Our Ocean Backyard
Collected Essays by Gary Griggs
Distinguished professor of Earth and planetary sciences
Director, Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz
For the three billion people on Earth who live in coastal regions, the ocean is figuratively, if not literally, “our backyard.” Many of us have sought out ocean areas in which to live, work, or vacation. They enrich our lives in countless ways, but our interactions with them have not always been positive.
In April 2008, Gary Griggs, a coastal geologist and oceanographer who has studied the oceans for over forty-six years and is known for making science understandable, enjoyable, and accessible to non-scientists, was asked to write a bi-weekly column, “Our Ocean Backyard” for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
This book is a collection of the first six-and-a-half years of his short essays, which cover ocean exploration, natural disasters, marine life, the natural and geologic history of the Monterey Bay region, waves and beaches, energy and water, and climate change and sea-level rise. Gary writes not to advocate, but rather to illuminate. His goal is always to explain the science, which in turn enhances our enjoyment of this beautiful resource, and also empowers us to make considered, informed decisions – whether it is in our daily lives, or in the voting booth.
Griggs’ new book will be available in the Seymour Center’s Ocean Discovery Shop on December 12 and is currently available online.
John Laird, California’s Secretary of Resources says:
“I marvel at Gary’s ability to relate more complex situations in an understandable form for lay people-an in a way that holds their interests. It is obvious why he has been a successful and much-loved teacher for over four decades”.
Read about the Seymour Center in the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section.
Congratulations to our World Oceans Day Instagram contest winner – Ranya!
The Seymour Center exhibit that most inspires Ranya to protect our oceans is our gray whale skeleton because “Whales travel more than you!”
This is very true (at least we hope it is!) as gray whales travel 10,000-12,000 miles every year—the longest known migration of any mammal.
Thank you to everyone who participated—we look forward to more amazing photo submissions in future contests!
Tour the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf
Wharf tours resume – April 2015
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is now leading tours on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. Join us for an informative half hour, a half mile out at sea!
- Tour times are every Saturday and Sunday during Spring and Summer, rain or shine, at 1:00 and 3:00 PM. Tours are 30 minutes long. Tours resume in April 2015.
- Tours meet on the wharf stage on the west side of the wharf, near Olitas restaurant.
- Learn about marine research in progress, from clean energy pursuits to marine mammal behavior and conservation. Find out how you can help solve ocean pollution.
- Docents will be available after tours to provide additional information and answer questions.
- Tours will be cancelled if the wharf is closed due to weather conditions, or if the tour would conflict with a major event held on the wharf.
New! Gray Whale Mother and Calf Half-Ton Wooden Sculptures
A new exhibit, gray whale mother and calf models by master whale sculptor Wick Ahrens and artist Linda Emme, has been installed just inside the Seymour Center entry. The 1/3-scale whale models are carved from solid sugar pine and weigh about 1,000 pounds. It was no small feat to hang them from cables in our ceiling but they are now “swimming” into our exhibit hall. Although gray whales are commonly seen along our local coast today, they were hunted to the edge of extinction in the 1850s. The gray whale was given full protection in 1947. Since that time the Eastern North Pacific gray whale population (the population visible along our coast) has made a remarkable recovery and now numbers between 19,000 and 23,000, probably close to the original size. The sculptures pay homage to this recovery story. The mother and calf replicas will also help visitors understand what they are seeing as these animals literally, travel right by. Gray whales are one of the animal kingdom’s great migrators, with some swimming more than 12,000 miles round-trip between Mexico and Alaska. The Center’s vantage point gives people an outstanding opportunity to see whales from shore as they pass by, hugging the northern edge of Monterey Bay.