Cover photo for John C Ogden's Obituary
John C Ogden Profile Photo

John C Ogden

d. June 25, 2023

St. Petersburg

John C Ogden


John Conrad Ogden, 82 of St. Petersburg, FL -- The choice of a hip replacement led to his untimely death, ending a beautiful life.  He had a challenging childhood with alcoholic parents, but found inspiration in the Great Swamp of New Jersey which led to a biology degree from Princeton and then a PhD from Stanford under the famous Population Bomb author, Paul R. Ehrlich.  He started doing Audubon Christmas bird counts in 1954 and was still doing them after retiring.  He met Nancy at Stanford and after two years they headed to Panama for a post doc with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  They lived and studied parrotfish in the San Blas Islands and eventually ended up at FDU’s new West Indies Lab. on St. Croix in 1971.  He was the resident marine biologist and eventually became the director.  He was also Program Director of the NOAA Saturation Diving Facility HYDROLAB for 5 years and became an aquanaut.  He loved sailing and racing and he was very close to his sister Rita.  His children, Eric and Lisa, were born on St. Croix. 

He published over 70 papers, contributed to numerous books and produced several television programs about tropical ecosystems.  A sabbatical in 1978 generated papers from Palau, Eniwetok and Hawaii.  He had a 6-month stint as Program Associate at NSF in 1986.  Colleagues in Newcastle, England invited him to be the external examiner from 1994 to 1996.   He helped form the International Society for Reef Studies and was the most active president.

John was an early leader in the developing field of behavioral ecology.  He initiated a Caribbean-wide seagrass study (SES) plus CARICOMP (Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity) which joined marine labs in comparative studies throughout the greater Caribbean.  As the university cut funds he moved to St. Petersburg, FL as director of Florida Institute of Oceanography where in partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Institute, he added the Keys Marine Lab to FIO facilities.  The KML is used by researchers and educators concerned with Florida Keys ecosystems.  John worked hard to get the creation of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (established in 1990).  He has worked on policy and research relating to the conservation of tropical ecosystems with NSF, NOAA, U.S. Dept. of State, the World Bank, UNESCO, WWF and private foundations.  He was fortunate to have left St. Croix in 1988 as hurricane Hugo closed WIL in 1989.  He was a mentor and friend to many students and colleagues – giving many of them the opportunity to be leaders in marine science in many parts of the world.  He will be sorely missed by his friends and family.

Suggested donations -- Suncoast Hospice, WUSF, WEDU, Ocean Conservancy, Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery or USF Foundation for preserving data from tropical marine scientists.

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Friday, August 4, 2023

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Saturday, August 5, 2023

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