Meet The Condor Express Crew

Hiroko Benko - President

Hiroko Benko Condor Express Whale Watching

Hiroko is the president of the Condor Express, known to some as "the Commodore." She launched Condor Express Whale Watching in 2002 with her late husband, Captain Fred. Hiroko brings a wealth of knowledge in many fields - foreign service, international relations, administration and management. She has worked around the world: Tokyo, Sweden, Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara. Hiroko's focus is to continually improve the Condor Express experience and to seek exciting and new charter cruise experiences.

Dave - Captain

Captain Dave Condor Express Whale Watching

Captain Dave is an "Ocean State" native and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He has worked in the field of marine mammal research, rescue and rehabilitation for over twenty years. He works all over the world as marine mammal consultant, research and rescue team leader, including Japan and the Galapagos Islands. He is our crew member responsible for reporting and coordinating the rescue of entangled whales and dolphins. Dave is also an accomplished videographer and underwater cinematographer. His credits include National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and many Cousteau feature films. Dave brings his extensive marine mammal experience and love for the ocean aboard every trip, and he is a great Captain.

Colton - Captain

Captain Colton Condor Express Whale Watching

Captain Colton was born in Oxnard, CA and is a complete water child, whether he is working on it, surfing, or taking out his own boats. He started sailing at a young age and captained many boats through the years, both running charters and giving lessons. He took his captain classes and final test with our other 2nd captain, Tasha. This is how he met the rest of the crew of the Condor Express. Colton studied Communication and loves the tourism industry. He enjoys informing people about the wild life that surrounds him on a daily basis, as well as the top places to eat, drink, and where to go to explore the town.

Devin - Deckhand

Devin Condor Express Whale Watching

Devin works as a deckhand and also helps in the Condor Cafe. Originally from Sacramento, he moved to Santa Barbara in pursuit of a degree in Marine Biology. He has acquired a respectable breadth of knowledge pertaining to the local marine ecology and fisheries through his education. He has spent time as a rescue diver, free diver, and is an avid spear fisherman. He also has had several years of experience working in the recreational maritime industry before joining the crew of the Condor Express.

Bob - Crew

Bob Condor Express Whale Watching

Bob is the staff photographer on board the Condor Express. He is a Loyola University alum, with graduate studies at UCLA. He has taught biology and marine science at the high school and college level. He is a retired 100-ton charter boat Captain and Master SCUBA Instructor. His photographs and articles have been published in many marine life publications. Bob is married has a son, a daughter and a grandson.

Fred Benko - Captain (1939-2013)

Fred Benko Condor Express Whale Watching

Fred was the founder and creator of the Condor Express Whale Watching. He was a United States Marine, a Vietnam veteran, and a graduate of George Washington University. Originally from Ohio, Fred was in the local sport-fishing industry as far back as 1973, and in 1979 built the original Condor. In 2002, he started exclusively running natural history and whale watching trips. He had the Condor Express custom-built to provide the best and safest ocean tours in the world. Fred was very active in the community and served on the boards of many civic institutions. He remains an inspiration to all of us.