Meet the Team
Ryan Berger, M.S.
Farallon Program Biologist
Hired on in the fall of 2010 as the lead winter biologist for Point Blue’s Farallon Program most of my time is consumed by life on the island. Point Blue’s long term Farallon research seeks to examine the responses of top marine predators, like pinnipeds, to environmental variation and climate change. My main job responsibilities involve leading research collection on pinniped population dynamics (survival and reproductive success data) in order to gain insight into the health of the California Current ecosystem and how that may change over time. Results from our data are applied directly to management decisions by USFWS within the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.
I grew up in Central Illinois surrounded by corn and bean fields and the only real wildlife that was abundant was the cattle that escaped from the pasture a few miles away from my house. Having a keen interest in all things outdoors I earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois. I quickly realized that my passion for biology lay beyond the boundaries of Illinois so I pursued a M.S. degree from Georgia Southern University. This is where I was able to get my foot in door that opened to the highly competitive world of marine mammals. After finishing my thesis on seasonal manatee behavior and distribution in Crystal River, FL I began working for the state of Florida as the lead marine mammal biologist for their Jacksonville field lab.
During my stint with Florida I fine-tuned my skills in understanding marine mammal behavior, field necropsy and the ins and outs of running an effective field lab. This prepared me for life out on the Farallones where every day holds the potential to see something entirely new whether that be wildlife related, unclogging backed up plumbing or troubleshooting outboard motor problems. The hard work, fascinating people and a true sense of purpose are what provide me with the most satisfaction during our long days on the island.
When not on the island I dedicate much of my time to advancing NOAA's entangled whale response network in the state of California. In 2015 I was named Co-Investigator as a Level 3 disentangler on NOAA's national permit which authorizes me to perform certain advanced skills in efforts to help free whales when they become tangled in marine debris. To help address the issue of recent increases in whale entanglements along the West coast I am focused on: using my skill set as a responder to do the physical work of freeing whales; raising public awareness regarding the important issues surrounding this topic; and conducting sound science that has the primiary outcome of mitigating future entanglements.