Ocean Fun at the Saturday Market
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O'Neill Sea Odyssey again enjoyed a beautiful Saturday morning at the westside Farmers' Market engaging with attendees to learn what the ocean means to them. Each individual expressed a connection to the ocean which often varied from another but the one constant is the fulfillment it provides us all. From "surfing with my dad" to "abundant life," our oceans sustain us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Thank you, market participants, for taking the time to share your thoughts and smiles with us. We hope you enjoy your new O'Neill Sea Odyssey tote bag as a small token of our appreciation. See you next time at Earth Day Santa Cruz on Saturday, April 21.

It makes me happy.
— Market Participant
Benefit for O'Neill Sea Odyssey

Team Bailey, of Bailey Properties, has generously donated four San Francisco Giants Club Section tickets and parking pass to the Aptos and Capitola/Soquel Chambers Business Faire raffle in support of O'Neill Sea Odyssey. The raffle drawing will be held at the 2018 Business Showcase, “Passport to Success”, event on Wednesday, February 21st at the Seascape Golf Course from 4-7pm. It's just $5 for a chance to win and tickets can be purchased at any Bailey Properties Offices or through any Bailey Properties Realtor. The deadline to purchase is February 21 and you do not need to be present to win. Details below.


Investigations in a National Marine Sanctuary
OSO founder Jack O'Neill with former U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-Carmel), O'Neill Sea Odyssey supporter who was instrumental in establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

OSO founder Jack O'Neill with former U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-Carmel), O'Neill Sea Odyssey supporter who was instrumental in establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

(Excerpt from OSO's curriculum booklet)

We are fortunate to be living near a national treasure, one that has restrictions on it so it will never have oil platforms, and where fish and mammals can thrive. What is a sanctuary? A sanctuary can be a number of things; a place of refuge, shelter, a safe haven for all who visit.

The oceans bordering our nation are under the protection of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase public awareness of America’s marine resources through scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and education programs. The sanctuary system was started in 1972 and now includes 14 sanctuaries on the east and west coasts, Hawaii, and American Samoa. These sanctuaries protect habitats as diverse as coral reefs, kelp forests, and underwater shipwrecks. Today you’ll be venturing into the largest marine sanctuary, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary—it’s one of the largest protected marine areas in the world. It contains the coast and offshore area from San Francisco down to Cambria, near Hearst’s Castle, and covers 5,300 square miles. From the moment you enter the water here, you are in the sanctuary—it is all around you, there is no door or gate, no admission fee. Take a good look around you—all you can see is a sanctuary for marine life, and for you!

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

We’ll see a lot of life, but what we see on the surface is a tiny slice of what’s there. Most life in the sea lives underwater, where sea lions and seals chase teeming schools of fish, killer whales stalk migrating gray whale mothers and their calves, coral reefs spawn and release clouds of eggs and sperm, majestic forests of kelp plants sway as tiny crabs and invertebrates scatter over undulating fronds, and fish hide in rocky crevasses to escape predators.

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

Photo courtesy of Jasper Lyons

Unless you put on scuba gear or climb into a submarine, these alien worlds are inaccessible to landlubbers, and can be easy to overlook. In fact, for many years we’ve taken for granted the oceans are an indestructible resource that will continue to support us no matter how we treat them. We’re learning differently now, as fisheries decline and coral reefs disappear. We depend upon the oceans for food, recreation, and commerce, and it is important to understand how they work. Every living thing on Earth exists for a purpose, some that we don’t even know about yet. We need to support natural systems so they may sustain themselves while taking care of our many needs, not to mention the needs of the organisms that live in them. Tinkering with the system without knowing the nuances of how it works can spell trouble for our oceans and our planet.

Investigations in a National Marine Sanctuary was a Toyota USA Foundation-funded effort to distribute OSO's curriculum nationwide, in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary Program, in 2004. The second edition of this book was made possible by a grant from the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation (FFFF). We are most grateful to the FFFF, who has supported OSO’s revision of this curriculum to include and align with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts. Dawn Hayes of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary worked with OSO Education Coordinator, Laura Walker, and Julia Davenport, a curriculum writer, to do the first formal upgrade of our standards-based curriculum. Cheryl Thompson and Laura Walker even traveled to a conference in Alaska to promote the curriculum. Since then, the curriculum has been upgraded twice more, most recently with the Pepper College Readiness Network to formalize our alignment with Next Generation Science Standards for our watershed-to-the-sea lessons.

English Curriculum (pdf)   Spanish Curriculum (pdf)


Through it's curriculum, organizational partnerships, public outreach, and advocacy, O’Neill Sea Odyssey supports efforts to protect our oceans and the National Marine Sanctuary Program. OSO Executive Director, Dan Haifley, can be heard here on NPR’s KQED discussing his past experience opposing offshore oil drilling along coastal California. He also participated in a related protest march and rally hosted by Save Our Shores this past weekend. Media coverage and photography of the protest was provided by KSBW 8 News and OSO Instructor, Nikki Brooks, respectively.


Make your voice heard with Save Our Shores.

Business Spotlight

New Leaf

Giving Back to the Community

We're proud to announce that New Leaf is supporting our Ocean Stewards through their Envirotoken program. In honor of this, we’ve asked them to share their thoughts about their unique connection to OSO and the community. Here’s what they had to say…

Our communities are at the heart of everything we do, which is why at New Leaf Community Markets, we give back 10% of our after-tax profits to local community programs that are aligned with our mission to nourish and sustain our community.

We focus these efforts in key areas that align with our mission:  environmental stewardship, hunger relief and K-12 education. Through our giving programs, we support direct donations, sponsorships, Envirotoken program, school e-cards, senior discount days, and "Lend a Hand," which encourages and honors New Leaf team members' volunteer work in their community.

New Leaf pioneered the Envirotoken program in 1993 to encourage recycling and protect the environment. It was the first program of its kind on the Central Coast. Every six months, employees at each of the New Leaf stores cast their votes to nominate a new group of nonprofit recipients. Since the program was launched, New Leaf has donated over $690,000 to local groups working to support the environment.

O'Neill Sea Odyssey is currently one of six recipients of New Leaf Community Markets' Envirotoken program at the Pacific Avenue New Leaf store. The OSO program will receive monthly donations from New Leaf from January through June 2018. Every time customers reuse a bag at the Pacific Avenue store, they receive a token worth 10 cents they can direct to OSO or one of the other five Envirotoken beneficiaries.

Prior to being selected as a 2018 Envirotoken beneficiary, O’Neill Sea Odyssey received over $3,000 in Envirotoken donations from New Leaf stores in Capitola and Downtown Santa Cruz from July through December 2017. In addition, New Leaf donated $2,000 to O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s 100,000th Student Campaign in January 2018.

Pacific Avenue New Leaf. "One stop shop with character."

Thank you, New Leaf, for your outstanding support of our Ocean Stewards. Thank you also, New Leaf patrons, for your Envirotokens. O'Neill Sea Odyssey appreciates your contributions.

PROTECT OUR COAST - Protest March & Rally

Make Your Voice Heard

"In early January, President Trump and Secretary Zinke released a proposal to open up California Coasts to new offshore oil drilling and leasing. This move would be highly detrimental to the well-being of our state's coastal economies, communities, and wildlife. We as a community must unite together to oppose this misguided action.

Join Save Our Shores to fight this proposal by attending the Protect Our Coast Protest March and Rally on Saturday, February 3rd. The march will leave from Lighthouse Point Park at 10am, walk along West Cliff Drive, and arrive at Cowell Beach where the rally will begin at 11am. Community leaders will share their perspectives and make clear that the California Coast is not for sale – especially not to the oil and gas industry. Together we can make a difference!"

- Save Our Shores

Gateway School Science Fair & Life Lab

Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to participate as a Science Fair judge at Gateway School. The opportunity to meet, listen to, learn from, and evaluate the efforts of local middle schoolers was an absolute treat. The experience afforded me a glimpse into the curiosities and scientific investigations of young minds.

Together with co-judge, Dorota, from Moss Landing Marine Labs, we entered our designated classroom to find ten independent project boards set upon the tabletops in an orderly fashion, starting first with 6th grade, moving to 7th, and then 8th. We had a few minutes to preview each before beginning the interviews and were intrigued by the various questions posed.

6th Grade

  • The Effect of a Rider's Emotion on the Horse's Heartbeat
  • The Effect of Different Activators on the Viscosity and Density of Slime
  • The Effect of Music Type on the Retention of Lyrics
  • The Theremin:  How Does Density Affect Frequency

7th Grade

  • The Effects of Different Exposures of UV Light on Bacteria
  • The Effect of Varying Materials on Blocking Cell Phone Radiation
  • The Effect of Fat Content on Bird Nut Selection

8th Grade

  • The Effect of Varying Amounts of Rock Salt on The Melting Rate of Ice Cream
  • The Effect of Horse Jump Height on Take-Off Location
  • The Effect of Ingredient Modification on Marshmallow Density

One by one, the student presenters entered the classroom to share their project with us. For the last few months, they had organized their materials list, designed experiments, collected and analyzed data, formulated their conclusions, and crafted their boards. It was now their opportunity to present their methodology and findings in roughly 10 minutes, to two complete strangers. With a bit of anxiety, each student, or pair of students, gave it their best and shined in the moment. We were so impressed.

For me, I’ve long since forgotten my Science Fair experience but the memories quickly returned as I witnessed these girls and boys describe their successes, mishaps, and unexpected discoveries. Memories of the critical guidance provided by teachers to help narrow and maintain focus of the objectives; dependence on classmates and siblings as test subjects; and parental assistance during the final days (and hours) of project board construction.

Science- and/or engineering-based research and design is not for everyone but the lessons learned by questioning, hypothesizing, and investigating are invaluable. The journey of discovery, whether through the application of the scientific method or not, especially at a young age, is extremely beneficial and can be adapted to all aspects of problem solving, both in school and in life. These Gateway School Science Fair participants were successful not only if their conclusions were right or if their hypotheses were “proved” but because they each crafted their own approach to answering a novel question.

Congratulations to all!


    Sea Odyssey & Life Lab

    In addition to volunteering time to judge the Science Fair, last fall O’Neill Sea Odyssey provided Gateway School’s Life Lab with a well-used watershed model for hands-on learning about point and non-point source pollution. Due to OSO's repeated daily use of this classroom model, it was necessary to replace it and we were so pleased to learn of Life Lab’s need for this valuable learning tool.

    Caprice Potter, Life Lab Science Teacher, provided this feedback:  “Can't express my gratitude enough as this is a huge benefit to our Life Lab program's year-long study of our local watershed and wetlands, with water quality testing and water conservation integrated in with 3rd grade trips to the San Lorenzo River and Neary Lagoon. The watershed model is used at least two different times a year by four groups of third graders in the fall and by the whole school and their families as they tour the campus on Ocean Day in the spring. The third graders demonstrate what they've learned about how a watershed works by teaching and demonstrating for the whole school and visitors on that day!”

    O'Neill Sea Odyssey is thrilled that the watershed model is so useful and love hearing about all the wonderful experiences and lessons. Thank you, students (and Elise), for the video and smiles.

    The Ocean Means "Life"

    Since the start of our campaign in celebration of OSO's 100,000th student milestone (to be reached in 2018), we have engaged with numerous supporters - donors, teachers, students, and community members - and posed the question, "What does the ocean mean to you?" This simple yet profound statement has provided an opportunity to better understand our human connection to the vast wilderness of our blue planet. Through it all, we’ve enjoyed hearing the answers and witnessing the emotion and excitement the ocean conjures up.

    For many children, the response tends to represent the playful joy of a day at the beach while for adults and parents alike, the thoughtful answers take on a slightly more serious tone, though not before reminiscing about some of those same childhood experiences. Time and time again, however, the response is "Life." The ocean means life to us all.

    All living things are dependent on the ocean as a life support system.

    • More than half of the oxygen we breathe, that is, every second breath, comes from the ocean and along with plants and soil, sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    • The ocean is a major source of food globally and the foundation for the world’s fresh water supply.

    • A major portion of the global economy is dependent on the ocean for commerce, transportation, recreation and tourism, among others.

    • The ocean plays a leading role in the Earth’s climate and weather patterns.

    • And some even recognize it as a source of happiness when experiencing time in, on, or near the ocean.

    As of today, O'Neill Sea Odyssey has provided 96,868 students with a vital educational program to foster awareness of the ocean, environmental stewardship, and personal responsibility. This is achieved by delivering an interactive curriculum that emphasizes the connection between land and sea through a multidisciplinary approach including ecology, biology, and mathematics. As we continue our campaign over the next several months, please join us to celebrate the ocean, life, and our next generation of Ocean Stewards.

    Do you have a connection to the ocean? Tell us, what does the ocean mean to you? Please share on Facebook or Instagram using #oso100k.

    I love the ocean so much, I wish I had gills!
    — Market Participant
    Instructor Spotlight
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    Marina Maze

    "Showing kids the wonder of the outdoors is so vital for the health of our communities and the environment."

    We’ve asked Marina Maze, one of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s previous students and past instructors, to share her thoughts about her unique connection to, and teaching experience with, the OSO program. Here’s what she had to say….

    My first experience with O'Neill Sea Odyssey was as a 5th grader in 1997 and I can remember looking down at the beautiful green water from the net and sitting on the cabin floor of the catamaran learning about navigation. That was one of my first experiences on a large boat on the ocean, and the experience was exhilarating. I soon came to love the feeling of being near and on the water. Growing up in Boulder Creek, my family beach days were spent at nearby Greyhound Rock, a beautiful, remote and pristine beach that offered hours of endless entertainment. I will admit, as a kid I was always a bit fearful (terrified really) of how powerful the ocean was. But my excitement, curiosity, and appreciation for the ocean did not falter. These experiences have since rooted themselves in my being, and have acted as my internal compass as I make my way through the world.

    As a Marine Biology student at UC Santa Cruz, I was introduced to the fascinating, and utterly overwhelming, world of plastic pollution in the ocean. I began volunteering at Save Our Shores, where I became mesmerized by our addiction to single-use plastics and totally shocked at how this addiction was impacting our oceans. I was hooked, some might even say obsessed, and I found the most rewarding and impactful way to contribute to the solution was through educating the next generation.

    Enter O’Neill Sea Odyssey, my dream job. Becoming a member of the OSO team has been one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only is it a vividly rich educational experience for the students, but we are also providing a wildly exciting, life-changing opportunity for the kids we teach. Observing the students crawl on the net and listening to them talk to one another about how fun, exciting or cool the boat is, fills my heart with joy, and in some cases, my eyes with tears. There is no better reward for a hard days work than seeing a student’s eyes light up, and know that this experience is going to integrate itself into their internal compass as well.

    Providing enriching outdoor educational experiences to children is so important, especially as our society becomes increasingly preoccupied by gadgets, tablets, computers, and iPhones. Showing kids the wonder of the outdoors is so vital for the health of our communities and the environment. O’Neill Sea Odyssey is a gem, offering young minds the opportunity to experience the outdoors, aboard a 65-foot catamaran, suspended over the ocean, on a net. It blows their mind every time!

    Witnessing first-hand how impactful O’Neill Sea Odyssey has been, both personally and for the students, influenced me to pursue an advanced degree in sustainable business. This particular graduate program is dedicated to identifying and understanding how business can be used as a catalyst for positive change, both socially and environmentally. While the movement towards sustainable business management is just getting started, it poses a wealth of opportunity to create exciting, unique and innovative solutions to some of our biggest environmental threats. For my thesis, I am focusing on the economic valuation of non-profit services, using O’Neill Sea Odyssey as a case study. I am trying to determine the value of the OSO experience, or the necessary impact and outcome measurements to determine that value. My research is intended to help illustrate how important this, and similar experiences are and that we need to do everything we can to support them for years to come.

    Spotlight video produced by intern, Sophie Holin.

    My favorite OSO moment was while teaching an ecology lesson with the watershed model. One solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions presented by a student was to “turn off his video games and go play outside”. YES!! Double win! Not only did he make the connection to his own life and habits, he opted to go outside rather than stay indoors.

    What does the ocean mean to you?

    To me, the ocean is outer-space. Mind-blowingly incomprehensible. It is a life-sustaining mystery that we know very little about, yet are drawn to it in some way, shape or form. The ocean is the beating heart of our planet. It provides the air we breathe, the food we eat and the excitement we crave. It gives us inspiration for music, art, and film while reminding us that nature is a powerful force that we cannot control. The ocean reminds me that as a citizen of the planet, I have a great responsibility to protect the environment and leave things better than I found them. So, I have vowed to do everything I can to keep our watery, blue heart beating and thriving with life so future generations can experience the mystery, excitement, and awe that the ocean brings.


    Thank you, Marina, for your leadership at O'Neill Sea Odyssey and your fearless dedication to protecting our planet, teaching our Ocean Stewards, and seeking solutions for positive change. You're an inspiration to us all.