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People of the Restoration Center

David Witting

Fish Biologist: Long Beach, California

I work for the Restoration Center in Long Beach, California. My focus is the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, where I develop and implement fish-related projects such as wetlands restoration or artificial reef creation. I also work as a technical monitor for our partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy, providing guidance and helping develop monitoring strategies. I’m also working with local partners to develop an approach to abalone restoration in Southern California.

What is that you like most about your job? Prior to coming to NOAA, my work was mainly focused on academic research questions. They were interesting, but what I like best about the work I do with NOAA is that it’s grounded in science, but there are tangible results – you can see the benefits when we open a wetland to tidal flow. I also like that these projects make a difference to local communities, and that they take ownership of the habitat we’ve restored.

What is the hardest part about your job? It often takes longer and is more complicated to see a project to completion – there are lot of hoops, like permitting and other approvals, to jump through. It can take a lot of patience.

How long have you been with the Restoration Center, and what interested you in working for NOAA? I started working on the Montrose case in 2003. I was drawn to NOAA because the resources we manage—such as fish and coral reefs—are ones that I’m interested in; I also liked that there were real-world implications to our work and that I can pull from my past experience with academic science.

What advice would you give young people thinking about becoming a fish biologist? It’s a broad field, so figure out what aspects of the field you’re passionate about. Get a solid foundation in science and biology, and then specialize in your particular field of interest in graduate school.