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About Us

Mission & Vision

Paua Marine Research Group is dedicated to furthering biological knowledge of coastal habitats and protected species to promote effective management and conservation activities.  We are passionate, collaborative and effective in performing field research and developing high-quality project deliverables.  We aim to become a regionally recognized name in marine research, capitalizing on a consistent need for data and analysis.  Our goal is to get out on the water, answer difficult research questions and have a good time doing it.


Paua Marine Research Group was founded in January 2016 in San Diego, California to provide quality public and private sector marine and estuarine biological consulting services in support of species’ and habitat conservation and effective management in Southern California. We specialize in estuarine and marine intertidal and subtidal ecology, particularly in eelgrass, kelp forest, and soft bottom habitats and protected and/or endangered species such as rockfish and abalone. This work includes the preparation of mitigation and restoration plans and implementation of monitoring strategies for construction and marine resource enhancement programs. As a certified Small Women-owned Business Enterprise (SWBE), we are passionate and have developed strong collaborations with federal and state governmental organizations, academic institutions, non-profits, and other consulting companies in order to provide comprehensive and effective marine resource management strategies to our clients and partners.

Meet Our Team

Amanda Bird

Marine Biologist and Co-Owner


Amanda Bird grew up in Tempe, Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Conservation Biology in 2008. She moved to Orange County, California in early 2009 and worked as Marine Restoration Coordinator for the non-profit, Orange County Coastkeeper, and for Coastal Resources Management, Inc. for six years. During this time, she focused primarily on eelgrass and wetland habitat restoration as well as abalone conservation research. Amanda started a Master’s program at California State University, Fullerton in Fall 2013, which focused on the status of pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) populations in southern California. During her M.S. program, Amanda worked closely with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service on endangered white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) recovery efforts, which has become an important component of our work at PMRG. In her free time, Amanda loves surfing, yoga, rock climbing, and scuba diving. Amanda is certified on both the Megalodon and Hammerhead Closed-Circuit Rebreathers (CCRs).

Adam Obaza

Marine Biologist, Photographer, and Co-Owner

Adam Obaza completed his undergraduate education at the University of Miami, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in both Marine Science and Biology in 2006. He then continued his studies at Florida International University, earning a Master’s Degree in Ecology by modeling fish movement in the Florida Everglades.  In 2009, he moved to Southern California to work as a contractor for NOAA/NMFS on both policy and research issues related to eelgrass, invasive species, abalone, and rockfish in Puget Sound.  Adam subsequently joined PMRG in January of 2017 and has continued work in many of those same areas.  While not at work, Adam enjoys running and underwater photography, though National Geographic isn’t exactly breaking down his door.


Olivia Carmack

Marine Biologist


Olivia Carmack graduated from the University of Southern California in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Marine Biology. Since graduating, Olivia has gained experience working on various marine research projects at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce and The Bay Foundation (TBF). As the Ocean Resiliency program coordinator at TBF, she supported research projects that focused on the restoration of kelp forests, eelgrass beds, and the endangered species, white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni). Olivia joined PMRG in January 2023. She is excited to continue her work on projects in the Southern California region, as well as the rockfish conservation project in Puget Sound, Washington. In her free time, Olivia loves paddling, diving, and hanging out with her niece and nephew, Juniper and Mack.

Rilee Sanders

Marine Biologist, PhD Candidate (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

Rilee Sanders completed his undergraduate education and Master’s degree at the University of Southern California in Environmental Studies and Marine Biology. Subsequently, Rilee worked as a biological fisheries diver for Channel Islands National Park. In 2019, Rilee began his role as a marine project manager for the environmental non-profit, The Bay Foundation, where he focused on kelp restoration, the recovery of endangered abalone species, and seagrass research. Rilee is currently a PhD student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where his research aims to resolve crucial data gaps on eelgrass and inform the efficacy of open-coast seagrass restoration in the Southern California Bight. Rilee joined PMRG in 2022 as a marine biologist and specializes in abalone recovery and seagrass research. You can find Rilee surfing, biking, or exploring all that California has to offer.


Laurel Zahn

Marine Biologist

Laurel_PMRG photo.jpg

Laurel Zahn holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz and an M.S. in Biology from California State University, Long Beach.  Laurel specializes in kelp forest ecology and she has been involved in scuba diving and marine research around southern California since 2007, holding various positions with the Vantuna Research Group at Occidental College, Cal State Long Beach, Reef Check California, and Tidal Influence, among others. She has expanded out into eelgrass research and monitoring over the past five years.  She is also passionate about teaching and spent ten years as an adjunct professor at Occidental College teaching undergraduates about marine biology. Laurel joined PMRG in 2023 and is excited to share her experiences with the team as PMRG continues to grow their conservation goals. Most of Laurel’s ‘free time’ is occupied by being a mom to two energetic mini-humans but she also enjoys swimming, running, gardening and cooking when time allows.

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