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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Hendry's Beach and Stern's Wharf, Santa Barbara, California, USA

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Hendry's Beach and Stern's Wharf, Santa Barbara, California, USA
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Registered: December 2011
City/Town/Province: Mountain View
Posts: 1
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My name is Gina and I am a junior at Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. I have always had a deep love and appreciation for the ocean. As a native Hawaiian I have a unique cultural view and appreciation for marine life. I have a passion to share this love and respect for the marine environment with others. When I was in seventh grade I participated in a program called Its A Honu World. This project allowed me to paint and auction off a ceramic turtle. The money from it went to the Hawaii Marine Debris Department. I met the most amazing people, and this was really the door that opened up my interest and ability to make a difference. I am now fortunate enough to be the youth seat on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. I feel so blessed that this position has allowed me to have my voice, and the voice of the young people of Hawaii, heard regarding ocean policy and conservation. I chose to complete an Apprentice Ecologist project because I feel that this program is an amazing opportunity to elevate myself to become a leading role in conservation and protection of our natural resources. This program really inspired me, and caught my eye to make a difference in the environmental and cultural condition of not only my local community, but one of global unison. If I can touch the life of at least one person to make a difference, or the quality of life of a single creature, then this project will have merit.
My Apprentice Ecologist project was conducted at Hendry’s Beach and Stearn’s Wharf in Santa Barbara, California. Hendry’s Beach is a popular stretch of shoreline where many people come to spend time and numerous pet owners bring their dogs to enjoy the beach. Stearn’s Wharf is another busy stretch of coast along the shops and vendors of Downtown Santa Barbara. This is a well traveled area by cars and on foot. Both of these areas are places of high human interference and disturbance. I was able to complete beach cleanups at each of these places thanks to the Ocean for Life program, which brought together students from the United States and the Middle East. This program taught us about problems facing the ocean such as ocean acidification, marine debris, and whale ship strikes while promoting cultural understanding and acceptance.
It is important to take care of these areas for several reasons. It is important to keep them clean, not only for current ocean users to enjoy but also for future generations. We are not inheriting the earth from our ancestors; we are borrowing it from our children. I believe it is crucial to preserve the beautiful places of this earth, not for ourselves but for those that will come after us, so that we may hold our head high and know we did the best that we could to maintain, if not better, these resources for all those that follow us. While in California, I was surprised to learn of kelp forests, large underwater seaweed beds that many marine creatures depend on to survive. Being on the beach in California and the Channel Islands, I saw kelp washed on shore, home to beach crabs, and witnessed its importance in the underwater ecosystem when snorkeling. Protecting these ecosystems for the marine creatures to have a home and food resource is a heavy responsibility. These stretches of coastlines are home to many seabirds, and fish population. At Stearn’s Wharf I witnessed fishermen off of the side of the pier fishing. We need keep these areas pristine to ensure that creatures, and food sources are healthy and living in a clean environment. There were many small Styrofoam pieces on the beach, pieces that seabirds often feed to their chicks, pieces that fish take for grubs when washed into the sea. Scientists are finding that this causes malnutrition and starvation in many sea birds, and many fish do not meet health regulations for human consumption. The ocean is a resource that we cannot lose to debris; each year the ocean absorbs approximately 25% of all the carbon dioxide we emit. At Hendry’s Beach I learned that this site is an important step in the local watershed system. This area is critical to reduce flooding and soil erosion. Also, by being in the water flow, all of the debris that ocean users leave on the beach or is washed ashore, is returned to the marine environment. Most of all, to me, the ocean, no matter whether I am in Hawaii or anywhere else, is a beautiful and amazing part of my world that I would do anything to protect.
At Hendry’s Beach we broke up into teams of five and scoured the beach for any item of debris. We kept count of the amount and types of debris on International Coastal Cleanup data sheets. This information is used for global data collection to enhance the understanding and knowledge of what products and areas cause and receive the greatest threat. I was really surprised to find that most of the rubbish left on the beach was fruit. Watermelons and half eaten apples lined the beach, and I couldn’t make sense of this. I expected the amount of cigarette butts but it was disheartening to see, as cigarette filters take from one to five years to completely decompose. Trash bags were filled with the debris left on the beach. At Stearn’s Wharf I was able to mentor Channel Islands Argonauts middle school students to lead a beach cleanup. This was an amazing opportunity to share what I know, and my love for the ocean with the younger generation. Again, we collected trash along the beach and filled out a data sheet. This time we found more Styrofoam pieces than anything else. This was a terrific chance to share the message of ocean conservation with others.
This project helps to benefit the community and environment by promoting others to make a difference in ocean conservation. I was able to remove harmful material and debris from the marine environment, bettering the lives of many marine creatures. At the same time I had the opportunity to influence and share the significance of keeping the environment clean to others of different cultures and ages. This will make a direct impact on the lives and protection of not only the beaches cleaned up, but also other places around the world where the legacy of preserving natural places will live on. I know that this experience has made an impact on the lives of others and their willingness to do their part in service to the land. The feelings of personal responsibility, care, and sense of protection bestowed onto the participants of the clean ups are powerful objectives to give.
There are so many ways that this project has enriched my life. I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to work and collaborate with the motivated people and students I did. I have grown as a person with my understanding of other cultures and why the ocean is important to each and every one of us, even if we do not live near it. This project inspired me to work with my film teacher at school to create a news story about marine debris in Hawaii to air on PBS. I have finished the design and production of a coloring book geared toward first through third graders about the importance of the marine environment. In the future, I plan to continue to share my experiences and love for the ocean with others, especially younger students and community members through presentations and outreach material such as the coloring book. I hope to continue to make a difference in the lives of others and the environment around me to better the world we live in.
Date: December 31, 2011 Views: 9017 File size: 18.0kb, 122.4kb : 960 x 720
Hours Volunteered: 180
Volunteers: 30
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 12 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 4
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