Blog: “Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s 30th Anniversary was Productive for its Foundation” By: Dan Haifley

Your team at the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation got a lot done in 2022, which was the 30th anniversary of the sanctuary. Staff, interns, and board members worked overtime to make the most of the opportunities to fundraise, conduct outreach, and advocate for the sanctuary.  These actions help to protect biodiversity, promote research, educate the public and provide tools to fight climate change, and pollution.

Partnerships were forged with Jaguar/Land Rover, the Santa Cruz METRO, which operates the public bus system, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Bus riders in Santa Cruz County can now participate in the One Ride at a Time program, which works by giving riders the opportunity to select the Foundation for a METRO donation after a certain number of rides.  The Monterey Jazz Festival helped celebrate the 30th anniversary by commissioning an original musical composition inspired by the sanctuary.  They hired Hollywood composer Kris Bowers to create and perform the piece.

Yvette Brooks, Sen. Jon Laird, Secretary Leon Panetta, Ginaia Kelly, Christina Sandera, Clint Eastwood, Lisa Wooninck, Dan Haifley at the 2022 Sea Stars Gala.

The Foundation celebrated on the eve of the anniversary itself, September 18, 2022, at the fundraising Sea Stars Gala, with 360 guests.  On the day itself, the community  marked the anniversary at the Sanctuary Fest on the Santa Cruz Wharf and at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, led by the NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary team. Over the holidays, the Foundation opened its new office at the Santa Cruz Harbor with a college leaders forum and reception and held a holiday reception at Ansel Adams’ home in Carmel.

And all the work that was funded by the Foundation chapter had an impact.  To protect wildlife, the Foundation helped train 40 volunteers for whale rescue, provided a workshop with local fishers, worked on the statewide gear innovations program to prevent whale entanglements, and supported the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust’s lost gear project which removed 200 pounds of abandoned commercial crab pots from sanctuary waters.

The Foundation also supported efforts to educate the next

Students testing water samples as part of their field trip with the Sanctuary Exploration Center.

generation of sanctuary stewards. We supported educating  946 K-12 students who were served at the Sanctuary Exploration Center (SEC), 146 who participated in in-class programs, and 555 students with virtual programs.  Our college interns worked on SEC services, marketing, communications, events, and Indigenous community engagement. The chapter also supported a bilingual education specialist and interpretive signage on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

Our media coverage included a 15-part series of columns in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Monterey Herald written by chapter board members, numerous articles in other new sources, and a televised cook-off on NBC-California Live at the Dream Inn (the Foundation team won!). The Foundation produced several videos and a short film on the history of the designation of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Finally, the Foundation worked with many community partners for public outreach. The chapter proudly sponsored important events like Whalefest Monterey, Shared Adventures’ Day on the Beach, and the Blue Innovations workshop.  We hosted donation drives with Goodwill Central Coast and beach cleanups with Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team.

This success would not have been possible without your support! Thank you, and please remember to follow us on social media. We’ll see you at the next Sea Stars Gala, scheduled for August 5, 2023 in Carmel Valley!

Dan Haifley is board secretary for the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. He can be reached at