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Sea Otter Savvy

Sea Otter Science And Community Outreach

Sea Otter Savvy Consulation Services

Ask a Sea Otter Expert

Sea Otter Savvy consultants have sea otter observation experience ranging from 10-35 years, collectively totaling more than 60 years of field observations and research.  The internet is a minefield of inaccurate information about sea otters! We can provide our savvy to your commercial project to ensure your sea otter media is accurate and consistent with the most up-to-date research, including:

  • fact-checking of narration or written text
  • assessment of the accuracy and photography ethics of photo and video media
  • consultation on sea otter related topics and themes
  • topic-specific literature search recommendations

Sea Otter Monitoring

If you are planning filming, research, or commercial industry related work in sensitive areas and near protected marine wildlife, Sea Otter Savvy’s consultants are experts at monitoring disturbance behavior. We would assist crews as necessary, monitor the wildlife,  and offer a detailed review for permitting requirements. Sea Otter Savvy would provide:

  • advice on sea otter filming locations, protocols, and permits
  • monitoring of crews and wildlife, following all given permitting requirements
  • detailed review of the project for any permitting requirements

Field Studies

Our team of consultants has decades of experience in research project planning, execution, management, and data processing. We can advise your sea otter research project or plan and execute a study based on your research questions. Our field study services include:

  • help with baseline studies on sea otter behavior and/or ecology
  • location specific sea otter disturbance assessments
  • local seasonal southern sea otter abundance and distribution studies

Gena Bentall

Gena Bentall

  • Bachelor of Science in Zoology, Oregon State University, 2001
  • Master of Arts, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, 2005

Since 2001, Gena has worked as a sea otter biologist, studying sea otters in such wide ranging locations as the Aleutian Islands, Russia’s Commander Islands, San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California, and along the Central California coast. She studied zoology and marine biology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and obtained her master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz under Dr. James Estes. After years of studying sea otters in the wild, Gena has learned much about their unique biology and behavior, and witnessed first-hand the chronic nature of disturbance to sea otters by human recreation activities. She has spent thousands of hours in the field observing wild sea otters and has authored and co-authored a dozen scientific articles and technical reports.

Heather Barrett

Heather Barrett

  • Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Environmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, 2009
  • Master of Science, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, 2019

Heather has participated in sea otter research projects in California for more than 10 years. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolution, she interned with the Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and pursued a career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). In her six years with CDFW, Heather gained extensive experience with camera trapping techniques as she performed field-work and developed the photography catalogue for the long-term diversity database of Northern California. In 2019, Heather received a Masters of Science after completing graduate studies with Dr. Gitte McDonald’s marine vertebrate ecology lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Heather has extensive experience with marine mammal monitoring for construction projects and filmmakers, and she is continuing her research investigating the energetic cost of human disturbance to sea otters in Monterey Bay.

Michelle Staedler

Michelle Staedler

  • Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Environmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, 1986
  • Master of Arts, Ecology and Environmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, 2011

Michelle Staedler was a leading sea otter biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for over thirty years. For decades, she collaborated with research partners from universities, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations participating in and overseeing ecology and conservation projects on sea otters in the wild throughout their north Pacific range. Michelle has a high level of expertise on sea otter biology, natural history, and behavior. She has focused her interest on maternal investment and behavior on sea otter pup development. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees under the advisership of Dr. James Estes at the University of California Santa Cruz, and has co-authored more than 50 publications on sea otters in scientific journals.

Contact us

If you are interested in learning more about services and rates, send us an inquiry at

We are plugged in to the sea otter research, management, and outreach community! If we are not able to offer the best advice on your sea otter topic or question, we will connect you with someone who can.

Note: Sea Otter Savvy will continue to provide our expertise, advice, and materials free of charge to educational facilites and students. Requests are reviewed on a case by case basis by the consultation team.