June 28, 2011

Marine Protected Areas - Our Underwater State Parks

Here on California's Central Coast, we are lucky to have a number of beneficial environmental protections that were put into place to preserve our natural environment and/or promote our wildlife. The Central Coast Marine Protected Areas are one of them.

In 2007, 29 Marine Protected Areas were established for the Central Coast, otherwise known as MPAs. Of these 29 areas, 13 are State Marine Reserves, 13 are State Marine Conservation Areas, 2 are State Marine Parks, and 1 is a State Marine Recreational Management Area. Together, these MPAs account for 18% of the marine environment included in the area known as the Central Coast region of MPAs.

Many would be surprised to learn that some of their favorite natural places are actually included in the Central Coast MPAs, such as Ano Nuevo, Natural Bridges State Park, Elkhorn Slough, the Monterey Peninsula, and the beautiful Big Sur coastline.

A trip to Ano Nuevo State Park in the winter months has the power to get just about anyone thinking about marine protections and wildlife of the Central Coast. With the largest breeding colony of northern elephant seals in the US, Ano Nuevo has become a safe haven for these endangered species, and onlookers just might never be the same after their first experience with the elephant seals there. The waters of Ano Nuevo also host a large concentration of great white sharks (look out, elephant seal pups!), attract sea lions and harbor seals, and support amazing tidepools along the shoreline that house more than 300 species of invertebrates!

South of Santa Cruz lies another natural wonder of the Central Coast: Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn Slough is a Marine Protected Area, specifically a State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area, and includes the adjacent Moro Cojo Slough State Marine Reserve. This environment is breathtaking any time of the year, but receives many visitors during the warmer months who are eager to get out on a kayak and experience the plethora of species that call Elkhorn Slough home. This estuary is one of the few coastal wetlands remaining in the state of California, second in size to San Francisco Bay.

We hope you'll support your local MPAs by paying them a visit this year!

Save Our Shores has been educating the public about MPAs for some time, including gathering signatures to support MPAs in other regions of the state like Southern and Northern California. We have also given nature walks at Natural Bridges State Parks on the topic of MPAs, and continue to educate our youth in the classrooms about these important marine protections.

June 16, 2011

Join Hands Across the Sand on Sat, June 25th to say NO to Offshore Oil Drilling

Unite Against Offshore Oil Drilling

Hands Across the Sand is a grassroots movement of citizens, business owners, and elected officials uniting on beaches worldwide to support CLEAN ENERGY NOW and to say NO TO OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING.

Meet us at Cowell/Main Beach on Saturday, June 25th at 11:30am where we will gather and join hands at 12 Noon to unite against offshore oil drilling.

The Santa Cruz community and all those in favor of clean energy, a healthy marine environment, and the end to offshore oil drilling are encouraged to attend this worldwide, annual event.

Hands Across The Sand 2010 was the largest international protest against offshore oil drilling in the history of the world, where participants gathered in all 50 states and in 43 countries to support clean energy. This is not a political movement; it is about the protection of our coastal economies, our oceans, our marine wildlife and fisheries. The accidents that continue to happen in offshore oil drilling are a threat to the future of all life on this planet, and expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer. The time for clean energy is now.

Join Hands Across The Sand at 11:30am on Saturday, June 25th on Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz to take part in history in the making. Unite against offshore oil drilling with Save Our Shores and Surfrider Santa Cruz.

June 9, 2011

We Want YOU to Volunteer for Clean Beaches this July 4th and 5th!

Join forces with the I Heart Clean Beaches Crew to spread the positive Clean Beaches message over the busy Fourth of July holiday. Here's how:

You'll hit the beaches from 1-5pm to educate beach-goers how to properly dispose of and recycle their trash while handing out trash and recycling bags. In 2010, Save Our Shores volunteers handed out 1,600 bags to beach-goers!

In Santa Cruz:
  • Davenport Main Beach
  • Panther Beach
  • Main.Cowell Beach
  • Seabright State Beach
  • Moran Lake Beach
  • Seacliff/Rio Del Mar Beach

In Monterey:

  • Del Monte Beach/Wharf #2
  • Monterey State Beach
  • Carmel Beach

Why do we do it? Year after year, traditions of fireworks, picnics, and the long, beach-going Fourth of July holiday weekend leaves our beautiful beaches completely trashed and polluted, harming marine life and public health.

In 2008, in addition to our annual July 5th beach cleanup, we launched our Pollution Prevention is Patriotic efforts on July 4th. We're pleased to report our efforts are working! Because our volunteers now hand out thousands of trash and recycling bags on our beaches every 4th of July and spread the Pollution Prevention message, we've seen a steep decline in the amount of trash found polluting our beaches during our July 5th Star Spangled Beach Cleanups.

Last year, our July 5th volunteers removed 3,150 lbs. of pollution from just 6 Santa Cruz beaches in 3 hours. It's essential we work together to Take Action for pollution prevention this holiday weekend.

June 8, 2011

Statewide Styrofoam Ban Passes Senate, Move to Assembly for Next Vote

Were excited to report that the California State Senate passed SB 568 last week, the bill to ban polystyrene (Styrofoam) take-out containers state-wide. This important bill passed on a bipartisan 21-15 vote and now heads to the State Assembly.

Save Our Shores has been advocating on behalf of SB 568 for months. We urge all those concerned about the health of our oceans and the plastic pollution plaguing our waterways to Take Action to support SB 568 as it moves to the State Assembly.

Fifty jurisdictions in California have already banned styrofoam take-out containers, including Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and Santa Monica. Lets work together to pass a uniform, state-wide ban by the end of this year!

Why ban polystyrene take-out containers in California?
  • In most cities, polystyrene cannot be recycled and it is never compostable.
  • Polystyrene never fully biodegrades and thus easily become litter, costing communities economically and environmentally.
  • Not only do marine species commonly mistake floating pieces of Styrofoam for food, but workers involved in the polystyrene manufacturing process are exposed to toxic chemicals that increase risks of lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, and numerous other forms of cancer.
  • Our public health is at risk! The carcinogenic chemical Styrene used in polystyrene take-out containers migrates from container to food and beverage when heat, acidity, or fatty foods are involved.
  • In California, 50 cities and counties have already enacted their own bans on polystyrene (Styrofoam) take-out containers.
  • Save Our Shores strongly supports this important piece of legislation because it will help keep this problematic piece of pollution off of our beaches and out of our ocean and watersheds where it continually harms marine life and the ocean food chain.

Our environment & marine species are completely inundated with polystyrene (Styrofoam). YOU can help stop this unnecessary form of plastic pollution from reaching our oceans & watersheds by Taking Action to support SB 568 today!

Brown Pelicans of the Central Coast Starving for Food

On the evening of June 1st, Laura Kasa, Executive Director of Save Our Shores, and Margaret Collins, owner of Kayak Connection in Santa Cruz, were playing beach volleyball as usual on the courts of Main Beach adjacent to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Something out of the ordinary caught their attention: a brown pelican searching for food, literally poking through bags looking for anything that might help quench it's starvation. Security staff from the Boardwalk attempted to remove and 'shoo' the pelican, but it just crossed the street and continued on its course.

Laura called Native Animal Rescue (NAR) to report the pelican and receive instructions from Molly, the Director of NAR, on how to properly handle the bird and bring it in to their facility. The pair grabbed a blanket from Margaret's car, went back to the pelican, and dropped the blanked over it so it became still. They then picked up the bird and put it in the car and drove it over to Native Animal Rescue on 17th Avenue in Santa Cruz.

The pelican was checked out at the facility and was found to be severely underweight. NAR said three other pelicans in the same condition were recently brought in, and that normally these pelicans do not come to our area until late August. The reason they are here now is because they are searching for food, unable to find enough fish and nutrition at sea.

Native Animal Rescue fed the starving brown pelican and requested a volunteer to drive the birds up to Fairfield, CA, where the International Bird Rescue facility treats the birds and then releases them back into the wild in areas more abundant with food.

For information on how to handle a wild animal in distress and bring it to the Native Animal Rescue facility, or to support or volunteer for NAR, please visit their website: http://www.nativeanimalrescue.org/