If we are to use our tools in the service of fitting in on Earth, our basic relationship to nature--even the story we tell ourselves about who we are in the universe--has to change. -Janine M. Benyus
On the 5th of November 2018, wreathed by an enthralling view of the fog-shrouded Monterey Bay, a group of people gathered at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with the common goal of protecting the wildlife of theCalifornia coast and beyond. The participants at the 4th Annual Central California Coastal Wildlife Disturbance Symposium came to hear presentations from 19 different speakers describing wildlife disturbance issues and ideas for solutions. They came to participate in problem-solving groups to brainstorm solutions to real-life human-wildlife conflict scenarios. They came to meet others from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local businesses to find common ground, common goals and ways to work together to foster awareness and stewardship.
Presenters brought news from up and down the California coast and as far afield as Australia: We learned about the dangers to nesting snowy plovers posed by the activities of human beach goers. Speakers shared their challenges for balancing the needs of humans and wildlife at popular wildlife viewing places like Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Pillar Point Harbor. We heard about tips for flying drones responsibly around wildlife, the road from notion to on-the-ocean for the SeaLife Stewards, collaboration to foster Seabird SAFE pilots, and bringing the message of wildlife stewardship to schools. A productive group discussion tackled the sometimes-controversial minimum safe viewing distance for sea otters. We were given a behind the scenes look at the development of the engaging Sometimes a Long-Distance Relationship is the BEST Relationship campaign created by the National Park Service in collaboration with Colorado State University. The California Academy of Sciences shared how citizens science is helping bring awareness to the fragile life in tidepools. All who attended left with knowledge buckets full and idea baskets overflowing.
Building on a seabird-focused Wildlife Disturbance Symposium organized by Seabird Protection Network in 2013, Sea Otter Savvy has partnered with the Seabird Protection Network and California State Parks to organize this wildlife disturbance symposium since 2015. Our goal from the start
has been focused on maximizing the effectiveness of diverse efforts to mitigate human-caused disturbance to coastal wildlife by fostering agreement upon common strategies and messaging, creating a forum for the sharing of new ideas, and supporting collaboration. After a full day or talks and group activities, attendees were invigorated and inspired to return home with new solutions and connections. With human population steadily on the rise, our wildlife need champions more than ever. In this fight, we are stronger together.
Thank-you to all the heroes who work everyday to promote stewardship. Here are some of the participants working toward peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife in the 2018 Central California Coastal Wildlife Disturbance Symposium: