Surf legend Richard "Ricky" Grigg passed away on May 21, 2014, at his home in Waialae, Hawaii, at the age of 77.
Grigg was an emeritus professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii where he was internationally known for his research on the ecology and paleoceanography of reef building corals in Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean at large. His research on the history of the Hawaiian Archipelago and the Darwin Point, which explains why islands drown at the northwestern end of the Hawaiian Islands, has been considered a milestone in the field. A full description of this work can be found in his latest book, In the Beginning, Archipelago, the Origin and Description of the Hawaiian Islands, published in 2012.
He received his Ph.D. degree from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, in 1970.
Grigg was also known as a leading authority on coral ecology. He published more than 50 scientific papers on this subject alone and was active in this field of research for more than 40 years.
Early in his career, he was an aquanaut in the U.S. Navy Project Sealab II, off the coast of Scripps Oceanography in La Jolla, and spent 15 days living in a 12-by-60-foot cylindrical steel chamber under the sea at a depth of 205 feet. He was recently awarded the National Academy of Underwater Arts and Science’s Lifetime Achievement Award for underwater research.
Grigg also was a pioneer of big wave surfing in Hawaii in the 1950s and 60s and published several popular books on surfing including Big Surf, Deep Dives and the Islands, Surf Science, and Surfer in Hawaii. In 1967, he won the International Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Contest at Sunset Beach, Hawaii, in 18-foot surf. At the time, the ‘Duke’ was considered the World Championship for big surf.