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Science, Exploration, Defense

Desert Star Systems LLC is an Underwater Technology Manufacturer located in Monterey Bay, California (Marina, CA).

Coordinates: 36º 40.667’N 121º 45.716’W

We manufacture electronic animal tags, passive acoustic recorders, acoustic releases, SCUBA diver homing systems, underwater positioning systems and a host of other equipment. We employ about 20 people…have a full staff of engineers, production assemblers, customer support, and sales/marketing crew to help in all of your needs. Desert Star Systems is fully owned and operated by its employees!

All of our products are Made in America, here in Marina, California. Engineering, design, and final assembly is in-house. Our product lines are optimized for large sample size applications at affordable costs. Not just our technology but our business methods pave the way for enabling our customers to achieve scientific relevance through high volume, low prices, and advanced technology.



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Going Above & 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.