SEA Overview

SEA, Inc. is an international company that delivers science to support conservation management and environmentally-responsible business decisions. With so many varied challenges facing our planet as a result of human populations and activities, there is little time to waste in either failing to respond or (worse) responding to the wrong things. With diverse, international experts and partners, we have extensive experience in science, research, engineering, conservation management, public education, and biological monitoring and mitigation of the adverse environmental impacts created by human industries.

Using innovative technologies and proactive collaborations, SEA, Inc. is tackling difficult and exciting scientific issues with global implications, such as the effects of sound on marine life, sustainable energy development, and the interaction of various stressors within a changing global climate. The issue of how human sound affects marine life has been dominated by sonar systems and marine mammal strandings. However, we are increasingly realizing that other sounds, such as those associated with offshore energy development and chronic noise arising from other industrial activities such as commercial shipping; are also key considerations. So too are we realizing that passive listening tools for detecting marine life are vital tools in monitoring for marine life around industrial operations to identify impacts and ensure sustainable development.

The work of SEA, Inc. is directly relevant to many global issues affecting the oceans. In addition to designing and conducting scientific work upon which important decisions can be based, SEA, Inc. provides this information directly to decision-makers, educators, and the general public in compelling and meaningful ways. We use innovative means of delivering scientific information to these very different entities in ways that retain and communicate the essential facts, but that are practically useful and helpful in effecting change.

Brandon Southall

Dr. Brandon Southall is President and Senior Scientist for Southall Environmental Associates, Inc. based in Santa Cruz, CA and a research associate with the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is currently involved in research to measure behavioral responses of marine mammals to various human sounds, primarily military sonar signals, the effects of impulsive noise on hearing in seals and sea lions in laboratory settings, efforts to implement quieting technologies on the largest commercial ships in the oceans, and developing environmentally-responsible ways of capturing offshore energy. Dr. Southall has an extensive background in both laboratory and field research on the effects of noise on marine mammals, and has worked directly in the policy and regulatory arenas within the U.S. and internationally on this issue. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed publications on hearing and the effects of noise on marine life and has given hundreds of presentations on the subject to technical, regulatory, Congressional, and international audiences.

Brandon completed graduate studies at UCSC in 2002 on hearing and the effects of noise on seals and sea lions. He also conducted and continues fieldwork on northern elephant seal acoustic communication. From 2003 to 2009, Dr. Southall was a fisheries research biologist and director of NOAA’s Ocean Acoustics Program, during which time he: was involved in the development of acoustic exposure criteria for marine mammals; organized two international symposia on shipping noise and marine mammals and was centrally involved in the formation of correspondence group on the shipping noise issue within the International Maritime Organization; provided technical advice on regulatory policies and mitigation strategies for minimizing noise impacts; and served as co-principal investigator of a behavioral response studies recently conducted in the Bahamas and Mediterranean Sea and similar efforts being planned in southern California.

Kristin Southall

Kristin Southall has been an Associate Scientist for Southall Environmental Associates (SEA), Inc since 2009 and an SEA BOD member and our Chief Operating Officer since 2011. She completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 1996 while gaining laboratory and field research experience with marine mammals at the Long Marine Laboratory under Dr. Ronald Schusterman and Dr. Burney Le Boeuf. Her own research on deep-diving marine mammal visual acuity was published soon afterwards in Marine Mammal Science.

Kristin went on to work as a research associate in Dr. Bill Scott’s RNA crystallography lab at UCSC and later at NASA Ames Research Center in Palo Alto, CA. Each of these professional experiences strengthened her data collection, management, analytical, and organizational skills. Following a step away from science for a few years to be a full-time mother of three young children, Kristin has enjoyed returning to marine biology with SEA, where she is supporting several research projects as well as helping manage our Santa Cruz operations. She brings a breadth of skills from both within and outside the marine science field to the SEA team.

Caroline Casey

Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Caroline’s main research interests are sensory, cognitive, and behavioral ecology of marine mammals. She obtained her degree from UCSC in Environmental Studies, and during this time worked with PRETOMA in Costa Rica on various sea turtle restoration projects. She currently works as an Associate Scientist for SEA, focusing specifically on a five-year research program investigating the effects of various human sounds on marine life in southern California.

In addition to her time spent at SEA, Caroline is the lead educational coordinator for the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab at the Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, California. During her time spent at the lab, Caroline is dedicated to running various educational programs, including Ocean’s Explorers, a summer day camp designed to give children between the ages of 7-14 an opportunity to learn about ocean research and conservation. She also coordinates the data collection and processing for various field research projects, including the lab’s field resarch with Northern elephant seals at Ano Nuevo. Additionally, Caroline has spent time working as an educator at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She is a world traveler and has big plans to explore more countries before going to graduate school. She loves dancing and Mexican food.

Ari Friedlaender

Ari S. Friedlaender, Ph.D. is a marine ecologist whose research focuses on understanding the foraging behaviors of marine mammals. Ari received a Master’s in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he studied stranding patterns of bottlenose dolphins and generated conservation plans for mitigating entanglement in fishing nets. Ari received his Ph.D. from Duke University in Ecology, where he studied the spatial ecology of humpback and minke whales in the Antarctic, and showed how the distribution of each species was related to their prey and other physical features of the environment.

Ari’s work includes suction-cup tagging studies on a variety of species (e.g. humpback, right, blue, fin, sperm, pilot, and beaked whales) around the world (e.g. Antarctica, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Sri Lanka, Norway, North Carolina, and the Bahamas), and he uses customized visualization software to get a better understanding of how marine mammals feed below the surface. Ari has established several multi-disciplinary and multi-scale studies that incorporate prey and other oceanographic variables to better understand how the behavior of marine mammals is affected by their environment. As well, Ari has several research projects that aim to quantify and better understand the effects of climate change on marine mammals in polar regions. While maintaining strong ties with Duke and other close collaborators, Dr. Friedlaender recently joined the SEA team as a Senior Associate Scientist, bringing an extremely strong background in advanced studies of marine ecology from his experiences around the globe.

Hugh Southall

Dr. Hugh Southall received the BSEE degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and MSEE and PhD degrees from Texas Tech University. He retired from the US Air Force after 23 years of service in the Air Force Laboratories and Headquarters. He has several years of experience as a Government Civil Servant and is currently an on-site technical support contractor (Solid State Scientific Corporation) for the AF Research Laboratory Antenna Technology Branch at Hanscom AFB, MA. His research areas are antenna design optimization and digital beam forming. He has extensive experience in using MATLAB for algorithm development, data analysis and visualization, and system simulations. Dr. Southall has recently joined the SEA team as a Senior Associate Scientist, bringing a strong engineering foundation to our work in environmental research, monitoring, and impact assessment.

Joel Southall

Joel Southall is Director of Sustainability and Senior Scientist for Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.  His work focuses on wide range of sustainability issues as well as mitigating the environmental impacts of renewable energy projects.  He helps organizations to go beyond simply achieving minimal regulatory compliance and to instead develop integrated sustainability initiatives and comprehensive plans that approach sustainability as a way to improve responsible decision making, efficiency, profits, and overall organizational improvement.

While Joel’s current work focuses primarily on sustainability, his early work was in both the marine science and animal behavior fields beginning at the New England Aquarium in 1999.  In 2002, he received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  At UMass his research focused on the interplay between functional morphology, vocal performance, and speciation in Darwin’s Finches and he published his findings in Animal Behaviour.  In 2006, he received a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, specializing in Environmental Economics and Policy.  The bulk of his work at Duke revolved around corporate sustainability and his Master’s thesis analyzed regulatory schemes that have been incorporated into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

From 2007 to 2013, Joel worked for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, a hospitality concessioner for the National Park Service, at both Death Valley and Grand Canyon National Parks.  Working first as Director of Environmental Health & Safety and then Director of Environmental Affairs, he gained a wide range of experience implementing an ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System at locations that operated lodging, food and beverage, and retail operations in addition to a large number of other functions such as a overseeing a wastewater treatment plant, managing the installation and operations of a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility, and serving on a volunteer fire department.

A lover of all things winter, Joel also enjoys travel, hiking, and local food.

Selene Fregosi

As an undergraduate at the University of San Diego, where she obtained her degree in Marine Science, Selene took part in an ongoing research project studying variation in sedimentation rates between developed and undeveloped watersheds on St. John, USVI. Since then she has interned with a marine mammal rescue team in Malibu, CA and at the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal program, where she got her first taste of marine mammal research. Most recently she served as a field assistant for the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab’s research on vocal communication of Northern elephant seals at Ano Nuevo< State Reserve.

Selene recently joined the SEA team as an Associate Scientist to assist with technical, managerial, and programmatic support for a project reviewing the effects of noise on marine mammal behavior and hearing. Selene hopes to attend graduate school in the next two years with a focus on marine mammal behavioral ecology, ideally in a geographic location she has yet to experience. When not spending her time near the ocean, Selene can usually be found in the mountains near Lake Tahoe skiing, shoveling snow, hiking, or dirtbiking.


SOCAL-BRS is a study of basic behavior and responses to controlled sound exposures in a variety of marine mammal species.

Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.

Reducing environmental impacts from essential human activities requires unique approaches to meet challenging conservation objectives in the 21st century. SEA, Inc. works globally with diverse scientific teams and cutting-edge technologies to provide real-world solutions. Learn more about SEA