Cathy Church

Catherine "Cathy" Church (née Hoffman, born 1945) is an American marine biologist, diver, photographer and educator.

She received a BSc in biology from the University of Michigan, where she also learned to scuba dive. She studied marine biology at Hopkins Marine Station in California. She received an MSc in marine biology from the University of Hawaii.[1]

She did not pursue a career in science but instead went on to teach in school and pursue underwater photography.

From 1969 to 1987, she was married to Jim Church, a pioneer in underwater photography. With him, she developed photography courses which were offered through the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (NASDS). Cathy co-wrote and published four books on underwater photography and contributed articles to various magazines. For fifteen years, she was co-photo editor for Skin Diver Magazine. She has done photography for various clients, including Kodak, Nikon, the United States Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.[1][2]

Church received a NOGI Award in 1985 and the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association's Reaching Out Award in 2000. She was named to the Women Divers Hall of Fame [3] in 2000 and to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2008.[2]

In January 2019, Cathy Church was involved in a boat collision in Grand Cayman's West Bay. During the afternoon hours of January 8, 2019, her boat was in transit to West Bay dock, when the helm was left unattended while the boat was underway at high speed. Ms Church's vessel then struck the side of another dive vessel that was moored on the popular dive attraction USS Kittiwake, narrowly missing snorkelers that were in the water at the time. The collision caused significant damage to the vessel Atatude—a 36-foot (11 m) dive boat belonging to Divetech of Grand Cayman.[4][5]

The matter was investigated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Marine Unit, and on July 3, 2019 Church was formally charged with navigating a vessel so as to cause damage or risk of damage, and reckless and negligent act.[6]


  1. "Cathy Church". International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
  2. "Church, Cathy, MSc". Diving Almanac.
  3. "WDHOF Member Roster Detail".
  4. Whittaker, James (January 9, 2019). "Boat crash at the Kittiwake". Cayman Compass. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
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