November 6, 2012

Grateful for this opportunity to become a Steward in my new backyard

By Dee Tannenbaum
Sanctuary Steward class of 2012

I grew up in Sacramento. OK, I said it - the truth is out!

And when my family and I visited Monterey Bay each summer, we tried very hard not to personify the stereotypical vacationers who piled out of the SUV, soon to create havoc and trash on the beach.  In fact, our time on the coast was very treasured and quite sacred.  Our love of the sea was intrinsic, and we had a genuine respect for the local community who cared for the ocean on an every-day basis – the real sanctuary stewards.

More truth be told … life in the valley was not all that bad.  Those of us from the delta region know first-hand the value of protecting our rivers, streams and nearby lakes.  I grew passionate about spreading the message that what we do in our mountains, plains and valleys ultimately impacts our oceans and the planet at large. 

One of my favorite volunteer activities in the valley was to lead beautification efforts on run-down campuses, impressing upon students that environmental responsibility begins in our own backyards.  Who would have thought that, one day, the beautiful Monterey Bay would actually BE my very own backyard!

Santa Cruz is our home now … and there really is no place like it. 

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my new life in Santa Cruz is my life as a Sanctuary Steward.  The Steward program has taught me about the issues affecting our seas, and has given me opportunities like taking part in the grand opening of our exciting new Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, or spreading information about clean boating and oil spill prevention throughout our harbors in the DockWalker program.

Just this week, I ran a beach cleanup with a group of 6th graders at Twin Lakes State Beach.  After engaging in a brief presentation on marine debris, these future world leaders donned their cloth gloves, grabbed their green recycled buckets, and set-out with great conviction to pick-up even the minutest pieces of plastic that harm our planet’s marine life.   It was a reassuring to see that the health of the world’s oceans is in such determined little hands. 

In that very moment, I experienced an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to Save Our Shores in my beautiful, new backyard – Monterey Bay.

*****   *****   *****

Sanctuary Stewards are the core volunteer force of Save Our Shores!
Now accepting applications for 2013, classes start in February!
Apply online today...

October 17, 2012

MPA Creature Feature: Spiny Lobsters

From our friends at the California Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach branch of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation:

Creature Feature: Spiny Lobster

The California spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus, is common from Point Conception to Baja California, Mexico. California spiny lobsters play an important role in the ecosystem not the least of which is limiting sea urchin abundance and subsequently allowing kelp forests to thrive in southern California.

Hunting of California spiny lobster dates back to the late 1800's. This year the recreational and commercial fishing seasons began on September 29th and October 3rd respectively. Over time, as the largest individuals have been preferentially targeted by these fisheries, the average size and life span of the lobsters has been reduced, threatening the balance of entire ecosystems.

Marine protected areas in southern California may help to restore this species by protecting important juvenile nursery habitats and allowing adults to grow larger and produce more young. In a scientific study in California's Channel Islands, where marine protected areas have been in place for 10 years, Kay et al. (2012) compared lobster catches in marine reserves to non-reserve sites. The study found that lobsters were more abundant and larger in the marine protected areas, with an average of 5.49 more legal-sized lobsters caught and subsequently released per trap inside the reserves.

In other research, that is part of the South Coast MPA Baseline Program, the Lobster Monitoring Project, scientists are attempting to understand how the new regulations associated with the MPAs may affect the lobster's ecology. This program tags lobsters to quantify their baseline levels and monitor short term changes in their abundance, size structure, habitat use, and movement patterns inside and outside of south coast marine protected areas. We hope this research and the California spiny lobster will prove to be an early success story of the network of marine protected areas in California. Find out more...

Learn more about these awesome ocean creatures with these cool facts!

Stay up to date about Marine Protected Areas at

Santa Cruz County Bans the Sale of Styrofoam Products

As of today, October 17, 2012, the sale of most polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) products is illegal in the County of Santa Cruz

This includes foam cups, plates, bowls, coolers and similar products that will no longer be sold in County stores.
Big thanks to the Santa Cruz County Supervisors who Took Action to our protect local beaches and the wildlife of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

The City of Capitola also has a ban on the sale of Styrofoam products. These bans are the strictest in the nation.

A recent article in the Monterey County Weekly reports further on how one company, Jamba Juice of Sand City, is still using Styrofoam. From the article: 

The tiny hamlet of Sand City is the very last holdout on the Monterey Bay shoreline where takeout orders are still legally packed in polystyrene foam. 

Every other coastal jurisdiction from Carmel to Davenport, including unincorporated Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, has banned the beach-littering plastic commonly known as styrofoam.

And in that little foam haven of Sand City, only one restaurant – Jamba Juice in the Edgewater Shopping Center – is still clinging to its polystyrene containers. At least, that’s according to Santa Cruz conservation nonprofit Save Our Shores, whose staffers have hit up the Sand City restaurants one by one in hopes of converting them to eco-friendlier packaging.

Read the full article...

Save Our Shores will continue to target problematic pieces of pollution and create effective solutions to protect our ocean and communities from plastic pollution. Read more...

September 25, 2012

Oktoberfest by the Sea is Sept. 29-30 in Davenport!

Beer lovers, foodies, fall enthusiasts, and friends of Save Our Shores are invited to attend the 1st annual Oktoberfest by the Sea: Sept 29 & 30, 
12 pm – 6 pm

A family-friendly event taking place in the lot next to the Davenport Roadhouse where you'll enjoy:

• Delicious food and drink like a variety of sausages, grilled chicken, sauerkraut, goulash soup, and five different beers.

• Music by Davenport Roadhouse’s favorite rock & rollers, the Coffis Brothers, and the alt-country McCoy Tyler Band from 2 pm – 6 pm.

• Jumpy house, face painting, and games for kids.

• Raffle with lots of great items from local businesses.

• FREE admission!

Oktoberfest benefits “Tip the Ocean,” a new program in partnership with LiVBLUE and Save Our Shores to raise funds for local beach clean-ups and to bring kids to the ocean.

The restaurant will also be open if you would like to join us there for our regular menu featuring fresh and creative California cuisine.

September 24, 2012

Don't miss Title Wave, a star-studded book signing at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival Sept. 29

BLUE Ocean Film Festival presents Title Wave 2012, a special book signing event with your favorite celebrity authors!

Saturday, Sept. 29th from 11 am - 1 pm, at the Portola Plaza Hotel in Monterey.

Get your signed copy, limited edition books, and meet the authors: Sylvia Earle, Celine Cousteau, Mara Kerr, Chris Palmer, Fabien Cousteau, David Helvarg, and More!

Don't miss this one time gathering of celebrated and influential ocean champtions or the chance to take home a little BLUE with you!

Be part of BLUE history at Title Wave!

The BLUE Ocean Film Festival takes place from Sept. 24-30, in beautiful Monterey.

Every two years ocean leaders, filmmakers, photographers, scientists, explorers, entertainment executives – and the general public-- gather in Monterey at BLUE to honor the best n ocean filmmaking, to learn more about the issues facing our oceans, and to collaborate on improving the future of our oceans and humanity. The seven-day event is charged with energy as these diverse groups of people share knowledge and ideas with each other and with the general public.
The four elements that make up BLUE come together to create a truly unique event that:
  • Honors the world’s best ocean films through the best-in-class film competition.
  • Promotes the critical dialog between filmmakers and scientists, to inspire great films.
  • Connects ocean filmmakers with the latest technology, financing and distribution resources.
  • Engages & Empowers public audiences -- in Monterey and around the globe -- by Sharing the World’s Greatest Collection of Ocean Films.

September 17, 2012

Nearly 3,500 Coastal Cleanup Day Volunteers in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties Prevent Almost 17,000 lbs. of Pollution from Trashing our Sanctuary!

We love our volunteers. 

In just three hours, at over 70 cleanup sites throughout Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, 3,491 volunteers took ocean conservation into their own hands by removing 16,827 pounds of debris in an area spanning from Wadell Creek to the Big Sur coast. See our photo album at
In Santa Cruz County, 2,354 volunteers spread across 76 miles of beach, river, lake, creek and slough to remove 9,947 pounds of pollution and debris in just three hours.

In Monterey County, 1,137 volunteers spread across 81 miles of beach, river, lake, creek and slough to remove 6,879 pounds of pollution and debris in just three hours.

The top five cleanup sites with the most poundage removed were, in order:
  1. Elkhorn Slough with 2,020 pounds
  2. Upper Carr Lake with 1,960 pounds
  3. San Lorenzo River at the Covered Bridge with1,664 pounds
  4. Lompico Creek with 1,425 pounds
  5. San Lorenzo River at the Tannery with 860 pounds

*The cleanup sites with the most trash removed, listed above, are all inland or river sites. We continue to see the highest levels of trash and debris at these inland and river sites.

Total pounds of trash removed in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties combined: 13,877
Total pounds of recyclables removed in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties combined: 2,950

See our photo album at
Over 1,000 volunteers brought their own reusable buckets, bags, gloves, and water bottles to help lower the carbon footprint of Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, as part of the Bring Your Own campaign. 

Save Our Shores conducts reoccurring monthly cleanups in Santa Cruz County on the 3rd Saturday of each month, as well as in Monterey County on the 2nd Saturday of each month.

Volunteers and Site Captains, specifically in south Santa Cruz County due to the way ocean currents typically deposit debris, were looking out for tsunami debris from Japan. We will have detailed information once our cleanup data is crunched.

September 13, 2012

Mugs Up! It's the Monterey Beer Garden benefit for Save Our Shores on Sat., Sept. 22

Join us on Saturday, September 22nd, from 12-4pm for the setting for the 2nd Annual Monterey Beer Garden!

Hosted by Peter B's Brewpub, Monterey Beer Garden is an intimate beer event featuring some of the best regional breweries. You'll interact with the actual brewers as they pour their beers, dine on top-notch BBQ, and mingle with fellow beer enthusiasts in one of the most beautiful setting on Monterey Bay.
$40 Admission includes unlimited beer tasting, BBQ and Live Music.  
And that's not all - proceeds from this event keep your blue backyard clean and pristine because it's a benefit for Save Our Shores!

The participating breweries are:
  • Peter B’s Brewpub
  • English Ales Brewery
  • Campbell Brewing Co.
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
  • Seabright Brewing
  • Triple Rock Brewing Co.
  • Tied House/Hermitage Brewery
  • Rock Bottom Brewery
  • Boulder Creek Brewery
  • Hollister Hills Brewery
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Drake’s Brewing

September 7, 2012

Dine out for your ocean on Sat, Sept. 15 at these Supporting Restaurants!

Saturday date night? Famished after volunteering for Coastal Cleanup Day? Looking for a way to support the largest cleanup effort of the year on Monterey Bay?

Well thanks to these Supporting Restaurants of Coastal Cleanup Day 2012, we can all support Coastal Cleanup Day 2012, and in turn create a healthier Sanctuary, cleaner communities, and trash-free watersheds around beautiful Monterey Bay!

Join us as we dine at the following ocean-loving restaurants on Saturday, September 15, where proceeds support Coastal Cleanup Day in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties:

In Santa Cruz County:
  •     The Picnic Basket
  •     Kianti’s on the Beach
  •     Charlie Hong Kong
  •     Davenport Roadhouse
  •     Gayle's Bakery
  •     Surfrider Cafe
  •     And don't miss a stop into The Penny Ice Creamery for free ice cream and Beckman's pie all day long!!

In Monterey County:
  •     Vesuvio, Carmel
  •     Old Fisherman’s Grotto
  •     The Fish Hopper
  •     Kocomo’
  •     Austino’s Patisserie

It takes a community to protect our Sanctuary...
Thank you for all you do to Save Our Shores!

September 6, 2012

With your help, Capitola could win a $100,000 sustainability grant!

How? Capitola was the only town in California chosen to take part in the Green Choices Recycling Challenge, and the town with the highest percentage of people reporting each month will receive the $100,000 grant! Capitola is currently in the bottom 5%, so be sure to sign up today, then tell everyone you know in Capitola about the 2012 Recycling Challenge!

Sign up now! It's essential, fun AND easy:

1. Register at
2. Recycle and report it each week: We'll send you reminders!
3. And tell everyone you know about the Recycling Challenge

Your efforts to raise $100,000 for Capitola will be rewarded! Here's how:
  • You'll be entered into the SOS Recycling Challenge Raffle. Prizes listed below.
  • You'll receive coupons and deals from Recyclebank.
  • If enough Capitola residents sign up for the Recycling Challenge, your city will become an even greener place to live thanks to the $100,000 grant that YOU helped earn!

SOS Recycling Challenge Raffle prizes include gift certificates to:
  • The Well Within Spa
  • Lavish Salon
  • The Buttery
  • L'Atelier Salon and Day Spa

Spread the word: Tell everyone you know in Capitola & share it on facebook and twitter, too!!


August 28, 2012

Celebrate 27 Years of Coastal Cleanup Days at this FREE First Friday Event: Fri, Sept. 7, at the SC MAH

On Friday, September 7,  from  5-9pm, join your ocean community at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH), for this FREE First Friday Event celebrating 27 years of Coastal Cleanup Days!

Where: The SC MAH @ 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz
When: Friday, Sept. 7, 5-9pm
Phone: 831.429.1964

Find more information...

The Santa Cruz MAH, the California Coastal Commission and Save Our Shores are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Coastal Act with a First Friday event dedicated to Coastal Cleanup Day. Come enjoy live music and fun, hands-on activities, and if you’d like, sign up to help clean one of your favorite coastal beaches, creeks, or coastal lagoons during Annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Sat, Sept. 15!

Find out all you need to know and join the largest volunteer event on the planet: Annual Coastal Cleanup Day...

This First Friday event will feature:
  • A poster display from the past 27 years of California Coastal Cleanup Day
  • Information on Coastal Cleanup sites in Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties
  • Amateur Photography Contest
  • Photos from past Coastal Cleanup Day events
  • Videos about protecting our coast and ocean
  • Ocean and coastal related art from various local artists, including: Sandra Cherk, Virginia Draper, and Will Henry
  • Live music by the Pleasure Point Brass Band: 5-6pm outsid
  • Live music by Dayan Kai Band: 6:30 – 8:30pm in the MAH Atrium
  • Hands-on art activities for kids and adults

August 16, 2012

Ready, Set, it's Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, Sept. 15!

Here on the shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, we all play a vital role in protecting our ocean. Yet hundreds of thousands of pounds of plastic, garbage, cigarette butts and pollution continue to trash our ocean and harm marine wildlife at an alarming rate. 

YOU can help prevent this by joining the largest volunteer event on the planet – Annual Coastal Cleanup Day! 

Taking place on Saturday, September 15, from 9 am – 12 pm at nearly 80 cleanup sites throughout Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, Annual Coastal Cleanup Day is your opportunity to protect your ocean community from harmful trash and debris.

Pre-register, become a Site Captain, search for cleanup sites and more at

So come one, come all, to join make history with your ocean community.

Locally spanning over 150 miles at nearly 80 cleanup sites from Wadell Creek to the Big Sur coast, you'll join thousands of volunteers working together to protect our most valuable resource - our oceans and watersheds.

August 15, 2012

The day Sara Cannon spent ten minutes on Google to truth-bomb the 'Save the Plastic Bag Coalition'

Guest blog post by ocean advocate, writer, and truth-bomber Sara Cannon

The other day I was doing what I typically do on any weeknight: be productive (and by “productive,” I mean avoiding being productive by aimlessly perusing the internet).  Anyone who has spent more than five minutes online knows there is no shortage of things that will motivate you to spontaneously bang your head against the wall.   

This video, unfortunately, is no exception, and should come with a warning label.
San Francisco attorney Stephen Joseph is leading a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers against the cities of San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Carpenteria, and Marin County in an attempt to repeal their plastic bag bans. I think he’s right up there with evil attorney John Milton from the Devil’s Advocate.  I mean, check out some of the things he says (cited below), all of which are easily refutable.  They’re so obviously (almost laughably) wrong, it’s hard to even take them seriously. 

      Unfortunately, while he actually hasn’t won any lawsuits to block plastic bag bans, the threat of the money it takes for a municipality to go through a lengthy court battle has scared some cities away from enacting bans of their own (or, as in Santa Cruz, has caused them to water the bans down by taking certain provisions out).  These lawsuits are a waste of tens of thousands of Taxpayer’s dollars, and by preventing more cities from enacting bans and watering down existing bans, they are actively contributing to the degradation of the environment in those cities. I only have one nice thing to say about Mr. Joseph:  dude deserves an Oscar for his acting skills.  There’s no way anyone who actually passed the Bar Exam could believe the crap that he’s spewing.   

     Please, allow me to demonstrate:

1. He says there is no evidence that plastic bags harm wildlife.  I quote, “How come after having plastic bags in circulation since the 1970’s, we have 4, 5 or 6 photographs at most worldwide” (emphasis mine).  I’ve taken more photos of plastic bags harming wildlife than that personally, in less than a year.  If Mr. Joseph could be bothered to pull his head out of the sand and spend five minutes or so online, he’d find ample evidence to disprove his claim.  If you do a quick Google image search for “Plastic Bags Harm Wildlife”, there are about 126,000 results.  Mr. Joseph, hasn’t anyone told you that a good attorney does research?  If you’re going to make stuff up, you should at least make it plausible.  I’m almost embarrassed for you.  Almost.

2. He claims the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is a hoax.  Ironically, in the news clip, Mr. Joseph challenges believers to do the exact thing he failed to do about his last claim:  spend five minutes online searching for a picture.  Everyone knows the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t actually a solid mass of trash the size of Texas (no one ever claimed that it was); we’re not in Waterworld (although if folks like Mr. Joseph have their way, we’ll get there).  When I was interning at SOS, I did presentations for elementary school children who had a better understanding of the gyres than this guy.  I will explain this in terms that even someone so purposely dense should be able to understand:  In every ocean, there is at least one huge circular ocean current (the Pacific and Atlantic both have two).  These are called gyres.  These circular currents force trash to accumulate in their centers.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch refers to the trash that has built up in the center of the North Pacific Gyre.  (For the record, trash accumulates in all the gyres, not just that one.)  You can’t see the garbage in satellite images because it’s primarily made up of suspended particulates (little grains of plastic) that float in the upper water column.  It’s not like you can just go out there and walk across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Although, maybe Mr. Joseph should try it.  However, just because you can’t see it from space doesn’t mean it’s not there.  You also can’t see the crushing amount of student loan debt I’m in, but trust me, it exists.  That said, you actually can see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch… just not from space.  I just spent another few seconds typing in “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” into Google Images, and I got 262,000 results.  That’s a heck of a lot for something that doesn’t exist.  As an added bonus, there are even MORE pictures of wildlife being harmed by plastic mixed in there.  That should make Mr. Joseph happy.  There are even videos of people sailing through the garbage patch.  Mr. Joseph, before you challenge people to do something that you think will prove your case, you might want to make sure it actually doesn’t disprove it.  Whoops, indeed.

3. He seems to think that President Obama being given a plastic bag at a dim sum restaurant in San Francisco means something.  “When President Obama came to San Francisco, he was given plastic bags for his dim sum.  Why?  Because that stuff’s hot.”  Um, what?  You can put hot stuff in paper bags, too.  Or is he trying to say that plastic bags are hot, as in cool?  This guy wouldn’t know cool if it punched him in the face.  I don’t get it.

4. He sued San Francisco for its litter problem in the year 2000, saying: “I find it fascinating when people walk down the street and they see a plastic bag.  They don’t notice the 100’s of cigarette butts, the cans, the bottles, the paper bags.”  Obviously, there’s actually a pretty good explanation for the focus on plastic bags.  As someone who sued the city for their trash problem, I have no doubt Mr. Joseph more informed than he lets on (he knows better).  While cigarette butts are an ugly (and gross) problem, they take up to 7 years maximum to degrade.  Paper bags take up to two weeks.  Bottles and cans are recyclable, and because you can turn them in for cash, there are way less of them on the ground than plastic bags.  Plus, they’re heavy; cans and bottles don’t just blow away like plastic bags do. (They’re like the balloons of the underworld.)  Now, plastic bags, unlike cans and bottles, are a hassle to recycle.  You can’t just stick them in your recycling bin with your cans and bottles; depending on the rules of where you live, you have to bundle them a very specific way, and then take them to the recycling center yourself in bulk, or return them to your local supermarket.  You can’t often reuse them for anything other than picking up after your dog because the manufacturers have made them so cheaply (probably in an effort to save cash so they can pay their expensive lawyers) that the bags rip really easily.  Now, when your crappy plastic bag inevitably blows away accidentally, guess how long it takes to decompose?   The answer is we don’t know, because the first bags that were put into circulation in the 1970’s are still here.  It’s been estimated it will take up to 1,000 years.  More conservative estimates say it will take up to 500 years.  For each bag.  Yet, here we are, still making them, with people like Mr. Joseph fighting to keep them in circulation.  

Says Stephen Joseph, “We are about getting the truth out and making sure that any ban of plastic bags is based on facts.”  

      It appears that Mr. Joseph just got truth-bombed.  How you do like them apples?  

     By Sara Cannon 

July 23, 2012

Win a SCUBA trip or a private party sail in our Summer Raffle!

Our ever-popular Summer Raffle is Back!  
Don't miss your chance to win these incredible Grand Prizes:
  • A private, 2 hour sail on the Chardonnay II for you and 47 friends
  • A Valley Storm Surf Kayak
  • A 3-day, live-aboard SCUBA trip to the Southern Channel Islands with Worldwide Diving Adventures! Trip takes place on Memorial Day Weekend, 2013
  • A 2-night getaway at beautiful Costanoa Lodge in their one-of-a-kind Bungalows!
  • A  4-hour double kayak rental from Kayak Connections

To purchase your $5 Summer Raffle tickets: 

Need not be present to win!  Summer Raffle winners will be chosen at the Toast to the Coast beach party on Sunday, August 26th.

Get your tickets for the Toast to the Coast today! 

When: Sunday, August 26, 5 -10 pm

Where: On the sand at Seascape Beach Resort, Aptos

At the Toast to the Coast, you'll watch the sunset on the Bay, then kick of your shoes to dance the night away! Attendees will enjoy the beauty of hula dance as you sip on locally produced beer and wine and mingle with like-minded ocean advocates.

For dinner, Seascape provides an impressive, full spread featuring a sustainable clambake!

See all the fun we had last year... 

July 17, 2012

First Tsunami Debris Found on Santa Cruz Beach

It was just another beautiful day at the beach...

When Brendan, Santa Cruz native and longtime friend of Save Our Shores staffer Dayna Zimmerman, stumbled upon a mysterious object while enjoying a nice, relaxing day at Rio Del Mar State Beach.

 Intrigued, he walked over to get a closer look.

To his surprise, it was a blue buoy with Japanese lettering, pictured in the photos here.

He knew right away that this buoy washed ashore from the Japanese tsunami last year.

A man of the sea, Brendan knew to take special precaution with the buoy, noting that barnacles and invasive species from far off lands are always a topic of concern among boaters, fishermen, and ocean conservationists alike.

He then took the buoy home and contacted NOAA.
NOAA officials said his was the very first report of tsunami debris found here on the Central Coast.

What will wash up on Central Coast beaches is still yet to be seen, but the evidence is in: tsunami debris is coming, and it's coming fast.

Save Our Shores will be tracking tsunami debris found during our beach and river cleanups and will keep you posted on what we find.

Find out how to respond to tsunami debris on our Tsunami Debris Response page...

Before Brendan's blue buoy on Rio Del Mar State Beach this July, an entire 66-foot cement dock traveled all the way across the ocean from the Northeast coast of Japan to rest on Oregon's Agate Beach. In Alaska, a prized Harley Davidson from Japan was recovered on a remote beach in May, and since then, plastic bottles, Styrofoam, and hundreds upon hundreds of buoys have continued to litter Alaskan shores in surges of debris.

July 13, 2012

Local Plastic Bag Bans Work!

One month after Santa Cruz County's plastic bag ban went into effect, Save Our Shores Sanctuary Steward Michael Ray took a survey at three local Safeway stores. He asked 150 customers on their way out of the store if they had:
  1. brought their reusable bag with them
  2. paid the fee for paper bags at checkout
  3. not used/needed a bag at checkout

He found that 85% of people did not use paper bags at checkout. 

This is GREAT news, as it shows that people are doing the right thing: bringing their reusable bags, or not taking a bag at all! The survey was taken back in April, and we except that the use of reusable bags has since increased.

Here's an update on bag bans around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

  • The City of Monterey's bag ban took effect on July 1, 2012. Monterey was lucky enough to escape legal pressure from the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition and passed their ban without too much hassle. SOS celebrated with Monterey by handing out hundreds of free reusable bags that day!
  • The City of Carmel just passed their plastic bag ban and it takes effect on January 3, 2013. The Carmel city ordinance does not include a fee on paper bags for now, and incentives for customers to bring their reusable bags are being created.
  • The City of Watsonville passed their plastic bag ban on April 24, 2012. It takes effect on July 24!  

  • The Santa Cruz County ban on single-use plastic bags took effect on March 20, 2012. After over 2 years in the making, and a lawsuit filed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, this ordinance will protect our marine environment from the blight of plastic pollution.
  • San Mateo County's REGIONAL ban is in the works! It will govern all 18 jurisdictions in San Mateo County, as well as 6 in Santa Clara County. It's estimated vote will take place in December. Take Action to support San Mateo's region bag ban!

July 5, 2012

Local Volunteers Save Monterey Bay from 1,587 lbs. of Pollution at the July 5th Star Spangled Beach Cleanup!

This morning, 238 Star Spangled Beach Cleanup volunteers prevented1,587 pounds of trash and debris from polluting our beaches, trashing our environment, and harming marine wildlife at the legendary July 5th Star Spangled Beach Cleanup.  

See our photo album...

The North County Trashbusters, a mobile group of five SOS Sanctuary Stewards, surveyed north Santa Cruz County’s most polluted beaches this morning, a brand new effort put in place this year to maximize cleanup efforts on the beaches that needed it the most. The North County Trashbusters found Panther Beach completely trashed, and worked diligently to remove the 245 pounds of debris that was left behind there.

Top 3 dirtiest beaches, in order, determined by total poundage removed only, were:
  • Seabright State Beach with 386 pounds
  • Panther Beach with 245 pounds
  • Cowell/Main Beach with 183 pounds

The Star Spangled Beach Cleanups took place in Santa Cruz County at Panther Beach, Davenport Beach, Cowell/Main Beach, Seabright State Beach, Twin Lakes State Beach, Moran Lake, and Seacliff/Rio Del Mar Beaches. Monterey County cleanups took place at Del Monte Beach at Wharf #2, and Carmel Beach.

Said Andrew Hoeksema, Coordinator of Volunteer Programs at SOS, "We achieved our goal: to have our volunteers find less trash than in years past! This is the best way to demonstrate that our year-round pollution prevention efforts are working. A big thanks to our July 4th Pollution Prevention Team who talked to over 5,600 people yesterday about keeping our beaches clean, and to 238 volunteers who cleaned up the beach with us this morning.”

Declaring their independence from plastic pollution, the July 4th Pollution Prevention Team consisted of 40 volunteers who handed out nearly 1,700 trash and recycling bags at six high-traffic beaches in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. The July 4th Pollution Prevention team spoke to 5,660 beach goers about plastic pollution yesterday, an effort which has proved critical in stemming the tide of pollution left behind on area beaches by the thousands of visitors and revelers each 4th of July holiday.

“We appreciate the beachgoers who packed their trash out and kept the beaches clean this July 4th. With reduced State Beach maintenance this summer, our pollution prevention efforts and beach cleanups will be more critical than ever before,” said Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores.

Find out more at

June 28, 2012

SOS Commits to Increase Cleanups on State Beaches With Reduced Maintenance

Breaking News: Twin Lakes State Beach will remain open for the next year. This includes Black's Beach, Twin Lakes Beach, Harbor Beach, and Seabright Beach. But upkeep and maintenance will be reduced.

Zmudowski State Beach is still slated for closure on July 1.

Governor Jerry Brown just approved $10 million to help pay for the maintenance costs at the parks that do not sign new maintenance and stewardship agreements with any NGO's or third-party agencies. As of now, Twin Lakes does not have an agreement with an NGO or agency, so it will be one of the State Beaches to receive part of the $10 million to keep it operating.

Maintenance efforts will be reduced, and the amount of upkeep available will depend on how far this money needs to be spread among the other State Parks.

Save Our Shores is committing to increase cleanup efforts on these beaches, advocate for behavior changes that decrease plastic pollution, and working with local neighborhood groups and residents to increase awareness about the issue - including new Pollution Prevention signs with bag dispensers, but we need your help.


On Thursday, June 21st, a Save Our Shores billboard, pictured above, went up on Highway 17, alerting residents and visitors alike about the threat of impending State Beach closures.We hope this raised awareness about this issue and have already had new people come to us to offer their help.

June 21, 2012

We Want YOU to get Patriotic for Clean Beaches on July 4th and 5th

Pollution Prevention volunteers create cleaner, safer, more beautiful beaches - and we want YOU to join us! Pre-register or find out more today...

On July 4th - Make Pollution Prevention Patriotic on our beaches from 1-5pm:

Volunteers hit the beaches to hand out thousands of trash and recycling bags while letting people know how to properly dispose of and pack out their trash.

Volunteer in Santa Cruz County:
  • Main & Cowell Beach
  • Seabright Beach
  • Twin Lakes Beach
  • Seacliff/Rio Del Mar Beach

Volunteer in Monterey County:
  • Carmel Beach

On July 5th Volunteer for the Star Spangled Beach Cleanup from 8-10am!

Stop thousands of pounds trash and debris from polluting the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary at the seconds largest community-wide beach cleanup of the year!

Volunteer in Santa Cruz at:
  • Main & Cowell Beach
  • Seabright Beach
  • Twin Lakes State Beach
  • Moran Lake Beach
  • Seacliff & Rio Del Mar Beach

Volunteer in Monterey at:
  • Del Monte Beach at Wharf #2
  • Carmel Beach

Save Our Shores volunteers and Business Sponsors prevent over 20,000 lbs. of pollution from harming wildlife and trashing our Sanctuary each summer. Get your business recognized as an ocean champion by Sponsoring a Summer of Clean Beaches today!

June 6, 2012

The City of Carmel Votes Unanimous to go Plastic-Bag Free!

Save Our Shores is celebrating the City of Carmel's unanimous decision to move forward with a plastic bag ban last night, Tuesday, June 5! With the grassroots advocacy efforts of Save Our Shores, and the help of about twenty other community advocates who gave public comment in support of the bag ban, a plastic bag-free Monterey Bay is coming our way!

To support a plastic bag-free Monterey Bay, please become a Member of Save Our Shores today!

The second reading of this important, ocean protecting ordinance will take place on Tuesday, July 3rd, and the law will then take effect 6 months from the final reading on February 3rd.

Carmel's bag ban will prohibit distribution of plastic bags at markets and retail outlets and will NOT impose a fee on paper bags. There are only a few places in California that have passed a plastic bag ban without imposing a fee on paper bags, they are: Manhattan Beach and Dana Point. 

The City of Carmel and Save Our Shores are keeping our fingers crossed that City officials will not be approached by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, the plastic industry lobbying group infamous for suing City Councils for attempting to pass plastic bag bans. 

Said Vicki Pearse, a member of the CCSA and the representative from Sustainable Pacific Grove, "When I think of Carmel, I think of a classy town.  There is nothing less classy than a plastic bag blowing down the street.  Let's be classy not trashy and pass this ban on plastic bags for Carmel."

Save Our Shores' Lauren Gilligan brought a petition with 370 signatures from all over the world in support of a plastic bag ban for Carmel. And even though Carmel city officials did not vote to impose a fee on paper bags, they will be working with Sustainable Carmel and the Carmel Chamber of Commerce to encourage the use of reusable bags. 

Save Our Shores is advocating for Carmel stores have an incentive program where shoppers may receive a discount on purchases - or get to donate to a charity - if you bring your own reusable bag.

Go Team Plastic Bag Ban!!

Find out more about efforts to reduce plastic bag pollution around Monterey Bay...

From your friends at Save Our Shores

May 16, 2012

Join Save Our Shores for Otter 501 - the Film Everyone is Talking About! SOS Supporting Members receive special discount tickets

Otter 501 - the film everyone is talking about - opens this Friday, May 18th, at the Nickelodeon Theater in Santa Cruz!

You're invited to join Save Our Shores on Thursday, May 24th at 7pm for a special ocean-advocate screening and Q&A with the film's 'human star' Katie Pofahl and the film's Producer Mark Shelly.

Joining us on May 24 will be Members of O'Neill Sea Odyssey, Coastal Watershed Council, and more. This will be a great, community event that you won't want to miss!

Supporting Members of Save Our Shores will receive a special $2.50 discount on movie tickets for all dates and times that Otter 501 is shown at the Nickelodeon Theater. (Please note: You will need to print out the Otter 501 Email Blast in your inbox to receive the discount at the Nickelodeon box office).

Otter 501 opens at the Nickelodeon Theater on Friday, May 18 and is currently scheduled to run though Thursday, May 24 (though showtimes may be extended).

Otter 501 showtimes at the Nick: 
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday only: 11am and 1pm
  • Weekdays: 3, 5, 7, 9pm

Additional Otter 501 Special Events:
  • On Sunday, May 20th: A special Q&A event with the film's 'human star' Katie Pofahl and Executive Producer / Director of Photography Mark Shelley will take place immediately after the 3pm and 5pm showings!
  • On Wednesday, May 23rd: It's a baby-friendy showing!
  • Those who Save Our Shores in Monterey County can also catch Otter 501 at the Osio Cinema now through May 24!

The story of Otter 501 is another great reason to support Marine Protected Areas here on the Central Coast and around the world! Marine Protected Areas conserve essential habitats that are instrumental in the ongoing survival of California's endangered sea otters. Learn more about Marine Protected Areas...

Find more information on Otter 501 here...

May 14, 2012

Deadline May 31: Vote Save Our Shores into the Reusable Bag Envirotoken Program!

Now through the end of May: PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE ONLINE to include Save Our Shores in New Leaf Community Market's reusable bag Envirotoken program!

Your VOTE takes less than 60 seconds. But your VOTE will continually support Save Our Shores with an average $10,000 or more through New Leaf's reusable bag program this year! 

In this year of devastating state and federal budget cuts, your VOTE will Save Our Shores by:
  • Leading our community in pollution prevention efforts
  • Raising awareness about the critical issues facing our marine environment today
  • Advocate for bans on single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam take-out containers around the Sanctuary
  • Educate our youth in the classrooms and the field
  • And run the largest community cleanups on the Central Coast!

Save Our Shores needs your support now more than ever. 
Support your community through New Leaf's community giving program - the Envirotoken program!

A quick glimpse of how the Envirotoken program makes a positive impact in our community and in our environment:
  • Total number of bags reused: 2,812,798
  • Total $ contributed to local non-profits: $200,305.20
  • Total number of trees saved: 4,018

Vote online today!

Become a Member of Save Our Shores!

New Leaf Community Markets is a longtime supporter of Save Our Shores. Thank you, New Leaf!! And to those of your who support us through the Envirotoken Program - your support of  local ocean conservation efforts is greatly appreciated.

May 9, 2012

Come to the Clean Beaches Bash this Sat, May 12, 5-9pm!!

Come party with Save Our Shores at the Clean Beaches Bash!!

Saturday, May 12th, from 5-9pm

At the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz

We'll be celebrating our amazing volunteers, dancing to live music, and kicking off the Summer of Clean Beaches together. Delicious food by Michael's on Main, Whole Foods, and more will be served alongside tasty brews from Sierra Nevada that will flow all night. We will also have Marty, the esteemed winemaker from Kathryn Kennedy Winery, pouring his legendary wines for the crowd!

Get your early-bird tickets for just $30!

  • We will also have a great raffle!
  • $35 Tickets will be available at the door.
  • Tickets include 1 free drink ticket. Drink tickets will be available for $5 and proceeds go toward a busy summer protecting your ocean!
  • Earlier that morning, participate in the Human Race Walkathon & Fun Run with Team SOS!
  • Those who raise or Donate $100 or more through The Human Race Walkathon & Fun Run will receive 2 free tickets to the Clean Beaches Bash.

Styrofaom Hits Santa Cruz Beaches from 'Over the Hill'

A letter to the Editor of the Mercury News
by Laura Kasa, Executive Director of Save Our Shores

Thank you for May 1st editorial in the Mercury News entitled Silicon Valley must do its part to reduce plastic in oceans.

Save Our Shores agrees with the writer that we each must care about plastics in our ocean if we want our environment, climate, and future generations to live in a properly functioning world.

The issue of plastic pollution, including cleaning up the mess, and advocating for bans on Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, is not just an issue for coastal towns to consider. Inland areas such as San Jose, Silicon Valley, San Mateo, Palo Alto and so on must also take steps to decrease plastic pollution in the ocean. Styrofoam take-out containers and single-use plastic bags very often become litter, winding up in streams and rivers that feed into our oceans and bays.

This debris wreaks havoc in our marine environment, not to mention litters our highways, gets stuck in trees, and constantly washes down the storm drains. Save Our Shores is based in Santa Cruz and has a strong history of advocating for measures to stop pollution in our ocean and watershed. But because the beaches of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay are also the beaches for San Jose and Silicon Valley, stewardship of our area's beaches must come from 'over the hill', as well.

Save Our Shores' role is to keep these beaches clean by conducting 250 cleanups a year. Our thousands of volunteers collect data at each cleanup and what we find is that 72% of the trash recovered is some form of plastic.

Over the past five years, at SOS cleanups alone, we have collected 46,000 pieces of Styrofoam - and Santa Cruz County has had a Styrofoam ban in effect for some time now! This is exactly why we need cities like San Jose to implement their own ban on Styrofoam take-out containers.

I was at the Santa Clara County commission meeting this week. Commissioner Kniss is thrilled that her jurisdiction will finally be moving forward on this important issue. Kniss said she was happy to hear about the success that the Styrofoam ban in Santa Cruz County.

The commission recommended to the board to move forward with approval of a Styrofoam ban for Santa Clara County. They will be hearing the issue on May 22nd.

Save Our Shores Members, volunteers, Stewards, supporters and fellow ocean advocates hope the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors will pass a swift ban on Styrofoam, setting the precedent that San Jose and other cities will follow.

May 1, 2012

Sign up for Feel-Good Fun at The Human Race May 12th!

Join us on Saturday, May 12th, along beautiful West Cliff Drive to Save
YOUR Shores from trash and pollution!

The Human Race Walkathon & Fun Run is an annual community event where all sorts of people band together to raise vital funds for local non-profits and schools. YOU can protect your backyard - Monterey Bay - by joining or supporting Team Save Our Shores!

Here's how:

1). Sign up to walk or run with Team SOS. Then get as many people to sponsor you as you can! (Don't worry, this race is all about good times, not competition).

2). If running or walking the race isn't your thing, just pick your favorite Steward or Staff person participating and make a donation to Team SOS!

Find out more...

If you haven't heard, over $100,000 in funding was recently cut from Save Our Shores. Which means were working hard to make up those funds - and fast! Thankfully, there's a fun and easy way to do it, it's The Human Race!

Our goal is to raise $15,000, and we know it can be done. But we need YOUR support and enthusiasm to help us reach our goal.

The only way we are going to keep our marine environment healthy is if we all band together to replace these lost funds. And The Human Race is our best chance to do so!

If you have questions, please contact Scott at or call Lauren at the SOS office at 831.462.5660.

The otters, whales, and future generations of ocean lovers everywhere thank you!

Later that night, celebrate at the Clean Beaches Bash!

When: Saturday, May 12, from 5-9pm
Where: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

* Stewards who raise at least $100 for The Human Race will be given 2 free tickets to the Clean Beaches Bash.

The Clean Beaches Bash is all about YOU - Stewards, volunteers, and Supporters. Join us for tasty drinks, savory finger food, live music and good times. Together, we'll kickoff the Summer of Clean Beaches and even raffle off one incredible grand prize!

April 25, 2012

City of Watsonville Passes Plastic Bag Ban - to Take Effect in Three Months!

Save Our Shores is happily celebrating the swift decision by the Watsonville City Council last night to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags!

Watsonville City staff handed out colorful reusable bags to all Councilmembers, as well as everyone in attendance during public comment.

Save Our Shores’ Executive Director Laura Kasa made the last public comment in support of the ban, noting that less than 5% of plastic bags are ever recycled. She shared with the Council that both the Shoreway Environmental Center and the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery Center do not even accept plastic bags into their recycling centers. Kasa also explained that Save Our Shores cleanups have recovered 34,000 plastic bags since data collection began in the summer of 2007.

Kasa concluded her public comment by stating, “A ban on plastic bags will end the over 8,000 plastic bags a year that pollute our local environment.”

In a surprising turn of events following Kasa’s public comment, Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino amended the ordinance to go into effect in three months time, rather than the standard six.

Each of the City Councilmembers, except Councilmember Bilicich, voted in favor of the ban. There were no public comments in opposition.

Councilmember Felipe Hernandez bought his green reusable bag that he picked up at the Watsonville Earth Day festival to reinforce that a fee on paper bags is a good deterrent that will help people to remember their reusable bags.  Said Hernandez, “I was on a cleanup recently where I picked up so many plastic bags I was amazed. It was almost as many as the number of cigarette butts I collected”. 

“This (ban) is a great idea. Plastic is awful.  It’s about time we do something about it,” said Councilmember Oscar Rios. “It’s just a matter of time for people to get used to the change, and when we have to pay 10 cents to bag a few items, we’ll start remembering to bring our own bags.”

Kasa said , “Last week, Save Our Shores went out to Safeway locations and found that out of the 450 shoppers we surveyed, only 83 were using paper bags, 203 were using reusable bags and 164 were using no bag at all. This means over 80% of shoppers changed their behavior toward reusable bag use since the Santa Cruz County ban was implemented just one month ago.”

Save Our Shores believes it takes action, local leaders, and citizen support to protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We thank our Supporters, Stewards, volunteers, and fellow ocean advocates for joining us on the quest for cleaner, greener communities. 
Keep up the great work!

April 23, 2012

Over 555 Volunteers Take Action for Earth Day 2012!

Our ecstatic thanks goes out to the over 555 community volunteers who banded together to prevent 853 pounds of pollution from entering the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Saturday, April 21.

With at least fifteen different school, civic, religious, and business groups participating, three Adopt-a-Levee groups on the San Lorenzo River, and hundreds of drop-in volunteers in both Santa Cruz and
Monterey, today marked the single-largest Earth Day cleanup effort to hit Monterey Bay.

Four public cleanups took place at the following locations: 
  • San Lorenzo River Cleanup at Water Street Bridge
  • Cowell/Main Beach
  • Manresa State Beach Cleanup sponsored by Nordic Naturals
  • Del Monte Beach at Wharf #2 in Monterey

In addition, three Adopt-a-Levee groups held cleanups on the San Lorenzo River: 
  • The Sunrise Rotary Club cleaned between Felker St. and the Water St. Bridge
  • Albert’s Organics was at Laurel St. Bridge to Riverside Ave. Bridge
  • The Rotary Club of Santa Cruz cleaned between the Riverside Ave. Bridge and the river-mouth.

The four river cleanups along the San Lorenzo River in downtown Santa Cruz removed a total 315 pounds
of pollution from our local watershed. Of that, 244 pounds were trash and 71 pounds were recyclables.

Out at the beaches of Cowell/Main Beach, Manresa State Beach, and Del Monte Beach in Monterey, over 420 volunteers worked together to prevent 459 pounds of trash and 79 pounds of recycling, for a total 538 pounds of pollution removed from area beaches in under three hours!

"With over 550 volunteers, this year was our biggest volunteer effort ever on Earth Day! It is so exciting to
see volunteers from Santa Cruz to Aptos to Monterey all working hard to care for this amazing corner of
the earth.  And what a perfect weekend for people to get outdoors to volunteer for and celebrate the earth."
said Andrew Hoeksema, Coordinator of Volunteer Programs at Save Our Shores.

SUPPORT healthy oceans and clean communities all year long by becoming a Member today!

“It’s incredible, really. Last year, over 2,400 pounds of pollution and debris were removed from just two
cleanup sites. This year, we had seven cleanup sites, over 550 volunteers, and just over 850 pounds of
pollution and debris were recovered. The Save Our Shores team considers this a great victory in the
ongoing quest for healthy oceans. More people pitching in and less pollution found than in past years
makes us very, very happy,” Says Colleen Bednarz, Communications Coordinator at Save Our Shores.

Thank you, volunteers! Thank you, Supporters! YOU makes this all possible.

April 19, 2012

Earth Day is Everyday When you Join Save Our Shores

Earth Day is every day when you Save Our Shores for your ocean community!

Give back to the earth - DONATE today!

Calling all ocean-lovers, friends of the California sea otters and sea lions, and tree-huggers everywhere...

YOU can protect your favorite marine animals, beautify the banks of your rivers, and create a cleaner, greener more ocean-aware community for Earth Day this year.
  • Your Donation will fuel the fight against plastic pollution in your backyard.
  • It will inspire and educate future generations to follow in your footsteps.
  • And it will prevent nearly 30,000 lbs. of pollution from entering your Marine Sanctuary.

It takes a community to Save Our Shores and protect our Marine Sanctuary. Join us!

Give Back to the earth with your Earth Day DONATION today!
  • For $500, you'll fund the Sanctuary Steward training course.
  • For $250, you'll fund a river cleanup - messier and more costly than a beach cleanup, but three times as effective for preventing marine debris.
  • For $100, you'll fund a public beach cleanup along a half mile stretch of your favorite beach.
  • For $50, you'll bring a classroom of students to a local beach cleanup.

Thank you for creating a cleaner, greener Monterey Bay!

Your friends at Save Our Shores