News Splash™

How does time fly by so fast? ..............   We spend our time doing rather than talking about what we are doing at Marine Life Studies so needless to say it has been a long time since the blog has been updated. I apologize right now that I will not be updating the blog today.  In the meantime check out our Facebook page.


Later I will post information and pictures about: The exciting time taking the children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County whale watching after providing free educational classes about the the marine life right in their own backyard in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We held Take It To The Streets™ at the Patagonia Outlet Store in Santa Cruz, at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival, and most recently at Whalefest 2013. As a conservation partner with the BLUE Ocean Film Festival we provided free educational programs in September during BLUE, including a mock disentanglement program on how to disentangle a whale from marine debris and fishing gear. We had a W.E.T. (Whale Entanglement Team) exhibit at the biennial American Cetacean Society Conference in San Diego. Plus other events so stay tuned.


Please check out the following:


Join Peggy Stap at Whale Tales in Lahaina, Maui February 16 - 18, 2013.

Click here for more details.



Please Donate Today and Marine Life Studies will receive an additional 20% match. Hurry as match ends February 28th.

Click here for more details.  Thank you for your support!



Help us spread the word that Marine Life Studies needs a vehicle. Thank you!

Click here for more information.

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Latest  Report as of 4/28/12

Entangled gray whale is heading up the coast of California. Last known sighting of this gray whale was on Tuesday, April 24 South of Gorda, California heading north close to shore. At that time the animal had 2 white poly balls and one red poly ball trailing that were attached in Southern California to help sight the animal.

Extensive efforts over the past few days have yielded no sighting of the entangled whale. This has increased concern that the whale may have expired. Going forward, searching will continue by various whale watching boats and a couple of marine mammal research projects working in the area including Marine Life Studies research project.

The last aerial survey was on Friday, April 27, 2012. Sighting conditions were good. They counted 30 gray whales (many cow/calf pairs), 4 humpbacks, 1 minke whale and scads (that's a scientific unit of measure) of Risso's dolphins. The flight crew said they could see the herd of Risso's swimming underwater.

It is possible the grapple hooks chaffed the trailing line enough to cut the line so may not have them attached any longer which would make sighting this animal again very difficult. Below are photos of the animal without the polyballs.


Please call (877) SOS-WHALE immediately as the Whale Entanglement Team is ready to respond once we receive a re-sight on this gray whale. Please standby the animal if possible but do not approach closer than 200 yards.

120418_Er_entangle_up 120418_Er_entangle_down


Learn more about the Whale Entanglement Team (W.E.T.)

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Marine Life Studies provides free educational programs for the children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County!


Our new Plastic Police Initiative Take It To The Streets™ project was a huge success! The children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Salinas and Seaside Units learned how land based litter affects their local watersheds and ultimately ends up in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


Since greater than 80% of pollution found during beach cleanups is from land-based sources, Marine Life Studies Take It To The Streets™ Plastic Police Initiative goes inland, getting children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County involved in cleanup efforts in the streets of their neighborhoods. This program gives children who do not live directly on the ocean (which is in their own backyard) the opportunity to actively play a part in the solution and help keep pollution out of the eco-system before it ever gets into our waterways and into the ocean. Club Members learn why it is important to keep our waterways clean and our oceans healthy, and how changes in their everyday lives can bring about positive change to the environment and their local community.


Click here to Donate as you can make a difference in helping to educate the environmental stewards of the future!


Children from Boys & Girls Club, Salinas Unit, picking up and documenting trash at Natividad Creek Park. 




Click here for Press Release



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Thank you for your support and kindness throughout the year from all of us at Marine Life Studies. Your encouragement, support and donations make a difference! We wish you a very wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!


I would also like to extend a huge thank you to all the volunteers that are the driving force behind Marine Life Studies. Their hard work, unparalled dedication and passion are an inspiration to me.


Much Aloha,

Peggy Stap

Executive Director


Put a smile on a child with

Monterey County gives! 2011....

Click here to read more about it.

 Donate by midnight Dec. 31st

& your donation will
receive a match.



Upcoming Events:


-  December 27, 28, January 2 and 3: Marine Life Studies providing free educational programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas units. Jenna Contuchio, Education Coordinator, and Peggy Stap, Research Director, are excited to bring marine deris awareness programs for the kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs. The topic, "Pollution Solutions", empowers kids with the knowledge that everyday choices they make do make a difference. We will be screening the film "Bag It". There will be interactive hands-on activities for the kids. 


-  Whalefest, 2012, Saturday January 21: Whalefest - a free, public event. Join the fun at Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California for Whalefest 2012. There will be games, activities and educational events throughout the day including a Scavenger Hunt, Bocce Ball Tournament, Climb Inside a 60-foot Gray Whale, Marine Life Studies will be presenting a special screening of "Bag It" and Jenna Contuchio, Education Coordinator for Marine Life Studies, will give a special presentation afterwards. Peggy Stap, Executive Director, will give presentation on “Whales and Dolphins of Monterey” after the BLUE Ocean’s screening of Humpback Code. Stop by the Marine Life Studies booth for fun hands-on activities for kids and adults. Get a free Origami Whale Kit. Click here for more details. See the YouTube video.


-  Whale Tales 2012, Maui, Hawaii: Peggy Stap will see you in Maui on February 3rd and 4th as she will be there assisting with Whale Tales. Whale Tales – a free, public event that provides ocean enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about whales and the oceans from world-renowned scientists, photographers, and filmmakers – will be held at the Ritz Carlton, Kapalua on February 3 and 4, 2012. Click here for more details.


Have fun, win prize worth over $2200 and stretch your dollar as all donations receive a 15% match from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation during the Birdies for Charity. Donate today!!!!!!

Make a difference.  

Click Here to Donate now.






Make your donation in someone's honor or memory with "Give A Gift That Gives" and still enter to win the grand prize.

Click here for details.


To bring you up to speed on what has been going on let's start with the most recent and work back since it has been a while since the last blog post. Time flies way too fast for us at Marine Life Studies.


December 12, 2011: Marine Life Studies was invited to be part of Community Day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was great fun meeting people from all over.... even more fun to watch them play "Guess What This Is?". Some of the guesses were a palm frond a plant, sculpture, and it goes on. Everyone was amazed to learn that is was baleen from a blue whale that washed ashore back in 2005 on Del Monte beach. Kids loved to touch and feel the baleen, were excited to see the big black eyes on the tiny krill and to hold the bone from a whale.                                         


A couple different kids stopped by all excited when they saw us at the aquarium. One little girl from Salinas ran up and said, "You're the ones who took us on the boat this summer." Another young boy exclaimed, "You took us whale watching and we saw a blue whale. It was so much fun and I learned about whales." Both of the children were from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County where we provided free educational programs last summer and then took the children whale watching. It really had an impact on the kids and it was the first time either of them had ever been on a boat on the ocean. Your donations were essential in providing these opportunities to the children. Thank you and please continue to support us. Donate today!



November 13, 2011: Marine Life Studies' Jenna Contuchio, Education and Volunteer Coordinator, along with Peggy Stap, Executive and Research Director, joined Theresa Wright, host of Feedback at Five as her featured guests on KSBW-TV. With all of the excitement going on with the whales feeding so close to shore in Santa Cruz and the amazing photographs of whales and kayakers that made the national news, Peggy and Jenna stressed the need for people to observe the proper viewing guidelines for whales and dolphins, for their own safety and the safety of the whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife. Marine Life Studies developed a waterproof ocean users' guide, "Marine Mammals of Northern California".




























October: What a fun but busy month for Marine Life Studies. First I want to thank all of you that supported us by eating dinner at Hula’s Tiki Grill every Monday night in October as we received 10% of the total sales. We all had fun catching up and breaking bread with a lot of people throughout the month that came to support our efforts. Mahalo!!!!!


On October 21st we had our very first fundraiser Flip for Whales™. We plan on having it as an annual event it was so much fun. We were fortunate to have as our featured guest, National Geographic photographer Charles “Flip” Nicklin. We left Moss Landing harbor on a sunset cruise aboard "High Spirits" with Blue Ocean Whale Watch. Rick Cortes, an amazing singer and songwriter, graced us with his music for the evening. It was a small, intimate affair where people could mingle and talk to Flip about his life with whales. Flip signed his new book, 'Among Giants: A Life with Whales'. Wine and appetizers were served. The food was incredible, catered by Whole Foods Monterey Catering Team and we had yummy brownie bites from Rosine's of Monterey.


It was a fabulous evening. We really lucked out as the sun appeared just as we were shoving off. The seas were calm and the skies blue, which enabled us to actually see the elusive phenomenon, “The Green Flash”. Some say it is a myth but it is an actual occurrence but so rarely seen as the conditions have to be just perfect. It was a thrill for all on board.

Flip4Whales.Flip.WEB Flip4Whales.RickCortes
Flip Nicklin Rick Cortes

People that attended Flip for Whales™ called to tell us that the whole evening was so much fun.... first class.... top notch.... and they definitely will be there next year. Thank you to all that made the evening a success.















Check out the video on YouTube!


The funds raised enable us to continue our important programs including classes for the children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas Units, our on-going whale and dolphin research out on Monterey Bay, and our conservation efforts such as our Plastic Police initiative "Take it to the Streets™".

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Two exciting events coming up:


  • 1) Fun-filled evening August 12th, "Whale of a Good Time": Click here for details on the August Benefit for Marine Life Studies provided by the Monterey Bay Educational Center and Benefit Gallery. Hope to see you there.


  • 2) Attention Kids! Learn how to research whales and dolphins in Monterey Bay and become a Marine Life Studies Junior Research Scientist. Classes for kids 8 to 13 years old start September 6, 2011 so sign up today, as class size is limited. Click here for more details or call 831.372.3196 to register today.



Important Announcement .....


Jenna_Heart_MustangRecently our Volunteer Coordinator at Marine Life Studies, Jenna Contuchio, has taken on the position as our new Education Coordinator along with her current duties. Jenna has a background in marine animal research, education, and outreach. Jenna is committed to the mission of Marine Life Studies and she has already proven her excellence in working with the youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas Units.




Marine Life Studies recently obtained the rights to screen the award-winning film "Bag It". Jenna is developing a curriculum specific to the effects single use disposable plastic pollution has on the whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


We know Jenna will provide the local youth and our community members alike with quality educational opportunities for many years to come.




Kids excited about Marine Life Studies Educational Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs!




Excitement has been building the last few of weeks at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas Units. Jenna Contuchio and Peggy Stap have been teaching classes about whales and dolphins in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The kids are so enthusiastic about coming to class they are waiting at the door the moment we arrive to set up. It is so fun to watch the surprised looks on their face when they realize how large a blue whale really is after laying out lines of different lengths representing the size of several whales and dolphins. They were excited to touch and feel the baleen from a blue whale, a bone from a gray whale and seeing the big black eyes of the tiny krill that many whales and dolphins feed on. The classes were to prepare the kids for the whale watch Marine Life Studies had planned for them.


They were thrilled when the day finally came to go whale watching. You could feel the excitement as the kids boarded the Pacific Explorer at Princess Monterey Whale Watching, Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. Most of the kids had never been on the ocean.


Peg_BGClubBoatHarborThe children saw sea lions, sea otters, and harbor seals while still in the harbor before heading out to sea. They were so excited and enthralled with everything, even the barnacles growing on the pilings under the wharf! The joy on their faces was priceless.


The kids were enjoying the feel of the wind and the salt spray of the ocean as the Pacific Explorer continued out in Monterey Bay. Then the most amazing thing Peggy_BGClub_grp_picBookhappened - blue whales were sighted. To see the tall blow and the body of the blue whale was exciting for all, but then one come over towards the boat and made a close pass. “Wow, did you see that.”, exclaimed some of the kids.


It was such a thrill for the children to actually see some of the animals they had learned about in class.



JennaPeg_BGClub_Cert_boyThe fun continued on the grassy area near the Bocce course at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf where we had a picnic lunch. The kids were still talking about the blue whales they saw. Following lunch we had a “Marine Life Studies Graduation Ceremony”. Each child received a personalized Certificate of Completion, an REI reusable bag made from recycled plastic bottles, and a folder with fun hands-on activities plus photos of whales and dolphins.




Marine Life Studies provided all of this at no charge to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas Units. This was made possible with the funds Marine Life Studies raised through the Monterey County Gives! 2010 campaign. Thank you to all that donated during the campaign, many were anonymous. We really appreciate it and you have made it possible for Marine Life Studies to provide a life-changing experience the children will never forget and will help them get excited in science and being better stewards of our planet. You can donate year-round to help us inspire future scientists by donating to our “Joey Jones Scholarship and Educational Fund”.


Thank you to all the Marine Life Studies volunteers that made this program for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County a success: Kate Cummings, Duane O’Sullivan, Dotty Weisheit, Sue Leinweber, Linda Bellamy and Barbara Howard. Thank you REI in Marina for donating the reuseable bags.



Whiskie the Whale Spotter™ in the News .....




Whiskie and her whale spotting abilities were featured in the Monterey County Weekly's new Animal Blog. The story was written with the help of her research associate Amanda Banks. Click here to see the full story.


For those who have been following on Facebook you know Whiskie had a tumor removed in June. We feared she might have another Mast Cell tumor but we can breath a sigh of relief - just found out it was benign. Soon Whiskie will be back to her favorite things including spotting whales.




Thank you Amanda Banks!


AmandaMustangSuitWe were so fortunate to have Amanda Banks come all the way from Brighton, England to volunteer. She is such an amazing, talented young lady. Amanda worked side by side with me for over a month. It was so much fun. Amanda worked both in the office doing some of the tedious day to day work that comes as part of being in charge of a non-profit organization and out in the field where we study a variety of whales and dolphins with an emphasis on Orcas. Amanda's energy and enthusiasm for her writing and the work she so kindly did for us at Marine Life Studies was inspiring.


Amanda wrote a blog during her time with us and below are links so you can get to it easily. Amanda also wrote an article for Planet Whale called "Oceans Alive - whale tales from the Field...Monterey Bay". Click here for article.


After leaving Monterey, Amanda was off to Peru to write about Stefan Austermuhle of Associacion Mundo Azul and then to Canada to write about Laurie Murison of Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station in Canada. Amanda finally made her way safely back to England for a well deserved reunion with her Mum and brother. Click here to read all about her adventures.


Amanda hopes to come back to Monterey again soon, maybe even this fall. We could use your help in getting her back by donating airline miles to Marine Life Studies. We all miss you Amanda and look forward to your return. Until we meet again.......


Below are the links to each blog post written by Amanda while in Monterey:

1) Peggy Stap - first impressions

2) Awesome Orca's all round

3) Peggy Stap - dipping a toe in the water

4) Peggy Stap - not exactly a conventional background

5) A conversation with Pieter Folkens

6) Peggy Stap - Maui to, almost, now

7) Peggy Stap - her present day life with Marine Life Studies

8) Peggy Stap - her best bits!

9) Peggy Stap - reflections on humanity

10) Peggy Stap - who has the last word?

11) A little something about me

12) A pause in the proceedings - Links to articles on Whiskie the Whale Spotter™

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“The Future is NOW! Career Extravaganza” at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, Friday March 25th was a huge success. Close to 300 freshmen from the Salinas and Seaside high schools attended the event held at the B&G Club in Salinas. I was invited to speak as a panelist for the event about Marine Life Studies and career opportunities in Marine Science. It was a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people to pursue a career in science. Jenna Contuchio, one of our volunteers, accompanied me to the event to assist at our interactive booth during the Community Resource Fair. One of the panelists did not make it to the event so Jenna offered to fill in, as she is a Veterinarian Technician. Jenna did a fantastic job and really connected with the kids. We both had a lot of fun and enjoyed working with the students.



BGC-PeggyCareerPanelistIDPeggy Stap explains how scientists identify individual humpback whales and killer whales.BGC-JennaCareerPanelistJenna Contuchio





Thank you to everyone that donated during the Birdies for Charity Birdies campaign offered by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. We are fortunate that you were inspired to contribute to the important projects Marine Life Studies provides for the community. Congratulations to Michelle Beach from Salinas, California who guessed the exact number of birdies scored and won the Grand Prize. The total number of Birdies scored by the PGA Tour professionals during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in February was “1798”.


Your support is so important and appreciated by all of us at Marine Life Studies. Thank you!!



Back on the water again……  

We will begin our boat surveys this spring to continue our important research on the whales and dolphins in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. All our volunteers are looking forward to getting back on the water. Our season was cut short in the fall of 2010 when the boat broke down and we had to pull it out for some major repairs. Unfortunately with the cost of fuel going up we are going to have to reduce the number of days on the water than we had originally planned for this spring.




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Last week for to stretch your donation – 15% match through Friday, February 25th. Marine Life Studies receives 115% of all funds raised. Click here to donate today! Thank you.


Wow… Whale Tales was incredible. The Ritz-Carlton had to keep adding chairs throughout the morning to accommodate everyone that came to Whale Tales.

It truly was a wonderful camaraderie of the research organizations and the community. That is what made Whale Tales such a successful and incredible event.

Dan R. Salden of the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation (HWRF) presented “Ocean Odyssey”, a Japanese documentary filmed in Maui by the Tokyo Broadcasting System that showcased the work of the HWRF. It served to educate the people of Japan how research can be done by observing “living” whales.

I was fortunate enough to work in the water with the Japanese film crew while documenting the behaviors of the humpback whales. It was such a thrill to be a part of a documentary that would help educate the people of Japan – it reached 20 million people (15% of the population). I was so excited to see I had a few brief appearances in the documentary.

The incredible, magnificent and beautiful humpbacks captured the hearts of the Japanese film crew. You could see the joy on their faces after each encounter with the humpbacks. It was heartwarming and many times members of the film crew hugged me as they were so moved by the experience. The award-winning actor Hideaki Ito along with the entire film crew became great ambassadors for the humpbacks back home in Japan.

Meagan Jones of Whale Trust enlightened us with some results from her long-term study of humpback whales and how female reproductive status (i.e., the presence or absence of a calf) affects female behavior patterns and interactions with males on the Hawaiian breeding grounds. Meagan’s five-year study had some surprising results.

Jim Darling showed us the relationship between the geographic distance and the similarity of the song. The talked focused on three geographic locations in the North Pacific. His long on-going study of the function of the humpback’s song is fascinating.

Flip Nicklin wowed the audience with his amazing photographs taken throughout his career as National Geographic photographer and during the research project he is an integral part of for Whale Trust. Last but not least Doug Perrine showcased his talk with a photographic journey of his travels around the world as a professional photographer.

The whole event was amazing and so glad I was involved with a whole host of volunteers that made Whale Tales a success.


Our 10th Annual Researchers Party - Time sure does fly! Every year my husband and I host a party for the researchers and volunteers from the community. It is always a lot of fun.

This year was very special as we honored a wonderful gal, Midge McGann, who has been supporting the whale research community in Maui for over 30 years. Midge has been such an inspiration to so many people and myself. I call her “M&M” for my Maui Mom. Midge hails from Pennsylvania but travels to Maui every winter. She is still photographing humpbacks – her camera is almost as big as she is. This year we celebrated her 90th birthday at our party. She was so surprised (of course, her actual birthday is June 8th). Midge was touched as she saw so many acquaintances from years past. It truly was a wonderful evening.


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Whale Tales is February 12, 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Maui. Hope to see you there.

Still time to stretch your donation with Birdies for Charity. Now through February 25, 2011 they match 15% so Marine Life Studies receives 115% of all funds raised! Your tax deductible donation is vital with 98% of your donation applied to Marine Life Studies research, education and conservation projects. Click here to donate today.


Whalefest 2011 was a huge success. The special concert performance presented by Marine Life Studies with Barbara Joy and the La Mesa School Children's Chorus was wonderful and beautiful. Barbara has the most amazing singing voice and worked with the children to make the concert a huge success. They sang with such heart and passion to a packed house. After which, Whiskie the Whale Spotter™ performed her whale tricks to the delight of the audience. Marine Life Studies had a booth with interactive activities which both kids and adults took part in. Met lots of nice folks and saw future scientists in the making with the matching game.


Special Performance Concert with Barbara Joy and La Mesa School Choir directed by Gloria A. Souza



Young kids having fun while learning.



I was privileged to speak about W.E.T. (Whale Entanglement Team) of Central and Northern California after the film “In the Wake of Giants” presented by the BLUE Ocean Film Festival at the Monterey History & Maritime Museum during Whalefest. “In the Wake of Giants” is an exciting look at how rescuers free humpback whales entangled in ropes and fishing nets with Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. It won Best National Marine Sanctuary Short during the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in August 2010, by Akua Films, produced by Mark DiOrio and Mara Kerr, written and directed by Lou Douros.


A special thanks goes to Mary Alice Fettis for coordinating Whalefest. She did an amazing job. Thank you to all the Marine Life Studies volunteers that helped make Whalefest a success: Judy Iverson, Terri Dratt, Ron and Sue Leinweber, Victoria Wade, Janice Barker, Kate Cummings, Dick Stap, and Mary Whitney.

I was invited to speak at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for at the Student Oceanography Club. This is an amazing program for kids and they are very bright and care about marine wildlife. It was fun as they asked great questions and really are excited to learn about whales and dolphins in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.








We want to express our heartfelt thanks for your generous donations during the Monterey County Gives! 2010 campaign. The funds raised will enable use to continue providing educational programs to the children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas Units this summer. We also plan to take the kids whale watching so they can experience the ocean first hand. We are so excited to see the kids as they see a whale or dolphin for the first time. This will have a powerful impact that could be life changing - it was for me after I saw a whale for the first time.


Stay tuned… more to come.

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We are starting 2011 out with a bang. How do you like the new website? I love it. Marine Life Studies Marketing/Development Consultant has worked with Ruth Simmons from Silverleaf Design in the development of the site. We are so excited to launch it for the start of 2011. Please click on Contact Us at top of page and let me know how you like it.

NOW through February 23, 2011 - Birdies For Charity is in full swing so be sure to get your pledge in. They match 15% so Marine Life Studies receives 115% of all funds raised! Plus it is tax deductible.

We count on your support. You are vital to Marine Life Studies commitment to teaching and inspiring the public to protect marine wildlife. So please click here today. What do golfers have in common with whales and the ocean? Click here to find out.

Be sure to visit us at WHALEFEST, January 22nd at Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey – Free to the Public

Lot’s of fun for the whole family. Marine Life Studies will have a booth with interactive fun activities. Be sure to come to the Special Concert Performance from 2 to 3 pm at the Wharf Theater. “Barbara Joy & the La Mesa School Children’s Chorus will perform songs dedicated to marine wildlife. Peggy Stap and her dog, “Whiskie the Whale Spotter” will do whale tricks!” Presented by Marine Life Studies – Limited seating starts at 1:45.

For more information on the days events click here for Whalefest 2011 PDF or click here to go to Old Fisherman’s Wharf Website.

December 2010 was all about education.
We closed out 2010 with providing free classes for the kids at The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both Seaside and Salinas units. The children were so eager and excited to learn “Pollution Solutions” and how to help keep the ocean safe from plastic pollution.


The children were so moved by the videos in the presentation they were very excited to become Marine Life Studies Recycle Rangers. The kids created “green gifts with recyclables” and participated in an exercise we call “Trash Talk” where they take trash and think how it could be reused - one of my favorites was an empty Glue Stick container would be a place to store quarters for the laundromat. Brilliant!!!


I want to especially thank REI for donating cloth bags to hand out to the kids. They were a great incentive for our Marine Life Studies Recycle Rangers. Thank you REI!




On December 12th we were part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Community. As you can see from the photo we were very busy talking with people from all around Monterey County. They really had fun taking part in the interactive hands-on activities at our booth. Great fun!


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Aloha! We have been really busy at Marine Life Studies and we have lots of exciting programs and news coming up. But first, I want to thank you for all your support - whether you volunteer for an event, on the research boat, for a class, or donate to our mission - on behalf of the whales, dolphins, turtles and all the marine wildlife, I thank you!


MARINE LIFE STUDIES NEWS: Macy's Community Shopping Day -
Special Concert Performance - Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 - 12:00 noon.

Be sure to come to Macy's Monterey at noon on Saturday Nov. 13th - Marine Life Studies is presenting a special concert performance: Professional singer/songwriter/performance artist Barbara Joy and the La Mesa School Children's Chorus will perform her original composition, "Don't Let Us Go", a heart-touching song dedicated to marine wildlife. The children's chorus is directed by Gloria A Souza. I attended a rehearsal this week and it is so amazing - it gave me goose bumps. Watching those children sing the beautiful song with Barbara Joy is so inspiring and moving. Plus, I'll be there with my dog, "Whiskie the Whale Spotter™" to do whale tricks, and there will be more music with the Rooftop Troubadours.




Education News:

We had a wonderful class with boys and girls for our Marine Life Studies Junior Research Scientist™ camp with the Monterey County Regional Park District. The children are so engaged and they learned so much! We'll be posting info and pictures soon. Marine Life Studies developed Marine Life Studies Education Outreach Programs to provide important educational and life-changing opportunities. We have developed a partnership with The Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County to bring these programs to underserved children in our communities. In September we provided 8 free educational programs for children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, both the Seaside and the Salinas Units. As children share and practice what they learn with their families, homes, schools and communities, they contribute to a better world. The children were so eager to learn about whales and dolphins in their own backyard. We are continuing to provide free educational programs for them so your support with the upcoming Monterey Weekly Gives! 2010 for the Marine Life Studies Project is so important as we need funding to support this important project.


In August Marine Life Studies presented educational programs at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, California. Find more information here.

News From the Water:

As you may know, we've been on the boat the last few weeks and have documented some incredible humpback whale competitive behavior, and we've seen lots of whales and dolphins and birds. We will be starting an exciting news feature soon.  

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Please remember to join MLS facebook page if you haven't already. Please spread the news about our research and education programs to your friends, community and networks. All for now.





See you Saturday at Macy's at noon!


Aloha, Peggy 

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The Whale and Marine Wildlife Adventure we did in July, as part of the summer program with the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Go H2O Camp, was a huge success. We had such a great time with the kids sharing our excitement, passion and knowledge about the whales and marine wildlife that inhabit the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary. On the whale watch boat, Princess Monterey, we saw blue whales and humpback whales. There were at least 12 blue whales - it was amazing. Click here to see more about our exciting time we had.


Grace, a student of the Robert Down School that was at “Squid Eaters” as part of “Classroom on the Bay – Squid Kid Day” in May, participated in the Whale and Marine Wildlife Adventure in July. Her Mom, Stacey Jacobs who accompanied the children from Robert Down School, sent us this note about Grace’s experience.


“Thank you Peggy and team. ‘Squid Kid’ day was absolutely fantastic. I have worked many hours with this group of kids and have never seen them pay attention as they did with you. You really reached them – they were becoming good stewards of our planet and our oceans right there before our eyes! My two younger children keep asking their big sister to tell them all about what she learned with you, and they don’t seem to tire of the conversation!” For the Whales, Stacey Jacobs


Check out the new fall program, “Whales and Dolphins of Monterey Bay – Marine Life Studies Adventure! The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District will offer this as part of their Let’s Go Outdoors Fall Program! It is great adventure you won’t want to miss! Click here to reserve your spot now. Spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis, as class size is limited. So reserve your spot today!


A sad point, though, is many children who live in the surrounding communities never even get to see the ocean; to learn about marine mammals; to have a first-hand experience on the water and actually see whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife; to learn how much the world really needs them to become protectors of the environment.


Marine Life Studies has developed the Marine Life Studies Education Outreach Program to reach these youngsters, made possible by our Marine Life Studies Joey Jones Scholarship and Educational Fund. We are currently working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County – Seaside and Salinas Units to bring these exciting programs to their youth. As soon as we finalize the dates we will announce them.


Stay tuned as so many exciting things are in the works!


Aloha, Peggy 

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I was delighted to be invited to speak to Mr. Anderson’s 3rd grade class from the Robert Down School in Pacific Grove on May 20th as part of “Classroom on the Bay - Squid Kid Day”. Abalonetti Seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey hosted the field trip.  The presentation  “The Squid Eaters”, whales and dolphins that love to eat squid, was engaging and fun. It kicked off our new project, Marine Life Studies Junior Research Scientist Program. Students learned how scientists use the unique markings on flukes and dorsals to identify individual animals.

Adela Turlington, one of the students from Robert Down School, wrote an article for the local paper. Here is an excerpt from the 6-2-10 issue of the PG Bulletin:
First we listened to Peggy Stap, the Executive Director of Marine Life Studies. She showed us pictures of squid laying eggs; pictures of lots of whales and dolphins, the squid eaters; and photos explaining how to tell the age of a whale or dolphin from the scratches on their backs. She also explained the differences between dolphin and whale fins so you can identify them in the ocean. Her biggest marine helper is her dog, which barks while on the boat with her researching, to let her know there are whales or dolphins close by before she can see them on the surface.”
Click here for full article. 

Mr. Anderson, the teacher of the students from the Robert Down School, wrote:       
 “My class went on an amazing trip to the Monterey Wharf to study calamari. ‘Squid Eaters’ presented by Marine Life Studies was a very interesting and informative part of the trip. The pictures of the Risso’s Dolphins with all the scratch marks on their skin from eating squid were incredible. I learned a lot from the presentation."

Each student received a Marine Life Studies Junior Research Scientist kit, badge and certificates of completion package in a reusable grocery bag made from a plastic bottle. Not only does it promote the use of reusable bags but also eliminates waste from our landfills. Trader Joe’s of Monterey was kind enough to donate the reusable grocery bags.
A big thank you to Chuck Davis, a local resident of Pacific Grove, who gave us some of his incredible underwater photos of squid shot in Monterey Bay and the squid fishing boats often seen off of Cannery Row for my presentation. Chuck is a world-renowned specialist in marine and underwater photography and cinematography.

Steve Jensen, Rachel Rosen and Barbara Howard, volunteers for Marine Life Studies, were kind enough to donate their time to make the day a success. Thank you for all of your help.

Last but not least, want to say thank you to Marc Paulhus, Director of Sales and Marketing for Abalonetti’s) and Kevin Phillips, Abalonetti’s Owner, and the staff at Abalonetti’s. This field trip was made possible because of their hard work and efforts to arrange the program for the students. And the lunch was delicious – thank you for everything.

The program was made possible by Marine Life Studies “Joey Jones Scholarship and Educational Fund” created to teach and inspire the next generation to protect marine wildlife.


Photo above: Students raise hands to answer question  about “Squid Eaters”. Marc Paulhus from Abalonetti’s on left and Steve Vogel, center, is Curator from Monterey Bay Aquarium.


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Marine Life Studies joined the American Cetacean Society, Save the Whales, and other like-minded organizations for Save the Whales Rally in Monterey on May 23, 2010.


The Save the Whales Rally took place in all coastal California counties to protest the IWC  (International Whaling Commission) proposal to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling, allowing increased whaling in all the world oceans. Signatures were collected on petitions that were then sent to the Obama Administration in Washington D.C. supporting the moratorium.


After the event, I sent the poster that you see pictured “Whiskie to the rescue”, two of Marine Life Studies Junior Research Scientist kits for President Obama’s daughters, and a letter urging President Obama to oppose any deal that would legitimize commercial whaling by granting quotas to Japan and its whaling allies. Instead, urged the President to support Australia's proposal, which would end whaling in the Southern Ocean once and for all.


There is still time for you to make a difference. The whales need our help NOW!


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Call the White House: 202-456-1111
Tell President Obama to keep his Promise and oppose the resumption of commercial whaling!


The 62nd Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission will take place June 21-25, 2010 in Afadir, Morocco so please call and email today.


For reports and to participate in the dialogue:


A big thank you to Judy Iverson, Terri Dratt, Barbara Howard and Mary Whitney for their help in prepping and helping with the Save the Whales Rally as I could not have done it without you.


Photo on left: Save the Whales Rally in Monterey. Diane Gilm, President of the American Cetacean Society – Monterey Chapter holding banner 

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Spreading the word about Marine Life Studies and our mission to Teach and Inspire the public to protect Marine Wildlife helped us raise $1100 for the month of May. Your support every Monday in May was wonderful and heartwarming.  I had a great time breaking bread with new and old friends. Thank you to Hula’s Island Grill in Monterey for sponsoring Marine Life Studies for Mahalo Mondays in May. The staff was awesome and the food delicious.

You enjoy a wonderful time and Marine Life Study benefits. Please pass it on to all your friends and family – Every Monday in May for Marine Life Studies at Hula’s.

May 3rd, our first Monday, was incredible. The support from the community was heartwarming. Many of our dedicated volunteers came with friends to enjoy a wonderful evening at Hula’s. Thank you all for your support.

Really appreciate all of you that have spread the word about Dine for Dolphins and Whales. The commitment of our volunteers is amazing. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of people willing to donate their time and expertise in furthering Marine Life Studies commitment to inspire the public to protect marine wildlife.

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Wow, what an exciting February for Marine Life Studies. We kicked off our newest project the "Joey Jones Scholarship and Educational Fund" and all monies donated at the AT&T plus the whole month of February went directly to build the scholarship fund. Plus we promoted our free educational program for the schools.


The schools are facing so many cutbacks in funding that this is an important endeavor for Marine Life Studies. We kicked off our free educational program on Monday, February 15, 2010 by visiting third graders at Stevenson School, Carmel Campus and it was so much fun. It is really important to give back to the community.


“The next generation holds the keys to better understand the importance and beauty of our planets’ ocean ecology,” says Stap. “I want to offer youngsters a chance to pursue an education in oceanic studies. It is so rewarding to give something back to those who will continue to value our oceans and marine mammals.” (Excerpt from article written by Leslie Miller 2-22-10)


Victoria Wade and I were so excited at the enthusiasm of the kids. We left them with an assignment. We supplied the teacher, Ms. Foster, with everything the students would need to accomplish the task. Each student received a photo packet with 15 identification photos of both humpbacks and killer whales, plus blank sheets of flukes and killer whales, so they could draw their own and develop a short story on how the Humpback Whales and Orcas received certain markings that are used to identify individual animals. We plan to post some of their work once we get copies.


For more information on booking Marine Life Studies for your school please send an email through our “Contact us” Page.


We are now on Facebook so check it out. Become a fan. It is free. There are pictures posted already and I plan to add more plus video so stay tuned.


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Marine Life Studies coordinated a hands-on water training for W.E.T. in December. Cheryl McCormick, Executive Director of the American Cetacean Society (ACS), joined us. The article about W.E.T. is now available on page 5 of “Spyhopper, ACS Newsletter”.

We purchased more tools for W.E.T. The cache of tools available for the Monterey Bay area is growing. We still need more funding to have a complete kit. I have put in a grant proposal so we can complete the set but will not know until later this year if we will be awarded the grant.

The American Cetacean Society, Monterey Bay Chapter, provided us with a grant of $500 to print Response and Reporting cards on waterproof paper last year. We have distributed all of those throughout central and northern California. But we ran out and needed more so Marine Life Studies just provided funds to print another batch of the cards so we can continue distributing to boaters. If you need a waterproof Response and Reporting card please contact us and we will get some out to you. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped distribute them.

Aloha, Peggy

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WOW, we are so excited about BIRDIES FOR CHARITY. It is a tremendous opportunity to show you care by PLEDGING today. Thank you for taking the time to make a difference while at the same time you could win some amazing prizes. It is a Win-Win for everyone.

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Marine Life Studies wanted to honor Joey Jones for all his help and kindness. He was lost at sea on April 3rd, 2008. He was a tremendous asset to the community and has touched the hearts of so many people, both young and old. We wanted to carry on Joey’s legacy by giving opportunities to others and helping them achieve their educational dream while helping to create a sustainable ocean environment and maintain the beauty and abundance of the ocean.

Joey worked hard at bridging the gap between the marine science community and the fishing community through cooperation and dialogue.  There is even a curriculum available to schools built around the work Joey did. It is the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary’s “Fisherman in the Classroom.” For more information contact Voices of the Bay.

It has been a joy working with Joey’s family in launching the “Joey Jones Scholarship and Educational Fund.”  Joey’s sister, Janice Barker, put together a beautiful PowerPoint presentation on Joey’s life, Lisa Jones, Joey’s daughter, did the voiceover, and Mike Jones, Joey’s son, wrote the biography.  It has been a real concerted effort. We are delighted and proud to have Mike and Lisa are on Marine Life Studies Scholarship and Educational Advisory Committee.  

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How you do like the new logo? It was a gift from Manny Espinoza of Espinoza Graphics who designed the logo for Marine Life Studies. Janice (Joey Jone’s sister) was helping me with a logo I was designing from a photograph I had taken in the fall 2008. Janice took it to a Photoshop class she was taking from Manny. Manny was kind enough to take on the project of creating our logo. Well, done Manny  - thank you for the beautiful logo and all your hard work. Please check out his website -


Marine Life Studies organized a hands-on water training for W.E.T. (Whale Entanglement Teams of Central and Northern California) for December 1, 2009. The training was led by the lead for W.E.T. of Central California, Jim Harvey and the lead for W.E.T. of Northern California, Pieter Folkens. The training was a great success with multiple boats used for the training including the “Sheila B” (Moss Landing Marine Lab), the new rib inflatable (Moss Landing Marine Lab), small soft bottom inflatable (Moss Landing Marine Lab), v-bottom inflatable (Bob Talbot’s boat) and “Sweet Pea” (Marine Life Studies).


“Sweet Pea” was used as the “whale” by attaching a wooden replica of a whale tail that had line and fishing net to simulate an entangled whale. Then a couple of the W.E.T. team would get in the small soft bottom inflatable and try to disentangle the line, etc. from the pseudo whale tail. The Sheila B acted as a support boat so when a different tool was needed it could be transferred from the Sheila B to the W.E.T. team in the inflatable. The other boats were used in similar fashion so we could get as much hands-on water training in. We had type I, II and III training for the people on the W.E.T. team and proved to be a very productive training. Luckily the seas were kind to us that day.


Cheryl McCormick from the American Cetacean Society came up for the training and there will be an article upcoming in the “Spyhopper” Newsletter, so look for that.


We were all thrilled to continue our boat-based research surveys on Monterey Bay. It was an amazing season operating our research boat surveys this fall (2009). Marine Life Studies success is due to our amazing, highly skilled, and dedicated volunteer staff. I would like to give them my heartfelt gratitude for all their hard work. It has been a pleasure working with them.


Mary Whitney, Terri Dratt, Victoria Wade, Duane O’Sullivan, Jude Iverson, Homer Holmes, George Black, Topher Mueller, Al Leverette, Dave Schramm, Martijn Stiphout, Lucy Bryant, Ashley Ganer, Angela Kilmer, Kathi Koontz, Dana Riley, Steve Jensen, Willow Jones, Sue & Ron Leinweber, Cathy LaGrand, Dick Stap, Marilyn & Larry Schutz, Sudy Dostal, Jane DeLay, Lisa Crandell, Dida Kutz, Bruce Storrs, Tiffany Thomas, Debbie Waugh, Melanie Wiegner, Chuck Davis, Betsy Collins, Kelly Grace, Karen Kleid, Bruce Thomas, Noel Flores, David Reins, Kate Cummings, and last but not least “Whiskee” our canine research assistant.


Love and Gratitude to all,

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In 2009 we continued to move forward with the Whale Entanglement Team (W.E.T.) project. You can see on our home page that the W.E.T. now has a dedicated toll-free number and a Response and Reporting card, available on waterproof paper. Please contact us if you would like to get a waterproof card or are interested in helping to distribute them.


Pieter Folkens designed the Response and Reporting card. We all appreciate Pieter's hard work. Pieter is the lead for the W.E.T. in the Northern California area including San Francisco Bay and Jim Harvey of Moss Landing Marine Labs is the lead in Central California including Monterey Bay.


The American Cetacean Society, Monterey Bay Chapter, generously donated $500 toward the printing costs. We have been distributing the cards throughout Central and Northern California with the help of several dedicated volunteers and NOAA including the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. We also have a downloadable flyer that you can pass along. It gives information on how to get a waterproof Response and Reporting card. Please feel free to email it to anyone on the water that you think could use a waterproof card. If you would like printed copies of the flyer please contact us. 

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We are all anxious and excited to get back out on the water this fall to continue with our research effort. We will conduct boat-based surveys on the water in Monterey Bay. If you are interested in volunteering for Marine Life Studies please contact us. There are many areas in which you can volunteer either on or off the water.

This fall a student from California State University, Monterey Bay will be joining us on our boat surveys. She is a graduate student and wants to do her thesis on the growing problem of marine debris, distribution and density, and impact on marine life (entanglements, ingestion of plastic, etc.). We have already shared our data with her from past seasons. Looking forward to having her onboard.

We encourage students to join us on the project. Please contact us if you are interested. We will be happy to teach you all aspects of the project and proper procedure of research techniques. 

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The fourth annual Whale Quest Kapalua held in February 2009 was another huge success. Every year I have led one of the Educational Workshops for students that are invited from area schools on Maui. The fifth grade students are delightful and fun to work with. This year I led the workshop on Marine Debris, which is such an important topic. Approximately four-fifths of marine trash comes from land, swept by wind or washed by rain off highways and city streets, down streams and rivers, and out to sea. The workshop helps the students understand the consequences of choices they make, how it can affect the environment and learn that their actions can bring about positive change.

ChicoBags was so kind to donate their really cool reusable cloth shopping bags for the event. They are a big hit and my favorite reusable shopping bag. ChicoBags are cleverly designed and easy to keep with you. The bags fit in your pocket or purse when they are stuffed into their integrated pouch. The pouch has an attached carabiner to easily hook to your key chain, backpack, belt loop or purse strap. They are so compact I can easily fit 3 or 4 of them in my purse so I always have ChicoBags on hand. ChicoBags makes it easy to kick the single-use bag habit. They make a great gift for any occasion. I actually use them as a gift bag instead of using wrapping paper. The gift of a ChicoBag is a gift that keeps on giving.

Maui is moving forward to kicking the plastic bag habit. It is fantastic that the Maui County Council passed a ban on plastic bags. The ban will go into effect on January 11, 2011. The movement of banning the use of plastic bags is starting to take effect in other areas in the country. Learn what you can do to help end the use of single-use bags in your community.

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More yet to come in 2009 so please check back. We encourage you to check out our Marine Life Studies Donations. Your support is vital in the accomplishment of our mission and goals. In this tough economic time everyone is stretched pretty thin. Donations all over the country have declined. Whatever you might be able to donate would be greatly appreciated. Check out our "Wish List" as maybe you have some equipment that could be donated. Remember gifts and donations are 100% tax deductible.


FYI, all personnel involved with Marine Life Studies serve as volunteers; we have no paid employees. To this end, all donations are applied directly to the fulfillment of our research, education and conservation mission.


Thank you for all your support especially to our dedicated volunteers. I want to extend a special thank you to Cathy LaGrand of LaGrand Design for generously donating her time to the design and maintenance of the Marine Life Studies website. It always amazes me what she does with the jumble of information I provide her.


I also want to express my gratitude to Sue Leinweber. Sue typed in all the data from the fall 2008 season. It is a very time consuming and tedious job. Sue, thank you very much for generously donating your time.


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WOW, 2008 has been a very exciting, productive and busy year for Marine Life Studies (MLS). There are so many things to update you on since I have not kept up with the blog like I should. Most exciting for us is the formation of W.E.T. (Whale Entanglement Teams of Central and Northern California). This is a project we actually started working on in the fall of 2006 that was slated as the number one project for MLS to focus our efforts on. It all started with a question, "Why doesn’t California have a coordinated statewide program for disentangling whales like Hawaii?" Mary Whitney, a valuable volunteer for Marine Life Studies as well as the founder of Fluke Foundation, wrote a great article for the American Cetacean Society (ACS) newsletter "Soundings -- the Newsletter of ACS Monterey Bay" October 2008 issue. See the article here.


MLS had a booth at the recent ACS Conference in Monterey, November 15 and 16 to get the word out to the public. We had the tools that MLS purchased in the spring of this year as well as photos of entangled whales and a video courtesy of Ed Lyman and Dave Mattila who are the head of the disentanglement network for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback National Marine Sanctuary (HIHNMS). In fact Ed taught the training and strategy session held at Moss Landing in May that Mary wrote about in the W.E.T. article. The response was great and we even got a few donations for much needed equipment. If you would like to donate for the purchase of tools for the W.E.T. project send to address on donation page and be sure to write on the check or letter that the money donated is specifically for W.E.T.


100% of all monies donated for W.E.T. go to purchasing the equipment that we still need to have a full cache of tools. As with all donations your donation is tax deductible under the guidelines of 501(c)3. 

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The week after the ACS conference, Cheryl Jennings, News Anchor for ABC7/KGO TV of San Francisco came out to interview us about W.E.T. and learn a little about the research we do on Monterey Bay with MLS. It was a beautiful weather day so we were very lucky. Volunteers of W.E.T. and volunteers of Marine Life Studies were interviewed including Duane O’Sullivan, Jim "Homer" Holm, Bob Talbot and Pieter Folkens (the lead for W.E.T. of Northern California. Jim Harvey is the lead for W.E.T. of Central California but was at an important conference out of state and unfortunately not available for the filming of the piece by Cheryl.)


Watch the interview: Dangerous work of rescuing trapped whales.

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Now that I have updated you on the success of W.E.T. to keep things simple I will let you know the other exciting things that have happened in 2008 in chronological order.


The winter was very exciting with the volunteer work I do with the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation in Maui. We had an incredible and productive season plus some of my most amazing encounters with the humpbacks.


The premier of "Humpbacks from Fire to Ice" was presented by Ross Isaacs, the director, co-producer and underwater cinematographer on the project at Whale Quest Kapalua in February 2008. "Humpbacks from Fire to Ice" is an intimate film portrait of the first year of a baby humpback whale’s life narrated by David Attenborough. I had the pleasure of working with Ross for part of the making of the film in Maui. Ross Isaacs is an amazing and accomplished cinematographer who was a joy to work with. This film was a labor of love for Ross. He is very passionate about bringing his love of nature to the screen for others to enjoy and his love of animals. Ross has a big heart and gentle soul who cares deeply for the humpbacks as all earth’s creatures.


The Courier Mail in Australia (by the way that is where Ross lives) interviewed Ross about the film and some of the special moments. In the piece Ross talks about the amazing encounter in the water with a mother and her calf. That happened this winter. I was in the water doing stills while Ross was on video. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. The mother was nicknamed "Barnacle Betty" because of her barnacles. Truly an experience I will never forget as at one point "Barnacle Betty" swam right towards me within a couple feet and turned, which was amazing in itself, but then the calf squiggled between me and it’s Mom and touched me. It was the most calm and peaceful thing I have ever experienced. In all my years of research I have never reached out to try and touch a whale or a dolphin. I feel as if I am a guest in their world. So to have a whale touch me was very special. I cried tears of joy as I knew it was a once in a lifetime experience. Both Ross and I were under special federal and state permits with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to be in the water.


The Hawaii Whale Research Foundation (HWRF) has done a few projects with the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) over the 30-year span that Dan R. Salden, Ph.D. has been studying the competitive behavior of humpback whales. This year TBS wanted to do a documentary called "Ocean Odyssey", directed by Naomi Kawaguchi. The documentary aired in Japan in March 2008 starring award-winning actor Hideaki Ito.

The filming for the documentary was done in January and February of 2008 in Maui. It was an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of a documentary that would help educate the people of Japan on how research can be done by observing living whales. The film crew was amazing and a lot of fun. The joy on their faces after the encounters we had with the humpbacks was heartwarming. The incredible, magnificent and beautiful humpbacks captured the hearts of all. All that were involved in the project will be great ambassadors’ for the humpbacks in their country of Japan. I was so thrilled to be a part of it.

More to come…… Marine Life Studies had a very productive spring and fall doing surveys on the water in Monterey Bay. Will update more on this soon.


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Well, in 2007 we had some more boat problems, which limited our days on the water. There were a couple times we got back to the harbor safely on a wing n’ a prayer. But the main thing is we got some more water days out on beautiful Monterey Bay. Nothing makes me happier. While working on the boat hoping to get it running while floating dead in the water (luckily it was a calm, beautiful day), I kept dreaming of the day that we can get our dream "Green Research" boat that runs on renewable fuels. See our "Wish List".

George Black can tell you stories about his first season with us. George is a retired teacher and principal with great boat handling experience. He is actually my dive buddy of 10 years. He drove all the way from Michigan so that I would have one dedicated person every day to help on the project. As you may know the Marine Life Studies (MLS) staff, composed of highly skilled and professional individuals, is entirely volunteer. It was great as George helped with loading and unloading the equipment everyday, set up, and captained the boat. He helped with hydrophone recordings and plankton tows. George was a great asset .

The project could not run without our local volunteers. Many thanks go out to Sarah Graham, Danny Frank, Gina Thomas, Martijn Stiphout, and Mary Whitney for all their help on the boat this year.


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Since MLS has limited funds to run the project we decided that in 2007 we would concentrate on projects that could make a difference but would not take much cash, just time. So of course a project we actually started working on in the fall 2006 was slated as the number one project to put all our efforts into. The project is to help facilitate a "Whale Rescue Network" for Monterey Bay that has grown to incorporate all of California and coordinate it with existing trained personnel already in place.

Marine debris is increasing which is detrimental to marine life, especially commercial fisheries gear/nets. Whales and dolphins can become entangled in all sorts of manmade debris floating in our oceans. We want Monterey Bay to have a full set of disentanglement tools and annual training for a crew with the expertise to be able to go out when an entangled whale is reported and use their skills to free them. We have been working with Joe Cordaro, the Regional Stranding Coordinator for California and Ed Lyman, Marine Mammal Response Manager for the Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary (HINMS) on providing more training for large whale disentanglement.


Training will be held in the spring of 2008, date and location to be announced. Contact us to be on the mailing list. Humpbacks are endangered and are one of the whales mostly likely to become entangled because of their curious nature.


If interested in becoming involved, a prerequisite would be to take the following Incident Command training which is free and available on line. There are several levels. Here are the links for levels one and two:

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Marine Life Studies (MLS) received a $2000 grant from the Fluke Foundation and a $600 donation from a private individual toward the purchase of disentanglement tools. MLS placed an order for as many disentanglement tools that the donated money could buy. This is a great start but to have everything needed for the full compliment another $8000 is needed. Donations are welcome and can be designated just for the purchase of disentanglement tools. Remember your donations are tax deductible. Please contact us if you have any question, would like more information about this important project or to become involved.

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In some parts of the ocean there are 6 lbs of plastic for every pound of fish. During our own research in 2007 we actually documented more sightings of garbage than we did of marine mammals while doing our boat transects. We had 53 sightings of garbage and only 40 sightings of marine mammals.


"Impacts of larger debris have been well-documented over the years, including marine mammal, fish and seabird mortalities caused by ingestion causing starvation and suffocation, and entanglement. Research into the impacts of smaller debris is emerging, but it is known already that small plastic debris is ingested by marine life at all levels of the marine food web, from zooplankton to the largest marine mammals."
Prepared and Written By:
Miriam Gordon, California Coastal Commission
Ruth Zamist, Plastic Debris, Rivers to Sea Project]


See and click on BMPs for Trash & Debris [Trash_BMPs_for_Munis.pdf]
4 Laist, D.W. 1997. Impacts of marine debris: entanglement of marine life in marine debris including a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records. pp. 99-140. In: J.M. Coe and D.B. Rogers (eds.), Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts, and Solutions. Springer-Verlag. New York, NY

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We had more sightings of garbage than we did of marine mammals during our research surveys in 2007 on Monterey Bay. We had 53 sightings of garbage and only 40 sightings of marine mammals.


Below is a breakdown of the type of garbage for each sighting in 2007:
53 Total Sightings of Garbage:


Breakdown by type:
Total of 15 sightings of balloons
Total of 1 sightings of cardboard
Total of 15 sightings of paper
Total of 20 sightings of plastic
Total of 2 sightings of Styrofoam. As you know balloons are a pet peeve of mine but also plastic shopping bags. Plastic bags kill an estimated 100,000 marine animals annually. so please choose to use reusable and cloth shopping bags instead.

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You probably have heard about the North Pacific Gyre that is a huge area of floating marine debris twice the size of Texas. It is essentially plastic stew floating just below the surface in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. For more information check out these web pages: 

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A major threat to whales, dolphins and other marine animals throughout the world is the contamination of their habitat. An important part of our mission is to reduce contamination and to help foster a respect for the environment. During our efforts on the water in 2006 I was astonished at how much garbage we saw. We had a total of 46 sightings of garbage. Twenty-two of the 46 sightings were of balloons. Balloons are a pet peeve of mine.

Please dispose of balloons properly. Do not let balloons loose into the atmosphere. Balloons travel incredibly far. Even when released inland they can end up in the ocean. Please spread the word that balloons can mean death for marine animals.

See for an alternative to using balloons for birthdays, grand openings, and other festivities.

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Leatherback turtles are endangered so each and every one of them is critical for the survival of the species. Leatherback turtles eat jellyfish. A balloon in the water can be mistaken for it's favorite food. Balloons, plastic bags, styrofoam, and trash floating in the water all can be mistaken as food and the turtles die when this trash blocks their intestines.

Link for more info on leatherback turtles, and a link for a children's activity called “Protecting Leatherback Turtles from Balloons” that shows them how a balloon can look like a jellyfish to a turtle.

You can make a difference. Please properly dispose of your garbage. Celebrate events without the use of balloon releases. 

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Below is a breakdown of the type of garbage for each sighting in 2006:
46 Total Sightings of Garbage:

Breakdown by type:
Total of 22 sightings of balloons
Total of 1 sightings of cardboard
Total of 3 sightings of paper
Total of 11 sightings of plastic
Total of 1 sightings of plastic bottle
Total of 3 sightings of plastic water bottle
Total of 1 sightings of plastic/paper
Total of 2 sightings of Styrofoam
Total of 1 sightings of unknown material
Total of 1 sightings of wood

What I find really alarming and sad is that we had 46 sightings of garbage compared to only 69 total sightings of dolphins, whales, and other marine animals. This is a wake up call that more outreach needs to be done to educate the public in disposing of balloons and other garbage properly. An individual can really make a difference and help ocean life by spreading the word.

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Photo by Mich NelsonI met the Earthrace team in Monterey as I went down to talk to them about my dream of eventually having a research vessel that runs on biodiesel fuel. "Earthrace is a bid to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat, and using only renewable fuels. The program includes an 18-month tour calling at 60 of the worlds' great cities, promoting fuels like biodiesel, and raising awareness about sustainable use of resources."

After hosting the Earthrace team at my house the weekend of August 26th, they left Monterey (check out their website at to continue their North American tour. They will be trying to beat the world record of circumnavigating the globe all on biodiesel in March 2007.  Pete Bethune, the skipper and the one who had the vision for the boat, came back to Monterey while the crew was in San Francisco for servicing. Pete stayed the whole week at my house working on paperwork and phone calls.

Photo by Mich NelsonOn Friday, Sept 1st Earthrace was in Santa Cruz so Sarah Graham and myself met them. We helped them sell t-shirts and DVD’s. We also presented them with a net on behalf of Marine Life Studies to help us in our efforts to pick up trash while on their tour. See article by Ruth Carlson at:

After the Earthrace team left Santa Cruz, John Allen, one of the Earthrace volunteers came back and stayed with me for a week as he had sponsors to meet with in the bay area while the rest of the team continued the tour in southern California. So for about 2 weeks my dining room table was the temporary office of Earthrace. While he was here, John was so impressed by our Marine Life Studies project that he donated $100 on behalf of Earthrace. Thank you Earthrace!

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To help raise much needed money for the Marine Life Studies (MLS) project we had a fundraising garage sale Sept 2nd & 3rd.  We had lots of shoppers. Thank you for your support. I especially want to thank all the wonderful people who donated items for the garage sale. The outpouring from the community was heartwarming.

On September 9th and 10th Marine Life Studies (MLS) participated in Whale Fest on Fisherman’s Wharf.  This was a good way for us to let the community know what Marine Life Studies is all about. We held a raffle to help raise funds. Bob Talbot and Patagonia donated items for the raffle, which was great and very generous of them. We also raffled off a couple items for Earthrace and that money went to their cause. List of winners:
1) Carrie Pitkin - Roseville, CA [Talbot poster]
2) Kim Woltman - Monterey, CA [Talbot poster]
3) Brent Williamson - Marina, CA [Talbot poster]
4) Tiffany Thomas - Lahaina, Maui [Earthrace poster]
5) Benji Shake (not sure what city he lives in) [green fleece Patagonia jacket]
6) Dana Riley - Carmel, CA [Green Patagonia Vest]
7) Deborah Ferreira - Tracy, CA [Talbot poster]
8) Holly Widener - Seaside, CA [Green flowered Patagonia fleece pullover]
9) Peter Bruno – Monterey, CA [Talbot video]
10) Greg Wiese - Citrus Heights, CA [Earthrace video]
A big thanks to the community who attended Whale Fest and to the MLS volunteers who worked the booth.

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After Whale Fest, one of our MLS volunteers, Tif Thomas, and myself met the Earthrace team in Newport Beach and went with them to San Diego. We assisted them with projects and cleaning the boat as well as helping them sell DVD’s and t-shirts for their cause.

When Tif and I returned from San Diego the fuel line for the research boat finally came in and we were able to install it. We launched the boat on September 17th. We were very excited. Since the ocean conditions were not real favorable we just did safety drills. The next day we were able to get out but had to come in early as the winds picked up. Due to the ocean conditions we did not get where there was a killer whale report. But we did find 6 different sightings of balloons, which we did pick up.

Balloons are a pet peeve of Marine Life Studies as they are very detrimental to marine life. Balloons can mean death to turtles, whales, dolphins, seals and other marine life. They may ingest it innocently believing it is food such as a jellyfish or squid. Please do not release balloons outside. Please dispose of them properly by puncturing them and throwing them in the trash.  See for alternatives to balloons for celebrations such as birthdays, grand openings, birth of a child, etc.

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The weather conditions on the ocean were finally good so the weekend of September 23rd we got all the equipment ready to go out. Howard from the Elkhorn Yacht Club called as he noticed the boat sitting low in the water. The boat had been in the slip for 5 days and there was a lot of water in the boat. Had to bilge out the boat and checked it over. Let it set overnight thinking we had the problem solved but there was some water in the boat the next day. Decided not to go out but instead to pull the boat out of the water. There was a slow leak where one of the ground wires ran through the stern. So we will be doing some repairs. That is how it is sometimes in the life of a research team.

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Blog from Earthrace Captain Pete Bethune...


"After San Francisco we had a series of great promotions. Monterey, Morro Bay and Ventura were all awesome, with lots of people through the boat and plenty of media. We met a few more people who're now helping us. We also made stops in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Peggy Stap, alias the Pegster, took us all under her wing."

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August 28, 2006

I want to thank all of you that came over for the greet and meet pot luck. It was so nice to meet all of you. We are very fortunate to have such nice and enthusiastic people on our team.

Just wanted to update you to where we are at with the boat. Someone had vandalized the boat trying to steal the fuel from it and damaged the fuel line. Sarah ordered the fuel line and will be in this week so will update you as to when we will be able to get the boat in the water.

It was a very exciting weekend in Monterey. Sarah gave me a call and said I had to check this boat out down at the wharf called Earthrace which was a "green" boat run 100% on Biodiesel from New Zealand and chat with them. It was great. Talked with John Allen, one of the crew as well as the one in charge of looking for sponsors. They were going to take a sponsor out that evening and asked about where to find the whales. Gave a call to one of our Captain friends and he gave me the coordinates for the Earthrace Team. Then he invited myself and Sarah to help them sight the whales and be the "Naturalists" on board. Plus they were looking to find a hotel that might sponsor them at a discounted rate. Told him if I had some lead time I probably could of set it up but finding a place mid-afternoon on a Saturday in Monterey is nearly impossible. So I offered them to stay with me. So Saturday night the whole crew of 5 stayed (plus a couple gals from the Netherlands). So check out their website. They will be in Santa Cruz on Thurs and Fri of this week.


This weekend we are having a garage sale in Monterey on Sat & Sun (Sept 2nd & 3rd) to raise money for our project. If anyone has anything they want to donate please give me a call at 831-901-3833 (and if anyone would like to give us a hand at the garage sale we would appreciate it). While manning the garage sale we are going to put together the display boards for Whale Fest which is on Sept 9th and 10th.


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