March 31, 2014

Get to Know Your MPA Monday

                                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Christian Arballo
Natural Bridges Marine Protected Area (MPA)

One of the smallest MPAs in the Central Coast, Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is just a half mile long and extends only 21 feet into the ocean.    

Located at the northern edge of the City of Santa Cruz, Natural Bridges is an accessible and popular area where visitors and scientists alike can explore extensive and biologically rich tide pools and sandy beaches.  The famous tide pools at Natural Bridges provide habitat for a wide range of species from baby Giant Pacific Octopus to Gumboot Chiton.

The Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is a special MPA that does not allow any type of fishing, hence the word reserve.  There are many different types of MPAs that allow some fishing but since this is such a special and unique area along the coast of California, it is protected from all fishing and harvesting activities.

This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent place to view birds, migrating whales, seals, and otters playing offshore. 

                        Photo by Anders Ohlsson
Natural Bridges is home to the only State Monarch Preserve in California and provides a temporary home to over 100,000 Monarch butterflies each winter!

Did you know? Although only one arch remains at Natural Bridges, at one time three arches once stood here until they collapsed from erosion. The outer arch fell during the early 20th century and the inner arch fell during a large storm in 1980 – all that remains is the middle arch!

For more information about Natural Bridges State Park click here.  For more information on all of the MPAs in the Central Coast of California click here.

March 26, 2014

Local SOS Beach Adopter Saves Seagull from Fishing Line

Anni Rein was walking on Seabright Beach in November 2013 and saw something strange in the tide line.  It was a seagull that had just washed ashore and was right where the sea met the beach.  It wasn’t swimming or flying, it was floating. 

The bird couldn't move its feet, mouth or wings. Seeing the bird in distress, Anni approached the bird and noticed that the bird was tangled in fishing line.  Anni didn't have a knife or scissors, so she asked around for something to get it off.  A man came to help her and said he would get the number for Native Animal Rescue.  He ran up to Save Our Shores sign at the entrance of the beach, got the number and called for help. 

With the animal rescue's advice, they carefully picked up the bird and cut off the fishing line with a car key.  Then got all the line off released bird, they stayed and watched if it would fly.  

"You could see the bird had been harmed by this fishing line for a while, once it was off, it slowly stretched it's wings and was very wobbly and confused on it's feet trying to walk away."  said Anni.

The bird didn't make it very far and didn't look in good health.  They decided to take the advice from the Native Animal Rescue and capture the bird to bring it in.  With a towel to cover the bird and a cardboard box to transport it, the man took the bird to the rehab center.

Anni never got the name of the man who helped her rescue the bird.  Mysteriously, just a few weeks ago, she saw the man walking his dog at the exact same place they had met back in November.  Excited, she asked what happened to the bird.  The man said he took bird to animal rescue and they said it would have a good chance of recovering.  

This story had a very happy ending, but many birds don't have the same fate.  Birds are being found more frequently tangled in fishing line in Santa Cruz and Monterey.  This is a good reminder to fishermen to collect fishing line and not let it go.

March 24, 2014

SOS Hopes to Rescue Panther Beach

If you aren't familiar with Panther Beach, we recommend you go there soon!  It is a Santa Cruz north county beach that is beautiful but consistently trashed.  SOS recently began hosting regular monthly cleanups at Panther Beach to increase awareness and get people involved in keeping the beach clean.  SOS is hoping that these regular cleanups will lead to a well managed and cared for beach.

SOS has been running beach cleanups at Panther beach for over 10 years.  In 2013 alone, beach cleanup volunteers collected over 1,000 pounds of trash.  Because of the immense amount of trash, Panther Beach is one of SOS’ Top 10 Hotspots for 2014.

Starting on January 26th, SOS began running monthly beach cleanups at Panther Beach on the 4th Sunday of each month from 9am-11am.  SOS also installed a sign at the beach offering trash bags to beach-goers to incentivize them to keep the beach pristine.  The second beach cleanup on February 23rd yielded 150 pounds of trash in just two hours! Volunteers were feeling successful in their efforts but then on February 24th, the day after the cleanup, the sign was stolen along with the box containing trash bags.  SOS made these trash bags available in an effort to make it easier for people to pack out their trash with the lack of trash cans at the beach.  SOS is trying to work with State Parks and Caltrans to place a dumpster in the parking lot but until then trash bags were intended to help the situation.

What can we do to bring this beach back to its glory days?

“This is a new approach for SOS to focus on Hotspots as our goal for 2014 instead of just aiming to increase the total number of cleanups we do overall.  We led 280 cleanups in 2013 and after analyzing our data to see which were the dirtiest places, we decided to give those 10 locations extra attention this year,” said Laura Kasa, Executive Director of SOS.

If you are interested in helping to keep Panther Beach clean, please join SOS on the 4th Sunday of each month from 9am-11am.  The sign that was stolen will be replaced in the next month and will hopefully stand for much longer to help keep this beach clean.

March 21, 2014

Living Plastic Free: Challenge Accepted

Let’s play a game.

The rules: ten minutes without touching some form of plastic.

Items that are made out of plastic are off limits, but so is everything that’s wrapped in plastic! Think long and hard about what you’re reaching for… Go ahead, try! Don’t let this game fool you for the struggle is real my friends!

If after ten minutes you have found yourself standing in the middle of your room frozen and completely overwhelmed by what you can and cannot touch, congratulations! You’ve probably just had a startling realization about the amount of plastic in your own home. Take a seat and breathe deeply for a minute or two as you try to rationalize the situation at hand.

Photo: Julia Ewan, Washington Post

Plastic is everywhere, it is practically impossible to go ten minutes without finding it. Cell phones, computers, cars, packaged food items from the grocery store and even the clothes we wear are all related to plastic.
After evaluating our own 2013 environmental footprint we found a few areas that need improvement. Volunteers and employees at Save Our Shores noticed that the most common sources of plastic within the organization were single-use gloves, garbage bags, water bottles, utensils (plastic/bio-plastic), and packaging (food/supplies).

Recognizing our role as part of the plastic consumption problem is the first step towards finding a solution.

Through our actions we hope to not only motivate ourselves in becoming environmental leaders, but to inspire and encourage environmental responsibility in others as well!

List of Common Plastic Slip Ups:
Plastic bags
Plastic bottles
Plastic utensils
Plastic food packaging
Plastic dishes
Plastic tablecloth
Plastic straws
Zip ties

List of Plastic Alternatives:
Reusable cloth bags
Reusable water bottles
Reusable utensils
Food stored in glass containers, cloth bags, or reusable containers
Glass, ceramic, stainless steel dishes
Cloth tablecloth
No straws preferred. Paper straws if necessary
Twine from natural fiber

-Bronti Patterson
UCSC Environmental Studies 2014 and Lead Program and Outreach Intern for SOS

March 19, 2014

Santa Cruz Warriors Take on Seabright Beach

What do you get when you mix the Santa Cruz Warriors with 250 volunteers?  

135 pounds of trash!

On the morning of March 15th, the Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team traded in their jerseys for bright yellow "I (heart) Clean Beaches" t-shirts and came to Seabright Beach to meet up with 250 screaming fans!

The volunteers were split into 6 groups and each team had 2 Warriors players to help them out.

After a quick safety talk, the teams were off and running to try to collect the most trash to win some great prizes.  

The teams picked up everything from cigarette butts and bottle caps to a water logged tire! Each team piled up their trash onto their team's tarp and Mav'riks went around to judge each team's bounty.

It was a hard decision, but the call was finally made to crown Team 3 as the winners! They deserved it after hauling a huge tire back to their tarp from across the beach! 

All of the trash totaled up to 137 pounds! 
535 cigarette butts
1328 Styrofoam pieces
1096 plastic pieces
158 plastic straws or stirrers
257 plastic bottle caps

Here is a video by Left Coast Digital from the event: 

March 7, 2014

Mount Madonna's 5th Grade Class is Classroom of the Year!!

Save Our Shores is proud to announce the
 Classroom of the Year!

This year it goes to a very dedicated and enthusiastic class of 5th graders at Mount Madonna School and teachers Jessica Campbell and Nate Rockhold.

Here are just a few of the reasons they were chosen:

  • Every year they choose an environmental issue to focus on and create a movie and raise money for a solution, last year they made a movie on Condors called "Let the Condors Fly, Not Die."  This year their movie was called "Don't Be A Nurdle, Save the Sea Turtle" and focused on three main issues and solutions (harvesting turtles for things we don't need, bycatch and sustainable seafood, plastics and waste reduction).  

  • Teachers Jessica Campbell and Nate Rockhold are very passionate about teaching their students about the new California State Marine Reptile, the Leatherback Sea Turtle and were even asked to be a part of the first Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Summit.

  • The students presented at a Scotts Valley City Council meeting supporting a plastic bag ban.  20 fifth graders pooled their public comment so they could collectively present their research project on sea turtles and plastic pollution to encourage the city council to put the bag ban on their next agenda.

  • They participate regularly in beach cleanups and joined us for our recent cleanup at Palm Beach in Santa Cruz.

  • The class did a science experiment to test how long it takes bioplastics to break down and if they are a good alternative to single use plastics.  They then presented findings at their fundraiser and spread the word about bio plastics not being all they cracked up to be.

  • The students volunteered at the Amore Our Shores event last month and dressed up in costumes made from recycled plastic trash.  They even got on the KSBW news and tested out games and artwork created by UCSC SPARC art students.
  • They created "Stow it Dont Throw It" containers to pass out to boaters to collect used fishing line! How innovative!

Thank you Mount Madonna 5th graders for your passion for the ocean and your strive to spread the word about being a part of the solution to pollution!

March 5, 2014

Save Our Shores Seeks Sanctuary Stewards

Are you passionate about ocean conservation?  

Do you want to get involved with Save Our Shores at a higher level?

We have an event for YOU!

We will be holding a Sanctuary Stewards docent training next Thursday, March 13th from 5:40pm to 9:00pm at our office in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

This hands-on training will teach you how to lead a beach or river cleanup and educate the public on pollution prevention.  Following this training is a beach cleanup on Saturday where you will put your training into effect.   Sanctuary Stewards are the backbone of Save Our Shores, if you want to be part of the team, this is the training for you.

"When I prioritized volunteering last year and began researching local non-profit organizations, Save Our Shores was a natural fit. After a full year on the team, beach clean-ups are only part of what I’ve done with Save Our Shores, but so far it’s been the most fulfilling. 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."
- Nancy Connelly, Sanctuary Steward Class of 2011

The training will be held at the Save Our Shores office at 345 Lake Ave. Suite A in the Santa Cruz Harbor.  The training will run from 5:30pm-9:00pm, it is a quick crash course, but a great leap into becoming an integral part of Save Our Shores.

For more information, please contact Marina Maze, Program Coordinator at Save Our Shores at 831-462-5660 Ex. 2 or  You can always find us on the web at