header image

Cynthia Matzke

Cynthia Matzke

Principal Scientist & Videographer

Citizenship: American
San Diego, California

Cynthia Matzke is a marine ecologist, professor and documentarian with a passion for exploring remote ocean ecosystems, from tropical reefs to the Earth’s poles. A lifelong love of filming whales and sharks has brought her eye-to-eye with some rare species in unusual places.

First joining Sedna for the 2018 Greenland Arctic expedition, Ms. Matzke started gathering whale video and acoustic recordings in 2006, and she is now is the Sedna Science Team Leader for the Norway Whale Expeditions in 2019 and 2020. In line with her research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, working with these Sedna teams they will capture and analyze bioacoustic signals from humpbacks and orcas feeding upon herring, as well as documenting marine pollution within the ecosystem.

humpback whale calf

Curious humpback whale calf off Maui approaches to check out the videographer.

Cynthia is also active in the non-profit sector and is currently the Managing Director for the Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans. She founded the documentary production group Spiral Pacific, which shares underwater recordings from her expeditions around the globe with scientists, students, educators and artists. The aim is that by seeing through her lens how human activity is threatening marine life, their collective work will inspire people to better protect our oceans.

With a background in journalism, Ms. Matzke worked for NBC Universal and on numerous independent documentaries for over a decade as a writer, producer and underwater videographer. She graduated from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2014 with a focus on Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. As an Associate Professor she teaches multidisciplinary courses in marine biology and research communications fused with art at UC San Diego and NewSchool of Architecture + Design. Ocean science communication is in her blood.

CYNTHIA MATZKEA love of researching aboard sailboats has led her over 10,000 nautical miles across both the Eastern and Western Pacific Gyres to quantify plastic pollution, and deep into the Caribbean to study dolphin communication. She gained navigation experience crewing aboard a traditional Hawaiian canoe round-trip from Oahu to Kauai to document the resurgence of the Polynesian Voyaging Culture. Bringing her experiences from the field into the classroom, Ms. Matzke creates dynamic STEM curricula for students grades K – 16. After studying humpback whales off Maui for NOAA, and orcas in the Pacific Northwest, she is excited to leverage her previous research techniques and tie them into her Sedna Norway field research.

Branching off from traditional classroom learning, Cynthia understands the importance of remembering ancient wisdom and seeks out native voices on matters of sustainability. She is an Explorers Club Fellow, 5 Gyres Expert Ambassador, Climate Science Alliance Partner, and a PADI scuba instructor qualified to teach several unique specialties. Her work with Sedna ties together the breadth of her skills and interests, ultimately fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Kids learning from Cynthia

Associated links:





Email Cynthia: cynthia.matzke@gmail.com