I’ve been fascinated by marine biology for as long as I can remember. As a little girl in Michigan, I dreamt of working with Jacques Cousteau. My passion for biology never waned through four academic degrees in this field.

Twenty-one years ago, I got a job teaching biology for Lane Community College, and I settled into life in Eugene, commuting to Depoe Bay on weekends so I could research gray whales. The best gray whale sightings in the continental United States are just offshore in Depoe Bay eleven months out of the year.

In 1999, I discovered that a gray whale’s diet consists primarily of mysid shrimp. This was a big discovery in marine biology and spurred many opportunities for me, including working with Jacques Cousteau’s son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, on the documentary film, The Gray Whale Obstacle Course. My book, Summer Resident Gray Whales, is now in its fifth edition.

photo by Talia Galvin

In 2000, I received my captain’s license and started running my whale-watching business with my dog and first mate, Kida, in 2005. The tours allow me to educate people about the gray whale while funding my field research. My first boat was named after Eagle Eye, a whale that I’ve come to know through many encounters over the years.

In 2012, I bought another boat and opened the Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum in the heart of Depoe Bay. I have collected so many marine specimens and fossils over the years, and I’m happy that I can now share them with Depoe Bay visitors.

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