Dr Robert Sluka
Lead Scientist, Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme
Bob is a curious explorer, applying hopeful, optimistic and holistic solutions to all that is ailing our oceans and the communities that rely on them. Dabbling in theology, he writes on the interface between Christian faith and marine conservation. He has worked cross-culturally, living for extended periods in Australia, India, Great Britain and his native USA where he currently resides. Robert’s research focuses on marine biodiversity conservation, plastic pollution, and fisheries, particularly marine protected areas. The ultimate goal is to glorify God through oceans and communities being transformed using holistic marine conservation. @BobSluka on Twitter or [email protected]
For further information on Bob’s work, see A Rocha’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme.
Dr Robert Sluka, Lead Marine Scientist, spoke (download text) at the United Nations Ocean Conference about the work of A Rocha and the integration of Christian faith and marine conservation.
Why A Rocha?
It’s holistic. I can combine research with theological reflection and on-the-ground conservation which blesses the local community.
What do you enjoy most?
Working with eager young scientists, helping them devise and develop their projects. And at the Kenya centre, conversations often explore the big questions about life, I can share my convictions and learn from others.
Is family life shaped by your passion for the sea?
We often head for the shore at weekends and holidays. When I took the family to A Rocha Kenya’s centre for two months, my three youngsters helped to write and design rockpool worksheets now being used by local primary children.
Tell us about a memorable underwater experience.
For a year I studied groupers off one of the remotest Maldive islands. The sun was setting, I was diving with local friends in a channel where probably no-one had dived before, and we let the current pull us through to a steep drop-off: suddenly, the ocean bed was thousands of feet below us, and up ahead was a group of spawning Napoleon Wrasse Cheilinus undulatus. They’re huge fish, longer than I am and endangered. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
In the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation you called on the worldwide Christian community to respond to overfishing. What action would you most like to see?
I think that the major development organizations should consider how to serve coastal communities by getting involved in marine conservation. Coastal churches also need to raise awareness of the issues. We have resources which church leaders could use.
I couldn’t do my job without…
Being close to the sea.
Friedman, W. R., Halpern, B. S., McLeod, E., Beck, M. W., Duarte, C. M., Kappel, C. V., Levine, A., Sluka, R. D., Adler, S., O’Hara, C. C., Sterling, E. J., Tapia-Lewin, S., Losada, I. J., McClanahan, T. R., Pendleton, L., Spring, M., Toomey, J. P., Weiss, K. R., Possingham, H. P., and Montambault, J. R. 2020. Research priorities for achieving healthy marine ecosystems and human communities in a changing climate. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7:5.
Sluka, R.D. 2019. Book Review – Fragile World: Ecology and the Church by William T Cavanaugh (ed.). Science and Christian Belief 31(2): 196-197.
Sluka, R.D. 2019. Book review – Blue Planet, Blue God by M. Srokosz and R. Watson. Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith 71(3): 180-181.
Hannah F. R. Hereward, Louise K. Gentle, Nicholas D. Ray and Robert D. Sluka. 2019. Habitat associations of hawkfish: Depth, distribution, and density at two sites in Kenya. Bulletin of Marine Science 95(2):265-276.
Cowburn, B., Musembi, P. M., Sindorf, V., Kohlmeier, D., Raker, C., Nussbaumer, A., Hereward, H.F.R., van Baelenberghe, B., Goebbles, D., Kamire, J., Horion, M., Sluka, R. D., Taylor, M.L., Rogers, A.D. 2018. The Habitats and Biodiversity of Watamu Marine National Park: Evaluating our Knowledge of one of East Africa’s oldest Marine Protected Areas. Atoll Research Bulletin no. 618. 45pp.
Hannah F R Hereward, Nicholas D Ray, Louise K Gentle and Robert D Sluka. 2017. Ghost crab burrow density at Watamu Marine National Park: An indicator of the impact of urbanisation and associated disturbance? African Journal of Marine Science 39(1):129-133.
Sluka, R.D. and A. Nussbaumer. 2017. Le changement climatique et l’océan. Pages 87-101 in E. Hobbs, J.F. Mouhot, and C. Walley (Eds.) Evangile & changement climatique. Dossier VIVRE no. 40 En Glapin 8, Switzerland. 227pp.
Sluka, Robert D. 2016. The Hidden Things of God in the Ocean. Anglican EcoCare Journal of EcoTheology 2:41-50.
Srokosz, M and R.D. Sluka. 2016. Chapter 14: Creation Care of the other 71%. Pages 214-236 in C.Bell and R.S. White (Eds) Creation Care and the Gospel: Reconsidering the Mission of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers Marketing LLC, Massachusetts, USA. 353pp.
Sindorf, V, B. Cowburn and R.D. Sluka. 2015. Rocky intertidal fish assemblage in the Watamu Marine National Park, Western Indian Ocean. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:1777-1785. DOI 10.1007/s10641-015-0397-1 PDF
Gordon, T.A.C., Cowburn, B, and R.D. Sluka. 2015. Defended territories of an aggressive damselfish contain lower juvenile coral density than adjacent non-defended areas on Kenyan lagoon patch reefs. Coral Reefs 34:13-16. DOI 10.1007/s00338-014-1229-z PDF
Sluka, R.D. and P. Simonin. 2014. Marine Capture Fisheries – A call to action in response to limits, unintended consequences, and ethics. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 66:203-212. PDF
Mary, Anita G and R.D. Sluka. 2014. Biodiversity and distribution of octocorals of Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep. Atoll Research Bulletin 602 17pp. DOI: 10.5479/si.00775630.602
Cowburn, B., R. Sluka, J. Smith, and M.O.S. Mohamed. 2013. Tourism, Reef Condition and Visitor Satisfaction in Watamu Marine National Park, Kenya. Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science 12: 57-70. PDF
Sluka, R.D. 2013. Coastal marine fish biodiversity along the west coast of India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5: 3574–3579. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3187.118
Sluka, R. D. 2012. Hope for the Ocean: Marine Biodiversity, Poverty Alleviation and Blessing the Nations. Grove Books Limited, Cambridge. 28pp.
Sluka, R.D. Mary, A.G., and S. Lazarus. 2012. The biota of shallow, rocky reefs on the west coast of India. CORDIO Status Report 2011. http://www.cordioea.org/status-report-2011/
Sluka,R.D., Kaonga, M., Weatherley, J., Anand,V., Bosu, D., Jackson, C. 2011. Christians, biodiversity conservation, and poverty alleviation: a potential synergy? Biodiversity 12(2):108-115. DOI: 10.1080/14888386.2011.599780 PDF
Mary, A.G., Sluka, R.D. & Lazarus, S. 2011. Octocoral diversity and distribution
on the south-west Indian coast. Marine Biodiversity Records. Vol. 4; e16; doi:10.1017/S1755267211000066
Sluka, Robert. 2010. Chapter 15 Marine Species. Pages 53-71 In: Lester, A and Hodgetts, S Eds. Gower Wildlife Recording Weekend: A preliminary survey of St. Madoc’s Christian Youth Camp. A Rocha UK, Southall, United Kingdom.
Sluka, R.D. and S. Lazarus. 2010. Grouper (Pisces: Serranidae) relative abundance and diversity on the west coast of India. Marine Biodiversity Records, 3: e71 doi:10.1017/S1755267210000606
Sluka, R.D. and S. Lazarus. 2009. Reefs of the India’s west coast. Reef Encounter 37:18.
Sluka, R.D. and S. Lazarus. 2006. Groupers and wrasses of Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep, India. Newsletter of the IUCN Grouper & Wrasses Specialist Group 9:4-5.
Patterson Edward, J.K., S. Kulkanri, R. Jeyabaskaran, S. Lazarus, A. Mary, K. Venkataraman, S. Prabha Das, J. Tamelander, A. Rajasuriya, K. Jayakumar, A.K. Kumaraguru, N. Marimuthu, R. Sluka, and J. J. Wilson. 2005. The effects of the 2004 tsunami on mainland India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. p. 85-98. In Wilkinson, C., D. Souter and J. Goldberg (eds.) Status of Coral Reefs in Tsunami Affected Countries: 2005. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland. 154 p
Sluka, R.D., S. Lazarus and A. Mary. 2005. Underwater survey of rocky reefs of Muttom, Tamil Nadu: possible tsunami impacts. Wave in Bay (Impact of tsunami on coastal resources) ENVIS Publication Series 3/2005: 53-59.
Sluka, R.D. 2005. Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) abundance and size structure among coral reef habitats in Maldives. Atoll Research Bulletin 538:189-198.
Sluka, R.D. and S. Lazarus. 2005. Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) rare on the west coast of India. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 85:1293-1294.
Sluka, R.D. and S. Lazarus. 2004. Grouper and wrasse biodiversity along the west coast of India. Newsletter of the IUCN Grouper & Wrasses Specialist Group 8: 6,10.
Leon, Y., E. Pugibet, and R. Sluka. 2004. The abundance of fishes in shallow, algal/seagrass habitats in the waters surrounding Parque Nacional del Este, Dominican Republic. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 48:259-271.
Pugibet, E., R. Sluka, L. Almánzar, and M. Hernandez. 2004. Estudio pesquero en el Parque Nacional del Este, Republica Dominicana. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 48:293-309.
Schmitt, E.F., R. D. Sluka, and K. M. Sullivan-Sealey. 2002. Evaluating the use of roving diver and transect surveys to assess the coral reef fish assemblage off southeastern Hispaniola. Coral Reefs 21: 216-223
Sluka, R.D. 2001. Grouper and Napoleon wrasse ecology in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives: Part 1. Habitat, behavior, and movement patterns. Atoll Research Bulletin 491: 1-26.
Sluka, R.D. 2001. Grouper and Napoleon wrasse ecology in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives: Part 2. Timing, location, and characteristics of spawning aggregations. Atoll Research Bulletin 492:1-15.
Sluka, R.D. 2001. Grouper and Napoleon wrasse ecology in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives: Part 3. Fishing effects and management of the live fish food trade. Atoll Research Bulletin 493:1-18.
Sluka, R.D., M. Chiappone, and K. M. Sullivan Sealey. 2001. Influence of habitat on grouper abundance in the Florida Keys, U.S.A. Journal of Fish Biology 58:682-700.
Sluka, R.D., and M.W. Miller. 2001. Herbivorous fish assemblages and herbivory pressure in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives. Coral Reefs 20:255-262.
Sluka, R.D., T.A. Potts, and K.M. Sullivan Sealey. 2001. The influence of cleaning stations on grouper abundance and behavior. Bahamas Journal of Science 8:33-38.
Chiappone M., R. Sluka and K.S. Sealey. 2000. Groupers (Pisces: Serranidae) in fished and protected areas of the Florida Keys, Bahamas and northern Caribbean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 198:261-272.
Sluka, R. 2000. Groupers: group spawning predators in need of conservation. pages 344-346. In McClanahan, T.R., Sheppard, C.R.C., Obura, D.O. (editors). Coral Reefs of the Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, NY. pp. 526.
Risk, M.J. and R. Sluka 2000. The Maldives: A nation of atolls. pages 325-351 In McClanahan, T.R., Sheppard, C.R.C., Obura, D.O. (editors). Coral Reefs of the Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, NY. pp. 526.
Miller, M.W. and R.D. Sluka. 1999. Patterns of seagrass and sediment nutrient distribution suggest anthropogenic enrichment in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives. Marine Pollution Bulletin 38:1152-1156.
Miller, M.W. and R.D. Sluka. 1999. Coral-seagrass interactions in an anthropogenicly enriched lagoon. Coral Reefs 18:368.
Sluka, R., M. Chiappone, K.M. Sullivan, and M. deGarine Whichatitsky. 1999. Benthic habitat characterization and space utilization by juvenile Epinepheline groupers in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Central Bahamas. Proceedings of the 45th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 45:23-36.
Sluka, R.D. and M.W. Miller. 1999. Status of crown-of-thorns starfish in Laamu Atoll, Republic of Maldives. Bulletin of Marine Science 65:253-258.
Bustamante, G., M. Chiappone, G.A. Delgado, F.X. Geraldes, E. Pugibet, E. Schmitt, R. Sluka, K.M. Sullivan-Sealey, R.E. Torres, M. Vega, Y. Rodriquez, J. Alarcon, and Y. Lichtensztajn. 1998. Reef fish assemblages and fisheries in Parque Nacional del Este, Dominican Republic. Proceedings of the 50th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 50:919-937.
Chiappone, M., R. Sluka, K.M. Sullivan, E. Schmitt, G. Bustamente, J. Kelly, M. Vega, E. Pugibet, F.X. Geraldes, and R.E. Torres. 1998. Comparison of grouper assemblages in northern areas of the wider Caribbean: A preliminary assessment. Proceedings of the 50th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 50:427-451.
Miller, M.W. and R.D. Sluka. 1998. Coral mining in Maldives. Coral Reefs 17:288.
Sluka, R., M. Chiappone, K.M. Sullivan, T. Potts, J.M. Levy, E.F. Schmitt and G. Meester. 1998. Density, species and size distribution of groupers (Serranidae) in three habitats at Elbow Reef, Florida Keys. Bulletin of Marine Science 62: 219-228.
Sluka, R.D. and K.M. Sullivan. 1998. The influence of spearfishing on the density, size distribution, and species composition of groupers in the upper Florida Keys. Fishery Bulletin 96:388-392.
Chiappone, M., K.M. Sullivan, and R. Sluka. 1997. Status of reefs in the central Bahamas based on a large-scale survey. Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium 1:345-350.
Chiappone, M., K.M. Sullivan, and R. Sluka. 1997. Reef invertebrates of the Exuma Cays, Bahamas: Part 1 – corals. Bahamas Journal of Science 4(2):30-36.
Chiappone, M., K.M. Sullivan, and R. Sluka. 1997. Reef invertebrates of the Exuma Cays, Bahamas: Part 2 – octocorals. Bahamas Journal of Science 4(3):28-37
Sluka, R., M. Chiappone, K.M. Sullivan, and R. Wright. 1997. The benefits of marine fishery reserve status for Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus in the central Bahamas. Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium 2:1961-1964.
Sluka, R., M. Chiappone, and K.M. Sullivan. 1996. Habitat preferences of groupers in the Exuma Cays, central Bahamas. Bahamas Journal of Science 4:8-14.
Sluka, R., M. Chiappone, K.M. Sullivan, and R. Wright. 1996. Habitat and Life in the Exuma Cays, the Bahamas: The status of groupers and coral reefs in the northern cays. Media Publishing Ltd., Nassau. 83pp.
Sluka, R. and N. Reichenbach. 1996. The density and diversity of groupers at two sites in the Republic of Maldives. Atoll Research Bulletin 438:1-16.
Sluka, R. and K.M. Sullivan. 1996. Daily activity patterns of groupers in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, central Bahahas. Bahamas Journal of Science 3:17-22.
Sluka, R. and K.M. Sullivan. 1996. The influence of habitat on the size distribution of groupers in the upper Florida Keys. Environmental Biology of Fishes 47:177-189.
Sullivan, K.M. and R. Sluka. 1996. The ecology of shallow-water groupers (Pisces: Serranidae) in the upper Florida Keys, USA. Pages 76-86 In: F. Arrequin-Sanchez, J.L. Munro, M.C. Balgos and D. Pauly (Eds.). Biology, Fisheries and Culture of Tropical Groupers and Snappers. ICLARM Conference Proceedings 48, 449p.
Sluka, R., K.M. Sullivan, and M. Chiappone. 1994. Comparison of juvenile grouper populations in southern Florida and the central Bahamas. Bulletin of Marine Science 54(3):871-880.