Naturally Speaking

Flyer showing Naturally Speaking: Science Education Series 2018 - 2019

Naturally Speaking: Science Seminar Series

Join us as we explore the natural themes of Cabrillo National Monument in our Science Education Series "Naturally Speaking!" All talks will be held in the Cabrillo Auditorium.

** This series is open exclusively to Cabrillo National Monument Foundation Members. Join the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation today at the Visitor Center or online at


November 17, 2018; 10 – 11 a.m. (Open to the Public): To Protect and Serve these Lands: National Park Service Law Enforcement

Speaker: Ranger Bonnie Phillips
Synopsis: Join us in learning about the history of Law Enforcement Rangers in the National Park Service. Gain hands-on experience of how our Rangers continue to protect the people who enjoy these spaces. Finally, learn how these Federal Police Offers serve the mission of the National Park Service in preserving and protecting the natural, cultural and historical resources for this and future generations.

About the Author: Ranger Bonnie Phillips has been at Cabrillo National Monument since 2010. She previously was the Executive Produce of local news station in San Diego and switched her career to follow the Mission of the National Park Service. Bonnie is a dedicated law enforcement Ranger at Cabrillo National Monument and runs the Tidepool Protection Education and Restoration Program. She also serves as an adjunct instructor for new Rangers at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA.

February 23, 2019; 10 – 11 a.m. (Open to the Public): San Diego Wildlife, Climate Change, and You!

Speaker: Alexandria Warneke
Synopsis: Our climate is changing. We see the effects of this on a global scale- devastating storms, rising seas, ravaging wildfires. However, how does the changing climate affect us and our ecosystems right here in San Diego? This past year the Climate Science Alliance teamed up with local ecologists and climatologists to answer this very question. Reviewing the most current, regionally specific climate data with research on local South Coast species and habitats, the team presents a broad picture of risks associated with our changing climate. Come get a glimpse of what they found and more importantly - what you can do to help. Find out more about the Climate Science Alliance at:

About the Author: Alexandria Warneke, Deputy Director of the Climate Science Alliance, developed the Science Education department at Cabrillo National Monument and worked here as the Scientific Program Coordinator from 2014 – 2018. Alex is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of science to the general public. Alexandria Warneke – Ecologist – Storyteller -Explorer.

March 7, 2019; 6 – 7 p.m.: Red, Green, Brown: The Importance of Algae in the Rocky Intertidal

Speaker: Lauren Briggs
Synopsis: While they may look like regular plants, marine algae actually belong the kingdom Protista, which means they are “plant-like” organisms. Marine algae are divided into three separate groups: red, green, and brown, and each play an important role in coastal communities. Changing tides often create harsh conditions for these seaweeds. Let’s explore the unique adaptations many marine alga have developed to withstand exposure during low tide, and wave action during high tide. We will also discuss how they benefit other organisms within the marine community and threats from human disturbance.

About the Author: Lauren has a Master of Science from Cal Poly Pomona, where she studied the effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing. She has helped various groups in Southern California, including Cabrillo National Monument, on long term monitoring projects to help determine changes in the Rocky Intertidal communities due to natural shifts or human induced causes. She is currently a research associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in a marine chemistry lab with a primary focus on ocean acidification.

April 4, 2019; 6 – 7 p.m.: How to Spot a Whale: Gray Whales and other Marine Mammals of Point Loma

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Jefferson
Synopsis: Whales and other marine mammals of the Point Loma area have captured the attention of books, folklore and much more over the years. But how can you identify and observe such creatures safely and effectively? Several species of great whales (including a few that are federally listed as Endangered) occur off the coast of Point Loma. In addition, there are a large number of species of dolphins, porpoises, and seals/sea lions. This presentation will give a synopsis of these species, and discuss how they can be identified and observed.

About the Author: Dr. Thomas A. Jefferson (Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science) has been studying marine mammals since 1983. Tom, senior author of the well-respected book "Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification" (2015, Elsevier), is currently director of Clymene Enterprises and is an Independent Researcher at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries. His main interests are the development of marine mammal identification aids, and investigating the systematics and population ecology of the more poorly-known species of dolphins and porpoises. Most of his work has been related to conservation and management of marine mammals threatened by human activities.

April 18, 2019; 6 – 7 p.m.: Breaking Boundaries of Biodiversity

Speaker: Sula Vanderplank
Synopsis: Have you ever wondered how far south the plants of our region extend into Baja California? Ever thought about how many of our rare plants are found across the Baja California border? This talk will elucidate some of the patterns at the southern end of the California Floristic Province, and will highlight special local habitats like our Maritime Succulent Scrub, which boasts an amazing number of rare plants (and animals!)

About the Author: Sula Vanderplank is a botanist and conservation botanist who works primarily in Baja California. She is adjunct faculty at the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Learning of Ensenada (CICESE) in Baja California, Mexico and at San Diego State University in California (USA) and she has published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers on the biodiversity of the region.

May 9, 2019; 6 – 7 p.m.: A Species on the Edge: Shaw’s Agave

Speaker: Ranger Adam Taylor
Synopsis: Shaw’s agave (Agave shawii) is a species of concern that is literally and figuratively living on the edge. It is found along the Southern California and Baja coastline often on crumbling cliff sides. Scattered across Cabrillo National Monument’s landscape, the conspicuous Shaw’s agave highlights the plight of global pollinators (in this case BATS!) and the plants that rely on them. Over the past several decades natural recruitment of new individuals on the Point Loma peninsula has been non-existent. Learn from our park’s biologist about the search for pollinators, plant genetics, and the fight against herbivores.

About the Author: Ranger Adam Taylor is a biologist at Cabrillo National Monument specializing in plant ecology. After receiving his master’s degree in Ecology from San Diego State University, he joined Cabrillo National Monument in 2014. Ranger Adam works with rare and endangered coastal sage scrub and chaparral plants while co-managing the park’s greenhouse for continued plant restoration.

June 22, 2019; 10-11 a.m. (Open to the Public): What's the Buzz: Native Pollinators of San Diego

Speaker: Annika Nabors

Synopsis:Living in the (landscape) Matrix: plant-pollinator relationships in southern California: As development intensifies in southern California, native habitats grow increasingly scarce and fragmented, and non-native cultivated plants become big business. Insect pollinators provide crucial ecosystem services to many species of plants, yet their distribution, behavior, and impact are notably under-studied. I discuss several past and current projects that examine connections between native and non-native plants and their insect pollinators, and how human activities affect these relationships.

About the speaker:Annika Nabors has studied plant-pollinator relationships in both wild and cultivated landscapes, insect taxonomy and ecology, and landscape-level diversity associated with chaparral and endangered coastal sage scrub. She received her master's in biology from UC San Diego. Formerly a field entomologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum, she now works as a research assistant at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

July 11, 2019; 6 – 7 p.m.: Pelecanus: Conservation Conversations

Speaker: Austin Parker
Synopsis: Have you ever noticed that most of the news reflects on the bad? Especially when it comes to our environment. That’s where we come in. Pelecanus: Conservation Conversations is a podcast and website focused on sharing the stories of the people and organizations, many within the National Park Service, that are making it their purpose to show people how they have and still are making a positive difference in our world through research and action. Join us as we share these stories and show that we can find optimism through science, action and perseverance.

About the Author: Austin Parker is a biologist that has studied the biodiversity of southern California for over a decade. He has worked for government agencies, environmental consulting companies, on wildland fires, and non-profit organizations all focused on the conservation of critical habitat and species. He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of San Diego and a Master’s degree in Biology from San Diego Zoo Global. He started Pelecanus: Conservation Conversations in 2015 to share the positive conservation stories of people and organizations he’s met along the way.

Last updated: February 28, 2019

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