In our latest installment, we catch up with research scientist Nate Mantua, chef Loretta Keller, and entertainment lawyer Tom Hansen.
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA
Occupation: Research Scientist
Favorite rivers: “Anywhere in Steelhead Country, from northern British Columbia to California’s Big Sur Coast.
“Towards the end of Central California’s 2019 winter steelhead season I found myself on my home river with just a few hours to fish. Fishing conditions had been poor all season, but on this day the river had finally dropped to a fishable level and turned the emerald green that inspires confidence for swinging a fly. It was one of those days when you just feel like the stars have lined up. I stepped into a favorite run and started fishing my way down.
“On my fourth cast the fly stopped and I felt a solid pull – I lifted the rod and it was game on. The fish turned just under the surface and I saw black and chrome, probably 8 lbs. It’s not a large pool, and the fish didn’t run far. After a few minutes I found a likely landing spot, but when I got the leader in close the hook pulled free. There and gone. One of those steelhead experiences where you’re left with your hands shaking and heart pounding, and then a few minutes later wondering ‘Did that really happen?'”
Why WSC? “I love the fact that the WSC targets strongholds all around the Pacific Rim, and that they partner with and empower local groups for effective and lasting conservation actions. I also love the way they put salmon-oriented science into action.”
Nate Mantua leads the Salmon Ecology Team at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. This interdisciplinary group of scientists works to understand links between habitat and anadromous fish that spawn in California’s watersheds but migrate to the ocean for growth and maturation. Nate worked at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1995-2012 where he co-directed the Climate Impacts Group. He was an associate professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences from 2006-2012 where his research focused on climate and its impacts on water, marine life, salmon, and fisheries, and the use of climate information in resource management.
Nate grew up in Bodega Bay, CA, earned a B.Sc. in atmospheric sciences from UC Davis, and a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography in a project focused on seasonal climate forecasting. He began working on climate and Pacific salmon in 1995 with Bob Francis and his then PhD student Steven Hare in a collaboration that resulted in a series of journal articles about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and its connections with the history of northeast Pacific marine ecosystems. He received NOAA’s Presidential Early Career Award for his work on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and its impacts on Pacific salmon in 2000. He has served on multiple national and international scientific advisory panels, including the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on Climate Change and Oceans, the National Research Council’s panel on Alaska Stellar Sea Lions and the Groundfish Fishery, and the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Fraser River Sockeye Panel. His passion for the ocean, salmon and steelhead has always guided his research, service, and recreation activities.
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Favorite rivers: “The McCloud in California, for its cold water and enduring power, its stunning beauty and depth of natural wonders — the spectacular darmera/elephant ear/Indian rhubarb in particular.
“The Sapsuk, aka Hoodoo River in Alaska, on the Aleutian peninsula. For its remoteness, the chance to encounter all five species of Pacific salmon in a single day, blasting in from the Bering Sea. Also the bears, caribou, wolves, otters, fox and many bird species, not to mention steelhead, Dolly Varden and char, as well as many volcanos and a fabulous night sky. On the Hoodoo last September, during a short flight at low altitude, we took in the vistas of fall colors on the tundra — faded greens, golds and rusty reds, a flat soft patchwork of autumn colors punctuated by dark water ponds and small hilly rises. They were dotted with shrubs and weathered vegetation, holding buck caribou. Then the winding river cam into view, spotted with bears, catching and hunting salmon. The volcanoes Pavlof and Sister loomed in the distance.”
Why WSC? “My friend (and longtime WSC board member) Dr. John McCosker introduced me to the Wild Salmon Center and served as my main motivator, capturing my interest with the work and mission of the organization. I come from British Columbia, as does my mother, so I was raised on salmon and had the scent of cedar, fir and moss in my nose from birth.”
One of San Francisco’s preeminent chefs, Loretta began her San Francisco culinary career at Jeremiah Towers’ revolutionary Stars. Chef Keller opened her first restaurant Bizou in 1993, transforming the concept and menu in 2005 into COCO5OO, a San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100” restaurant and garnering herself a James Beard nomination in 2009 for Best Chef California/Pacific region. She has long been known for sourcing local and organic ingredients for her fresh, soulful, and artfully executed Mediterranean dishes.
In 2008, Loretta partnered with Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, together they established a new standard for museum dining, launching the Moss Room Restaurant and the Academy Cafe at the California Academy of Sciences.
Since selling COCO5OO in 2014, Loretta has focused her attention on developing educational programs. Her partnership with the Exploratorium allows her to pair food and science in creative, entertaining, and educational ways. Such a program is featured the second Thursday evening of each month and takes place in SEAGLASS restaurant.
Loretta is also well known for dedicating her time and resources to many local and global causes and environmental issues. For 20 years she organized San Francisco Free Clinic’s annual benefit luncheon at the Ritz Carlton. CUESA, Street Smart, Share Our Strength, Meals on Wheels, Food Runners and Tibetan Aid are among her many charity interests.
Loretta was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, raised in Los Angeles, and has a degree in literature from UC Santa Cruz. She has a life-long passion for the natural world and enjoys fly fishing, hiking, hunting, and foraging.
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Entertainment lawyer
Favorite places: “My father was an avid gear fisherman so I grew up fishing the ocean, surf and local lakes and rivers. Going to the Sierras to fish was a very major event. As to a favorite river, I love fishing for Golden Dorado in the Rio La Plata system. I really love tropical fishing.
“I was invited to fish on the Tugur River in the Russian Far East a few years through my long time fishing partner Skip Brittenham. Guido Rahr was our host and brought to my attention the tremendous work the WSC was doing. The importance of wild salmon as the life blood of the enormous North Pacific region really inspired me.”
In 1987 Tom Hansen, along with Craig Jacobson and Walter Teller, formed the law firm now known as HJTHNWRRK&G. Tom’s practice focuses on all aspects of audio-visual content, including the representation of theatrical motion picture and television directors, producers, actors, and writers as well as significant corporate clients.
Tom is a California native who graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. Film Studies in 1975 and University of Southern California Law School, J.D. in 1978, where he served on the Board of Editors of the Southern California Law Review.
He now splits his time between homes in Southern California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.