California Whale Rescue, a network of volunteers and institutions working to prevent whale entanglement and save entangled whales, has joined Oceanic Society, America's first non-profit dedicated to ocean conservation, founded in 1969. The new alliance will help generate greater awareness of the issue of whale entanglement, and will allow California Whale Rescue to unify and advance its response network by providing increased training opportunities, standardizing communications and resources, and helping to develop best practices for disentanglement.
California Whale Rescue’s volunteers have decades of experience in whale disentanglement, and continually work with stakeholders including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources, local government, state sponsored working groups, non-profit research and conservation organizations, and the fishing community to mitigate future entanglements.
Oceanic Society is a non-profit organization based in Marin County, California, whose mission is to conserve marine wildlife and habitats by deepening the connections between people and nature. Oceanic Society is a pioneer in responsible whale watching, having led educational whale watching excursions in the Bay Area for more than 40 years, and has supported a variety of whale research and conservation programs in California and worldwide. Oceanic Society also leads international expeditions that support conservation, coordinates global sea turtle conservation efforts through the State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT) Program, and is leading an innovative Blue Habits program that aims to motivate ocean-friendly changes in human behavior.
Together, California Whale Rescue and Oceanic Society will work to effect real change in whale entanglement response and prevention, and, through greater awareness, will help advance existing whale conservation efforts in California and beyond.
Kathi Koontz is director of California Whale Rescue and Oceanic Society's former Bay Area Programs Manager. Her passion for the ocean includes work as a whales-in-distress responder through NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Kathi is an avid diver, snorkeler, and advocate for marine wildlife. She has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and spends as much time as she can underwater.