Ken obtained his Bachelor's degree in Zoology in 1963 from UC Davis and soon after was employed by the US government as Field Biologist GS5-7, first in Eastern Pacific large whale research and later in Central Pacific marine bird research. During the Vietnam era, he was a commissioned US Navy pilot and oceanographic specialist. He then did his graduate studies at UC Santa Cruz with Dr. Ken Norris, the world-famous marine mammal biologist. While a graduate student, Ken conducted Humpback whale research in the North Atlantic with colleague Dr. Steve Katona and taught marine biology aboard r/v Regina Maris for Dr. George Nichols of ORES and Harvard University.
Ken is a pioneer in photo-identification of cetaceans and is the founder of Orca Survey (1976), a study of Pacific Northwest Southern Resident killer whales (orcas). He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985 and is its volunteer Executive Director and NWFSC contract Principal Investigator of Orca Survey. Ken is a Charter Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy.