Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Winter Elephant Seal Research Crew 2021-2022


Seth graduated in 2021 with a B.A. in Biology and a concentration in Environmental Studies from Grinnell College and is originally from Chicago, IL. While at Uni, Seth played baseball for the school and led a student organization to plant its own garden with a goal of supplying food for the dining hall (though successful, it remains a work-in-progress). He also spend several years during undergrad doing research at East Carolina University on nursery habitat management and conservation for commercial fish stocks within North Carolina’s Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. After graduation Seth worked for the US Forest Service in Cordova, Alaska working on ecological and wildlife monitoring efforts in the Copper River Delta. He is really excited to get a chance to work with marine mammals and to live in the remote setting of Southeast Farallon Island!


Natalia received her B.S. in Biology in 2014, in Brazil. She started volunteering and doing internships/assistantships in 2013 and never stopped; this will be her 27th. She alternates between rescue and rehabilitation and field research and has done so in 13 different countries in Africa, South, Central, and North America. She tries to work with as many species as possible, although she has always been drawn to marine animals, and elephant seals particularly fascinate her, especially since she got to work with a rescued Southern Elephant Seal pup and completely fell in love with it. Animal behavior and reproduction are her main passions. Her favorite hobbies include finding, observing, photographing, and filming wildlife. She’s a very outdoorsy person that loves nature activities in general, such as hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving, as well as adventure sports, although her idea of “relaxing” usually involves making music. She can’t wait to be immersed in the biodiversity of the Farallones.


Sonja received her B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Design from Pacific University in Oregon. After graduating, Sonja worked as an outdoor educator for several years. She loves teaching ecology to youth of all ages and sharing her passion for backpacking and the outdoors. From 2018 – 2020 she worked as the Camp & Outdoor School director for Woolman at Sierra Friends Center in Northern California. Sonja is very passionate about marine science and hopes to peruse a career in marine mammal research. An internship with Whale Shark Mexico, which included swimming with and photographing whale sharks in Baja, solidified Sonja’s desire to work with marine megafauna, as did her 2021 summer internship with the Alaska Whale Foundation on Baranoff Island. Sonja is thrilled to gain experience working with pinnipeds and other species this winter in a place as remote and beautiful as the Farallon Islands.


Mackenzie is a returning member of the E Seal crew from last winter season and is excited to be working with the Elephant seals down at the colony. He says that he thoroughly enjoyed stamping and tagging Elephant seals and observing all five species of pinniped found around the Farallones. He hopes to continue working with pinnipeds in future field jobs and has a goal to work with Fur seals and Leopard seals in Antarctica. Outside of the research being conducted here on the island, Mackenzie enjoys illustrating and hopes to merge his passion for the natural world with his love for art. He plans to tag as many seals as he can this season and take more photos of the wildlife here including his favorite bird on the island, our resident Northern Gannet.


Stella is our Burrowing owl research assistant this year and has been an enormous help to the Farallon project, having spent time assisting in the summer, fall, and now the beginning of this winter season. Stella graduated Skidmore College in 2020 with a B.A. in Environmental Science. After taking ornithology in college she fell in love with birds. She has previously worked with common yellowthroats and worked on a project investigating the presence of micro plastics in freshwater fish. Working during the breeding season on SEFI this summer she now has a passion for seabirds. In the fall she learned how to band songbirds and Burrowing Owls, this was an incredible experience and she hopes to continue banding birds. Her goals are to work with sea birds in the Aleutian Islands and songbirds at the Palomarin Field Station. She enjoys long walks up the lighthouse and extremely windy days on the island.

Stay tuned for updates about the Northern Elephant Seal breeding colony!