Dr. Pitman is a marine ecologist for NOAA Fisheries at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division.

Research interests as stated on NOAA website:
"I have been studying seabirds and cetaceans since 1976, and marine turtles and flyingfish since 1986. My interests include biogeography, foraging ecology, evolutionary biology, and general ecology. I spend between 6 and 8 months each year in the field, mostly at sea in pelagic ecosystems, on research vessels of all kinds. These have taken me to the tropical Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans, Antarctic waters, and the Bering Sea. Currently my main interest is Antarctic killer whale ecology and systematic."

Relevant to the biota of the Gulf of Mexico, Dr. Pitman was the author of the following publications:
Jefferson, T. A., S. Leatherwood, L. K. M. Shoda, and R. L. Pitman. 1992. Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico: A Field Guide for Aerial and Shipboard Observers. Printing Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, Tex. 92 pp.

Pitman, R. L., S. O’Sullivan, and B. Mase. 2003. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) attack a school of pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) in the Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Mammals 29: 321–324.