Estes & Tinker Lab at the Santa Cruz Field Station

A cooperative unit of United States Geological Survey and University of California, Santa Cruz

Jim phots

Joe Tomoleoni

Wildlife Biologist
U. S. Geological Survey,

I joined the Tinker-Estes Lab as a biologist in November 2008. Since then, I have been responsible for the management of many long-term sea otter research projects through out California from Big Sur to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Elkhorn Slough. These studies investigate many different aspects of sea otter behavioral ecology including: foraging trends, activity budgets, survival, and reproduction. This type of research helps us obtain a better understanding of sea otter biology, which, through species interactions with biotic and abiotic factors in their environment, advances our knowledge base for entire nearshore marine ecosystems. Sea otters serve as both a keystone species, having profound effects on nearly every other organism in nearshore ecosystems, as well as a sentinel species, providing researchers a "window" into the health of our coastal oceans.

In addition to the management of many long-term sea otter monitoring studies, I am also one of a team of rebreather divers for the Tinker-Estes lab that captures sea otters for tagging and instrumentation. Our field work also includes intertidal and subtidal (SCUBA) surveys of sea otter prey items, as well as general dive work to collect data or samples that help us better understand the link between otters, kelp forests, and people. I also serve as both a ground observer and an aerial observer during our semi-annual sea otter census in California.  While most of my fieldwork is conducted along the Central California coast and San Nicolas Island, I also participate in the collection of sea otter foraging data, otter capture diving, and sub-tidal survey diving throughout Alaska (Southeast, Prince William Sound, and the Aleutian Islands) and Washington.

B.S. Marine Biology,
University of Miami, FL 2005

M.S. Marine Affairs and Policy/Marine Biology and Fisheries
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, FL 2007






Contact Us: USGS Santa Cruz Field Station - 100 Shaffer Road - Center for Ocean Health - Room 251 - Santa Cruz, CA 95060 - 831 459-2357 -