About Us

The California Ocean Alliance is a non-profit collaboration of scientists, educators, and conservationists committed to the understanding and protection of whales locally and globally. We have extensive collective experience working within non-profit, academic, and corporate organizations, and we support a holistic approach to whale conservation that is based on local engagement and action.

COA Management Team

Daria Sheik

Daria Sheik joined our team in 2022 as the Management Coordinator. She met the rest of the COA team in her undergraduate at UCSC where she was a member of the Pinniped Lab. After that she went on to pursue a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Daria is interested in science communication and the interdisciplinary work that is happening at COA. She is loves connecting with the community through our courses, outreach, and social media!

Robert Mazurek

Robert Mazurek has spent over two decades leading national and international efforts to strengthen ocean governance, enhance marine policy, and create resilient coasts. He has turned his life-long passion for ocean conservation into a career that has spanned the globe.  Internationally, Robert’s work with the Pew Charitable Trusts helped lead to the creation of some of the largest marine reserves in the world including Australia’s Coral Sea Marine National Park, Chile’s Easter Island Marine Reserve, and the U.K.’s Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve.  Robert also started the Secure Fisheries program, where he worked with the governments of Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, the Maldives, and Madagascar, to strengthen maritime governance and fight illegal fishing.  He also worked as a maritime expert for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Program.

In California, Robert helped create the California Ocean Alliance, developed the management plan for the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and helped launch the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s world-renowned Seafood Watchprogram.

Robert took over as Executive Director of the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation in April 2021 after sitting on the foundation’s Board of Directors for 13 years.

Brandon Southall

Brandon is President of Southall Environmental Associates (SEA), Inc., a Research Associate at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke University. His work includes research on the hearing, behavior and effects of noise on marine mammals as well as the translation of these studies into noise exposure criteria, regulatory policies, and public understanding and appreciation of these issues.

Kristin Southall

Kristin’s career in marine biology began back in 1996 when she graduated from UC Santa Cruz, volunteered at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, and worked with captive marine mammals at UCSC. Her own research on deep-diving marine mammal visual acuity was published soon after/. After professional experiences working in a UCSC RNA crystallography lab, and later at NASA Ames Research Center, she stepped away for a few years to raise three children with her husband. In 2009 they started their own small business together, Southall Environmental Associates, Inc, where she is Chief Operating Officer, Associate Scientist, and a BOD member. She acts as treasurer for the California Ocean Alliance and supports both the education and research departments.

Caroline Casey

Caroline has combined research and education in California over the past decade, and has developed a strong sense of devotion to making science both accessible and fun for everyone. Her approach to reaching students is through hands-on educational opportunities, and believes that students learn best when they develop a deep connection and responsibility towards the ocean.

Ari Friedlaender

Ari is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research interests focus on using tag technology to study the underwater behavior and ecology of marine mammals and the impacts of human activities from climate change to Navy sonar around the world. Ari’s research in the Antarctic and California is the foundation for a number of conservation programs and educational opportunities through COA.

Chloe Lew

After collaborating with COA through research and fundraising efforts, Chloe joined the team as social media coordinator in 2020. She is excited to foster a community surrounding ocean health, conservation research and education throughout California and beyond through digital outreach. Outside of COA she has pursued research opportunities working on bioacoustics of marine mammals and works at one of COA’s business collaborators, Humble Sea Brewing Company.

John Calambokidis

John is a Senior Research Biologist with a Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit scientific research organization he founded in 1979. He directs Cascadia’s long-term studies and photo-ID effort on humpback, blue, and gray whales that tracks populations along the US West Coast, including employing new tag technologies to better understand their behavior and the impacts of human activities.


Jeremy Goldbogen

Jeremy is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University’s, Hopkins Marine Station. He studies the feeding behavior and ecology of large whales using advanced integrated sensor technologies. His research provides both fine-scale scientific measurements and compelling visualizations showing how the largest animals on earth make a living.


Blundy Family Marine Science Fellows

Maddi Stewart

Maddi is a second year Marine Biology major, Earth Science minor at UC Santa Cruz. She is the Spring 2023 Blundy Fellow. Her fellowship is with COA’s Dr. Ari Friedlaender where she is learning about different aspects of humpback whale research including how to process and analyze tissue to collect hormonal and genetic data. Maddi says, “Being in Ari’s lab has helped me further my lab techniques, become more confident in my skills, and understand the value of cultivating strong relationships within the science community.”


Jennifer Valenzuela

Jen is a post grad who is interested in drone research, geospatial analysis, and science illustration. Jen was our Fall 2023 Blundy Fellow. For her fellowship, Jen worked in Dr. David Cade’s lab helping analyze mapping data about Minke whales in Antarctica, she also produced illustrations for some papers in the lab. About the fellowship experience, Jen says, “Having taken a non-linear path towards my career goals, getting this kind of experience is invaluable.”


COA Internships

Zaahir Santhanam

Zaahir “Zaaz” Santhanam is a Senior double majoring in marine biology and political science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is working on his undergraduate thesis in the Tift lab working on CO and O2 binding affinities for hemoglobin. When he’s not working, he can be found surfing , reading, or cooking.


G Mendoza

G Mendoza is a freshman in college majoring in animal science, and hopes to one day to be able to work closely with marine life. He love animals (especially whales) and being outdoors- specifically playing basketball, baseball, and other cool games. He goes to the beach with his best friend every chance he gets, and he loves his dog!


COA Partnerships, Funders & Collaborators

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Services
The National Science Foundation
University of California at Santa Cruz
The Whale Tail Grants Program

Pam Ferris-Olson Family Foundation
The Oak Foundation
The Hurtigruten Foundation

University of Hawaii

Conservation International
Vanguard Investments

Benevity Charitable Organization
Ventura Surfboards
Falkland Conservation