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Whale Watching Naturalists

Each of our San Francisco Bay Area whale watching trips is guided by an expert naturalist. Our interpretative staff includes professional wildlife biologists and educators from institutions such as the California Academy of Sciences, the Greater Farallones Association, Point Blue Conservation Science, and the East Bay Regional Park District. Through their collective experience, they have shaped the interpretive program aboard our whale watching and Farallon Islands educational day trips.

Most of our naturalists have worked with us for more than a decade.


~ Meet Our Naturalists ~

Roger Harris is a long-time Oceanic Society naturalist with 30 years of experience working as a guide. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a M.S. from U.C. Berkeley. As a Certified Wildlife Biologist, Roger has specialized in endangered species, wetland creation, and native habitat restoration. Roger's specialty is ornithology, and he teaches classes on shorebirds and bird song. His work as a naturalist takes him all over the world—all of the continents and over 70 countries—but his favorite place on Earth is San Francisco’s very own Farallon Islands, one of the world's marine mammal and seabird hotspots.




Nicole Larson holds a master’s degree in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from U.C. Santa Cruz. Her experience as an ocean educator includes marine science curriculum development with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and educating Bay Area youth about whales and marine ecology. Nicole is a 13-year Oceanic Society naturalist including extensive work at our field station in Belize and guiding whale watching trips out of San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.




Dr. Chris Pincetich is a marine biologist and marine debris researcher who is active in sea turtle conservation. Chris is an experienced naturalist who is an instructor for the California Naturalist training program, and he often leads beach cleanups in California and around the world. Chris first worked with Oceanic Society in 2012 focusing on leatherback sea turtles in California, and he has been a naturalist on our Bay Area whale watching cruises since 2013.






Susan Sherman
has a B.S. in Biology from San Francisco State University and is currently a science teacher in San Francisco. Susan's specialties are birds, marine mammals, and marine ecology. As a science educator she has taught teachers, developed and written curricula, presented at conferences, aquariums, and museums, and recently won an award from John Hopkins University for teaching talented youth. Some of the research projects that Susan has participated in are: humpback whales in Southeast Alaska; sampling fish populations in the Atlantic Ocean with NOAA; collecting data on various species of Alcid chicks on the Farallon Islands; fall bird censuses on Alcatraz Island with the National Park Service (for 10+ years). Susan has been an Oceanic Society naturalist in the Bay Area for more than 30 years.



Izzy Szczepaniak holds a M.S. from San Francisco State University and is both a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences and the research project lead for Golden Gate Cetacean Research. Izzy studies harbor porpoises in the Gulf of the Farallones and humpback whales in California and Costa Rica, and has done so for 35 years. Izzy is one of Oceanic Society’s longest running wildlife naturalists, guiding both whale watching programs and international expeditions since 1983.




Peter Winch holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Plymouth University in England. He is a naturalist and education specialist at the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary with experience studying seabirds for U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Peter has been an Oceanic Society whale watching naturalist for more than 9 years. In his free time, he is an avid surfer, diver, and artist. In September 2016, Peter published his first book, “The Giant Ocean Coloring Book.”