Sean Van Sommeran has served as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz, California based Pelagic Shark Research Foundation (PSRF) since he established the organization in 1990. The PSRF is an independent, non-profit research, education, and conservation group. Originally an affiliate of the Earth Island Institute, Van Sommeran and the PSRF has been outspoken advocates for elasmobranch conservation and research in California and abroad. The PSRF is an original co-sponsor of the white sharks’ protected status in California waters as well as recreational sport fish limits for other species common to California. He has collaborated with the Earth Island Institute in under-cover investigations of turtle and shark poaching in the Gulf of Mexico and the shark ‘finning trade’ in Costa Rica. Van Sommeran is senior instructor and program director for an elasmobranch field course conducted seasonally in and around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Elkhorn Slough Estuarine Research Reserve (see photos).
As senior instructor, Van Sommeran coordinates three seasonally full-time long-term monitoring projects involving estuarine and pelagic sharks and rays including leopard sharks, guitarfish, thornyback rays, blue sharks, mako sharks, basking sharks, and white sharks. Permanent number and color coded ID tags, ultra-sonic acoustic, archival satellite telemetry, and tissue and blood samples are areas of special interest to Van Sommeran’s work.
PSRF expeditions have included research trips to South Africa, Chile, South Australia, Thailand, and Guadalupe Island. Van Sommeran has worked as a consultant and naturalist observing and documenting transient orca predations and behaviors in the Monterey Bay. He has been a wildlife consultant for the National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Television, BBC, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and European Sat 1 Television. Van Sommeran received a World Wildlife Fund ‘innovations’ award in 1996.
Last updated: April 2005