November 29, 2011

The Rewarding Life of a SOS Sanctuary Steward, by Curtis Luckado

Guest blog post by Curtis Luckado, Sanctuary Steward Class of 2011

"I had three goals for the summer of 2011. Do something that would benefit my local community, be outdoors as much as possible, and hopefully learn something in the process. The Save Our Shores Sanctuary Steward program allowed me to achieve all three.

The weekly classroom lectures in early spring not only educated me about the many threats to our Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its marine life, but about the threats to marine life and oceans around the world. I learned about the dangers that plastic bags and Styrofoam pose to marine life, and was provided with avenues to proactively participate in the process of having them banned in my community.

But it wasn’t until I was out of the Steward classroom and onto our local beaches that the true value of being part of Save Our Shores became shockingly clear. I participated in beach and river cleanups in which literally hundreds of pounds of trash and recyclables were collected. I walked the docks volunteering for the SOS DockWalker program talking to local boaters about the dangers of oil spills and providing free clean up materials, and I even participated in school presentations in which the importance of recycling was passed on to grade school children.

The most fulfilling moment for me as a Save Our Shores Steward was on the 4th of July. As I walked around the beach passing out trash and recycling bags, all while encouraging beach goers to pack their trash, I was told on numerous occasions how much my efforts were appreciated, and how thankful they were for my being there.

I had a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I saw those same bags being removed from our beaches full of trash that would have otherwise been left on the beach."

Written by Curtis Luckado

In early 2011, Curtis accumulated so many volunteer hours in such a short amount of time, that we bought him a cake and thanked him for his hard work on behalf of our ocean. Curtis continues to remain one of the most active Sanctuary Stewards today, and we are oh so lucky to have him on team Save Our Shores!

Learn more about the Sanctuary Steward program and apply online today!

November 9, 2011

Celebrating Over Three Years of Marine Protections around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Do you ever wonder what’s happening to protect marine life here on the Central Coast?

Or how we’re going to revitalize depleted fish populations for future generations?

They’re called Marine Protected Areas, our underwater state parks.

For the past three years, twenty-nine different Marine Protected Areas have been set aside in local waters to conserve essential marine habitats unique to California's Central Coast.

Ano Nuevo, Greyhound Rock, Natural Bridges, and Elkhorn Slough are some of the most visited natural areas in Santa Cruz County and the Central Coast. To the south, Asilomar, Lovers Point, the Carmel Pinnacles, Carmel Bay, Point Lobos and Point Sur encompass some of the most breathtaking views the Pacific Ocean has to offer, each with it's own level of protections.

California's Marine Protected Areas limit, restrict, and regulate fishing and harvesting of marine animals and plants so ecosystems can bounce back after years of depletion and mismanagement. Join Save Our Shores in celebration of three years of local marine protections, of sustainable seafood, and better ocean policy.

For more information visit

November 4, 2011

Nov. 11 Event: Discovering the EcoMind Connection with Frances Moore Lappe & Friends

Date: Friday, November 11
Time: 6:30-9pm
Place: Cabrillo College's Crocker Theater

Featuring internationally-renowned environmental writer Frances Moore Lappe, Discovering the EcoMind Connection will be an evening of lively discussion and learning. Joined by SOS Board Member and marine biologist Wallace J Nichols, best-selling author John Robbins, and Michael Levy of Transition Santa Cruz, you won't want to miss this event!

About EcoMind:

What's In Your Head Can Heal Our Planet!

Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet will be joined by local author John Robbins, Diet for a New America, Transition Santa Cruz founder Michael Levy and ocean scientist, author, advocate Dr. Wallace J. Nichols.

Author of 18 influential books on subjects ranging from democracy to environmental justice, Frances Moore Lappe is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, Rachel Carson Award, Women's National Book Association, James Beard Humanitarian of the Year, as well as seventeen honorary doctorates.

Frances' Santa Cruz appearance will feature a lively discussion based upon her new book EcoMind, as a forum to share the message of personal action and empowerment with our community at a time when we need it most.

You won't want to miss this one-time opportunity to witness Santa Cruz's leading change-makers engage with one of the foremost environmental leaders of our time.

November 2, 2011

Protecting Starts with Respecting Marine Life from a Distance

A note from Paul Michel, Superintendent of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, about observing wildlife from a respectful distance:

During the past few days, Humpback Whales have been concentrating close to shore near Santa Cruz, prompting considerable interest from the boating public.

Unfortunately, the intensity of waterborne spectator activity has lead to several reported collisions with whales, resulting in significant damage to at least one vessel and the overturning of small vessels. It is unclear whether whales have suffered injuries from these collisions.

Humpback whales are protected from disturbance or injury by three federal laws - the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Any action by an individual, regardless of their distance from a Humpback whale, that causes the whale to change its behavior constitutes "harassment" under federal law, subjecting the individual to potential federal fines and penalties.

The Humpback whales currently near Santa Cruz are chasing prey, and recurring disturbance by boaters can affect their energy reserves and overall health. It is important that the public not crowd or surround these animals. As a rule of thumb, boaters should stay 100 yards to the side of transiting whales and should not cross in front of them, pursue them from behind, or surround them. If approached by a whale, a vessel should disengage its drive system and drift until the whale moves away.

Marine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines for observing marine mammals are available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has regulations protecting marine mammals, including Humpback whales, from harassment or injury. Federal and state law enforcement patrols will be increased in the Santa Cruz area to address harassment issues, and the sanctuary's Team Ocean volunteers will deploy in kayaks to explain to boaters how best to view the whales safely and responsibly. Team Ocean kayaks display "National Marine Sanctuary" lettering on the hull and volunteers will wear clothing identifying them as sanctuary interpreters.

I urge the boating community to help the sanctuary protect the visiting whales by giving them the space they need to feed and by reporting whale harassment or injury to the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

Paul Michel

>Photo credit: Steve Lawson