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Sea Otter Savvy

Sea Otter Science And Community Outreach

Become a Certified Wildlife Steward!

  • You could be featured here!

    You could be featured here!

  • Certified! Monterey Bay Kayaks

    Certified! Monterey Bay Kayaks

  • Your dive shop can join!

    Your dive shop can join!

  • Newly Certified! Pacific Grove Adventures

    Newly Certified! Pacific Grove Adventures

  • Certify your business

    Certify your business

  • Certified! Monterey Bay Eco-tours

    Certified! Monterey Bay Eco-tours

  • Certified! Central Coast Outdoors

    Certified! Central Coast Outdoors

  • We now certify wildlife photographers!

    We now certify wildlife photographers!

    Certified sea otter photographer Wendy Sparks

  • Certified! Elkhorn Slough Safari

    Certified! Elkhorn Slough Safari

  • Special Recognition: Morro Bay Harbor Department

    Special Recognition: Morro Bay Harbor Department

  • Certified! Ingrid Taylar Photography

    Certified! Ingrid Taylar Photography

  • Certify your organization

    Certify your organization

  • Certified! Kayak Connection

    Certified! Kayak Connection

  • Certified! Whisper Charters

    Certified! Whisper Charters

About Community Active Wildlife Stewards

CAWS logo pelican

Sea Otter Savvy is partnering with Respect Wildlife, and Central California coastal communities to offer an innovative and exciting recognition program for businesses and others demonstrating exceptional wildlife stewardship-- the Community Active Wildlife Stewards (CAWS) group and certification program. Designed to encourage voluntary adherence to responsible wildlife viewing guidelines, this certification system will offer rewards to commercial operators, organizations, school groups, and individuals who, having demonstrated compliance with a clear set of criteria promoting and encouraging respectful coastal wildlife viewing, will be recognized as "Certified Wildlife Stewards". Participants will receive certification "swag" featuring one or all of our multi-species designs to display proudly in their shop, visitor's center, on their boat, or digitally on their website or social media accounts. Hear founder Gena Bentall talk about the origins and progress of CAWS.

Additional participation benefits:

  • Reviews on Trip Advisor and Google
  • Promotion on websites and social media
  • Inclusion/promotion in wildlife-related media projects and press releases

Community Active Wildlife Stewards is a program rooted in the central coast community. The framework has been developed and reviewed with the participation of local stakeholders (our founding members) in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Community participants (and applicants) have a voice in building on the current framework and adapting it to best serve both wildlife and businesses. At the intersection of that which benefits busineses with that which benefits wildlife, is a place that benefits an inclusive coastal community. 

"This is the ONLY program that is consistently helping all businesses provide accurate, consistent and up-to-date wildlife viewing information to the public"   - Cass, owner Monterey Bay Kayaks

caws VennDiagram

Our goal with the participation rewards system will be to not only encourage not only sea otter savvy, but wildlife savvy behavior within the community, but create an atmosphere of consumer choice, encouraging all commercial groups within a region to join Community Active Wildlife Stewards and apply for certification. Certification of commercial operators will include such elements as:

  • Presentation of  information/guidelines to customers prior to tour or gear rental
  • Display of  informational graphics where customers can view them
  • Compliance with guidelines for avoiding disturbance, and established laws protecting designated species
  • Participation in an educational workshop showcasing wildlife behavior, natural history, conservation, defining harassment and disturbance and presenting Community Active Wildlife Stewards' guidelines for responsible viewing

Meet our certified participants! You can reward their stewardship by patronizing these sea otter (and wildlife) savvy businesses and recommending them to others! Another way to help: Your donation to Sea Otter Savvy also supports this community conservation program! 

2022's Steward of the Year!

2022's Steward of the Year!

In 2022 Community Active Wildlife Stewards awarded our Steward of the Year to Jeff and Wendy Photography, the dynamic wildlife photography duo of Jeff Torquemada and Wendy Sparks. The ethics of wildlife photography and thoughfulness about wild animals are deeply embedded in every photo they take. Jeff and Wendy go the extra mile to educate about photography ethics by sharing their personal stories and experiences. Follow them on Instagram!

Visit their website!

Monterey Bay Kayaks

Monterey Bay Kayaks

Staff at both the Del Monte Beach and Moss Landing shops go the extra mile to educate their customers and partner in local conservation efforts. Monterey Bay Kayaks is a true stewardship pioneer in Monterey Bay!

Certified January 2020

Visit their website!

Jeff and Wendy Photography

Jeff and Wendy Photography

Jeff Torquemada and Wendy Sparks are not only superb wildlife photographers, they are passionate advocates for ethical wildlife photography--the practice of capturing wildlife on camera without disturbing their natural behavior. Browse their sea otter gallery to see why we love their work! Learn more about ethical sea otter photography here.

Certified January 2022

Visit their website!

Central Coast Outdoors

Central Coast Outdoors

Central Coast Outdoors offers the opportunity to explore the waters of Morro Bay with expert (and sea otter savvy) guides. Owners John and Virginia are dedicated to inspiring awareness and stewardship in their customers and are an integral part of local community conservation efforts.

Certified July 2021

Visit their website!

Monterey Bay Eco Tours

Monterey Bay Eco Tours

Monterey Bay Eco Tours offers a silent cruise experience of their custom electric catamaran the "El Cat". Owner Wendy and her crew offer a wildlife-aware tour with a conservation message.

Certified December 2020

Visit their website!

Kayak Connection

Kayak Connection

Rent a kayak or take a tour of the wildlife-rich waters of Moss Landing and Elkhorn Slough under the guidance of the expert staff of Kayak Connection. Well-trained and passionate about conservation, the Kayak Connection team will inspire you with their stewardship of these unique places.

Certified June 2022

Visit their website!

Ingrid Taylar Photography

Ingrid Taylar Photography

Ingrid Taylar is a wildlife storyteller. Every one of her stunning images is accompanied by messaging designed to increase awareness and inspire stewardship. She is a role model of ethical widlife photography. Browse Ingrid's sea otter gallery to see her beautiful images and extraordinary commitment to wildlife photography ethics. Learn more about ethical sea otter photography here.

Certified October 2022

Visit their website!

Elkhorn Slough Safari

Elkhorn Slough Safari

Explore the channels of Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor with Owner and Captain Joe Mancino and his expert naturalist staff who will guide you through these precious waters with an informed eye and a stewardship heart!

Certified January 2020

Visit their website!

Whisper Charters

Whisper Charters

Whisper Charters captain and owner, Joonya Lopez, offers his pasengers his unique sense of aloha for the wildife of the "California Serengeti" that is the Elkhorn Slough. Take his silent cruise aboard the electric-powered Selkie II to explore the waters of the slough and Moss Landing Harbor without raising a whisker or feather. Mahalo, Joonya!

Certified January 2020

Visit their website!

Pacific Grove Adventures

Pacific Grove Adventures

Pacific Grove Adventures is a unique little kayak shop within the historical stonework of Lover's Point in the Monterey Peninsula town of Pacific Grove. Owner Corey and his staff provide excellent wildlife information to customers who are renting equipment or charting one of their savvy guided tours of this iconic stretch of rocky coastline.

Certified August 2023

Visit their website!

Special Recognition: Morro Bay Harbor Department

Special Recognition: Morro Bay Harbor Department

The staff of the Morro Bay Harbor Department has continually demonstrated extraordinary stewardship of the wildlife of Morro Bay. Whether helping rescue a lost sea otter pup or facilitating the reunion with its mother, responding to incidents of wildlife disturbance or harassment, or helping to keep the bay clean and trash-free, this team always stands guard for Morro Bay's human and non-human residents.

Visit their website!

Join the team!

Do you want to become a Certified Wildlife Steward? Click here to view the checklist of participation criteria to become a certified participant in this community-based program. You can review the Community Active Wildlife Stewards Draft Program Framework here. The Framework is intended to be a dynamic document that will continue to evolve as the group incorporates feedback and new program elements and so will always be in "draft" form.

"The webinars are fantastic! We've learned something new from each one we've experienced. Learning how to communicate to our clients in a meaningful way, why it is so important not to disturb wildlife/sea otters makes a huge difference. You can see the "aha" moment in their eyes and know that they truly understand and care and will carry that forward in other experiences they have."     - Virginia, co-owner Central Coast Outdoors

Undercover shoppers needed: Do you like to kayak on the central California coast? You can help evaluate, certify, and recognize businesses by joining our undercover team. Learn more.

Complete our Certified Wildlife Steward inquiry form:

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Resources

The Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act Basics

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Basics

About National Marine Sanctuaries

NOAA Fisheries Marine Life Viewing Guidelines

National Marine Sanctuaries Regulations

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation of Mammals

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation of Birds

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Conservation

California State Park Regulations

CalTIP

California Whale Rescue

The Marine Mammal Center

Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Pacific Wildlife Care

Monterey SPCA Wildlife Center

Santa Cruz Native Animal Rescue