This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) The article's lead section may need to be rewritten. Please help improve the lead and read the lead layout guide. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Cathy Church" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Catherine "Cathy" Church (née Hoffman, born 1945) is an American marine biologist, SCUBA diver, underwater 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 run by Stanford University in California. She received a MSc in marine biology from the University of Hawaii.[1]

She did not pursue a career in science, as women were not easily accepted, so instead went on to teach in science to 7th and 8th grade students in Gilroy, California, while pursuing the exploration of 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), but due to NASDS attaching their own copyright to the course, the Churches never updated or continued to pursue this product. 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 from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Science in 1985 and was the President of this esteemed organization two times. She was also awarded the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association's DEMA Reaching Out Award[3] in 2000. She was named to the Women Divers Hall of Fame[4] in 2000 and to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2008.[2]

She started teaching underwater summer courses at Spanish Bay Reef Resort in Grand Cayman in 1972, and continued teaching summer classes for seven more years. She then devoted her full time to teaching at her photo centre "Cathy Church's Photo Centre" in Grand Cayman where she is still actively taking pictures and teaching underwater Photography. She has also been awarded several other accolades including Diver of the Year in 2010 and later Pioneer of the Sea in 2019 from Beneath The Sea.


  1. ^ a b "Cathy Church". International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
  2. ^ a b "Church, Cathy, MSc". Diving Almanac.
  3. ^ "DEMA's Hall of Fame".
  4. ^ "WDHOF Member Roster Detail".