Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our National Marine Sanctuaries celebrate 40 years!

Channel Islands a Treasure for Future Generations

Article published 10/30/2012
Click links below to read on their websites.
Santa Barbara Independent &

By Harry Rabin

Forty years ago last week, in 1972, Congress passed what is now known as the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and established the National Marine Sanctuaries System. Just eight years later, in 1980, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration designated our own Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the third in what is currently a national system of 14 sites.

Encircling five of the offshore Channel Islands, our sanctuary is a local and national treasure, a Chumash homeland and very special place. Teeming with an incredible diversity of marine life, it’s a natural place for adventure where locals and visitors can enjoy world-class fishing, whale watching, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and even a trip to the Channel Islands National Park. There’s also known and yet to be discovered historic shipwrecks, right here in our very own backyard, beckoning the adventurous to have a look.

The sanctuary’s eco-minded management provides us with clean waters and well-protected habitats that help serve up top-quality local seafood and support many important jobs in our coastal community.

Local sanctuary programs, such as the Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans (MERITO) program, have inspired and engaged our schools and students.

On campus at UC Santa Barbara, the Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS) is being built, and will offer many exciting programs along with hands-on interactive technology to inspire, stimulate and educate our children, students and adults about ocean science and conservation. Future OCTOS students will see firsthand some of the most advanced marine science tools available to further the cause and advancement of conservation efforts at an incredible pace.

Even more good news! Just a little south of Santa Barbara at the Channel Islands Harbor, the doors will soon open at a new boating center, aptly named the Channel Islands Boating Center. The center will highlight the wonders of the sanctuary and teach the importance of safe and environmentally responsible boating.

So, the outlook is promising. The sanctuary system and, in particular, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, will be an important part of our community’s future. We’re coming into exciting times. Our sanctuary is a national treasure to enjoy now and for future generations — 1,470 square miles of ocean will remain protected from further offshore oil development, always managed with a forward-thinking, ecosystem-based approach. The success here and at other sanctuaries has spurred requests to add even more needed national marine sanctuaries around the country.

Our sanctuary has proven to be a living example of how protected areas can thrive by supporting a healthy ecosystem, a healthy economy and a beautiful and stunning place to visit. The future looks very bright indeed, as long as we all remember that our national marine sanctuaries belong to everyone, and never lose sight of that.

Locally, I encourage you to get involved, whether through volunteering your time as a Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteer or with the Sanctuary Advisory Council. It’s easy to learn more about the sanctuary through a visit to local venues such as the Ty Warner Sea Center, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum or the Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitors Center. Better yet, head out to the gateway of our Channel Islands, your local beaches, to experience your very own sanctuary adventure.

There are many local companies to help you venture out to sea aboard a sailing or power boat to see up close the largest animal on the planet — the blue whale — along with many other cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins. We even have sea otters. How about a glass-bottom boat, an amphibious tour vehicle, or grab a board, kayak, mask, snorkel and fins and jump on in!

Survival Suit Drill aboard RV Atlantis
As a member of your community, ocean enthusiast and supporter for more than 38 years, I’m very proud to be helping our local Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in my new role with the Channel Islands Sanctuary Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the understanding and protection of the sanctuary. Let’s all do our part to experience, contribute to and benefit from the good fortune of having a national marine sanctuary in our own backyard.

— Harry Rabin is the board liaison for the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Founding Board Member UCSB OCTOS and CEO of On the Wave Productions and Flying B Studios.

UPCOMING TEDx TALK-Destiny & the Unthinkable

A new journey began for me when the unthinkable occurred on Feb 3rd 2012 the day my friend , mentor and partner in film Mike deGruy was suddenly out of the clear blue taken from us…

So today I’m going to talk a little bit about Destiny and something called a “Light Path” and how the UNTHINKABLE can inspire all of us at any time in our life but especially our children !

We may choose our fate but we don't get to choose our destiny in life, it seems that it often chooses us. Rest assured that the universe does indeed send us messages but we need an open mind not only to listen but to absorb the information and we’ll need the courage to act upon it ! That was something Mike deGruy excelled in, courage and an open mind and heart…and that is why he inspired me…

Now some of those messages come from those whom we surround ourselves with as well as when we seek anothers knowledge but most of the time it comes when we ‘re not looking at all.

One such person fitting that latter category I came across in college, let's just say a few decades back for the sake of argument, and was just recently re-acquainted with him as he spoke to an entire middle school assembly. Remarkably he described how his destiny was shaped by what he phrased as "following one's light path." He went on to say that he picked someone who inspired him.That inspiration for him came from Ansel Adams. And that wise courageous soul was none other than Ernie Brooks, the voice of oceanic exploration and preservation of our marine environment!

Wow an epiphany! Ernie became one of 3 light paths to follow in my life. The photographs along with his philosophy of the environment and conservation became my ticket into the universe of underwater photography! And here we were together just a week ago as he spoke to over 150 students, inspiring them and renewing me. He said to me that being with these kids who are our future was so rewarding. If he could inspire them as he did me so be it!
Now my other light path was with my Uncle Max a relentless inventor who proclaimed to me "seek out originality, do something no one else has ever attempted, create, innovate and I did!  

 Ok so here I am at 58 years old and my 3rd mentor of the last decade was none other than Mike deGruy! To quote James Cameron on Mike’s TED Talk in the Galapagos “Mike gave  a nineteen minute speed rap on the environment that only Mike could deliver in that Mike way! He ended by saying he left a legacy for all of us to carry on. 

So looking back I can say I was lucky to spend months with Mike and crew as his DP preparing and then heading to the Gulf of Mexico. Sharing a tiny bunk bed quarters aboard the Research Vessel Atlantis, working with a great crew until we pushed so hard they were on the verge of a MUTINY,  squeezing into a 6ft Titanium ball known as the ALVIN Deep Submersible Vehicle, Driving over 6000 miles all over the Gulf Coast in all kinds of weather and more stories and adventures then I can fit into a brief presentation today but could definitely write a few book!

Now I'm the last person to put anyone on a pedestal and I won't begin here and now. What I will do is to attempt the UNTHINKABLE...HMMM that word always seems to proceed something horrible, disastrous, negative but not for me. That word instead inspires and let me show you how the unthinkable is a positive word indeed and I believe one that Mike used well to get the message through…
Roll the video.

Mike deGruy in the Gulf of Mexico
Mike deGruy didn't choose his destiny especially in those final moments of his incredible life. What he did do and accomplish in his 61 years on the planet has left us with a mission, perhaps for some of you the message that we can accomplish the unthinkable! We can look in our own backyards, all of us and begin there as Mike so aptly phrased it! We can save our planet by altering the course it has been on, by looking at different energy sources that give back to the planet. By exploring our Oceans especially the Deep and by reversing the damage we have done to our environment. Together and through Mike's inspiration we can do the UNTHINKABLE! We all together can turn the tide! We all can be warriors for the sake of our environment and our children's future. Their destiny awaits them... Let's give them a world to experience it! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I have returned !

Thanks for the many eMails regarding the blog and those of you who urged me to getting back in the groove. Losing a friend and partner and mentor all in one blow quite truthfully ripped the ground right from under me! Mike deGruy was a one of a kind, a magnificent human being and a tremendous loss to the planet, his family and his friends...

A very wise person just said to me the other day that we should follow the light path of that special person who has a profound impact on our lives. That person whom I was lucky enough to be re-acquainted with was none other than Ernie Brooks as he spoke to the kids at Santa Barbara Middle School where my son Drake happens to be enrolled. I have to say that there are only a few whose light path I have followed and as of late Mike has become one of them for me! The last 6 months have been consumed by trying to continue in the spirit of the planet, our Oceans and our future, our children's future.

I have made several tribute films to honor what Mike deGruy has done for all of us. On the web, in theaters, in conference halls, Film Festivals, Discovery Channel, TEDx Talks, and coming up the AUAS/NOGI Awards. As for active participation I have become an official liaison for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries. A founding Board Member for an ambitious project at UCSB called OCTOS, Outreach Center for the Teaching of Ocean Science. I still wear the wrist band for Mike that his son Max so insightfully created. It has 4 letters on it, W.W.M.D... What Would Mike Do! So it is a reminder of Mike and his involvement in making this world a better place for our future generations!

Sometimes what is most important is to follow the path that is set down before us. To turn unthinkable events in our lives into productive ones. My light path is doing just that and maybe some of you out there can join me or steer towards the same situation that confronts you and jump on for another ride of a lifetime!