BAND Foundation

Wharton Media has partnered with the BAND Foundation, a US-based private family foundation that makes grants in support of nature conservation and epilepsy care, to develop strategic digital media outreach assets and solutions in support of their portfolio of global initiatives.

Several years ago, a mysterious disease started to appear in sea stars all along the Pacific coast of North America, rapidly and simultaneously decimating well-known species such as the sunflower and ochre stars.  Sea stars are keystone predators vital to the health and productivity of intertidal zones.  The affliction, known as sea star wasting disease (SSWD), can kill an otherwise healthy sea star in a matter of days, ultimately by causing the animal’s body structure to break down and collapse.

Dr. Sarah Gravem, a research scientist at Oregon State University and BAND grantee, is currently involved in research focusing on the ecological consequences of SSWD for intertidal communities from Oregon to Central California.

Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.

Wharton Media has partnered with SEA, Inc., an international research company that delivers science to support conservation management, to develop strategic digital media outreach assets and solutions in support of their multi-year SOCAL-BRS (Southern California Behavioral Response Study) research project off the coast of Southern California.  The overall objective of SOCAL-BRS is to measure the impacts of anthropogenic noise sources on marine mammals using acoustic tags to provide a better scientific basis for estimating risk and minimizing effects of active sonar for the U.S. Navy and regulatory agencies.

Dr. Brandon Southall, President and Senior Scientist for SEA, Inc., is a research associate with the University of California, Santa Cruz and past director of NOAA’s Ocean Acoustics Program. 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, and efforts to implement quieting technologies on the largest commercial ships in the oceans, and developing environmentally-responsible ways of capturing offshore energy.

Santa Cruz Puma Project

With most large predators now in decline worldwide, a University of California, Santa Cruz research project is now underway to better understand their physiology, behavior and ecology so as to better inform their management and conservation. is the official education and outreach website for this research effort.

The study, which combines mathematical models with rigorous field studies, involves deploying telemetry collars on mountain lions that collect continuous movement and location data from each animal. By studying and analyzing data collected from these collars, Dr. Chris Wilmers and his team hope to answer important physiological and ecological questions that have so far evaded science. In addition to providing solutions to pressing environmental problems, the research project will further enhance the understanding of cougar habitat requirements as well as provide guidance on important movement corridors for lions within and between the Santa Cruz Mountains located in the central coast of California.

Pinniped Cognition & Sensory Systems Lab, UC Santa Cruz

Since our inception, Wharton Media has maintained a long-standing commitment in supporting the education and research communities through the development of strategic digital media outreach solutions.  One of our most favorite labs we work with at UCSC is the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab (watch the video and you’ll find out why).  Since 1994, the lab has been focused primarily on hearing and the effects of noise on pinnipeds. The main impetus for this work has been a growing concern about increasing levels of noise in the oceans, from sources including shipping, ocean exploration, and military operations.  Noise pollution can alter the behavior of animals, interfere with their acoustic communication and their ability to respond to threats, and at high levels, can even produce temporary or permanent hearing loss.  In 2007, the lab began an investigation into the bioacoustics of the southern sea otter.  The Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab was the first to ever conduct audiometric research with sea otters.