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Jessica Kendall-Bar
marine biologist & science communicator


My research combines engineering, data science, ecology, and visualization to measure behavior and physiology of marine animals in a changing climate. For my dissertation, I developed a non-invasive system to record and visualize the sleep patterns of seals at sea published in Science




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See invisible behavior and physiology


Models to go from individuals to ecosystems


Science communication to maximize impact






Sleep at sea

As increasing human impact coincides with changing ecosystems, it is important to assess how our activities affect animals' natural behavior. Marine mammal sleep had only been studied in the lab. For my dissertation, I combined art, engineering, and biology to develop a system to monitor and visualize the sleep patterns of seals at sea. These tools allow us to learn more about where, when, and how animals sleep at sea so that we can better manage and protect their critical resting habitats.



I designed a surface-mounted system for non-invasive recordings of sleep at sea.

Kendall-Bar et al.
Eavesdropping on the Brain at Sea
Animal Biotelemetry (2022).



I designed a visualization toolbox to allow us to see their behavior alongside their neurological state.

Kendall-Bar et al.
Visualizing Life in the Deep

IEEE VIS (2021).



I applied the EEG-derived sleep patterns of wild seals to interpret sleep patterns at the population level.

Kendall-Bar et al.
Brain activity of diving seals

Science (2023).


The Million Dollar Reefs of Oahu
rainbow marla_no text.jpg




JM Kendall-Bar, TM Williams, R Mukherji*, DA Lozano*, JK Pitman, RR Holser, T Keates, RS Beltran, PW Robinson, DE Crocker, T Adachi, OI Lyamin, AL Vyssotski, DP Costa

Brain activity of diving seals reveals short sleep cycles at depth


DOI: 10.1126/science.adf0566


JM Kendall-Bar, R Mukherji*, J Nichols*, C Lopez*, DA Lozano*, JK Pitman, RR Holser, RS Beltran, M Schalles, CL Field, SP Johnson, AL Vyssotski, DP Costa & TM Williams.

Eavesdropping on the brain at sea: development of a surface-mounted system to detect weak electrophysiological signals from wild animals.

Animal Biotelemetry

DOI: 10.1186/s40317-022-00287-x


JM Kendall-Bar, NX Kendall-Bar, AG Forbes, G McDonald, PJ Ponganis, C Williams, M Horning, A Hindle, H Klinck, RS Beltran, AS Friedlaender, D Wiley, DP Costa, & TM Williams.

Visualizing Life in the Deep: a creative pipeline for data-driven animations to facilitate marine mammal research, outreach, and conservation.


DOI: 10.1109/VISAP52981.2021.00007


RS Beltran, JM Kendall-Bar, E Pirotta, T Adachi, Y Naito, A Takahashi, J Cremers, PW Robinson, DE Crocker, and DP Costa.

Lightscapes of Fear: How Mesopredators Balance Starvation and Predation in the Open Ocean.

Science Advances

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd9818


JM Kendall-Bar, AL Vyssotski, LM Mukhametov, JM Siegel, and OI Lyamin.

Eye State Asymmetry during Aquatic Unihemispheric Slow Wave Sleep in Northern Fur Seals (Callorhinus Ursinus).


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217025


JM Kendall-Bar & VK Iyengar.

Sexual Selection by the Seashore: The Roles of Body Size and Weaponry in Mate Choice and Competition in the Maritime Earwig (Anisolabis Maritima).

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-016-2233-9


JM Kendall-Bar, D Weller, H Fearnbach, S Shane, GS Schorr, EA Falcone, J Calambokidis, A Schulman-Janiger, and J Barlow.

Movement and Occurrence Patterns of Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala Macrorhynchus) in the Eastern North Pacific.

Aquatic Mammals

DOI: 10.1578/AM.42.3.2016.300


JM Kendall-Bar

Sleeping while diving: Tools to detect, analyze, and visualize sleep in wild seals

Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Accession No. 29215006

*** Non-peer-reviewed publication: doctoral dissertation.

whale picture.png


Science Communcation


Videos, animations, and public lectures that use data, art, and underwater cinematography to tell stories about science.


Maps and infographics that incorporate data and art to
communicate scientific results



Visualizing Life in the Deep
Jessica Kendall-Bar

Visualizing Life in the Deep

Video abstract for submitted manuscript "Visualizing Life in the Deep: A Creative Pipeline for Data-Driven Animations to Facilitate Marine Mammal Research, Outreach, and Conservation." Paper: Video Transcript: Have you ever wondered what marine mammals do beneath the surface? How about when they hear the sound of a predator, the rumbling of a ship above, or have just escaped a near-death encounter? Our new paper explains how we turn marine mammal tagging data into animations and sound to facilitate research, communication, and conservation. A critical first step of each collaboration included an iterative process of storyboarding, data sharing, and scriptwriting to refine our key messages and the target audience. We wrote scripts that use real data on position, orientation, swimming behavior, and heart rate to animate models of marine mammals, so that we can see and hear how they react to disturbances in their natural environment. Our 3D humpback whale animation uses tag data to reconstruct cooperative foraging behavior on the seafloor and demonstrate the potential harm of bottom-set fishing gear. Our 2D elephant seal animation follows a group of seals halfway across the Pacific as their decisions to forage and rest while avoiding predators shift in response to their internal and external environments. For our newest 3D animations, we created two custom tools that allow us to see and hear the impact of a disturbance. First, we built swim controllers for rigged 3D models that take raw accelerometer data and generate an animation of realistic swimming behavior to the beat of the data, alternating between swimming and gliding. Next, we wrote a script that synthesizes a soundtrack from electrocardiogram data of deep-diving marine mammals. When they get scared, animals respond with an increase in heart rate, vigorously pumping blood through their body so that they can run away at top speed. But let’s listen to the beating heart of a narwhal as he runs away after being entangled in fishing gear. At an extremely low 2.9 beats per minute, it reveals a physiological paradox- where its heart and body are at odds. Learning more about responses like these can teach us how marine mammals respond to disturbances in their natural habitat, and how we can work to mitigate those disturbances to protect them. We argue that by equipping biologists to leverage powerful industry animation tools, we can expedite complex data analysis, promote science communication outcomes, foster empathy and compassion for the natural world, and better serve the ecosystems we aim to protect. We invite you to learn more, download sample scenes, and learn to visualize your own data through interactive tutorials on: Our webpage: and Github:
How Our Reefs Protect Us: Valuing the Benefits of U.S. Reefs

How Our Reefs Protect Us: Valuing the Benefits of U.S. Reefs

The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards during storms. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision-making. Here we combine engineering, ecologic, geospatial, social, and economic tools to provide a rigorous valuation of the coastal protection benefits of all U.S. coral reefs in the States of Hawaiʻi and Florida, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We follow risk-based valuation approaches to map flood zones at 10-square-meter resolution along all 3,100+ kilometers of U.S. reef-lined shorelines for different storm probabilities to account for the effect of coral reefs in reducing coastal flooding. We quantify the coastal flood risk reduction benefits provided by coral reefs across storm return intervals using the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Bureau of Economic Analysis to identify their annual expected benefits, a measure of the annual protection provided by coral reefs. The annual value of flood risk reduction provided by U.S. coral reefs is more than 18,000 lives and $1.805 billion in 2010 U.S. dollars. These data provide stakeholders and decision makers with spatially explicit, rigorous valuation of how, where, and when U.S. coral reefs provide critical coastal storm flood reduction benefits, and open up new opportunities to fund their protection and restoration. The overall goal is to ultimately reduce the risk to, and increase the resiliency of, U.S. coastal communities. Learn more at: and View the audio-described version and this version at:


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