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Our Team

a man that is standing in the water

Captain Matt Remuzzi

Education: Bachelor of Science in Marine Geology, Stockton University
Experience: Captain Matt began his career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center in 2011. He has been around boats his entire life and holds a 100GT Masters Captains License. Capt. Matt has always shared the Research Center’s focus on education and conservation of marine life. He founded the CMWWRC internship program in 2013 and assists our naturalists and interns daily in data collection onboard the American Star. Captain Matt is always motivated to ensure that our passengers get to witness and appreciate all of the marine wildlife that the Cape May area has to offer. Capt. Matt is Vessel Operator Whale Sense Certified.

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Captain Melissa Laurino Remuzzi

Education:Master of Science in Data Science, Stockton University; Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, Minor in Jazz Performance, Stockton University.
Experience: Melissa started her career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center as an intern in 2013 and quickly became a Marine Naturalist and Educator on the American Star. As the Director of our Internship and Research Program, Melissa oversees all research and data collection with our team and curates our multiple marine mammal catalogs including our Cape May, New Jersey Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog and our Lewes, Delaware Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog which contribute to the Mid Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Database to improve our understanding of the Northern Migratory stock. She serves as a liaison to Whale SENSE and a member of our team that developed the Clean Ocean Initiative (Marine Debris Awareness Program) and Citizen Dolphin Project. Current research interests include machine learning data processing, tidal influences on marine mammals, social networks, male-male bonds, using photo-identification for health assessments, documentation of spinal deformities, skin lesions and much more. Her research has been presented at Society of Marine Mammalogy (SMM), South East and Mid Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAMMS) and other major conferences. 

Other experience includes Diamondback Terrapin rescue, rehabilitation, and release with Stockton University; fish trawling and identification/sorting with Rutgers Marine Science Field Station; Stream monitoring for pollutant tolerant and intolerant invertebrates; Completed coursework in Ornithology; PADI Diver and Nitrox certified; Vessel Operator and Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

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Kathy Mcduell

Education: Bachelor of Science in Special Education, Rider College; Graduate Work at Rutgers University
Experience: Kathy anchors the staff as our most veteran employee of 29 years with her vast experience and with her sheer number of hours spent on the water; Known for her signature whale sighting call “Thar she blows;” The McDuell family is one of the original Cape May families and Kathy brings that pioneering spirit and history to the Research Center; Raised in the boating and boatyard business she brings her own brand of “can do” personality to the American Star with a priority for safety. She is the crown jewel of our operation and her keen ability for spotting spouts can’t be outdone! She is retired from over 29 years of teaching. Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

a man standing next to a body of water

Dr. Michael Denk

Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology, Kansas State University
Experience: Michael started his career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center as an intern in 2015 and became a Marine Naturalist and Educator on the American Star in 2018. He is a part of the team pioneering our data collection on deep-diving cetaceans (sperm whales and beaked whales), Citizen Dolphin Project, and development of vessel-based health assessment for the Cape May dolphin population. As a research veterinarian, Michael has a strong interest in cetacean comparative anatomy and pathology. He has led or assisted with numerous toothed whale dissections/necropsies, and given multiple lectures to veterinary students about cetacean anatomy and physiology. He is currently a guest investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Current research interests include description of beaked whale echolocation-related anatomy, using photo-identification for health assessments and documentation of dolphin musculoskeletal pathology, diving physiology, bone specimen identification/preparation, and much more. His research has been presented at the Society of Marine Mammalogy (SMM), the South East and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAMMS), and other major conferences.
Other experience includes interning at the Smithsonian Institution; Guest Student at WHOI; participation in stream fish temperature niche analysis research; teacher’s assistant for ornithology, zoology and special anatomy courses for marine mammals at vet school; recipient of James H. Burt Memorial Scholarship in Anatomy; Awarded Phi Zeta “Best Case Presentation” for oral presentation CT-Guided Osteological Preparation and Examination of a Bottlenose Dolphin Skull (Tursiops truncatus); Member of IAAAM (International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine) and Society of Marine Mammalogy; Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

a person smiling next to a body of water

Janet Berger

Education: Master of Science in Environmental Science, Villanova University; Master of Arts in Education, Villanova University; Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Delaware
Experience: Janet first began on the American Star as a research and education intern in 2015. She completed her masters research on water quality and dolphin behavior on the American Star through a grant from Villanova University and hopes to build upon that research in the future. She loves wildlife photography and has contributed many identification photos to the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin and Humpback Whale Catalog. Janet has also studied the endangered population of Southern Resident Killer Whales on San Juan Island, WA and has been a part of research teams studying bottlenose dolphins in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, and the Ionian Sea in Greece. She is currently a biology teacher and loves to share her firsthand experience on the boat and passion for the ocean by teaching her students about the beloved marine mammals and important ecosystems of Cape May. Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

Lola Freidenstine smiling next to a body of water

Carlee Dunn

Education: Doctoral Student, Oceanography, University of Connecticut; Bachelor of Science in Biology, Minor in Marine Science at the College of William and Mary, Virginia
Experience: Carlee started her career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center as an intern in 2020 and became a Marine Naturalist and Educator on the American Star in 2021. She continues research efforts with CMWWRC working on photo identification of semi-residential Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and Humpback Whales. As an undergraduate, she was involved with a research lab studying structures and flow patterns in the mouths of filter-feeding fish.  She also completed a Biology Senior Honors Thesis on the salt marsh insect communities of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve through the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship.  During the 2023-2024 winter calving season, Carlee worked as a North Atlantic Right Whale Aerial Observer for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.  Other experience includes serving as a Sustainability Ambassador at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science; volunteering with the Summer Nature Program at the Wetlands Institute; and completing and presenting research on salt marsh plants and fiddler crab burrows at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology.  Carlee is Level 1 and 2 Large Whale Disentanglement Response Trained and Naturalist Whale SENSE Certified.

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Dale Murphy

Education: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Penn State Berks, Pennsylvania State University
Experience: Dale started his career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center in 2019. Before becoming our first mate on the American Star, Dale started with the Starlight Fleet and Cape Star in 2018 fishing on deep sea and back bay trips. He is passionate about ichthyology and the ecological niche our blue fish and bunker play in our ecosystem. Dale is invaluable to our Clean Ocean Initiative – no floating marine debris can escape his net! Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

a man holding a kite

Lenny Laurino

Experience: Lenny started his career with the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center in 2021. Before becoming our mate on the American Star, he retired from 30+ years of passenger safety with Amtrak. He is passionate about recreational fishing and enjoys following the Striped Bass on his 25ft center console, River Striper. Lenny participated in the trial runs for See a Spout…Watch Out! boater safety course for recreational boaters to safely maneuver around whales. Lenny is invaluable to our Clean Ocean Initiative! Naturalist Whale Sense Certified.

Tom Reed

Tom Reed

Education: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy, Institutions & Behavior, Rutgers University

Experience: Tom has served as the lead pelagic bird naturalist on the American Star since 2020, assisting with our 6-, 12- and 24-hour offshore trips. In his role as Migration Count Coordinator with New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, Tom directs a dynamic set of long-term monitoring projects that collect data on 300+ species of migrating birds, while also managing the organization’s Monarch Monitoring Project and community science initiatives. He also plays a primary role in the observatory’s Guide-for-hire, School of Birding, and Eco-Travel programs.
While Tom is one of the most skilled birders on the East Coast, he also knows a thing or two about other marine life, and his team frequently shares information with us regarding whales, dolphins, and seals seen from their field sites. Tom grew up along the Delaware Bay in Cape May County, where he developed an interest in birds and the natural world at a young age, and naturally spent many hours on the water. He previously served as a guide with See Life Paulagics, and has over two decades of pelagic experience in the Mid-Atlantic.

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Captain Matt & Melissa’s nephew is an aspiring Captain and marine biologist in the fifth grade! You won’t want to miss his touch tank presentation!