This special issue of Oceanography is dedicated to the memory of Akira Okubo, a very special man. Even a quick scan of the articles included in this issue will convince the most casual reader that Dr. Okubo was an influential man and a trailblazing scientist. At a time when ocean scientists went to great pains to cubby-hole their research into convenient disciplinary compartments, Okubo crossed many barriers. He left a trail of new thinking and devoted followers, many of whom are leaders today (and who have graciously contributed to this volume). He obviously taught many people many lessons.
As a young student at Johns Hopkins, I had the chance to run into Dr. Okubo once or twice. Hopkins was a special institution then, with the Chesapeake Bay Institute operating at full throttle, and the likes of Bretherton, Phillips and Pritchard wandering the halls. I remember Dr. Okubo as the quiet, slight fellow working on swarming dynamics. Years later, when my job demanded some familiarity with zooplankton patch dynamics I regretted not having spent a few more minutes in the halls with Dr. Okubo. Then, as I read the early manuscripts for this issue of Oceanography, I regretted even more not having taken advantage of the opportunity to learn some fascinating science from a master.
Perhaps, however, there is an even more important lesson to be learned from the pages of this issue of Oceanography; it is a lesson about the global community of marine scientists. As Ken Brink, the President of The Oceanography Society, states in his column in this issue, our community has a special responsibility for the conduct of international collaboration in science. For a scientific community of relatively small numbers (a conservative estimate would be about 30,000 marine scientists world-wide) we have a remarkably cosmopolitan distribution. That message comes through loud and clear from the geographic distribution of the authors in this issue. It would seem that Akira Okubo is still teaching us through example.
– Richard W. Spinrad, Editor