Cotton Rockwood

Senior Marine Ecologist

As Senior Marine Ecologist with the California Current Group, I work on problems ranging from marine spatial planning to minimize whale strikes from ships to evaluating the economic and ecosystem importance of forage fish.  My overarching mission is to understand and mitigate the impacts of human activities to marine ecosystems, food webs and top predators by leveraging the excellent long-term Point Blue marine data sets and working with management partners.

I grew up in Sonoma County where I learned a deep love of nature, birds and the ocean and established a profound conservation ethic that has guided my life since.  I attended University of California, Davis for my B.S., where I embarked on two study abroad programs: one in tropical ecology in Costa Rica and the other in marine biology at Bamfield Marine Station on the west coast of Canada’s spectacular Vancouver Island.  The latter program armed me with the knowledge and passion to dive into marine conservation science.

I continued on to Scripps Institution of Oceanography where I studied within the Center for Marine Biology and Conservation.  This training molded me into an interdisciplinary scientist with expertise in marine ecology, conservation and cumulative impact assessment.  I received my M.Sc. from Scripps in 2010 and am in the last stages of my Ph.D. work.  By quantifying human impacts to marine ecosystems and particularly top predators such as seabirds, my doctoral research provides tools for trans-national management of wide-ranging oceanic organisms.

When I’m not at our Petaluma headquarters or joining an ACCESS cruise, you can find me exploring the world on a surfboard, in a raft, on a bike, with a backpack, or on a horse, usually with my wife and our two dogs.