Centennial Story 25: Raymond Buckley (BS, 1963; MS, 1969; PhD, 1997), Troy Buckley (BS, 1987; MS, 1995), Marta Gómez-Buckley (MS, 2000; PhD ongoing)

All in the (marine science) family

The Buckley/Gómez-Buckley family has a “score card” at SAFS that reads, BS – 2, MS – 3, PhD -1, with 1 PhD on the horizon. Ours is truly a family with adventures in marine science that over the years have ranged from the Arctic Ocean south to the Coral Sea, and from the Philippine Sea east to the Indian Ocean.

The Buckley Family, 2018

Ray Buckley started the family’s long association with marine sciences at the UW, receiving a BS in 1963 and an MS in 1969 from the College of Fisheries. In 1963, he embarked on a 4.5-decade-long research career with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, from which he retired in 2008 as senior research scientist. At WDFW, Ray specialized in recreational fishery enhancement and research on marine fishes. He maintained close relationships with SAFS faculty. In 1972, Dean Doug Chapman appointed Ray affiliate assistant professor to provide expertise on marine fishes and artificial reef habitats on MS and PhD committees; he served in this role until 1990, when he started a PhD program at SAFS. Research on substrate-associated recruitment of juvenile rockfishes in the Salish Sea led to a PhD in 1997, and Ray was re-appointed affiliate assistant professor after earning his degree.

Troy Buckley in the Artic Ocean, 2018

Ray’s career in Washington has been punctuated by many diversions for research in the tropical north and south Pacific, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. It was during one of these diversions as chief fishery biologist in American Samoa (1985–1987), that Ray’s son, Troy Buckley, started the family’s adventure in marine science. Troy received a BS in 1987 from the College of Fisheries, and a (1986) pre-graduation present of a ticket to American Samoa, where he stayed and worked with Ray. Troy was hired by the American Samoan Department of

Marine and Wildlife Resources in 1987, where he worked for three years, including research on the food habits of yellowfin tuna near fish aggregation devices (FADs) that became the basis for his 1995 MS at SAFS.  Troy’s subsequent professional research and adventures have been with NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, studying the feeding ecology of North Pacific marine fishes, from the Channel Islands, California to Barrow Canyon, Alaska.

Ray and Troy’s father/son research adventures in American Samoa were conducted both on, and under, south Pacific waters. For extra fun, they played on the Nu’uuli Village soccer team, and Troy also found time to paddle six-man outrigger canoes in ocean races for the Fetūlele Canoe Club. Sharing marine science interests within the family made great careers extra special. Ray often thought, after a day of diving surveys on coral reefs, or test fisheries around FADs, “they are actually paying me to do this—amazing!” One “world-class” highlight came when Troy and Ray were walking along the plumeria-scented beach of a barely inhabited atoll, sharing the load of a goody-bag full of hard-won spiny lobster, under the light of a rising half-moon. Ray’s comment was “It just does not get any better than this”.

Ray & Marta at Vava’u, Tonga, 2017

However, it did get better. At a fateful 1990 Marine Technology Conference in the Canary Islands, Spain, Ray crossed paths with Marta Gómez-Llorente, a marine biologist studying at the Universitad de Las Palmas. In 1991, Marta transferred her post-baccalaureate work to SAFS, and became Marta Gómez-Buckley. In 2001, she received an MS for research on drifting kelp mat habitats as conduits for recruitment of juvenile rockfishes. Over the years, Marta has been a research biologist, raised a daughter, taught high school science and Spanish, and eventually returned to SAFS in 2017 to start a PhD program, conducting (genetics heavy) research on the community ecology of crypto-benthic coral reef fishes in Vava’u, Tonga. From their meeting, Ray and Marta have conducted research together, mainly on, and under, the waters of the Salish Sea, the Caribbean, and the tropical Pacific. Marta also joined Ray and Troy in mentoring many SAFS capstone research students over the years. Marta’s current field work in Vava’u, Tonga, also involves Ray and Troy; December 2018 will find them joining Marta for the next family tropical marine research adventure.

A common thread through much of the Buckley/Gómez-Buckley family’s graduate careers has been Bruce Miller, now professor emeritus, who was a continual source of expertise on the ecology, biology, and life history of marine fishes—a unique area of expertise at SAFS. Bruce was committee chair on Troy’s MS, Ray’s PhD, and Marta’s MS, and he continues as a close family friend and colleague.

Back to Top