Ricardo Sagarminaga (KAI Expeditions)

Ricardo Sagarminaga

Scientific Director

Since 1984 Ricardo Sagarminaga van Buiten, skipper and marine research program coordinator, has combined his passion for sailing and building tall ships with his lifelong dedication to the conservation of marine biodiversity.  Ric’s work has focused on developing marine apex predators monitoring surveys, designing and managing protected marine areas programs, and the conservation of endangered species and the sustainability of fisheries worldwide.

 He specializes in coordinating international scale research and conservation programs and creating innovative technological measures to mitigate the risks to marine life linked to the fishing, defence, energy, transport and tourism industries. After working with international environmental organizations, public administrations and academia, and becoming member of several scientific committees he has created his own multidisciplinary approach to provide practical solutions for biodiversity conservation.

After co-founding and running the Spanish Cetacean Society, he co-founded ALNITAK Marine Research and Education center to generate novel environmental outreach strategies and forge a new tradition of cooperation between key international outfits. The success of the programs coordinated by Ric is largely due to having established schemes based on a positive and active involvement of all stakeholders in the search of win – win solutions. Following on this philosophy he has worked as consultant for companies as KAI Marine Services to provide full technical and scientific consultancy to policy makers aimed at making economic growth and biodiversity conservation compatible.


Ana Tejedor

Project Management Director

Ana Tejedor is a founder partner of KAI Marine Services. Although specialised in marine management and international negotiation, as sailor and marine expedition coordinator, Ana approaches the world of policy with the perspective of those who are out at sea. As a Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Spanish Government she has provided support for the monitoring and implementation of the international norms for the protection of the marine environment in Spain since 2005. The main tasks include developing public policies for the conservation of marine biodiversity and representing the Spanish delegation at the main forums on conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment  (marine groups of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Convention on Biological Diversity,  OSPAR Convention, Barcelona Convention, Migratory Species Convention, Environmental Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization, European Commission Working Groups).  


Jeppe Dalgaard Balle

KAI Bioacoustic

MSc in Biological Oceanography, with specialty in Marine Mammal Bioacoustics. Jeppe is from Denmark in Northern Europe and has extensive research experience from fieldwork conducted all over the world.  His research projects mainly include marine mammal bioacoustics and behavior in applied filed studies, catch and tagging methods of turtles and biopsy sampling of cetaceans. He has been involved in in situ play-back experiments on cetaceans (EC FP6 NECESSITY from 2004-2007), conducting large scaled passive acoustic monitoring surveys using surfaced towed arrays as well as static vertical arrays (Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scotland, from 2008-2010) and recently targeting management of Natura2000 sites using state of the art electronic monitoring tools (EC Action A14 Indemares Electronic Monitoring campaign in 2012-2013).


Pablo Cermeño

Tuna Conservation  Scientific Advisor

Founder and president of AMBAR (Society for the Conservation and Study of Marine Fauna) since 1996, Pablo was also co-founder of the Spanish Cetacean Society to promote the marine mammal studies in Spain. He got his Ph.D in Marine Biology and joined the World Wild Fund as a Fisheries Officer to coordinate a bluefin tuna tagging project with electronic tags focused on this emblematic and endangered species in the Mediterranean. The main goal was to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna from the commercial extinction.

In 2010, he was awarded Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s ¨Young Researcher´s Biodiversity Award¨ and started a collaboration with Barbara Block’s laboratory at Stanford University.

Pablo has wide experience in participating and coordinating scientific expeditions on board of different fishing and scientific vessels in most of the oceans around the world.

He believes on the collaboration among the fishermen and science to preserve our oceans.


Valeria Vergara

Behavioral Ecologist, PhD – Scientific Advisor

Valeria Vergara is a behavioral ecologist and marine mammal researcher based in Vancouver, Canada.  She was born in Argentina, where she completed the first year of her extensive biology career, and in 1989, aided by a prestigious full scholarship from the Canadian International Development Agency, she moved to Canada to continue pursuing her passion for biology.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Masters in Behavioral Ecology - both from Trent University (Ontario), and a PhD in Zoology from The University of British Columbia.

Valeria has been involved in a vast array of wildlife studies in various parts of the world since her early years as an undergraduate. Through her participation in Kai Marine Expeditions, Valeria combines her life-long curiosity and passion for the natural world, her love of sailing and the ocean – she lived aboard her sailboat “Pinta” for several years - and her desire to educate and inspire others.


Hoyt Peckham

Evolutionary Ecology PhD – Scientific Advisor

Dr. Hoyt Peckham is the founding director of SmartFish, a social enterprise that rescues value in small-scale fisheries to make them profitably sustainable by creating local and regional markets for sustainable seafood within developing nations. Hoyt is a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions, is Member of the IUCN MTSG, and serves as a Technical Expert for the United Nations Environmental Program. Hoyt double majored in Biology and English literature at Bowdoin College and earned his PhD in Evolutionary Ecology from UC Santa Cruz. Hoyt’s experience as a captain, fisherman, diver, and underwater cameraman contributes to KAI Expeditions.

Bruno Claro


Christian Lott

Associated Scientist HYDRA – Marine Science Training Network

Christian is scientific director, head of media unit and co-founder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences, with Marine Field Station on the Island of Elba, Italy. He is a marine biologist, diving instructor and underwater cameraman. Christian has been conducting expeditions in literally all waters, from high alpine lakes to rivers, from the cold waters of the North Atlantic to Antarctica, from the Mediterranean Sea and the tropics to even the lowest lake on Earth, the Dead Sea. Together with Boris he has been teaching and constantly further developing the course "Methods of Underwater Research" since 18 years at the HYDRA Field Station.

As underwater cameraman Christian has been responsible for the production of more than 40 documentaries for international television. Together with KAI Expeditions he initiated the Marine Science Training Network and will put in all his experience in the field of media, scientific field work and expeditions to strengthen this collaboration.


Boris Unger

Associated Scientist HYDRA – Marine Science Training Network

Boris is technical director, dive officer and co-founder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences, with Marine Field Station on the Island of Elba, Italy. He is a marine biologist, diving instructor and underwater photographer. Boris has more than 20 years of project experience as scientific diver and expedition leader at sea, in lakes and rivers. He is also a ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) operator. Boris particularly enjoys the challenge of finding easy and practical solutions for difficult under water applications. At the HYDRA Field Station he has been teaching and constantly developing further the course "Methods of Underwater Research" since 18 years, a unique introduction to shallow-water scientific methods open to anyone.

As SCUBA diving instructor he has been responsible for thousands of beginners successfully trained, and as an Instructor Trainer of the German Association of Diving Instructors he has certified dozens of dive instructors. Boris joins KAI Expeditions through the collaboration within the Marine Science Training Network to combine his field expertise and teaching experience with his passion for sailing and scientific expeditions.


Lorenzo Bramanti

Evolutionary Biology PhD – Scientific Advisor

Lorenzo always tried to combine his passion for the Sea with the curiosity for science. He obtained a degree in Marine Biology at University of Pisa (Italy) in 2000. In 2004 he obtained the PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the same University. Since 2004 he travelled the world working as postdoctoral researcher in different labs. He worked in Spain at Institut de Ciencias del Mar (ICM-CSIC), in Italy at University of Pisa and in USA at CalState University of Northridge (Los Angeles) and is now going to start a period in France at the CNRS (National Scientific Council of France).

Lorenzo is specialized in corals both in Mediterranean and tropical reefs. Population dynamics, demographic modelling, conservation, Ocean Acidification and climate change are the main topics of his research.

Scuba diving instructor since 1996 he was scientific consultant for SSI Italy from 2009 to 2012 joining his passion for diving with science by developing a project of Citizen Science for the monitoring of the Mediterranean red coral populations. Apart of the Mediterranean Sea Lorenzo worked in Maldives, Taiwan, US Virgin Islands and French Polynesia.

Joaquín Fayos

Kiko is a yacht master who has been involved in LIFE+ MIGRATE as mariner since 2013. With ample navigation experience, his guitar and amazing cooking skills, Kiko makes life on board KAI’s research vessels a unique experience that complements the science and magic moments in company of whales and turtles.

Almudena García-Atance

Kai Expeditions Logistic Manager

Almudena García-Atance started her professional career as an Agronomy engineer in the framework of the management of the environmental protection and quality of food. Her passion for nature has taken her to travel to some of the most amazing and beautiful sites of the planet, urging her to pursue new professional initiatives for the conservation of nature and development. With a resolute and entrepreneur character Almudena has in recent years worked in the management and direction of innovation business projects in the sectors of tourism, free-time and education.

Almudena collaborates with KAI Expeditions, being responsible for the development and logistics of the Mediterranean expeditions.

Hunter Sykes

Hunter Sykes

KAI Expeditions - USA & Canada

Hunter grew up among the mountains of Colorado but has spent his life enjoying the activities and opportunities offered by both mountains and sea, having worked as a guide and instructor of numerous outdoor sports as well as in marine and terrestrial policy consulting. He has a BA in History with a minor in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MA in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and has extensive experience working with private industry and non-profit organizations on a variety of environmental issues including sustainable development and tourism in Central America, ski area development issues in North America, environmental assessments in Micronesia, energy conservation analysis and design, and sustainability marketing.

He is also a founding partner of Coldstream Creative, a film production and policy consulting company that produces environmentally and socially themed documentary film projects and consults on environmental and social policy issues. Coldstream Creative’s critically acclaimed films: Resorting to Madness: Taking Back Our Mountain Communities, The Next, Best West, and The Fall River, California’s Cold Water Oasis have screened at numerous film festivals and venues throughout Europe and North America.

As representative of KAI Expeditions for USA and Canada, Hunter is the person to talk to if you plan to join our expeditions should you be travelling from North America.


David Melero

Turtle Conservation Scientific advisor

David graduated in Biological Science from the University of Alcala before obtaining a MSc degree from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He spent five years as a Research Fellow at the Fundamental Biology National Center in Madrid, achieving a marked scientific background. He has been working in the sea turtle conservation field for the last eight years participating in several community-based conservation projects along Caribbean and Pacific coast of Latin America. During this period he has coordinated several sea turtle conservation projects, starting volunteering and environmental education programs. David Melero began as Director of the Conservation Tourism and Livelihoods Program in February 2012. Based within the Fauna and Flora International regional office in Nicaragua, David works closely with colleagues from Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative in a bi-national project that include Nicaragua and El Salvador. He is a member of the KAI Marine Team since 2012 collaborating as consultant specialized in sea turtles.


Lucía Rueda

Scientific  Advisor

Lucia Rueda Ramirez graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Malaga (Spain) in 2003. After graduation, she spent much of the subsequent four years at sea in a variety of research, management, and conservation projects involving fisheries, sea turtles and cetaceans, mostly working for the Spanish Cetacean Society and Alnitak. She also worked as fisheries observer on a tuna purse seiner in the Gulf of Guinea and a surface longliner in the western Mediterranean.  In 2007 she  undertook a master's program in Living Marine Resources Science and Management at the University of Massachusetts (USA) on a Fulbright scholarship. Since 2010 she has been working for the Spanish Institute of Oceanography on several projects involving marine reserves and demersal resources. In addition she has collaborated with KAI Marine Services on some of the projects they have conducted.


Pilar Zorzo

Scientific Advisor

Since the beginning of her professional career in 1991, Pilar has undertaken several projects and studies on environmental impact assessment of human activities in the sea.

Since 2011 she has been part of the KAI Marine Services team as designer and coordinator of projects related to the impact of human activities in marine environment and she is also in charge of the negotiation and national application of the main International Conventions that regulate such human activities. As sailor and technician on board KAI Expeditions, she combines the technical work of different projects, where she brings her extensive knowledge of the marine environment, with her passion for the sea.


Silvia Frey

Associated Scientist OCEANCARE

Sylvia Frey is a conservation biologist from Switzerland and holds a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Basel. Her passion for the subject of aquatic systems and the interaction between living beings and their environment, especially those of marine organisms, made her also to complete a MS degree in environmental sciences.

Sylvia works for the conservation association OceanCare since 15 years where she acts as project leader for science & education and as project coordinator for a small-scale cetacean monitoring project in Southern France. She has been involved in different cetacean research and conservation projects in particular in the Mediterranean Sea. Besides her dedication to the conservation of whales and dolphins, she has been engaged in a sea turtle research and protection project. As a conservation biologist she is in particular interested in using scientific knowledge as a sound basis in order to better protect marine species and their habitat.

Hanna Kuhfuss


Crístel Reyes

Cristel Reyes is a marine biologist and since 2008 is part of the Cetaceans and Bioacoustics team from the University of La Laguna (Tenerife), directed by Dr. Natacha Aguilar. Since then, she has taken part in numerous surveys, acquiring extensive experience in field work and coordination. She co-lead the study of abundance, distribution, biological parameters and social structure of resident populations of Cuvier's and Blainville’s beaked whales of El Hierro (Canary Islands) through photo-identification studies, working in collaboration with the Sea Mammal Research Unit from the University of St. Andrews. This has led to the development of one of the largest online catalogs of beaked whales in the world and various conference presentations and publications.

With KAI, she collaborated in 2013 as manager of acoustics in the LIFE + MIGRATE project in Malta for the detection of cetaceans.


Efraín Morales

Efraín Morales is a student of Marine Biology at the University of La Laguna (Tenerife) and since 2013 takes part in the Cetaceans and Bioacoustics’ team, headed by Dr. Natacha Aguilar. He has also taken part in numerous cetaceans’ surveys, acquiring extensive experience in field work, organization and co-ordination surveys and in analyzed data. He leads the part of the project “Canarias con la mar” (Canary Islands with the sea) of Cetaceans Research Group, in collaboration with ULL, which handles interactions between bottlenose dolphins and artisanal fisheries in the Canary Islands, especially in El Hierro. He has participated in surveys, studying the abundance, distribution, biological parameters and social structure of resident populations of Cuvier's and Blainville’s beaked whales of El Hierro, which is developed by the University of La Laguna in collaboration with the Sea Mammal Research Unit from the University of St. Andrews.

With KAI he has collaborated in 2013 in the Project LIFE+MIGRATE in Malta as manager of acoustics surveys for the cetacean’s detection.