Undersea Specialist icon Undersea Specialist

James Coyer

It was Malle and Cousteau’s The Silent World, viewed in a dusty meeting hall on a wintry day in central Wisconsin that forged Jim’s dream and commitment to become a marine biologist.  Never mind that he was only 8 at the time and that it would be another 13 years before he finally felt the spray of an ocean on his face.

Jim received his BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (biology) and PhD from the University of Southern California (marine biology), where he spent nearly all his graduate years at USC’s marine lab on Santa Catalina Island describing the invertebrates associated with giant kelp and how they are utilized as a food resource by kelp bed fishes. He also worked with the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber for many years and assisted/directed treatment of diving accidents. After graduating from USC, Jim taught several courses at Marymount College, and then focused on a research career (90+ papers) using molecular tools at SUNY-Stony Brook (NY), the Hopkins Marine Station (CA), and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Most recently, he was an administrator/teacher/mentor at the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine, where he also taught the Underwater Research course for 37 years. While his research interests have varied, he has been focusing the past 20 years on phylogeny, phylogeography, and hybridization in the seaweed Fucus and seagrass Zostera. His diving experience spans 45 years, using scuba, umbilical, and saturation techniques to address research questions throughout the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Caribbean.