Carbajal Highlights Recreational Value of Marine Sanctuaries on “Vet into Your Sanctuary” Cruise

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Santa Barbara, July 31, 2018 | comments

On Saturday, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and national marine sanctuary staff took 22 Central Coast veterans out for a “Vet into Your Sanctuary” Cruise aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Shearwater.

National marine sanctuaries are premiere destinations for people to recreate responsibly, enjoy the ocean’s beauty, and be inspired by meaningful marine conservation. The public are invited to “Get into Your Sanctuary” on August 4-5 and discover the recreational opportunities at the Channel Islands.

Get into Your Sanctuary’ events are aimed at reaching a diverse audience to learn about the importance of ocean stewardship. This year national marine sanctuaries are honoring the service of our nation’s veterans by dedicating the ‘Get into Your Sanctuary’ event as ‘Vet into Your Sanctuary.”

“Our community is fortunate to have a national marine sanctuary right here in our own back yard,” Carbajal said. “This was a great opportunity to engage our local veterans in visiting and learning more about the stewardship of this national treasure. It is a win-win to involve them in recreational opportunities in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, from whale watching to enjoying getting outdoors and into nature.”

Bill Douros, West Coast Sanctuaries Regional Director, was also on the R/V Shearwater last Saturday.

“A lot of veterans live near west coast national marine sanctuaries due to various military installations such as Vandenberg Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Point Mugu near Santa Barbara,” Douros said. “Reaching the veteran community informs them about national marine sanctuaries and highlights how veterans can assist in protecting and becoming stewards for these special places.”

A diverse group of Central Coast veterans participated on the cruise from all branches of the military, whose service spans the Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf war. Ken Tatro served in the U.S. Navy from 1958 – 1964. Ken is a an active member of Elks Lodge #613, as well as a volunteer member of the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteer program. He served as a naturalist on the “Vet into Your Sanctuary” cruise and was proud to help other veterans get out on the water.

“As Veterans, we served to protect our country, including the waters along our shores,” said Tatro. “I am very excited about this cruise, to be able to share all of this with some of our local Vets, and our local congressperson, who is a Veteran, himself. These are their waters, too.  Our local national marine sanctuary is for them to be able to get to know, experience and enjoy. For me, as a veteran, and a volunteer naturalist, it just does not get much better than this.”

They encountered 6 Risso's dolphins, 2 humpback whales and one bald eagle, and some Common dolphins off the west end of Santa Cruz Island. 

Veterans learned how to record the whale sightings using the ‘Whale Alert” app, a free mobile app available to the public to record whale sightings, which helps in research and protection. They also traveled along the coastline of Santa Cruz Island to discover its unique geology and sea caves. They learned about the rich maritime heritage and military history of the sanctuary and conducted oceanography experiments.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1980 to protect marine resources surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands. The sanctuary spans approximately 1,470 square miles, extending from island shorelines to six miles offshore, and encompasses a rich diversity of marine life, habitats and historical and cultural resources.

Members of the public are invited to submit photos to the Get into Your Sanctuary Photo contest, open now through August 15. Categories include: sanctuary views, sanctuary life & sanctuary portraits.

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