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About Our Naturalists & Crew

Meet Our Crew

Every naturalist we use is an expert at narrating. They can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about geology, natural history, sea birds, great white sharks, other sharks, whales, dolphin, porpoises, fish, coastal landmarks, and the Farallon Islands. If you aren’t sure what you are seeing, feel free to ask. Our trips are meant to heighten awareness and education of all the marine and wildlife around you.

Michael Pierson Naturalist

Naturalist Michael Pierson has spent a lifetime compiling information about all things nature.

He has collected ecological data on beaches along our coast for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in their Beach Watch program since 2012, has been called into action by the Oil Spill Prevention and Response team when the worst has happened in the waters of San Francisco Bay and was involved in Natural Resource interpretation with the National Park Service for 5 years.

He enjoys attending lectures and continued education classes at the California Academy of Sciences and you’ll never find him without his binoculars staring up into a tree looking for some amazing species of bird, his ornithological knowledge has been a true asset to our company and he is truly passionate about what he does.

Bekah Naturalist

Bekah is a graduate student at San Francisco State University and a researcher in the Cetacean Field Research division of The Marine Mammal Center. She studies humpback and gray whales and their interactions with vessels inside San Francisco Bay.

She’s also studied humpback whales in New England and in the Turks and Caicos. Prior to moving to California, Bekah received her Master’s of Science in Education and taught high school field ecology. She is passionate about the importance of education and its role in conserving our natural resources.

Allison Payne Ocean Enthusiast & Conservationist

Allison Payne has studied whales around the world, including bottlenose dolphins in Spain and Hector’s dolphins in New Zealand.

She collects data from SFWT whale watching trips to contribute to studies at Golden Gate Cetacean Research. Her main interest is in marine mammal cognition and behavior. She started off studying the behavior of squirrels at UC Berkeley and has loved being out in the field ever since. She’s also passionate about science education and hands-on learning experiences.

She loves being on the whale watching boat because every day is a new adventure!

Alyxe Anderson Naturalist

Alyxe Anderson is a naturalist with San Francisco Whale Tours. She educates SFWT visitors on animals and ecosystems native to the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. Her focus is to interpret and relate the nature observed on the tours to our day-to-day lives.

From the ingredients in our toothpastes to the availability of clean air, we are dependent on the ocean. Alyxe holds a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Social Justice and Sustainability from San Francisco State University. She is an experienced educator who has worked with multiple organizations to conserve our marine environment.

Growing up on the coast, Alyxe has learned that to protect the ocean, it is important that we first fall in love with its wonders and then understand our inherent connection to it.

Rachel Brennan Naturalist

Rachel Brennan believes that instilling a love and appreciation for the ocean in others is our best chance at protecting it.

While earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Biology at San Francisco State, she began working at the Aquarium of the Bay and shortly after, the Sea Lion Center as an educator. After graduating she continued to work as a naturalist, aiming to educate the public on the San Francisco Bay and all the animals that inhabit it, as well as the surrounding Pacific Ocean.

She enjoys participating in beach clean-ups, exploring tidepools, and continuing to learn about and study the many different whale species. Working at San Francisco Whale Tours has given her the opportunity to grow her knowledge base further and continue to educate others on the amazing life found underwater while getting to experience it first-hand in the wild.

She hopes to inspire others to promote and work toward ocean conservation by explaining, as well as showing them how significant and beautiful our oceans truly are.

Sarah Detmering Naturalist

Although born and raised thousands of miles from the shoreline, Sarah has always had a passion for the ocean and its inhabitants.

While earning her marine science and biology degree at The University of Tampa, she worked in the college’s disease ecology lab where she helped develop a vaccination against Bd, a deadly fungus that is threatening to cause amphibians to go extinct. She also contributed to multiple marine ecology research projects throughout Tampa Bay and assisted in the creation of the Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot, an area protected by a global conservation campaign through Mission Blue. In the summer of 2020, Sarah studied shark behavior on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Sarah loves working for SFWT, because she enjoys learning more about marine mammals and the bay area. Whales are majestic animals and critical to the health of our local ecosystem, and she loves the many opportunities she has to encounter them. Each time out on the water is a new adventure! She enjoys educating others on the importance of whales and hopes it will spark more curiosity and love for them and every marine animal.