Benjamin P. Weitzman

A man standing next to a spotting scope with a rocky shoreline and island in the background
Wildlife Biologist

1011 East Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99503
United States

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About Benjamin P. Weitzman

While completing his undergraduate in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz, Ben began working with captive sea otters with the Long Marine Laboratory, Marine Mammal Physiology Project, and later went on to work with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife on sea otter field research and necropsies, eventually specializing in sea otter capture techniques using rebreathers and beginning to work for the US Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center and Alaska Scienter Center as a Wildlife Biologist, obtaining a Masters degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz and Ph.D. in Marine Biology from University Alaska Fairbanks along the way. Most recently, Ben spent two years working as an ecologist for NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in Homer, AK, before joining the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Sea Otter program for Marine Mammals Management in Anchorage, AK. Ben's research has orbited around sea otters, the invertebrate prey they consume, and the nearshore ecosystems they inhabit across their range in the North Pacific to understand how sea otters have influenced and are influenced by change in nearshore ecosystems. Ben's work has contributed to long-term monitoring efforts in the Aleutian Archipelago, Glacier Bay National Park, and he currently participates in the Gulf Watch Alaska nearshore program in the Gulf of Alaska ( Now working with Marine Mammals Management in Anchorage, AK, Ben brings his sea otter expertise to informing management and decision making, contributes to Stock Assessment Reports, leads sea otter survey and field research efforts, and serves as the local Field Dive Officer for the Sea Otter Dive Team.

Listen to Ben talk about his career path on this episode of My Life, Wildlife.

Selected Publications

Most of Ben's research has focused on things sea otters eat and the ecosystems they inhabit. For links to all published contributions about intertidal ecology, macroalgae, and other critters, please visit:

  • Weitzman, B.P., Konar, B., Iken, K., Coletti, H., Monson, D., Suryan, R., Dean, T., Hondolero, D., and Lindeberg, M. (2021) Changes in Rocky Intertidal Community Structure During a Marine Heatwave in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:556820.
  • Esslinger, G.G., Robinson, B.H., Monson, D.H., Taylor, R.L., Esler, D., Weitzman, B.P., and Garlich-Miller, J., (2021) Abundance and distribution of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in the southcentral Alaska stock, 2014, 2017, and 2019: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1122, 19 p.,
  • Suryan, R.M., M.L. Arimitsu, H.A. Coletti, R.R. Hopcroft, M.R. Lindeberg, S.J. Barbeaux, S.D. Batten, W.J. Burt, M.A. Bishop, J.L. Bodkin, R. Brenner, R.W. Campbell, D.A. Cushing, S.L. Danielson, M.W. Dorn, B. Drummond, D. Esler, T. Gelatt, D.H. Hanselman, S.A. Hatch, S. Haught, K. Holderied, K. Iken, D.B. Irons, A.B. Kettle, D.G. Kimmel, B. Konar, K.J. Kuletz, B.J. Laurel, J.M. Maniscalco, C. Matkin, C.A.E. McKinstry, D.H. Monson, J.R. Moran, D. Olsen, W.A. Palsson, W.S. Pegau, J.F. Piatt, L.A. Rogers, N.A. Rojek, A. Schaefer, I.B. Spies, J.M. Straley, S.L. Strom, K.L. Sweeney, M. Szymkowiak, B.P. Weitzman, E.M. Yasumiishi, and S.G. Zador (2021) Ecosystem response persists after a prolonged marine heatwave. Scientific Reports 11, 6235
  • Tinker, M.T., J.L. Bodkin, L. Bowen, B. Ballachey, G. Bentall, A. Burdin, H. Coletti, G. Esslinger, B.B. Hatfield, M.C. Kenner, K. Kloecker, B. Konar, A.K. Miles, D.H. Monson, M.J. Murray, B.P. Weitzman, and J.A. Estes. (2021) Sea otter population collapse in southwest Alaska: assessing ecological covariates, consequences, and causal factors. Ecological Monographs 91(4):e01472.
  • Weitzman B and Konar BP (2021) Biological correlates of sea urchin recruitment in kelp forest and urchin barren habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series 663:115-125.
  • Rasher, D., Steneck, R., Halfar, J., Kroeker, K., Ries, J., Tinker, M.T., Chan, P., Fietzke, J., Kamenos, N., Konar, B., Lefcheck, J., Norley, C., Weitzman, B.P., Westfield, I., and Estes, J. (2020) Climate Change Amplifies Trophic Cascades in a Kelp Forest Ecosystem. Science, 369(6509), pp.1351-1354.
  • Tinker, M.T., Tomoleoni, J.A., Weitzman, B.P., Staedler, M., Jessup, D., Murray, M.J., Miller, M., Burgess, T., Bowen, L., Miles, A.K., Thometz, N., Tarjan, L., Golson, E., Batac, F., Dodd, E., Berberich, E., Kunz, J., Bentall, G., Fujii, J., Nicholson, T., Newsome, S., Melli, A., LaRoche, N., MacCormick, H., Johnson, A., Henkel, L., Kreuder-Johnson, C., and Conrad, P. (2019) Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population biology at Big Sur and Monterey, California --Investigating the consequences of resource abundance and anthropogenic stressors for sea otter recovery: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019 -1022, 225 p.,
  • Garlich-Miller, J., Esslinger, G., and Weitzman, B.P. (2018) Aerial surveys of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in lower cook inlet, Alaska, May, 2017. USFWS Technical Report MMM 2018-01. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management. Anchorage, AK (Data Release:
  • Konar, B., Edwards, M.S., Bland, A., Metzger, J., Ravelo, A., Traiger, S. and Weitzman, B.P. (2017) A swath across the great divide: kelp forests across the Samalga Pass biogeographic break. Continental Shelf Research, 143, pp.78-88.
  • Konar, B., Iken, K., Coletti, H., Monson, D., and Weitzman, B.P. (2016) Influence of Static Habitat Attributes on Local and Regional Rocky Intertidal Community Structure. Estuaries and Coasts 39, 1735–1745.

Thesis & Dissertation:

  • Weitzman, B.P., 2013. Effects of Sea Otter Colonization on Soft-Sediment Intertidal Prey Assemblages in Glacier Bay, Alaska (Masters Thesis, UC Santa Cruz).
  • Weitzman, B.P., 2020. Sea Urchin Ecology: Effects of Food-Web Modification, Climate Change, and Community Structure (Doctoral dissertation, University of Alaska Fairbanks).


Areas of expertise
Marine Biology
Nearshore Ecology
Scientific Diving
Ecological Monitoring
Sea Otters - Enhydra lutris
Marine Invertebrates
Coastal Habitats
Climate Change