Environmental Initiatives



Craig Smith is a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii and has strong interests in biodiversity, disturbance ecology and human impacts on seafloor ecosystems. His conservation efforts focus on the vast and poorly understood deep sea, where high diversity, fragile habitats and slow recovery rates allow human activities (e.g. trawling and mining) to be especially damaging. Smith has conducted research in Antarctica, mangroves, submarine canyons and abyssal-plain (ocean-floor) habitats to obtain a broad perspective of natural and stressed marine ecosystems.

Smith has carried out some of the most important and innovative work in deep-sea biology over the past several decades. In addition to his work on the ecosystem implications of deep-sea mining, he has recently performed pioneering research on the environments surrounding decaying whale skeletons on the ocean floor. He is also an expert in deep-sea sediments and the fauna of invasive Hawaiian mangroves.

Smith has been an organizer, invited speaker and participant for scores of professional marine meetings and conferences, including the International Seabed Authority, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, as well as the Universities of Oslo (Norway), Aberdeen (Scotland) and Southampton (England). He has appeared on numerous national television and radio broadcasts in the U.S., Canada, Korea and Europe, including BBC's 'Blue Planet' series The Deep in 2001-2002. He has also published upwards of 70 papers in professional journals such as Nature, Deep-Sea Research II, BioScience, Marine Ecology Progress Series, and Environmental Conservation, and his work has appeared in Science, New Scientist, National Geographic Magazine, Wildlife Conservation and many other popular science publications.

Smith obtained his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego in 1983. He then used a postdoctoral fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanography Institution to explore colonization processes in intertidal communities. Subsequently, he spent four years at the University of Washington, exploring the effects of natural disturbance, mining and radioactive waste disposal on deep-sea communities.

In 1988, he moved to the University of Hawaii, where he organized international projects to address the chances of species extinctions from deep-sea mining. He also worked extensively with International Seabed Authority to predict and manage the environmental impacts of nodule mining in the abyssal Pacific. Smith's other research activities, including studies of whale-fall communities and Antarctic food webs, help to elucidate the effects of human activities and global change on marine ecosystems.



Ph.D., University of California at San Diego
1983 - Biological Oceanography, San Diego, California USA

B.S., Michigan State University
1977 - Biological Science,


ChEss (Chemosynthetic Ecosystems), Census of Marine Life
2002- 2003- Steering Committee Member

CO2 Ocean Sequestration Project
2000- 2002- Invited Member, Technical Committee

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Biological Oceanography Futures Program
2001- Visiting Scholar

AAAS Symposium on Deep-Sea Biodiversity: Pattern, Scale and Conservation
2002- Invited Speaker

5th International Conference on the Environmental Future, Future of Aquatic Ecosystems
2003- Keynote Speaker on Deep-Sea Ecosystems

Underwater Mining Institute, Zurich, Switzerland
2003- Invited Speaker

Census of Marine Life Workshop on Deep-Sea Sediments, Newport OR
2003- Invited Participant

ISA Workshop on Design of Future Manganese Nodule Mining Environmental Impact Studies
2001- Organizer and Convener

ISA Workshop on Prospects for International Collaboration in Marine Environmental Research to Enhance Understanding of the Deep-Sea environment
2002- Organizer and Convener

ISA Workshop on Marine Scientific Research in Relation to Nodule Mining
2002- Organizer and Convener

ISA Workshop on Scientific Collaborations in Studies of Biodiversity and Mining IMpacts in the Deep Pacific Ocean
2002- Co-Organizer


2004 - Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation


American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

Ecological Society of America


Schuller, D., D. Kadko and C.R. Smith. 2004. Use of 210-Pb/226-Ra disequilibria in the dating of deep-sea whale falls. Earth and Planetary Science Letters In press

Smith, C.R., L.A. Levin, A. Koslow, P.A. Tyler and A.G. Glover. 2004. The near future of deep seafloor ecosystems. In: Aquatic Ecosystems: trends and global prospects (in press) (N. Polunin ed.). Cambridge University Press. In press

Demopoulos, A.W.J., C.R. Smith and P.A. Tyler. 2003. Ecology of the deep Indian Ocean floor. In: Ecosystems fo the World Volume 28: Ecosystems of the Deep Ocean (P.A. Tyler ed.) 28. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p. 219-237

Demopoulos, A.W.J., C.R. Smith, D.J. DeMaster, W.L. Fornes. 2003. Evaluation of excess 234-Th activity in sediments as an indicator of food quality for deep-sea deposit feeders. Journal of Marine Research 61:267-284

Glover, A.G. and C.R. Smith. 2003. The deep seafloor ecosystem: current status and prospects for change by 2025. Environmental Conservation 30(3): 1-23

Hannides, A. and C.R. Smith. 2003. The northeast abyssal Pacific plain. In: Biogeochemistry of Marine Systems (K.B. Black and G.B. Shimmield eds.). CRS Press, Boca Raton, Florida, p. 208-237

Smith, C.R. and A.R. Baco. 2003. The ecology of whale falls at the deep-sea floor. Oceanography and Marine Biology Annual Review 41:311-354

Smith, C.R. and C. Rabouille. 2002. What controls the mixed-layer depth in deep-sea sediments? The importance of POC flux. Limnology and Oceanography 47:418-426

Snelgrove, P.V.R. and C.R. Smith. 2002. A riot of species in an environmental calm: the paradox of the species-rich deep-sea floor. Oceanography and Marine Biology Annual Review 40:311-342

Levin, L.A., R.J. Etter, M.A. Rex, A.J. Gooday, C.R. Smith, J. Pineda, C.T. Stuart, R.R. Hessler and D. Pawson. 2001. Environmental influences on regional deep-sea species diversity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 32:51-93

Miller, R.J., C.R. Smith, D.J. DeMaster and W. Fornes. 2000. Feeding selectivity and rapid particle processing by deep-sea megafaunal deposit feeders: a 234-Th tracer approach. Journal of Marine Research 58:653-673

Snelgrove, P.V.R., M. Austen, G. Boucher, C. Heip, P. Hutchings, G. King, I. Koike, J. Lambshead and C. Smith. 2000. Sediments -up and water column-down: linking biodiversity above and below the marine sediment-water interface. BioScience 50(12): 1076-1088

Williams, A.B., C.R. Smith and A.R. Baco. 2000. New species of the genus Paralomis White 1856 (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura, Lithodidae) from a sunken whale carcass in the San Clemente Basin off southern California. Journal of Crustacean Biology 20(2): 281-285

Smallwood, B.J., B.J. Bett, C.R. Smith, J.D. Gage, A. Patience, D. Hoover and G.A. Wolff. 1999. Megafauna can control the quality of organic matter in marine sediments. Naturwissenschaften 86:320-324

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