Our Mission & Our Team
SMELTS is a non-profit located in Washington State. We are creating Marine Mammal Interaction prevention technologies.
Our focus is on eliminating entanglement in active fishing gear of large whales, pinnipeds, endangered sea turtles and basking sharks. We are also invested in the reduction of bycatch from Abandoned, Lost, Derelict Fishing Gear (ALDFG). We strive to educate our community on human interaction with sensitive groups of at risk species.
Please take a moment and check out our Line-Less Crab & Lobster Raft. Also check out our Marine Mammal Collision Avoidance, this is another way we are trying to conserve the health and well being of whales.
A word from
our SMELTS Captain...
"My name is Richard Riels, I am the founder of SMELTS (Sea Mammal Education Learning and Technology Society).
I am an engineer by trade and hold a position here at SMELTS as the Executive Director and VP of Research and Development.
My passion has always been the wilderness, the ocean and all its wild creatures.
My love for these majestic creatures of the ocean has driven me to use my engineering education to develop human interaction prevention technologies."
— Richard Riels, Executive Director
Our team is comprised of engineers, designers, and sailors. Meet the SMELTS team:
CAPTAIN RICHARD RIELS // Executive Director & VP of Research and Development
Captain Richard is the Founder of SMELTS. He has BSc in Industrial Technology and a post baccalaureate degree from Western Washington University Vehicle Research Institute (VRI).
Richard led a team of engineers to build an award winning hybrid electric vehicle. He attended Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA and earned an AAS in mechanical technology. He has completed Marine Naturalist training at the Whale Museum and the Center for Whale Research and is a USCG certified 100 Ton captain.
Richard has completed an apprenticeship training for large whale disentanglement with The Center For Coastal Studies in Massachusetts supported by NOAA . He also received training from Vancouver Aquarium on Stellar Sea lion darting and disentanglement.
Richard currently volunteers as a marine mammal stranding and entanglement responder with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Though he is an engineer by trade, Richard’s passion has always been the wilderness, the ocean and all wild creatures. He founded SMELTS with the vision of merging his acumen for engineering with his passion for environmental stewardship, combining both to develop human interaction prevention technologies.
He has teamed up with two colleagues, Daniel Greenberg and David Orsatti, bringing together a collective knowledge of mechanics, engineering, animal health, and rescue strategies. Together the team is developing a Line-Less Crab & Lobster Raft with the goal of helping fishermen reduce the number of lost pots while simultaneously reducing the amount of animal injury and death from line entanglements. He is a resident of Bellingham Washington, moving to this area from Plymouth Massachusetts 24 years ago to attend WWU.
Ann marie Riels // President
Ann Marie is the Co-Founder of SMELTS. Her background is in mangement and bookkeeping. Ann Marie performs as the lead on SMELTS board and she is co-responible for the daily operations of the organization. Ann Marie has a passion for all animals and is dedicated to conservation and good stewardship of the enviorment.
DANIEL GREENBERG // Lead Engineer & developer:
Daniel, an engineer by trade and graduate from Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute (WWU VRI), has returned to Bellingham WA after extensive work in the alternative energy field. Teaching engineering courses as an Adjunct Professor at WWU VRI and assisting development of Waste to Energy systems in Whatcom County, Daniel has utilized his disciplines to assist the community. Formerly Director of Engineering and Product Development for AlumiFuel Power Inc (formerly Hydrogen Power Inc), Director of Engineering for Applied Filter Technology (BioGas processing), working as a technician at the Freightliner Truck’s Manufacturing Engineering /Prototype Development Shop and as a Field Service Engineer at XCELLSiS/Ballard Fuel Cells, Daniel brings proven hands-on project management, technology development, systems integration and product development tools to the team.
DAVID ORSATTI // Director of Marine Mammal Rescue
David lives in Bellingham Washington where he graduated from Western Washington University with an Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Degree in Prehospital Care and Wilderness Rescue. David has worked for the National Park Service and Petroleum Industry as an emergency responder and instructor in emergency medicine, high-angle rescue, confined space rescue and search management. David also volunteered with the Chuckanut Fire Dept, Bellingham Mountain Rescue Council and the Mount Baker Ski Patrol throughout the 1990s and 2000’s. After many years of professional and volunteer work in human rescue, David has shifted his focus to marine mammal rescue and marine debris prevention.
David currently volunteers as a pinniped stranding and entanglement responder with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network. He attended an apprenticeship training in large whale disentanglement at the Center for Coastal Studies and is continuing to build the knowledge and credentials required to safely help entangled whales and pinnipeds. At SMELTS, David is helping to create a rescue team and maintain a response vessel that assists with a wide range of marine mammal research and rescue. He also contributes to the design and testing of marine debris reduction technology. David has experience with assisting a Leading marine manufacturer in design and sales of custom electrical panels. His experience in electrical design and manufacturing are utilized to help SMELTS develop new technology for debris prevention and marine mammal rescue.