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Jim Estes

Jim Estes is a Research Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Western Ecological Research Center, based at University of California Santa Cruz’s Center for Ocean Health at Long Marine Laboratory. He is renowned nationally and internationally for his research on the key role of sea otters in kelp forest ecosystems.

Jim’s groundbreaking research revealed the precipitous decline of sea otters in Alaska, the discovery that killer whales were preying on otters, and the subsequent chain reaction resulting in the loss of entire kelp forest ecosystems. He first published his findings in Science in 1998, then went on to capture global attention by telling his story through newspaper, magazine, radio, and television media—including the New York Times, National Geographic, National Public Radio, CNN, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Jim has received the Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communication from the USGS, which honors a scientist who creates excitement and enthusiasm for science among nonscientists