Meet the Crew

Call 1-877-359-8447 to Reserve over the phone.

captain john kerner outer banks dolphin tour - Meet the CrewCaptain John

moved to the Outer Banks in 1984 where he and his wife, Wendy, raised their three children. He became a United States Coast Guard Master in 1998 and bought the Nags Head Dolphin Watch in 2008.

Currently, he is on the Board of Directors for the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research. Even after more than 30 years of living here, he still marvels at the beauty the Outer Banks has in store. He just can’t wait to show some of it off to you.


captain carl outer banks dolphin tour - Meet the Crew

Captain Carl

is a United States Coast Guard licensed 100-ton master. He has followed the path of the Bottlenose Dolphin, Manatee, Whales, and other marine wildlife from the east coast to the Gulf of Mexico for the past twenty years.

Carl is looking forward to having you onboard!




Captain Johnny BoothScreenshot 2023 05 04 162700 450x336 - Meet the Crew

is one of the captains of the Safari tour! He is a local legend with over 62 years of experience working on the waters of the Outer Banks. He is an experienced commercial fisherman, an avid outdoorsman, and is passionate about the history and conservation of the area. He is as local as it gets with family tracing back to a shipwreck back in the 1800s and will gladly share stories about life on the island long ago, just ask!”


Captain Jeff Brown

Screenshot 2023 05 04 160640 e1683230937851 450x450 - Meet the Crewmoved to the Outer Banks in 1994.  He currently holds a USCG 50 ton near coastal masters license with sailing endorsement and a British Virgin Island Boat Masters 2.  He’s an avid fisherman and sailor.  He enjoys every opportunity to cast the lines and embark on a new adventure.






Captain Christian Benedichristian pic 338x450 - Meet the Crew

fell in love with the Outer Banks at a young age.  His family began vacationing on the beautiful beaches when he was an infant. After moving here in 2008, he spent several years “snowbirding” between the waters of the OBX and the Florida Keys. His love of being outside, along with his fascination for marine life led him to earn his USCG 25-ton masters license, where he currently captain’s for The Nags Head Dolphin Watch.






Captain Hector Benedi20220705 144517 338x450 - Meet the Crew

Is a Virginia native but now a proud resident of the beautiful Florida Keys, where he has called home for the past 14 years. He always looked forward to vacationing on the Outer Banks growing up.  He was stuck to the Potomac River the majority of the boating season. He’s been drawn to wildlife, watersports, and anything involving being in or on the water. More recently he has been lucky enough to spend Dolphin watching season with NHDW. Currently sporting a USCG 50-ton Masters license and a Yamaha Master Technician certificate, you’re in good hands! All of which leading him to be able to share the Love of the water and local ecology with you!




jessica weiss taylor marine biologist outer banks - Meet the Crew

Jessica Weiss Taylor

has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science from Rutgers University and a Masters of Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University. Her Master’s research focused on studying the specialized feeding behaviors of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, FL. She has also participated in several field research studies of bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, and predatory fish in Florida, South Carolina, Australia, Alaska, and New Jersey. Jessica has worked as a naturalist with the Nags Head Dolphin Watch since 2007.

In 2008, she incorporated the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research (OBXCDR), a non-profit dedicated to the conservation of bottlenose dolphins in the Outer Banks, and currently serves as President and lead Principal Investigator of the organization. Jessica has 6 years of teaching experience in Dare County Schools; through the OBXCDR, she has presented educational programs related to dolphin conservation to local schools and organizations. While not out on the water, Jessica lives with her husband, Jay, and their two children in Kill Devil Hills.


2023 Crew

E81DFE8C 4B16 4241 B18A 6D98BAFB5780 300x450 - Meet the CrewRylie Gonzalesgraduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2022 from Northern Arizona University after spending her senior year at the University of Hawaii at Hilo to focus on Marine Science.  Born and raised in the desert of Arizona, Rylie has been pursuing her “marine dreams” since having her worldview forever changed by a great high school marine biology teacher.  At  UH Hilo Rylie studied marine policy, gained experience in identifying reef fish, conducted observational studies on reef fish and brittle stars, gained experience in photo identification via boat surveys of humpback whales and resident dolphins in Hilo Bay, became Scuba certified and more.  Following graduation, she completed an internship with the Hawaii Island Hawksbill Project where she worked closely with the critically endangered Hawaiian Hawksbill Sea Turtle in remote beach locations on the Big Island.  She camped and hiked to night monitor and work up adult female Hawkbills and their nests.

Although she loves sea turtles, Rylie feels drawn towards marine mammal work and is excited to get back on the water.  She is passionate about public speaking and science communication and thus is thrilled to communicate dolphin biology and marine conservation with Nags  Head Dolphin Watch. Rylie is elated to gain research experience with the OBXCDR and plans to use her experience this season to become a successful applicant for grad school in pursuit of deepening her knowledge of marine mammals and marine conservation.


03E7C029 29B6 4580 ABD0 1E2B5726BAE9 1 105 c e1683231688534 450x450 - Meet the CrewBriana Pucci graduated from the University of Georgia with a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife in May of 2023. After studying abroad in Australia in 2022, Briana realized her love for small animal veterinary medicine is not as strong as her calling for marine life. She hopes to pursue a Master’s in Marine Biology after gaining research experience. Growing up in Syracuse, NY, the Outerbanks was always a popular vacation spot among family and friends. Briana is excited to return to a familiar place and gain background knowledge with a species that she loves with the OBXCDR! 





JaydiSwanson scaled e1683231757279 450x450 - Meet the CrewJaydi Swansongraduated from Boston University in January 2023 with a B.A. in marine science and a minor in computer science. She is from a suburb in southern Illinois, but since she was young, she has loved the ocean and wanted to move out of the Midwest. While at BU, Jaydi worked in an aquatic photo-biogeochemistry lab and assisted with research on carbon dynamics at the Plum Island Estuary in Northern Massachusetts. After graduating, she worked in a biology lab at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying the impacts of environmental variation on aging in African killifish. Ever since she fell in love with the ocean as a child, though, Jaydi has dreamed of working with marine mammals, so she is so excited to be in the Outer Banks working with the Nags Head Dolphin Watch. She is passionate about conservation and educating the public, and she is looking forward to this opportunity to expand her outreach experience.”


April 2023 378x450 - Meet the CrewApril Montooth obtained a Bachelor of Science in Coastal Biology from the University of North Florida in 2021.  Born and raised in southern Indiana, April and her family moved to northern Florida in 2015.  This move enabled April to make a career change and pursue her passion for marine conservation.  During her time at UNF, she was able to participate in a field class about bottlenose dolphins.  This class gave April her first experience in boat surveying and solidified her decision that cetacean research was her future.  After graduation, she completed an internship with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. During this internship, she learned about marine life in the Gulf of Maine and conducted research on humpback whales. In 2022, she completed a 6-month marine mammal technician position in Anchorage, Alaska where she observed the behavior of beluga whales.  April also has a deep love for sea turtles and has conducted sea turtle nesting surveys.  She is excited to expand her research knowledge with Nags Head Dolphin Watch and to explore the Outer Banks area.  Her career goals are to further research cetaceans and how these magnificent creatures utilize their environments in order to help policy makers create policies to protect them and our oceans.

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