Estes & Tinker Lab and Santa Cruz Field Station

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


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Jessica Perry, Research Biologist
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sea Otter Conservation and Research


I’ve been working with wild sea otters for four years as a research biologist at the
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation. One thing that has always intrigued me is their use of tools while foraging. Like chimpanzees, sea otters can use a variety of tools to acquire and process prey. However, most studies looking at this behavior have been descriptive and therefore lack the depth of knowledge seen in many other aspects of sea otter natural history. For my masters, I will be investigating the ecological factors that contribute to tool use, potential adaptive benefits of using tools, and evidence for vertical transmission (from mother to pup) of this behavior. The results of my studies will have implications for foraging specialization and the development in tool use in other species.


B.S. Marine Biology with honors
University of California, Santa Cruz

M.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Santa Cruz




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