Estes & Tinker Lab at the Santa Cruz Field Station

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

Sarah Espinosa, Graduate Student
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Santa Cruz


I am broadly interested in sea otter habitat use and their important ecosystem services. For my masters thesis, I will be focusing on sea otter salt marsh habitat use. Current research has shown that sea otter ecosystem effects on tidal marsh help prevent bank erosion and promote the growth of pickleweed (Salicornia virginica). Because of this, I will be looking specifically at how sea otters use the salt marsh/tidal creeks. The purpose of this research will be to inform management (restoration and creation) of tidal marsh in Elkhorn Slough.

I started working with the Estes-Tinker lab as a field technician in 2012 and have tracked sea otters up and down the California coast on a variety of different field projects. For the past three years, I tracked sea otters in Elkhorn Slough and helped manage a collabrative group of volunteers and interns from UCSC, ESNERR and Monterey Bay Aquarium. My fascination with otters began with an internship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SORAC program.

B.A. Biology
Bowdoin College 2010








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