Sea Otter and Marine Conservation Advocate, Educator/Marine Biologist
“I have always had a great interest in the topic of marine mammal disturbance and how there is very little, legally and enforcement-wise that is available to reduce it. I have testified before the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission on this issue and from the beginnings of my Master’s Thesis research through my professional career, over a nearly 30-year period, I continually was frustrated by the lack of tools available to minimize human impacts on wildlife. It has improved somewhat, and with organizations like Sea Otter Savvy trying to make a difference through educating the public and user groups, hopefully there will be some breakthroughs. Human disturbance impacts on wildlife can range in its effects such as abandonment of areas, diminished foraging, less time resting, potentially, in the case of sea otters and possibly other animals, moms abandoning young, and other issues.”
Jim Curland has been involved in sea otter research and conservation and other marine conservation issues from 1990 through 2015. Jim completed his Master’s Thesis, titled “Effects of Disturbance on Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) Near Monterey, California” in 1997, graduating from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San Jose State University. Jim, in his role working for Friends of the Sea Otter and Defenders of Wildlife from 1998-2015, advocated for sea otters and their habitat at the federal, state and local levels; lobbied for funding and policy for sea otter recovery efforts; educated schools and communities about sea otter history and conservation; worked with sea otter biologists, federal and state wildlife agencies, water quality agencies and others to identify critical research needs; and conducted media interviews and served as an advisor to sea otter documentaries. In addition, Jim served as a member on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Alaska Sea Otter Recovery Team and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery Implementation Team. In April 2008, Jim, along with Dr. James Estes, world-renowned expert on sea otters, Andy Johnson, Manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program, were invited to be expert witnesses to testify about sea otters before the Congressional Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and the Oceans.
Jim was the marine program associate for Defenders of Wildlife for just under 11 years, from 2001-2011, working on all forms of marine conservation issues, but specializing in sea otter conservation, education and advocacy, and Science Director for Friends of the Sea Otter for 2.5 years from 1998-2000 and Advocacy Program Director for a 2nd stint with Friends of the Sea Otter from 2012-2015. Jim was also an interpretive guide/docent for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for five years during the mid 1980s, conducted sea otter research for his master’s thesis at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and studied killer whales in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia with orca biologist Jeff Jacobsen in the early 1980s.
Jim Curland holds a B.A. in Animal Behavior from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California and a M.S. in Marine Science, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California.
Jim currently is a Product Specialist for Apple, Inc.