THE CONDOR CREW
HIROKO BENKO, PRESIDENT
Hiroko is the president of the Condor Express, known to some as "the Commodore." She launched Condor Express Whale Watching in 2002 with her late husband, Captain Fred. Hiroko brings a wealth of knowledge in many fields - foreign service, international relations, administration and management. She has worked around the world: Tokyo, Sweden, Beverly Hills, and Santa Barbara. Hiroko's focus is too continually improve the Condor Express experience and to seek exciting and new charter cruise experiences.
DAVE BEEZER, CAPTAIN
Captain Dave is an "Ocean State" native and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He has worked in the field of marine mammal research, rescue and rehabilitation for over twenty years. He works all over the world as marine mammal consultant, research and rescue team leader, including Japan and the Galapagos Islands. He is our crew member responsible for reporting and coordinating the rescue of entangled whales and dolphins. Dave is also an accomplished videographer and underwater cinematographer. His credits include National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and many Cousteau feature films. Dave brings his extensive marine mammal experience and love for the ocean aboard every trip, and he is a great Captain.
DEVIN HUNT, CAPTAIN
Originally from Sacramento, Devin moved to Santa Barbara in pursuit of a degree in Marine Biology. He has acquired a respectable breadth of knowledge pertaining to the local marine ecology and fisheries through his education. He has spent time as a rescue diver, free diver, and is an avid spear fisherman. He also has several years of experience working in the recreational maritime industry before joining the crew of the Condor Express.
ADAM ERNSTER, SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR
Adam Ernster is a seasoned mariner, photographer, and naturalist working up and down the west coast of North America. From the San Juan islands in Washington state, to the Baja California peninsula, Adam’s passion for conservation and education has lead him on countless adventures. Adam received a bachelors degree in Environmental Science from the university of California at Santa Barbara, and has wildlife footage in documentaries produced by PBS and Nat Geo. As a Social Media Coordinator here at the Condor Express, Adam manages the Facebook, Instagram, and Website
KELLY KOHLS, CREWMEMBER
BOB PERRY, PHOTOGRAPHER/ BLOGGER
Bob is the staff photographer on board the Condor Express. He is a Loyola University alum, with graduate studies at UCLA. He has taught biology and marine science at the high school and college level. He is a retired 100-ton charter boat Captain and Master SCUBA Instructor. His photographs and articles have been published in many marine life publications. Bob is married has a son, a daughter and a grandson.
CAPTAIN FRED BENKO (1939-2013)
Fred was the founder and creator of Condor Express Whale Watching. He was a United States Marine, a Vietnam veteran, and a graduate of George Washington University. Originally from Ohio, Fred was in the local sport-fishing industry as far back as 1973, and in 1979 built the original Condor. In 2002, he started exclusively running natural history and whale watching trips. He had the Condor Express custom-built to provide the best and safest ocean tours in the world. Fred was very active in the community and served on the boards of many civic institutions. He remains an inspiration to all of us.