Meet the Team

Marco Flagg 

Founder and CEO

Desert Star is a remarkable story and a remarkable company, which I have the great privilege of leading.  Powered by a passion for the oceans, getting to where we are meant journeys of science, engineering and exploration to the most remote regions from the bottom of the mid-Atlantic to under the ice in Antarctica.  The dangers at times were potentially deadly, including a great white shark attack stopped cold by our sturdy early gear to submarine emergencies over 2800 fathoms below the seas. Today, our innovation is based on over 25 years of deep insights into 'how things work' in earth's oceans.  I split my time between field work gaining new insights often in partnership with our customers, translation of these insights into new products in our lab and leading our multi-generation company, with now its third generation of owner-operators.  At DSS we can almost certainly advise and answer your questions on matters satellite tagging, underwater acoustic monitoring, the application of acoustic releases in rope-less fishing or to deploy large instrument arrays, underwater precision positioning/surveying, acoustic communication and more.  I urge you to contact our capable team members first for a fast response and am looking forward to assist in making your project a success!  


Jacob Wolf

Director of Sales and Marketing

Desert Star is so much more than a job, its a way of life. I was born in the Midwest and never would have imagined working at such an interesting ocean tech company. Our technology gives fishermen and researchers around the globe the opportunity to fish smarter, research harder, and save money. Whether its a SeaTag tracking marine life, an Acoustic release saving a whales life, or one of our passive recorders showing new insights into marine mammal communication, our technology pushes innovation and insight into the abyss. I graduated with a degree in Non-profit Management, Political Science and a minor in Marketing from the University of Omaha. I originally planned to enter the non-profit world, but found myself consumed and drawn to the enigma that is Desert Star. From an impromptu trip to an international marine mammal conference with Marco, I quickly fell in love with the company and ever since have been inspired to continue pushing science further. 

Going above and beyond since 1992

 Visit Desert Star Systems and you will find a company infused with a passion for science and exploration, cutting edge engineering and quality manufacturing. It is a company where SCUBA classes are offered as a job benefit and a place where testing equipment in the rigors of Antarctica or joining a user for weeks of instrument deployment at sea are considered as essential as understanding the physics of the magnetosphere or knowledge and application of the latest programming environment.

Founded by Marco Flagg in 1992 on the idea of a “buddy finder” for SCUBA divers, our company soon won a SBIR award from NOAA to develop a precision diver tracking and communication capability for the agency’s Aquarius underwater laboratory in Key Largo, FL. This development with its challenging requirement for operation in shallow waters with high background noise levels and extensive reverberations became the basis of an entire line of underwater positioning and communication systems, that continues as a core competency and revenue generator of our company today.

The understanding that the development of effective technology for use in earth’s most extreme environments requires deep personal field expertise was essential to the subsequent development of the FrogEye amphibious camera for the U.S. Special Operations Command. Here, Desert Star’s design team was competed against two manufacturers including Kodak. But based on innovations such as a free-flooded telephoto lens coupled with electron multiplier CCD night vision that allows divers to image distant targets in brief surface intervals, Desert Star became the only team to introduce a production design. FrogEye has since been deployed by multiple allied military and is assigned NATO stock numbers (NSN).

Throughout its history, our company has emphasized hiring a skunk-works like crew, individuals with a variety of often unconventional backgrounds and individuals who might be overlooked in the regular course of hiring, but who come together here to be given the freedom to experiment and create products that are advanced yet tough and practical. Our customers enjoy visiting here and working with us, and they’ve referred to us as the “University of Desert Star” or a tribe on more than one occasion.

Our recent R&D efforts have been concentrated on satellite and other electronic marine animal tags, a field where NOAA, seeking greater innovation and reduced tagging costs, awarded Desert Star Systems another SBIR. Working closely with our science customers, SeaTag devices have introduced earth magnetic field sensing to fix the location of fish beyond the reach of GPS, solar power that supports operation underwater “indefinitely,” and ultra precision sensors that can sense centimeter level changes in depth to depths of hundreds of meters. Here, the modularity of our product line has enabled increasing economies of scale, as we develop and then deploy technologies across an arc of new devices. This is now providing the cost reductions desired by the science community and essential for the increasingly sophisticated and large-scale studies of the behavior of marine animals in complex and changing eco-systems.

Recently, a visiting journalist working on a story about SeaTag observed that our long history of developing technologies for a spectrum of military and science applications may have provided us with “technological overkill” that we are now bringing to bear on the electronic tagging market. This is a statement that points to the future of our company. Nearly twenty years of concentrated effort have provided us with a product and technological portfolio of a much larger organization – one ranging from small high-precision sensor platforms to extensive underwater tracking ranges.

Today, as we are changing operations to prepare for future growth, Desert Star is at an inflection point in its history. Our company’s ultimate value to you, our customers, rests in scaling of our capabilities, in applying our know-how and technology to ever more substantial tasks.

And so, our company’s mission is simple: To help you solve the problems of the future.