Staff and volunteers

At the risk of inadvertently omitting someone critical, we present here some of the current Cape Lookout Studies Program’s most consistent and long-term leaders/supporters. For more complete lists, visit the Thank You page.

Keith Rittmaster

Keith Rittmaster

NC Maritime Museum’s Natural Science Curator directs the Cape Lookout Studies Program.   He and his wife Vicky Thayer began regional dolphin photo-ID and marine mammal stranding response in 1985, cetacean skeletal rearticulations in 1993, the “Protect Wild Dolphins” license plate in 2002, and the NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program in 2007.
Click here to e-mail Keith
Click here to download Keith’s résumé (PDF).

Nan Bowles

Nan Bowles

Nan, working with Keith and Vicky since 1992, maintains the local bottlenose dolphin ID catalog of approximately 1,200 individuals. Nan collaborates and shares photos/data with other researchers on the coast to study migratory patterns and endpoints, associations, reproduction, and mortality.
Click here to e-mail Nan.

Haywood HoldernessHaywood Holderness

Friend, advisor, cheerleader, neighbor at Cape Lookout. Put the fun in fundraising. Takes a leadership role in sustaining the Cape Lookout Studies Program during hard times. Thank you for our research vessel “Spyhop” and so much more! Shown on the left in photo with friends/collaborators Sam Bryan and John Atkins.

Bud Doughton

Mentor on the water and beaches of Cape Lookout.  Bud can create and fix anything from whatever is available.  A passionate leader in generating support.


Vicky Thayer

The regional point person for the NC Marine Mammal Stranding Network, she keeps us flush with excitement, challenges, and cetacean specimens. In fundraising, science, conservation, and education, Vicky is a leader in all aspects of the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

Hugh Wilde

helped build the Cape Lookout Studies Program from its inception. His skill and wisdom on the water, his passion for marine/coastal wildlife, his eye on safety, and his sense of humor enhances all aspects of our work.

John Russell

John drives boats, matches fins, does carpentry and painting for displays and office maintenance, generates supports, co-authors publications, replicates whale bones, and teaches us all about chemistry.

Kim Merrels

Kim contributes many hours keeping our dolphin photo-ID data and catalogs accurate, organized, and backed up. We learn from her kindness and generosity. Kim leads our celebrations too!


Carl Spangler

Never one to miss an adventure or opportunity to be helpful, Carl’s talent and thoughtfulness on boats and beaches enhances all aspects of our work.



Tom Kirmeyer

Spontaneous, generous, and kind, Tom can figure out how to do anything with whatever is available.



Josh Summers

keeps us motivated and laughing. Always eager to help, day or night. He applies his talent, energy, knowledge, common sense, and passion to all we do and dream. Josh likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Jim Thullen

Jim is consistently eager to spontaneously take a leadership role in some of our most challenging and least rewarding tasks. His kindness, generosity, and passion prevail.

Bruce & Pudge McCutcheon

With wisdom, joy, humor, kindness, and generosity, Bruce and Pudge figure out what to do, find the resources to do it, and get it done.  There’s no aspect of the program that is not enhanced by their participation. Bruce and Pudge provide inspiration, talent, nourishment, and lead our celebrations!

Christine Brin

From cleaning gutters to moving dead whales, Christine shies away from nothing.


Paul Nader

Quality checker behind our cetacean skeletal work.  Students, citizens, colleagues, and wildlife benefit from his passion.


Karen Hattman

A brilliant and passionate artist/crafter who makes doing things better fun and rewarding.  Her health care skills have been handy more often than we should admit.



Brooks beautifully combines science, art, joy, humor, and wonder.  Brooks was the initial inspiration and talent behind the “Spyhop Blog”, and is shown here as the creator of “shadowhammering”.

David Brown

David thoughtfully measures twice and cuts once with a consistent eye on safety.  He holds the record for the most monofilament fishing line collected.


Paula Dailey

Consistently and enthusiastically shows up on short notice to assist with anything on boats, beaches, offices, and labs.


Mary Hunnings

Mary is spontaneous, enthusiastic, and helpful on boats as well as in the office and lab.  Gives thoughtful attention to quality and details. Mary cleans and quantifies the recycled fishing line.


Dick Barmore

Dick takes a leadership role in the NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program. His kindness and skills with cameras and tools are always appreciated.


Elizabeth White

Elizabeth is always eager to help on beaches, boats, and labs. Her joy, patience, and jigsaw puzzle skills really stood out with the Bonehenge project.


Nelson & Patti Owens

Nelson and Patti’s common sense, business/marketing sense, generosity, web genius, photographic skills, and talent on the water enhance all aspects of our work.

Vic & Lora Fasolino

Vic and Lora jump at any opportunity to assist with hauling, planning, engineering, and skillful craftsmanship. Most notably is the construction of the pole barn “Bonehenge” and the design of the proposed “NC Cetacean Center”.