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:: Phillip S. Lobel, PhD - Science - 2011

Phillip Lobel PhD


Dr. Phillip Lobel (PhD, Biology, Harvard University, 1979) is an Ichthyologist and Professor of Biology in the Boston University Marine Program.

Phil learned to scuba dive from his father in Lake Erie, Ohio at age 12 in 1965. He started as a volunteer at the Cleveland Aquarium at age 14 where he met scientists who took him scuba diving to collect fishes and sharks in the Florida Keys during summers. This is when he really knew he wanted to be a marine biologist. At age 17, he traveled by himself into the Amazon jungle for six weeks where he met an old Amazonian Indian and the two of them canoed the jungles looking for fishes to collect.

He worked during school vacations, as the assistant lab manager at UH's Enewetak Atoll Marine Lab serving as a dive buddy for visiting scientists and "riding shotgun" with a McNair powerhead for protection from sharks (that was a long time ago!). He was the first to observe angelfishes and butterflyfishes spawning in the wild.
He was the first to map a Hawaiian Ocean eddy in real time and to show how open ocean eddy currents could transport fish larvae from reefs and back again.

The next huge discovery by Phil was made when he developed a specialized hydrophone and coupled it to a first generation 8-mm video camera in an underwater housing. While it was known that some fishes made loud courtship or aggressive sounds, Phil found that several (including hamlets and parrotfishes) also made quieter specialized spawning sounds that most scuba divers and aquarists never hear.

He established the Johnston Island marine research laboratory and led the research team that evaluated the impact on the marine environment from the US Army’s prototype facility for the destruction of chemical weapons and nuclear weapons fallout which resulted in the Dept. of Defense Coral Reef Protection Implementation Plan.

He has been featured in two National Geographic TV shows about his work on shark behavior at Johnston Atoll and in Palau. He has discovered several new species of fishes in Hawaii, the Line Islands, Wake Island, and Belize. His wife, Lisa Lobel, PhD is also an accomplished marine biologist.  They have co-authored several papers.

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