Ryan Berger talks to us about one of his most critical projects as Point Blue’s head biologist on the Farallone Islands: rescuing entangled whales. He also talks about his work on the response of the island’s marine pinnipeds, seals and seal lions, to environmental variation and climate change.
Ryan had an unlikely pathway into the harshly competitive world of marine biology. As a youth “the only real wildlife that was abundant were the cattle that escaped from the pasture a few miles away from my house in Central Illinois”. But sea life became something he couldn’t resist.
Then after getting a B.S. from the U. of Illinois, he followed his passion, completing a thesis on seasonal Manatee behavior and distribution in Florida, garnering an M.S. from Georgia Southern U. He then began working for the state of Florida as the lead marine mammal biologist for their Jacksonville field lab. There he polished his skills in understanding marine mammal behavior, field necropsy & the ins and outs of running an effective field lab, preparing him for the job offer on the Farallones Islands, a job demanding all his expertise, as you will see.