By Christine Buckley and Peter Auster
Richard “Dick” Cooper, professor emeritus of the Department of Marine Sciences, passed away last year.
Cooper was part of a pioneering effort in the 1970s to live underwater off the coast of Maine and study the ecology of fishes, specifically the spawning of herring in the area. This was an international effort, involving scientists from the U.S., Germany and Poland.
They had an underwater laboratory in approximately 120-foot depth and there were several groups that lived for two weeks at a time underwater. Although many things went awry and the facility was eventually closed, the scientists learned many things about conducting science underwater.
Two years ago, historians from Stellwagen Bank National Marine
Sanctuary, which is off the coast of Massachusetts, found anchors that were used to hold elements of the underwater lab in place. A group of scientists from the Avery Point campus traveled to the site in August to place a plaque in memory of Dick
Cooper and his fellow pioneers. One of the divers on this cruise was Cooper’s son, Chris Cooper, who is now a research assistant in the Department of Marine Sciences.
“People at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary had known Cooper for many years and provided the boat time to get out to the site,” says Peter Auster, research professor at the National Undersea Research Center at Avery Point, who went on the cruise.
Cooper came to UConn to serve as the Director of the National Undersea Research Center, then severed as the Director of the Marine Sciences &Technology Center.