Blog: “What Your Contributions to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Support” by Dan Haifley

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a tough year. Our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered from COVID-19, wildfires, or from the economic dislocation that has resulted in this very difficult time. If one of us has not been directly impacted, then chances are we know someone who has.

2020 has also demonstrated in vivid terms the connection between ocean health and public health, and the need to take care of natural wonders like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The ocean supplies half of the oxygen we breathe, absorbs excess carbon from climate change, supplies food, and influences weather. The work the sanctuary’s staff does helps to protect the habitats and wildlife that occupy this strategic corner of the sea.

With that in mind, the staff, board and volunteers of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation have been hard at work raising funds, and allocating the money that was raised from generous donors like you in 2019, in the form of 2020 grants to programs that support ocean health, research and education.

$50,000 of the money that was raised in 2019 has been distributed in 2020 to Bay Net and Team Ocean, which are volunteer-driven efforts undertaken by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and coordinated by Lisa Emanuelson. Although the programs have been on hiatus during the COVID 19 pandemic, the efforts will be up and running again once it is safe to do so.

Bay Net Volunteers at Work. Photo Credit: Amity Wood / NOAA

Public Interface programs

Bay Net is a program that uses volunteers to help visitors and residents learn about the marine life and unique features they see just offshore along the Monterey-area coast. Wearing identifiable gear in the form of “Bay Net” jackets and a telescope to see the near-shore action – such as southern sea otters – up close, these volunteers are specially trained and spend hours on weekends and peak-viewing times at their labor of love.

Team Ocean is an on-the-water program, supported by Monterey Bay Kayaks and others, that uses specially trained docents who interact with seafaring people along Cannery Row and in Elkhorn Slough.

After the pandemic is behind us, a goal of the Foundation will be to raise enough funds to expand both programs to other parts of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s coastline.

Team OCEAN Volunteer. Photo Credit: Amity Wood / NOAA

Whale rescue

In 2020, $35,000 in funds raised in 2019 are being spent on Whale rescue. The Whale Disentanglement Network uses highly trained individuals and specialized equipment to undertake the grueling and delicate task of freeing whales from marine debris. Funds are also being used in an effort to locate, and remove abandoned crab traps and other discarded gear to prevent entanglements from taking place. In addition, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is working with fishermen to prevent these entanglements by helping develop innovations in fishing gear to minimize entanglements.

Photo: Whale Disentangle Network


$7,000 raised in 2019 has also been spent on sponsorships to raise awareness of the sanctuary. The Foundation sponsored Whalefest Monterey at Fishermen’s Wharf and the Monterey Conference Center.  The Foundation also sponsored Santa Cruz Warriors’ season’s half-time show to create awareness among fans about Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Also, $8,000 have been allocated for a video to educate the general public about the Foundation and the Sanctuary.


What we’re doing in the time of COVID 19

When our region began to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our fundraising events went virtual.  Executive Director, Ginaia Kelly, also had an innovative idea to host a series of free, Sanctuary Sup sessions (“sup,” meaning to share a meal together and also to find out what’sup in our sanctuary) to keep our supporters and the curious up-to-date on what is going on in the world of sanctuary research, education and protection. Sessions so far have focused on recent whale entanglement activities, and the role the sanctuary plays in our regional economy.

Our Sea Stars Brunch fundraiser, which was to be held virtually in September, has been postponed until December 6, 2020 (10 a.m. PST until noon) due to wildfires in the region and the subsequent need for many residents to recover.


We need your support

Funds raised by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation supplement federal funds in support of whale rescue and public outreach programs run by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  These programs support the sanctuary’s mission to protect and maintain the health of a diverse array of wildlife and habitats, including the more-than-two-mile-deep Monterey Submarine Canyon and the spectacular Davidson Seamount. To do this, we need your support.

Your donation not only helps to support the activities of the sanctuary, it also contributes to the health of our life-sustaining ocean.


Stay in touch

To stay up to date on what our Chapter is doing, or to make a donation, please visit our website at You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @montereybayfoundation.  To be added to our email list, please contact Executive Director Ginaia Kelly at

In the meantime, hang in there. And, thank you for your support.




By Dan Haifley, Secretary of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Board of Directors; former Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey and Save Our Shores.