoundly affect tropical marine ecosystems and human economies in the Caribbean. But beware - crustaceans like most invertebrates are night owls that prowl coral reefs at night! So, Mark will be conducting his field project dive at night on one of Saba's renowned coral reefs. Night dives are exhilarating (and safe) and provide even the most traveled Caribbean visitors with a different perspective on the undersea world. Join us in the second half of October for Mark’s action-packed talks and nocturnal ventures on Saba’s world-famous reefs.