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by James Buckley
ondor Express Captain Fred Benko
probably knows as much about whales as
the most learned oceanographer or marine
mammal scientist alive today. He is the
West Coast go-to guy to learn what’s up with whales for
folks as varied as environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau,
underwater photographer Mike deGruy, natural
history filmmaker David Attenborough, Professor of
Oceanography Dr. Bruce Mate from Oregon State
The Whale Watcher
University, and many others whose professional lives
revolve around the ocean. Documentary filmmakers
from BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic,
Cascadia Research, Scripps Institute, and others seek
Fred’s input regularly.
Captain Benko’s knowledge of the sea, and
particularly of the health of Santa Barbara Channel and
its whale population, is of the homegrown variety, as he
has a naturalist’s instinct and a scientist’s curiosity about
how things work. He’s a natural engineer and a first-rate
captain. Fred is also a former U.S. Marine, a former
folksinger, and a former Pfizer salesman. But, his heart
spr ing
Tall, lanky (6’ 4”) former U.S. Marine, former
folksinger, and inveterate seafarer, Fred Benko
(seen here some 35 years ago) is Santa
Barbara’s resident ocean expert