December 19, 2013

California Marine Protected Areas Anniversary

Happy birthday, California’s underwater parks!
California's trailblazing network of underwater parks turns one on December 19!

As we close out 2013 and prepare to ring in the New Year, Californians have another reason to celebrate. December 19th marks the one-year anniversary of the completion of California's statewide coastal network of MPAs, spanning from Oregon to Mexico!

Covering 16% of our coastal waters, these 124 underwater parks were created by Californians, for all who visit and live in California.

Since implementation, these Marine Protected Areas have been stewarded by ocean enthusiasts and citizen scientists interested in ensuring these parks thrive. While the full network is just turning one, some of the first protected areas in the Channel Islands and Central California have been in the water for more than 10 and 6 years respectively, and more importantly, are already showing great signs of success in wildlife protection.

Help us celebrate and spread the cheer by downloading and sharing these fun graphics with your friends and checking out the SOS MPA video showing how MPAs effect locals in Monterey and Santa Cruz.

December 11, 2013

Sgt. Ian Patrick of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Thanks Save Our Shores

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and the Aptos community are deeply appreciative for the cleanup efforts provided by Save Our Shores during the month of November 2013.

We were faced with the daunting project of removing a massive amount of garbage from underneath the Soquel Drive Bridge at Aptos Village prior to the rainy season, and needed all the help we could get. 

I contacted Save Our Shores and was impressed by the quick and eager response to help.   Thank you to Marina and crew for dedicating an entire morning toward hauling approximately 1,200 pounds of refuse from the Aptos Creek ravine!

We clearly would not have had such a successful outcome without the assistance of Save Our Shores.   On behalf of the Aptos Community, I would like to extend my appreciation for a job well done. -Sgt. Ian Patrick

November 25, 2013

Sucked into the Ocean 
 -- Haig White, Sanctuary Steward class of 2010

   My commitment to Save Our Shores (SOS) starts and continues with the love of the ocean in its most natural, unmolested state. When I applied to be a Sanctuary Steward at Save Our Shores, I was in a protracted stretch of unemployment. The urge to do something positive and “give back” to the ocean was at a high for me. After all, the ocean gave me unconditional joy and serenity during the worst and best of times.  
I am attracted to the wonder  of the ocean  in its most peaceful state and in its most agitated, the latter from a cautious distance. And wouldn’t you know it, no sooner did I pass the “grueling” Save Our Shores interview for entry into the steward training program did I find work. That was a very, very, very short four years ago. Why I haven’t always acted on my belief that if you do good then good things come to you, I’ll never know. Save Our Shores has proven this lesson once again to me and I am deeply grateful to channel my energy through the work and mission of SOS. 
Haig White, Sanctuary Steward class of 2010
   Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not do things half-heartedly once I am committed. But, to start I need a spark, a visceral connection to put me into action. Many years ago I read a horrific article about the Great Garbage Patch, also known at the North Pacific gyre. This article left a lasting unsettled feeling in my stomach with the thought of this growing plastic plague in the Pacific Ocean. If I felt this way just thinking about it, how do ocean animals feel ingesting plastic? And how will we feel when a significant change of ocean temperature shifts massive ocean currents along with the Garbage Patch onto the California coast? SOS has put me on the first line of defense against the single-use plastic plague. 
And I just want to say Thank you, SOS.     

November 22, 2013

Flexera Software's plans to make positive change in their workplace.

Flexera Software employees do not yet have a formalized plan after their Corporate Cleanup with Save Our Shores at Cowell Beach earlier this month, but they are working diligently on solidifying a few new ideas. 

One big item they walked away with from their cleanup, and the one item they’ll be discussing further, is the idea of buying a water cooler and providing each employee with a water bottle so that they can remove plastic bottles from their vending machines. 

This conversation started after spending 2 hours cleaning up the beach. Decisions like these will take some buy-in from others in the organization who did not attend the cleanup, but this is the idea they are most excited about and most likely to put into action first!

Another idea, to get the rest of their team on board, is to give a summary of their experience and findings at their next local monthly meeting. They plan to create shadow boxes using  photos from their cleanup as samples of their findings, and  then post articles about Gyres and the impact of trash on marine life.

“It’s so amazing to see this level of excitement about making a difference in our own community!  I’m proud to have been alongside all of you,” one Flexera Software employee volunteer said after their day at the beach.

Some have already talked to a few of their coworkers with ideas to engage Flexera Software employees on reducing waste, and they seemed to agree!

It looks like the two main goals they want to focus on within Flexera Software would be:
1. Purchase a water cooler & remove plastic bottles from the company vending machines.
2. Remove paper plates and utensils to encourage employees to bring their own. 
   (Other Flexera offices are already doing this.)

These are all great ideas that our Flexera Software group is strongly working towards. They are continuing to keep the conversation going to motivate the rest of their team to take action! Most of all they are trying to stay motivated and maintain the enthusiasm they built up after their cleanup.

Flexera Software, San Jose cleanup crew and SOS Steward Melanie Franklin.

November 19, 2013

The Steward Program Changed My Life – 
but that wasn’t the unexpected part. 
-  Kenny, a 27-year old Salinas Resident, 
Sanctuary Steward Class of 2012
All my buddies were getting up to trouble that I didn’t want to be a part of.  They were getting locked up and making decisions I didn’t agree with.  I looked on Monterey Weekly to see what was happening locally and saw an ad for a beach cleanup.  I went and enjoyed myself, met some cool people.  Started going every month.   That’s when Ronn told me to join the Stewards class.

The first few classes didn't really seem like my scene.  Everyone seemed really Santa Cruz and hippie and green.  I didn't feel like I fit in, but my dad encouraged me to just stick it out.  I’m so happy that I did.  I realized that first impressions are not always correct.

My favorite part of the Stewards Program is finding new beaches and beautiful spots to hang out! Also getting to meet new people.  We can often get focused on how different we are.  But at a beach cleanup, we’re all doing the same thing and are at least interested in the same goal.  

Joining the Stewards program changed my life -- which was kind of the point.  
But the unexpected part was that I could create change in others.

A few weeks ago, my friend from Salinas inspired his family to pick up their waste.  Before, Adam thought I was crazy when I yelled at him for throwing his cigarette butts in the street.  But after watching my actions and realizing that I was serious, Adam started making changes in the way he dealt with his butts.  

He went camping at Arroyo Seco with family and friends.  He went around picking up all of their butts and the butts from nearby camp sites.  At first, just like he did to me, people made fun of him.  Called him a hippie.  He kept at it though.  His family started helping and stopped throwing their butts on the ground.

I also enjoy the DockWalkers program.  I can relate to the working-class fisherman.  Often environmental regulations are misinterpreted, come with a stigma and feel like they are top down without involving those who they will impact the most.  I like speaking with fishermen, hearing their stories and discussing the importance of regulations.
Kenny on the right at a Dockwalker event this year in
Moss Landing with fellow Sanctuary Steward John Scally
and SOS program manager, Rachel Kippen.
I selfishly volunteer! 
Whenever I stop volunteering for a while, there is not as much good in my life.  I volunteer because it gives me good karma.  
You get what you give!

October 15, 2013

October 15th is Leatherback Conservation Day

Happy Conservation Day Leatherback Sea Turtles!

Last year, the California legislature made the Leatherback sea turtle the California marine reptile and designated October 15th as the day to celebrate these amazing creatures.  

Leatherback turtles are named for their leather-like shell, which is softer than other turtles. They are the largest marine turtle species, growing up to seven feet (two meters) long and exceeding 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). Leatherbacks undertake the longest migrations between breeding and feeding areas of any sea turtle, averaging 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) each way. Although their distribution is wide, numbers of leatherback turtles have seriously declined during the last century as a result of intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch.

Marine turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. Leatherback turtles consume large numbers of jellyfish which helps to keep populations of these marine organisms in check.  This is why they visit the Monterey Bay, for all of our delicious jellyfish. Marine turtles, including leatherbacks, also provide a vital source of income as a draw for ecotourism in coastal communities, especially in the Coral Triangle.

Scientists around the world are tracking and studying leatherbacks to learn more about these reptilian giants and how they can be saved.  Take a moment to spread the word today about these amazing creatures we get to call the California marine reptile!

September 27, 2013

3rd Annual Monterey Beer Garden to Benefit SOS

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This Saturday, September 28th, marks the 3rd Annual Monterey Beer Garden hosted by Peter B's and the Portola Hotel. Join us in sampling a variety of delicious local and national brews and try your hand at winning some amazing raffle prizes! The event has moved to the beautiful Custom House Plaza, so now you can invite all of your friends since this area can hold over 500 people to join in sampling and celebrating a long list of local breweries from the area.

Peter B’s has been satisfying locals and visitors to the Monterey Peninsula for over 30 years. Like many restaurants, Peter B’s has gone through a series of changes and upgrades since it first opened its doors in 1978, but it has always maintained an outstanding level of service and provided a great place to meet and enjoy food, friends and fun. 

It promises to be a gorgeous day with an excellent turn out with beer connoisseurs and ocean supporters from all over the greater San Francisco and Monterey Bay area.

Save Our Shores is especially excited to participate in this event.  Come say hi to us and buy some raffle tickets for your chance to win a week in Tahoe, A Day Sail on the San Franciso Bay, Dinner for 2 at Peter B's Brewpub, and more great raffle prizes!

A big thank you to the Monterey Beer Garden for inviting Save Our Shores back as your beneficiary of this event again this year! This event is surely not one to miss!

Admission includes unlimited beer tasting, BBQ and Live Music, for only ($50 at the door)!! Doors open at 12pm and we will keep the party going until 4pm, so don't be late!
Participating Breweries Include:

Peter B’s Brewpub

Highway 1 Brewing

Stone Brewing

Lagunitas Brewing

Discretion Brewing

English Ales Brewery

Campbell Brewing Co.

Triple Rock Brewing Co.

Hermitage Brewery

Tied House Brewery

Rock Bottom Brewery

Boulder Creek Brewery

Uncommon Brewers

Drakes Brewing
Santa Clara Brewing

August 28, 2013

Summer Raffle Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our summer raffle this year, it was our biggest ever!

Here are the lucky winners:

  • A private, two hour charter on the 70-foot Chardonnay II:  Jay C. from San Francisco
  • Two nights stay at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with passes to Cal Academy:  Eddie P. of Salinas
  • Two nights of Coastal Vacation at the Pine Valley Bungalows at Costanoa Lodge:  Sofia B. of Santa Cruz
  • A year of hot tubbing at Well Within Spa:  Robert C. of Sacramento
  • Eight tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:  Elisa G. of Salinas. 

August 27, 2013

San Jose bans Styrofoam today

SOS Staff Rachel (dressed up as the Styrofoam Monster) and Laura

After two years of working on a ban on Styrofoam food containers in San Jose, today the council voted. SOS staff and volunteers have spent countless hours meeting with councilmembers, conducting outreach to the community, and sending in letters of support for a ban on this harmful single-use plastic.  SOS was instrumental in banning  foam take out containers in Santa Cruz County over the past few years and we have seen a 75% decrease in Styrofoam litter on our beaches.  The reason we are still seeing any Styrofoam on our beaches is because of visitors coming from areas like San Jose where there are no bans in place yet.  SOS staff including Rachel Kippen, dressed as the Styrofoam Monster, spoke in support of a ban today and were thrilled when the council voted 9-2 to approve the draft ordinance.

Councilmember Herrara  stated that Styrofoam is not a safe material for our environment or human health.
Councilmember Kalra stated that he looked forward to our youth growing up not knowing what it is like to get a Styrofoam take-out container.  "That's a good thing".

August 21, 2013

Joe Simitian: Protecting the Environment through Politics

Every year Save Our Shores has the honor of selecting an Ocean Hero who has shown exemplary assistance in the fight to protect California’s coastline. This year, we are proud to have selected Joe Simitian, current Santa Clara County Supervisor and former senator. 

Throughout his career, Simitian has proved continued commitment to the environment. He is the author of amazingly powerful legislation such as a ban on cruise ship sewage dumping, adoption of sustainable marine aquaculture, and California’s renewable energy portfolio that demands more effort toward becoming a green state. 
Joe Simitian at work. Photo courtesy of his website

Simitian has also served on many committees that serve to protect California’s waterways and coasts and air quality. He chaired the Committee on Delta Conservation, Conveyance and Governance, the Environmental Quality Committee and the Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation during his eight years in Senate. He also served as an influential member of other groups such as the Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability.

As a politician truly working for the people of California, Simitian has also paved the way for other important acts such as heavier sentences for elderly abuse and the hands-free cell phone law. 

Recognized by other organizations as having a 100 percent environmental rating, this Palo Alto native has done everything in his power to cleanup California’s oceans and air and to preserve the state for future generations. 

We are privileged to recognize Supervisor Joe Simitian for his years of service and dedication to California’s unique environmental issues. Please join us in observing him as Save Our Shores’ 2013 Ocean Hero this Sunday, August 25th, at our annual Toast to the Coast celebration!

August 14, 2013

Nancy Connelly: Volunteer of the Year

We have so many rock star volunteers that when we choose our annual Volunteer of the Year it is a hard-pressed decision. However, this year we have been blown away by the outstanding dedication shown by Nancy Connelly. 
Volunteer of the Year
Nancy is a 2011 graduate of our Sanctuary Stewards Docent Program where she received ocean and coastal issue training from marine biologists and conservationists. 

Stewards pledge a minimum 50-hour volunteer commitment and Nancy has far surpassed that with more than 330 hours! That is simply stellar!

Nancy is quite humble about her efforts and said starting out the day knowing that she has removed  harmful trash from the beach is a great feeling.
"As odd as it may sound, I don't think of my time with Save Our Shores as volunteering," Nancy said. "It's just something I do because I love doing it."

She regularly helps with Save Our Shores events, education and a number of other tasks but says that volunteering her time doing beach cleanups is the most rewarding.

Nancy grew up in Connecticut and said she has always lived near the water. She describes water as an integral part of her life and feels a duty to keep it pristine. 

“Beach clean-ups are only part of what I’ve done with Save Our Shores, but so far it’s been the most fulfilling,” Nancy said after she graduated from the Steward Program. “Seeing the smiles, community spirit and watching bag after bag, pound after pound of trash and recyclables removed from my playground is the best feeling there is."

We are delighted that our volunteers find so much joy in the work they do. Save Our Shores couldn’t accomplish what it does without the help of our dedicated, wonderful volunteers like Nancy Connelly. Please join us at our annual Toast to the Coast to celebrate Nancy’s achievements on August 25th!

August 7, 2013

Portola Hotel and Spa: 2013 Business of the Year

Offering relaxation, luxury and a commitment to environmentally-friendly practices, we are proud to present Portola Hotel and Spa as our Save Our Shores 2013 Business of the Year.

“We are honored to be selected as this year's Business of the Year by Save our Shores,” said Janine Chicourrat, General Manager of Portola Hotel & Spa. “We take pride in our efforts by using eco-friendly materials whenever possible and we also promote a ‘green’ and environmentally-friendly lifestyle amongst our staff, guests and our community.  We are pleased that our efforts are being acknowledged by such an impactful organization.” 

Portola Hotel has partnered up with Save Our Shores on many occasions by hosting events and we can’t think of a place much better to hold an affair. With the ability to put on zero-waste accommodations for meetings and conferences for up to 900 people, they are experts in earth-friendly business practices. Beyond their low-flow fixtures and energy-efficient lighting, Portola Hotel has taken green to another level. 

The restaurants within the hotel all serve sustainable, local and organic faire and are part of the Seafood Watch Program. Jack’s Restaurant even boasts a 100 percent compostable carpet made from sheep’s wool and jute—that is about as natural as it gets! And these are just a few of the amazing steps toward their pursuit of a green operation. The entire list of their efforts can be found on their website.

Portola Hotel has earned the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s WRAP (Waste Reduction Awards Program) Award 19 years in a row. They also received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in 2011 as well as becoming the first Silver LEED Certified Green Hotel in Central California. 

For years the hotel has sponsored Del Monte beach through the Adopt-a-Beach program, taking local action to protect California coast lines. Save Our Shores is proud of Portola Hotel and its continued dedication to the coastal community.

“We have enjoyed partnering with Save our Shores on projects such as community beach clean ups and various fundraisers dedicated for Save Our Shores,” said Chicourrat. “We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership and most importantly, keep our shores pristine.”

Join us in celebrating Portola Hotel and Spa’s promise to sustainable and green business practices. We are thrilled to name them as our 2013 Business of the Year! The award ceremony will be held at  Toast to the Coast on August 25th.

photo courtesy of Portola Hotel and Spa