From field biology to veterinary medicine to wildlife rescue, Brooke Bessesen has spent a lifetime learning from animals. Every connection has shaped her. Indeed, she holds among her closet friends a gibbon ape, a wild mourning dove, and a wonder dog named Malki.
Brooke earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She has conducted marine studies in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, where she photo-identified bottlenose dolphins and led a scientific paper reporting lacaziosis-like disease in the population (Bessesen et al. 2014). Her data also showed Golfo Dulce being utilized as a birthing area and nursery for humpback whales from both northern and southern hemispheres (Bessesen 2015) and as a resting and feeding area for migrating Pacific green sea turtles (Bessesen & Saborío-R. 2012). Most remarkably, her distribution maps revealed an isolated colony of all-yellow pelagic sea snakes (Bessesen 2012)—after a morphology and behavior study, Hydrophis platurus xanthos was described as a new taxon (Bessesen & Galbreath 2017).
"Bessesen became interested in the yellow sea snake while surveying the biodiversity of the gulf in 2010. The region, she discovered, is a crucial habitat for many creatures, such as endangered green sea turtles." —Newsweek
Bringing her love of wildlife to the writing table, Brooke strives to make science accessible to readers of all ages. In addition to Vaquita, she authored the Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide and five children's books, including Look Who Lives in the Ocean. She has been honored with a Celebrate Literacy Award from the International Literacy Association, as well as a Glyph Award, Judy Goddard Award, and Grand Canyon Reader Award nomination. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the founder and director of Authors for Earth Day (A4ED), an international coalition of award-winning authors who mentor young readers through special conservation-focused school visits.
"With her in-depth experience visiting with and educating young people, Brooke Bessesen truly understands their almost-innate passion for nature, saying 'They are both environmentalists and idealists, so they are just the kind of crusaders we need to combat the challenges of our changing world,'" —Earth Day Network
Brooke is also a certified veterinary technician. She worked at the Phoenix Zoo and now deploys as a senior rescue responder on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Global Animal Rescue & Response Team. She lives in Arizona with her husband, Kevin, in Arizona.