Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association protecting our ocean wilderness through public stewardship
Winter 2012 Protecting Our Ocean Wilderness Through Public Stewardship  www.farallones.org Subscribe


Communicating the Science of Climate Change to Teachers

Priority: Beach Watch Volunteer Training

FMSA Sponsored Projects

Donate to FMSA today!


FMSA Events



Feb 16, 6-10pm - San Francisco Ocean Film Festival Special Screening
Join us for an advanced screening of two special films, "One Beach" and "Thirty Thousand."
For more information, and to purchase tickets, please see their website. Tickets on sale now!


Feb 20, 11 am PST - LIVE Webcast with Scientists on the Farallon Islands
Sanctuary and California Academy of Sciences staff will hold a live web cast to discuss rocky intertidal research on the Farallon Islands. A team representing GFNMS, California Academy of Sciences, and Tenera Environmental will highlight interesting discoveries to date and describe what it is like to live and work on the island. The scientists will answer questions and interact with the public on the Academy’s exhibit floor, and with countless others over the web. A web cam perched high atop the island’s lighthouse will provide a panoramic, gull’s-eye view of the intertidal areas, which the sanctuary has surveyed annually for almost twenty years.  Click here to tune in online or visit the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.


Feb 23 - GFNMS Advisory Council Meeting in Bodega Bay. For more information, see the Sanctuary's website. The public is encouraged to attend.


Feb 24, 6pm - An Evening of Sailing Films. For more information, see the Aquarium of the Bay's website


Mar 3, 9am-12 - The Dungeness Crab Fishery of San Francisco
This special program will be a chance to hear a fisherman and a scientist discuss one of California’s most important fisheries. Larry Collins, President of The San Francisco crab Boat Owners Association will talk about the challenges of life as a crab fisherman in Central California. Peter Kalvass, US Fish and Game Biologist, and Dungeness Crab Expert will discuss the biology and population dynamics of this amazing crustacean. Contact Peter Winch to register. Suggested Donation $5 - $10


Mar 3, 7-10pm -Sperm Whale Soiree
An adults-only program, featuring unique art & science reception & lecture. Dr. Sarah Mesnick, NOAA ecologist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, will share her latest research on sperm whales, including their complex social structure, amazing diving abilities, intriguing behaviors, and conservation issues. Dance to live jazz on the outdoor observation deck and do whale-themed art projects in the ceramics and art studios. The soiree will be held at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco Ages.
Adults – must be 21 or older
Tickets: $25 –must be purchased in advance; includes all activities & two complimentary cocktails.
For tickets contact: Justin Holl at 415-561-6622 x308 or justin.holl@noaa.gov


Mar 8-11 - San Francisco Ocean Film Festival
The festival celebrates the sea with inspirational films that increase our appreciation of the oceans that surround us. Come view the beauty and mysteries of the ocean, experience the thrill of saltwater sports, explore coastal cultures, and pause to reflect on the importance of this vital ecosystem. See the SF Ocean Film Festival website for more information.


Mar 24, 9am-12 -Whale Watching Tour
Join us for a half-day whale watching trip in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Between December and May, gray whales can be observed just a few miles off our shore. Join us to learn about their incredible migration.
The trip leaves from Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA.
Cost: $48.
For tickets, contact Erica Warren, 415-561-6625 EXT 232 or ewarren@farallones.org 

Communicating the Science of Climate Change to Teachers

earthOur ocean is facing uncertain times. Multiple stresses compounded by climate change are changing our coast and ocean now. Marine scientists are using our local waters as laboratories to better understand how our ocean and estuaries may adapt or change to the pressures they face from climate change. FMSA is currently working to communicate this science to the teachers in our community.

FMSA received a grant from the NMSF Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund to implement a collaborative teacher workshop series on climate change. This series aims to help teachers better understand the leading science, separate the fact from the fiction, and help communicate climate change to their students.The 3-part series begins in May 2012 and will be held at the Romberg Tiburon Center in Tiburon, CA. Though our focus is on middle and high school teachers, all educators are welcome. The series will connect teachers with local climate scientists and their work and will broaden understanding of climate change impacts along our coast and estuaries. It also aims to increase teacher confidence about teaching a subject that is still considered controversial by some of the public unexposed to the science behind climate change. Collaborators include San Francisco State University, Cordell Bank NMS, and the San Francisco Bay NERR. For more information, check out FMSA's teacher workshop pages.


Priority: Beach Watch Volunteer Training

In 2012 one of FMSA’s top funding priority is to support the Beach Watch program's volunteer training efforts; specifically to raise the funds for a new recruit training for the Beach Watch program, an adult citizen-science ecosystem monitoring program for long term Sanctuary health as well as oil spill response assistance.

beachwatchOur national recognized Beach Watch program is fueled by the dedication of over 100 highly trained volunteers. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) relies on Beach Watch to detect subtle changes in wildlife and oil deposition on our outer coast. GFNMS management needs to know what is “normal” on their coast line, identify unusual mortality events, and have highly trained volunteers ready to respond in the case of an oil spill to help document the impacts on wildlife and habitat. These are things Beach Watch does well. Beach Watch data now spans 19 years and can tell us a lot about local baseline deposition or observation rates, which is priceless the morning after a spill.

BeachWatchTo maintain our cadre of volunteers, we must continually support the program through new recruit trainings to combat natural attrition, and advanced trainings to maintain the skills and training of our current volunteers. Ideally we should host an 80hr new recruit training once every other year, and an advanced training each year in between. Due to funding limitations we have not been able to offer a new recruit training since Fall 2008. It is now almost four years since the last training. We are overdue.

In 2011 we acquired funds from both Norcross and Firedoll foundations to develop new technology that would benefit Beach Watch and to train volunteers in these advances. In April of 2012 we will host an advanced training for current volunteers.

Our next big hurtle is to fundraise 30K for a new recruit training. If we are successful we will host a training in the fall of 2012 and bring 25 new recruits into the Beach Watch family. You can support this effort directly spreading the word of this important initiate and by making a donation to FMSA today.



FMSA Sponsored Projects

FMSA’s Executive Director Terri Watson explains another way that “The Association” supports “The Sanctuary”

Those familiar with FMSA usually think of us as a small non-profit with an interest in supporting the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. We fundraise for and carry out flagship programs such as LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students, an educational program focusing on Rocky Intertidal and Sandy Beach hands-on science) and Beach Watch. And, as is traditional with affiliated organizations, it is probably known that we “help out” with the Visitor Center here at Crissy Field.

Less known however, is the growth of FMSA’s role in “Sponsored Projects” in the past 18 months. Sponsored Projects, simply put, are programs and positions that fall squarely within FMSA’s mission, but are projects that we share or control the work of. This way, we partner with the Sanctuary’s expertise, and make these projects possible by recruiting private funding, hiring staff, and providing the Sanctuary needed personnel to undertake Sanctuary priority programs.

FMSA exists as a “Cooperating Association” to our federal Sanctuary partner. In addition to a corporate charter that defines our purpose as a business in California, we also have a formal working agreement with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary that says that our primary purpose it to support their work in a variety of ways. Running programs is one way. Fundraising to augment shortfalls in Congressional funding is another. Finding grant and contract monies for work that needs doing at the Sanctuary, hiring qualified personnel, and assigning them to roles that directly support Sanctuary work projects is another. This last we call a “Sponsored Project,” and as an independent non-profit, it is a very effective way to build a strong partnership to support our Sanctuary.


Here is how it works: The Sanctuary has a need, let’s say coordinating the Bolinas Lagoon Restoration Project or facilitating a working group on Vessel Impacts in the Sanctuary. There is no money in the federal site budget to hire staff for those important projects. This is where FMSA comes in. As a non-profit, we can find outside funding for those projects, and when we have adequate resources, we can hire the right people to do a good job. The Sanctuary gives us clear guidance as to qualifications and abilities, and we find and hire the person. Once that person is on board, they are assigned directly to the Sanctuary staff member who oversees that project area. While hired by and paid by FMSA, the sponsored project staff has their work directed and coordinated by Sanctuary staff for greatest effect.

This is a neat model – it allows us to build cross-organizational teams for projects, and it allows us to combine public and private funding towards Sanctuary priorities. It is one of many means by which a foundation, another agency, or an individual donor can directly support specific conservation and policy needs within our National Marine Sanctuary.

FMSA’s budget has grown from $645,000 in 2008 to nearly $1.4 million (planned) in 2012, despite the recession and despite continued reduction in funds available from federal service contracts, and despite the grinding recession that has hurt so many other nonprofits. $587,000 has been raised via sponsored projects. A side benefit of this effort is that sponsored projects also provide augmentation to core funding to allow strong business management and administrative support, a classic area of struggle for nonprofits.


Stronger together: If you look at us as separate organizations, we were a very small nonprofit (645k revenues) and a relatively small federal agency (1.3 million dollars). But when you combine the budgets and the programs and present them as a combined partnership effort, then we have both a larger budgetary scale to project (many funders want to be only a given percentage of a project’s budget), as well as a much broader range of work to showcase. You will also notice that this coming year, FMSA’s budget will be larger than the federal one.

Via sponsored projects, we can provide the means for some really important work to get done within the Sanctuary. We are in a stronger position to support our flagship Beach Watch and LiMPETS programs. With external funding support, we are now providing the ability for a number of important Sanctuary programs to occur that simply would not exist were it not for FMSA recruiting funding and providing sponsored staff (don’t let the web address fool you!). Here are a few:

  • Bolinas Lagoon Restoration Project – provides a part time staff member to continue coordination of agencies and projects within this complex project that only moves when someone is shepherding it through the myriad of processes required.
  • Ocean Climate Change Initiative – GFNMS spearheads this initiative run out of the Ocean Climate Center identifying climate change impacts and promoting adaptive strategies along the North-central California coast and ocean wave environment. It strives to foster awareness, advocate solutions, and promote action amongst agencies, organizations, corporations and individuals to build ecosystem resilience and sustainability in local actions.
  • Sanctuary Vessel Impacts Working Group – this is a group of some of the world’s leading experts in shipping issues, whale strikes, noise impacts on marine mammals, and other issues working to craft solutions that support commerce but protect marine life within Sanctuary waters.
  • seabirdsSeabird Protection Network – this growing statewide initiative works to reduce disturbance of important seabird nesting sites by pilots and boaters.
  • Public Programs and School Education – a huge number of programs involving outreach to schools (both one time visits and multi-day programs), hosting schools at our site, family fun/educational programs and adult social/educational evening events are put on by the Sanctuary.
  • International Marine Protected Area Capacity Building Project – this is a project that FMSA supports that is much broader than just the Farallones. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries supports a program offering training in hands-on skills of setting up and managing marine reserves around the world, to include finance/business skills and community engagement. This major program is supported by volunteers from within NOAA, FMSA, with funding support from large conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. Currently, work is being done in 5 regions of the world in 22 countries. FMSA’s support of both funding transactions and staffing support aids this impactful program.