Robert A. DiGiovanni, Jr. - Founder and Chief Scientist
Chief Scientist Robert A. DiGiovanni, Jr. is a nationally recognized expert in the field of marine mammal and sea turtle strandings. He has responded to over 4,600 strandings and directed his team in various rescue and rehabilitation techniques, including the disentanglement of Leatherback sea turtles, animal transport, and post-rescue animal care.
Rob has satellite tagged over 120 animals, including four species of seals, three species of dolphins, and four species of sea turtles. He is presently serving as the principal investigator on aerial surveys conducted in the mid-Atlantic region, surveying the coastal waters from Virginia to Delaware, including the Chesapeake Bay, for sea turtles and marine mammals. Additionally, he has coordinated the open water capture of two bottlenose dolphins in distress, and coordinated the first mass stranding response of common dolphins in New York.
Rob is also working on developing and training a Specially Trained Animal Response Team (START) funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which integrates incident command system into the stranding network at an incident management team level.
Rob lectures at both universities and community events about his first-hand experience with marine mammals and sea turtles.
Kimberly Durham - Necropsy Program Coordinator and NYS Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator
Kimberly Durham has worked within the field of marine mammal and sea turtle stranding investigations for twenty-six years. Her expertise and career interests include marine mammal and sea turtle pathobiology, large whale mortality and serious injury investigations, zoonotic and infectious disease studies, and marine mammal and sea turtle education.
Kimberly has extensive large whale necropsy experience and was appointed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to serve as a North Atlantic Right whale necropsy team lead. She has conducted stranding investigations on over 100 large whale species and is a recognized large whale necropsy team lead for regional large whale mortality investigations. She also has extensive marine mammal and sea turtle anatomical and clinical expertise. She has developed and implemented critical care treatments for injured and cold stunned sea turtles and infirmed pinniped and dolphin species. She has extensive knowledge with marine mammal and sea turtle rehabilitation techniques and has lead the rehabilitation and subsequent release of two Risso’s dolphins, two bottlenose dolphins and two harbor porpoises.
As an adjunct instructor at Stony Brook State University of New York, Kimberly lectures on the biology and conservation of sea turtles and pathobiology of marine mammals and sea turtles. Kimberly is an outreach specialist and has provided lectures to 9-12, undergraduate, graduate and the public.
Kimberly has been trained in the Incident Command System (ICS) and serves as a Logistics Section Chief (LSC) with the regional Specially Trained Animal Response Team (START) funded by the National Oceanic and Administration.
Allison DePerte - Research Associate and Field Biologist
Allison DePerte graduated with a BA in Interdisciplinary Psychology/ Biology from Southampton College of Long Island University, and has been working in the marine mammal and sea turtle research and response community for the past 14 years. Throughout her career, she has performed aerial, shipboard and land based surveys for marine mammals and sea turtles, and managed data for multiple survey projects. She has assisted in the rehabilitation of seals, sea turtles, and dolphins, including the first Risso's dolphin that was released into US waters. Allison is trained as a Planning Section Chief and is active on the START team. Allison also develops and leads education outreach activities and enjoys interacting with students of all ages.