Les Watling is Professor of Biology at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Emeritus Professor of Oceanography at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center. His interests range from ecology of marine sediment communities, community analysis of seamounts in the deep-sea, global biogeography of bathyal and abyssal areas of the ocean, to taxonomy of small crustaceans and large deep-sea octocorals. Currently he is working on describing new species of deep-sea octocorals, compiling global databases for GIS analysis of distributions of deep-sea octocorals, and recently edited two books on crustacean natural history.

Watling enjoys being  at sea, or preferably, deep within it. Since 1980, Watling has completed 28 research cruises in the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic, and Indian Oceans. He has also made more than 20 dives in research submersibles and been involved in almost 100 dive days using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at depths reaching 4000 m. Recently he has participated by satellite in several expeditions using the NOAA ship Okeanos and Deep Discoverer ROV. He views this new technology as a fantastic way to extend his oceanographic career.