May 16, 2014

We have moved!

Come and see our new website and keep up to date on what Save Our Shores is up to.  Follow this link to our new blog location.

April 29, 2014

Plastic-Free Event Challenge #3

Prepping for a beach cleanup with 250 volunteers is no easy task, but Save Our Shores is not afraid of a challenge. 

Photo by Save Our Shores

The Santa Cruz Warriors joined SOS for a big beach cleanup at Seabright Beach on March 15th and we were so excited to invite everyone in the community!  In addition to the time it took for planning the event, there were also many tangible items necessary for the cleanup. We printed hundreds of waivers, packed three cars full of buckets, tables, and other bags filled with cleanup supplies, a sound system, and multiple signs! SOS knew that this was a cleanup like no other! 
Photo by Save Our Shores
A couple weeks prior to the cleanup, SOS helped the Santa Cruz Warriors order reusable water bottles for the first 150 participants.  This was our way of making sure our volunteers were hydrated and saying thank you to all who came out to support the cause.

Excitement and anticipation rose as the day of the cleanup approached. We knew the custom metal water bottles were on their way!  One day, four big boxes packed with reusable water bottles arrived at our office and we opened them to find each bottle wrapped in plastic. Our hearts sank as we started to comprehend the complexity of hosting a entirely plastic-free event. Our shock turned into frustration and immediately we began to realize the foolishness of plastic packaging.
Photo by Save Our Shores
This time we had to focus and think of creative solutions. We brainstormed and decided to use these as a substitute for dog waste bags since we were running low on Mutt Mitts for our beach signs on Seabright Beach and Twin Lakes Beach.

Large Beach Cleanup: Plastic Slip-ups
     Reusable water bottles came packaged in plastic bags...reused for dog waste bags!
     Blue tarps for cleanup teams were wrapped in plastic

Suggestions for Buying From Companies:
     Request the company you purchase from to not use plastic packaging material for items that are ordered and shipped to SOS

     When contacting companies use email tagline similar to: “Each and everyday is a plastic free day at Save Our Shores”

-Kim Marks, Save Our Shores Program Intern

April 28, 2014

MPA Mondays: Point Lobos

Photo by Denis Lincoln
Point Lobos, the "crown jewel" of California's State Parks, is one of our most treasured Marine Protected Areas on the Central Coast.  Named for the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos (Point of the Sea Wolves), where you can hear the barks of the California Sea Lions who call this area home, Point Lobos is a place of wonder.

Point Lobos is an area rich with local fishing history.  A few of the original buildings still stand today, you can even visit a cabin used to house workers from an old whaling station that operated from 1862 to 1879. 

"The Carmel Bay Whaling Company was operated by a group of Portuguese seamen from 1862 until 1879. In California there were only 16 shore whaling stations between 1854 and 1900, with only about 300 men involved."-Point Lobos State Park Webite

Where visitors now park, an abalone cannery once operated.

"Around 1899, a young marine biologist from Japan, Gennosuke Kodani, and recent land owner, Alexander Allan established an abalone cannery which was located at what is now the Whalers Cove parking area. The cannery was so successful it eventually accounted for 75% of the abalone sold in California. It stayed in operation until 1928, and was dismantled in 1933 when the property became a state reserve." -Point Lobos State Park Webite

Point Lobos is well known for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging.  Not to mention every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are many rare plants, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea which made it an ideal place to protect.

In September of 2007, Point Lobos became a Marine Protected Area to provide a safe sanctuary for the abundance of biodiversity underwater.

Photo by
The red part of the map above shows the State Marine Reserve where there is no fishing or harvesting allowed of any kind.  The blue section in the map shows the State Marine Conservation Area where take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational and commercial take of salmon, albacore and commercial take of spot prawn. 

Photo by Jim Patterson
Point Lobos is a very popular place for local scuba divers.  Recently, a few divers had an amazing encounter with an octopus.  If you are interested in going, be sure to make a reservation before you go.

If you are enchanted with this special place, plan an adventure to Point Lobos State Park, you will not be disappointed!

April 24, 2014

San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban Gets the Green Light from the Supreme Court

Last week the City of San Francisco won a long standing battle against the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition in the Supreme Court to move forward with their plastic bag ban.  

San Francisco led the way in 2007 with the first plastic bag ban in the country, eliminating plastic bags at large grocery stores.  However, they did not charge a fee for paper bags which led to an increase in paper bags and got the attention of the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition.  The coalition claims that paper bags "take more energy to produce than plastic, leading to an increase in greenhouse gases, and occupy more space in landfills." (  With the increase in use of paper bags, they demanded a full environmental review.  "The city contended no such review was needed because the ordinance was environmentally benign, an argument that prevailed in court." (

Since 2007, San Francisco added a $0.10 fee to paper bags and extended the ordinance to include all retail stores and restaurants as of October, 2013.  The fee on paper bags creates an incentive to bring your own bag which is much better than either paper or plastic.  

SOS commends the Supreme Court for this decision and we look forward to advocating for more plastic bag bans in California.  

April 23, 2014

Grocery Store Challenge

Photo by
Shopping plastic’s definitely easier said than done! Employees at Save Our Shores have had to become creative shoppers at our local grocery stores in order to avoid making plastic purchases. Finding items without plastic is incredibly challenging if you haven’t tried already! I’ve discovered that the two aisles with the least amount of plastic are usually the produce aisle (minus the produce bags) and where the bulk items are (minus their containers). They’re my favorite aisles to head to if I want to make trail mix or have fresh veggies and fruit for myself at home, but they’re not so great for hosting large events. The price starts to add up quickly if you’re hosting an event of fifteen plus people. Let’s be honest, one bowl of trail mix with chocolate covered goodies and other fun surprises will definitely be gone within the first five minutes. Especially if I’m there! 

On February 26th, 2014, Save Our Shores hosted Marc Shargel as one of our public speakers at the Sanctuary Exploration Center. It was an awesome event to not only learn more about the history of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, but a chance for our staff to celebrate our environment with guests and volunteers too! We had pizza donated by Pizza My Heart, beer donated by Ninkasi, and snack items from Staff of Life. Everything was delicious and for the most part recyclable, except for one item. One little slip-up prevented us from having the title of plastic free…Tortilla chips! They’re such a yummy and easy snack to bring to events, but are incredibly difficult to find without some type of plastic on their bag! Curse you little plastic window panes!

We ended up purchasing tortilla chips in a brown bag (yes! we thought it was recyclable) but with a closer look the bag had a clear plastic window right on front. Later we found out that the bag was recyclable (yay!), but the plastic window pane had to be cut out and thrown away. That’s okay though! This is all just a part of the learning process. After doing some digging into plastic free tortilla chip bags we found that you can order them in bulk from Staff of Life (PLU#131) ahead of time! 

Becoming plastic free doesn't happen in one day. It’s a process that will take time. We will keep track of the plastic that we accidentally use at SOS events and based on our data, we will be able to see which alternative solutions worked and where adjustments should be made. With that in mind, we bid adieu to the tortilla chips with their plastic window pane bags and say hello to whatever clever food combinations we come up with next! 

Plastic-free Food Suggestions for Large Events:
Pizza (Homemade or without the white plastic table top in the box from restaurants)
Snack Mixes from the bulk aisle 
Homemade pastries or desserts 
Beverages in glass jars (ie. Water, Juices, etc.) 

Photo: Associated Press

-Bronti Patterson, SOS Program Intern

April 22, 2014

Has Fukushima radiation reached our beaches yet?

Hear what credible scientists have to say about the safety of our shores and discuss the actions we should take to prevent nuclear disaster in the future.

When: Thursday, April 24 at 7 pm 
Where: The Center for Spiritual Living, 1818 Felt St., Santa Cruz

Presented by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom of Santa Cruz

Speaker: Dr. Kai Vetter, Co-founder of Kelp Watch; Head Applied Nuclear Physics Program, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will speak about what we know, if we need to worry, and what we can do.  

Speaker: Dan Hirsch, Lecturer on Nuclear Policy at UCSC, President of the nonprofit nuclear policy organization Committee to Bridge the Gap (between nuclear dangers and a sustainable future) will speak on what we should and can do about Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Followed by a discussion on possible actions we can take.

Moderator: Dan Haifley, Exec. Director of O’Neill’s Sea Odyssey, 2011 Save Our Shores “Ocean Hero" and environmental activist.  

Co-Sponsors: Save Our Shores, Santa Cruz Sierra Club, Desal Alternatives
This community program is free. Donations are welcome. For more information or transportation, please call 831-246-4440,  

April 19, 2014

Local Volunteers Clean Monterey Bay Hotspots for Earth Day

Earth Day Cleanups a Huge Success with 316 Volunteers and over 1,500 lbs of trash!

Volunteer fills out her data card at the
San Lorenzo River cleanup at Water Street Bridge
SOS hosted five cleanups around the Monterey Bay and, with the help of 316 volunteers, prevented 1,505 pounds of trash and debris from polluting our waterways! The most common item found was cigarette butts.  Volunteers also found 2 television sets, a tricycle, a bag full of horse hair, 19 tires and 2 mattresses at Elkhorn Slough.  Volunteers at the Tannery by the San Lorenzo River found a heater and a roll of plastic sheeting.  Last year’s Earth Day cleanup volunteers removed 665 pounds of trash at just three sites.  This year we saw an increase in both sites and total trash removed with five sites and over 1,500 pounds of trash.

19 tires found at Elkhorn Slough cleanup
The Earth Day Cleanup is one of the largest community efforts of the year on the Central Coast. SOS is thrilled to have increased the Earth Day Cleanup effort by adding the Triple M Ranch site in Elkhorn Slough. The four remaining locations were Cowell and Main Beach, the San Lorenzo River from Water Street bridge to Soquel Street bridge, the San Lorenzo River behind the Tannery on River Street and Del Monte Beach in Monterey.

Elkhorn Slough at Triple M Ranch was the dirtiest site with over 800 pounds of waste.  Properties bordering the Elkhorn Slough are impacted by a high amount of illegal dumping.  SOS has been collaborating with local organizations to raise awareness about this fragile ecosystem and the harm that trash can have on marine life.  The San Lorenzo River at Water Street Bridge came in second with 257 pounds.  

“I was the most shocked when we rolled a jumbo TV out of a ditch right next to the gorgeous riparian marshland.  I am grateful to ALBA, the Marine Mammal Center and ESF for combining forces and removing so much waste.” said Rachel Kippen, Program Manager at Save Our Shores who lead the Elkhorn Slough site.

Thank you to the to all our partners including ALBA, The Marine Mammal Center, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Whole Foods, The Tannery Arts Center, REI and Lindsay Jackson for their assistance in making this event a huge success.

Art Pitts helps out by hauling in trash from the
San Lorenzo River behind the Tannery on River Street
Needles found at the San Lorenzo River at the
Tannery on River Street
Sara Hutto volunteering at the Cowell and Main Beach cleanup today