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Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area
California, United States

Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area

Information

Boat-based wildlife tours
Boat-based wildlife tours
Boat-based wildlife tours
Boat-based wildlife tours
Boat-based wildlife tours
Visitor centres or museums
Visitor centres or museums
Visitor centres or museums
Visitor centres or museums

General

Title Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area
Level Designated
Name Location California, United States
Name Species Group Cetacean
Country USA
Approximate size (sq km) 7500

Description

The Santa Barbara Channel (SBC) is one of the more biologically productive ecosystems found on Earth.  This body of water is called a channel because it is found between two land masses, the southern coast of California and the Northern Channel Islands, four of the five islands that are a part of Channel Islands National Park and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.  The SBC trends east-west, is approximately 70 nautical miles long and averages 25 nautical miles across.

The water circulation in the channel is complex and highly dynamic, resulting from the interaction of large-scale ocean currents; the cold nutrient rich California Current and the warm Southern California Counter Current that mixes and collides in this transition zone, adding to both the biomass and rich species diversity including cetaceans.  The California current plays the fundamental role in shaping the vibrant communities of phytoplankton, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. In addition, upwelling occurs when wind-driven motion pushes the nutrient-rich waters from the depths to the surface, nourishing phytoplankton growth and fueling the entire food web.

With the unique geography, the deep basin, ridges, and seamounts found in the Santa Barbara Channel, this area boasts unparalleled marine mammal species density and diversity.

The Santa Barbara Channel is home for common dolphins, both short beaked and long beaked, and bottlenose dolphins. At any one time, there might be over 25,000-50,000 dolphins in the SBC. Humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, minke whales also feed in the channel.  20,000+ Pacific Gray whales migrate through the channel every year on their annual migration from their arctic feeding grounds to their breeding grounds of Baja Mexico. The predictable whale sightings about every month of the year support some of the older whale watching companies in Southern California. Some of the great whale populations have recovered from the whaling era while others are still listed as endangered, making responsible tourism, research, and conservation  very important to safeguard the SBC as an important whale and dolphin habitat.

Motivation

Whales and dolphins are sentient, charismatic emblems of our oceans. They have the power to touch our hearts, inspire our minds, and deepen our connection to the natural world. By appreciating and protecting cetaceans, we not only enhance their lives but also cultivate our own sense of empathy, wonder, and responsibility towards protecting the planet we share. They are important environmental engineers, enhancing the productivity of the ocean through their feeding and migration.

We are a group of whale enthusiasts: whale watching tour operators; naturalists; biologists; fishers; educators; resource managers; artists; NGO’s all working together to heighten the awareness of the abundance and diversity of whales in the Santa Barbara Channel. Our hope is to not only learn how one can go watch and learn about our local whales but to also appreciate the ecological role whales play in enhancing the overall health and productivity of our local marine environment. With the Santa Barbara Channel becoming a Whale Heritage Area we hope to enhance social-economic opportunities for marketing responsible whale watching for the ecologically inspired tourists. We want to educate the local communities and tourists to learn about the local whales, dolphins and porpoises found in the Santa Barbara Channel and to feel empowered to be part of an ever-growing shift in ocean conservation and protection of the local marine wildlife in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Boundary Map

Species and habitats

Whales play a vital role in maintaining the balance of our marine ecosystems. Not only do they contribute to the health of the ocean by recycling nutrients and promoting primary productivity, but they also inspire awe and wonder, fostering a sense of connection with our wild oceans.

Whales have the power to touch our hearts, inspire our minds, and deepen our connection to the natural world. By appreciating and protecting these magnificent creatures, we not only enhance their lives but also cultivate our own sense of empathy, wonder, and responsibility towards the planet we share. 

Area Features

Blue whale - specie

Stability

Increasing globally but not of CA coast. Maybe this is because of ship strikes.

Threats

  1. Ship Strikes: The busy shipping lanes in the SB Channel can pose a danger to whales. Collisions with large ships can result in severe injuries or even death.                                 Redfern et al. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27(2):292-302.
  2. Entanglement in fishing and mariculture gear: Whales often become entangled in fishing and mariculture gear, such as nets, traps, and lines. This can hamper their ability to swim, feed, and breathe properly, leading to exhaustion, injury, or drowning.                                  NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment page for whale entanglements: https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/regions/california-current/cc-projects-whale-entanglement
  3. Ocean noise pollution: Underwater noise from human activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, and military exercises, can disturb and disorient whales. It can interfere with their communication, mating behaviors, and foraging activities, affecting their overall well-being.                                                                                                                                      Erbe et al. 2019. The effects of ship noise on marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci., 11 October 2019. Sec. Marine Conservation and Sustainability. Volume 6 - 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606                                                                            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606/full
  4. Pollution and contamination: The SB Channel is exposed to various forms of pollution, including oil spills, chemical pollutants, and marine debris. These contaminants can accumulate in whales’ bodies through the food chain, leading to health issues and reproductive problems. https://news.fullerton.edu/2022/11/new-study-reveals-alarming-amount-of-microplastics-ingested-by-baleen-whales-off-californias-coast/
  5. Climate Change: Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and changes in prey availability due to climate change can significantly impact whale populations. For example, reduced availability of certain prey species can affect the feeding patterns and reproductive success of whales.                                                                                  McClure et al. 2023. Vulnerability to climate change of managed stocks in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci., 21 February 2023. Sec. Global Change and the Future Ocean. Volume 10 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767                                                                                    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767/full

Actions taken for protection

1. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): The establishment of MPAs helps protect the ocean and its inhabitants, including cetaceans. Within the SB Channel Whale Heritage Area, there is a network of 17 MPAs, covering close to 20% of the waters. With limiting activities in these areas, there is less harm to cetaceans and destruction to their habitat.

2. Vessel Speed Restrictions: To reduce the risk of ship strikes, speed restrictions have been imposed for vessels travelling through the SBCWHA from May-December since 2014. ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ is a voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) Program along the coast of California, including the SB Channel. This program incentives shipping companies to incorporate sustainable shipping practices across their global supply chain. By slowing down, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and has positive human health outcomes.

3. Whale Watching Guidelines: Whale watching tour operators have adopted specific guidelines to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from whales to avoid disturbance while still allowing for enjoyable viewing experiences. They are put in place by national governmental agencies who are mandated to protect cetaceans under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

4. Acoustic Monitoring: Whale Safe Program: Monitoring the acoustic environment helps assess the impact of human activities, such as underwater noise pollution, on whale populations. Continuous acoustic monitoring is used to study ambient noise levels and track whale vocalizations, allowing for better management strategies.

5. Research and Education: There is ongoing research to better understand whale populations, migration patterns, and behaviors in the SB Channel. This valuable information helps inform conservation efforts and provide educational outreach to raise awareness among the public.

Community Importance

Firstly, whales, dolphins and porpoises contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting biodiversity. As they move through these coastal areas, they enhance nutrient cycling by releasing excrements rich in nitrogen, iron, and other essential elements. This nutrient enrichment promotes the growth of phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain, supporting various fish species that are important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Furthermore, the presence of whales contributes to eco-tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. Whale watching is a popular activity within the SB Channel, with whale watching boats departing from three different harbors. This popular activity provides economic boost to local communities through tourism-related businesses. This not only generates revenue but also creates job opportunities for residents, thus benefiting the local economy.

Whales serve as important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. Their movement, behaviors, and population numbers can send signals about the abundance of prey species and the presence of any environmental changes or threats that might impact the region. By studying and monitoring whales, scientists and citizen scientists can gather valuable information to inform conservation efforts and make informed decisions on marine resource management,  ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local marine ecosystems.

In summary, all whale species contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by supporting marine biodiversity, boosting eco-tourism and the economy, and providing valuable ecological insights.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency responsible for protecting whales and dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. To protect whales and dolphins from harassment and to promote a better understanding of the need to avoid harassment, the NMFS provides these guidelines for safe, non-disruptive whale watching:

-Vessels should not operate at speeds faster than a whale or a group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards (meters)

-Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards (meters).

-Aircraft should not fly lower than 1000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale’s normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale’s normal activity constitutes harassment and it is against the law.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/

Fact 1

Santa Barbara Channel is known as the ‘Whale Superhighway.’ This area is one of the most important migration routes for whales along the west coast of North America. It serves as a vital corridor for various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and even fin and blue whales. Thousands of these gentle giants pass through and even stop to feed in the SB Channel each year, making it a critical hotspot for whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Fact 2

Cetaceans in the SB Channel are culturally significant. Since ancient times, whales, dolphins, and porpoises have held cultural significance for many coastal communities. For the local Chumash, the presence of cetaceans play a role in their rich cultural mythology and traditions. Cetaceans are considered sacred and are believed to have guardianship over the ocean. Understanding the cultural connection helps foster a greater appreciation for cetaceans and encourages their protection to preserve cultural heritage as well.

Fact 3

Cetaceans in the SB Channel contribute to the local ecosystem. They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. They are primary consumers of krill and small fish, helping to control their populations and ensuring a balanced food web. Additionally, the waste materials released by cetaceans in the form of nutrient-rich fecal plumes contribute to the fertilization of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. This process promotes the overall productivity and biodiversity of the region, benefiting countless other marine species. Everything is connected!

Humpback whale - specie

Stability

Increasing, one of our two populations is listed as endangered.

Threats

  1. Ship Strikes: The busy shipping lanes in the SB Channel can pose a danger to whales. Collisions with large ships can result in severe injuries or even death.                                 Redfern et al. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27(2):292-302.
  2. Entanglement in fishing and mariculture gear: Whales often become entangled in fishing and mariculture gear, such as nets, traps, and lines. This can hamper their ability to swim, feed, and breathe properly, leading to exhaustion, injury, or drowning.                                  NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment page for whale entanglements: https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/regions/california-current/cc-projects-whale-entanglement
  3. Ocean noise pollution: Underwater noise from human activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, and military exercises, can disturb and disorient whales. It can interfere with their communication, mating behaviors, and foraging activities, affecting their overall well-being.                                                                                                                                      Erbe et al. 2019. The effects of ship noise on marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci., 11 October 2019. Sec. Marine Conservation and Sustainability. Volume 6 - 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606                                                                            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606/full
  4. Pollution and contamination: The SB Channel is exposed to various forms of pollution, including oil spills, chemical pollutants, and marine debris. These contaminants can accumulate in whales’ bodies through the food chain, leading to health issues and reproductive problems. https://news.fullerton.edu/2022/11/new-study-reveals-alarming-amount-of-microplastics-ingested-by-baleen-whales-off-californias-coast/
  5. Climate Change: Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and changes in prey availability due to climate change can significantly impact whale populations. For example, reduced availability of certain prey species can affect the feeding patterns and reproductive success of whales.                                                                                  McClure et al. 2023. Vulnerability to climate change of managed stocks in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci., 21 February 2023. Sec. Global Change and the Future Ocean. Volume 10 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767                                                                                    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767/full

Actions taken for protection

1. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): The establishment of MPAs helps protect the ocean and its inhabitants, including cetaceans. Within the SB Channel Whale Heritage Area, there is a network of 17 MPAs, covering close to 20% of the waters. With limiting activities in these areas, there is less harm to cetaceans and destruction to their habitat.

2. Vessel Speed Restrictions: To reduce the risk of ship strikes, speed restrictions have been imposed for vessels travelling through the SBCWHA from May-December since 2014. ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ is a voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) Program along the coast of California, including the SB Channel. This program incentives shipping companies to incorporate sustainable shipping practices across their global supply chain. By slowing down, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and has positive human health outcomes.

3. Whale Watching Guidelines: Whale watching tour operators have adopted specific guidelines to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from whales to avoid disturbance while still allowing for enjoyable viewing experiences. They are put in place by national governmental agencies who are mandated to protect cetaceans under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

4. Acoustic Monitoring: Whale Safe Program: Monitoring the acoustic environment helps assess the impact of human activities, such as underwater noise pollution, on whale populations. Continuous acoustic monitoring is used to study ambient noise levels and track whale vocalizations, allowing for better management strategies.

5. Research and Education: There is ongoing research to better understand whale populations, migration patterns, and behaviours in the SB Channel. This valuable information helps inform conservation efforts and provide educational outreach to raise awareness among the public.

Community Importance

Firstly, whales, dolphins and porpoises contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting biodiversity. As they move through these coastal areas, they enhance nutrient cycling by releasing excrements rich in nitrogen, iron, and other essential elements. This nutrient enrichment promotes the growth of phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain, supporting various fish species that are important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Furthermore, the presence of whales contributes to eco-tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. Whale watching is a popular activity within the SB Channel, with whale watching boats departing from three different harbors. This popular activity provides economic boost to local communities through tourism-related businesses. This not only generates revenue but also creates job opportunities for residents, thus benefiting the local economy.

Whales serve as important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. Their movement, behaviors, and population numbers can send signals about the abundance of prey species and the presence of any environmental changes or threats that might impact the region. By studying and monitoring whales, scientists and citizen scientists can gather valuable information to inform conservation efforts and make informed decisions on marine resource management,  ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local marine ecosystems.

In summary, all whale species contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by supporting marine biodiversity, boosting eco-tourism and the economy, and providing valuable ecological insights.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency responsible for protecting whales and dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. To protect whales and dolphins from harassment and to promote a better understanding of the need to avoid harassment, the NMFS provides these guidelines for safe, non-disruptive whale watching:

-Vessels should not operate at speeds faster than a whale or a group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards (meters)

-Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards (meters).

-Aircraft should not fly lower than 1000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale’s normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale’s normal activity constitutes harassment and it is against the law.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/

Fact 1

Santa Barbara Channel is known as the ‘Whale Superhighway.’ This area is one of the most important migration routes for whales along the west coast of North America. It serves as a vital corridor for various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and even fin and blue whales. Thousands of these gentle giants pass through and even stop to feed in the SB Channel each year, making it a critical hotspot for whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Fact 2

Cetaceans in the SB Channel are culturally significant. Since ancient times, whales, dolphins, and porpoises have held cultural significance for many coastal communities. For the local Chumash, the presence of cetaceans play a role in their rich cultural mythology and traditions. Cetaceans are considered sacred and are believed to have guardianship over the ocean. Understanding the cultural connection helps foster a greater appreciation for cetaceans and encourages their protection to preserve cultural heritage as well.

Fact 3

Cetaceans in the SB Channel contribute to the local ecosystem. They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. They are primary consumers of krill and small fish, helping to control their populations and ensuring a balanced food web. Additionally, the waste materials released by cetaceans in the form of nutrient-rich fecal plumes contribute to the fertilization of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. This process promotes the overall productivity and biodiversity of the region, benefiting countless other marine species. Everything is connected!

Gray whale - specie

Stability

In decline - experienced an ‘unusual mortality event’ the past 4 years.

Threats

  1. Ship Strikes: The busy shipping lanes in the SB Channel can pose a danger to whales. Collisions with large ships can result in severe injuries or even death.                                 Redfern et al. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27(2):292-302.
  2. Entanglement in fishing and mariculture gear: Whales often become entangled in fishing and mariculture gear, such as nets, traps, and lines. This can hamper their ability to swim, feed, and breathe properly, leading to exhaustion, injury, or drowning.                                  NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment page for whale entanglements: https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/regions/california-current/cc-projects-whale-entanglement
  3. Ocean noise pollution: Underwater noise from human activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, and military exercises, can disturb and disorient whales. It can interfere with their communication, mating behaviors, and foraging activities, affecting their overall well-being.                                                                                                                                      Erbe et al. 2019. The effects of ship noise on marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci., 11 October 2019. Sec. Marine Conservation and Sustainability. Volume 6 - 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606                                                                            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606/full
  4. Pollution and contamination: The SB Channel is exposed to various forms of pollution, including oil spills, chemical pollutants, and marine debris. These contaminants can accumulate in whales’ bodies through the food chain, leading to health issues and reproductive problems. https://news.fullerton.edu/2022/11/new-study-reveals-alarming-amount-of-microplastics-ingested-by-baleen-whales-off-californias-coast/
  5. Climate Change: Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and changes in prey availability due to climate change can significantly impact whale populations. For example, reduced availability of certain prey species can affect the feeding patterns and reproductive success of whales.                                                                                  McClure et al. 2023. Vulnerability to climate change of managed stocks in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci., 21 February 2023. Sec. Global Change and the Future Ocean. Volume 10 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767                                                                                    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767/full

Actions taken for protection

1. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): The establishment of MPAs helps protect the ocean and its inhabitants, including cetaceans. Within the SB Channel Whale Heritage Area, there is a network of 17 MPAs, covering close to 20% of the waters. With limiting activities in these areas, there is less harm to cetaceans and destruction to their habitat.

2. Vessel Speed Restrictions: To reduce the risk of ship strikes, speed restrictions have been imposed for vessels travelling through the SBCWHA from May-December since 2014. ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ is a voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) Program along the coast of California, including the SB Channel. This program incentives shipping companies to incorporate sustainable shipping practices across their global supply chain. By slowing down, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and has positive human health outcomes.

3. Whale Watching Guidelines: Whale watching tour operators have adopted specific guidelines to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from whales to avoid disturbance while still allowing for enjoyable viewing experiences. They are put in place by national governmental agencies who are mandated to protect cetaceans under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

4. Acoustic Monitoring: Whale Safe Program: Monitoring the acoustic environment helps assess the impact of human activities, such as underwater noise pollution, on whale populations. Continuous acoustic monitoring is used to study ambient noise levels and track whale vocalizations, allowing for better management strategies.

5. Research and Education: There is ongoing research to better understand whale populations, migration patterns, and behaviours in the SB Channel. This valuable information helps inform conservation efforts and provide educational outreach to raise awareness among the public.

Community Importance

Firstly, whales, dolphins and porpoises contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting biodiversity. As they move through these coastal areas, they enhance nutrient cycling by releasing excrements rich in nitrogen, iron, and other essential elements. This nutrient enrichment promotes the growth of phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain, supporting various fish species that are important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Furthermore, the presence of whales contributes to eco-tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. Whale watching is a popular activity within the SB Channel, with whale watching boats departing from three different harbors. This popular activity provides economic boost to local communities through tourism-related businesses. This not only generates revenue but also creates job opportunities for residents, thus benefiting the local economy.

Whales serve as important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. Their movement, behaviors, and population numbers can send signals about the abundance of prey species and the presence of any environmental changes or threats that might impact the region. By studying and monitoring whales, scientists and citizen scientists can gather valuable information to inform conservation efforts and make informed decisions on marine resource management,  ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local marine ecosystems.

In summary, all whale species contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by supporting marine biodiversity, boosting eco-tourism and the economy, and providing valuable ecological insights.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency responsible for protecting whales and dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. To protect whales and dolphins from harassment and to promote a better understanding of the need to avoid harassment, the NMFS provides these guidelines for safe, non-disruptive whale watching:

-Vessels should not operate at speeds faster than a whale or a group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards (meters)

-Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards (meters).

-Aircraft should not fly lower than 1000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale’s normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale’s normal activity constitutes harassment and it is against the law.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/

Fact 1

Santa Barbara Channel is known as the ‘Whale Superhighway.’ This area is one of the most important migration routes for whales along the west coast of North America. It serves as a vital corridor for various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and even fin and blue whales. Thousands of these gentle giants pass through and even stop to feed in the SB Channel each year, making it a critical hotspot for whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Fact 2

Cetaceans in the SB Channel are culturally significant. Since ancient times, whales, dolphins, and porpoises have held cultural significance for many coastal communities. For the local Chumash, the presence of cetaceans play a role in their rich cultural mythology and traditions. Cetaceans are considered sacred and are believed to have guardianship over the ocean. Understanding the cultural connection helps foster a greater appreciation for cetaceans and encourages their protection to preserve cultural heritage as well.

Fact 3

Cetaceans in the SB Channel contribute to the local ecosystem. They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. They are primary consumers of krill and small fish, helping to control their populations and ensuring a balanced food web. Additionally, the waste materials released by cetaceans in the form of nutrient-rich fecal plumes contribute to the fertilization of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. This process promotes the overall productivity and biodiversity of the region, benefiting countless other marine species. Everything is connected!

Common dolphin - specie

Stability

Stable.

Threats

  1. Ship Strikes: The busy shipping lanes in the SB Channel can pose a danger to whales. Collisions with large ships can result in severe injuries or even death.                                 Redfern et al. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27(2):292-302.
  2. Entanglement in fishing and mariculture gear: Whales often become entangled in fishing and mariculture gear, such as nets, traps, and lines. This can hamper their ability to swim, feed, and breathe properly, leading to exhaustion, injury, or drowning.                                  NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment page for whale entanglements: https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/regions/california-current/cc-projects-whale-entanglement
  3. Ocean noise pollution: Underwater noise from human activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, and military exercises, can disturb and disorient whales. It can interfere with their communication, mating behaviors, and foraging activities, affecting their overall well-being.                                                                                                                                      Erbe et al. 2019. The effects of ship noise on marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci., 11 October 2019. Sec. Marine Conservation and Sustainability. Volume 6 - 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606                                                                            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606/full
  4. Pollution and contamination: The SB Channel is exposed to various forms of pollution, including oil spills, chemical pollutants, and marine debris. These contaminants can accumulate in whales’ bodies through the food chain, leading to health issues and reproductive problems. https://news.fullerton.edu/2022/11/new-study-reveals-alarming-amount-of-microplastics-ingested-by-baleen-whales-off-californias-coast/
  5. Climate Change: Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and changes in prey availability due to climate change can significantly impact whale populations. For example, reduced availability of certain prey species can affect the feeding patterns and reproductive success of whales.                                                                                  McClure et al. 2023. Vulnerability to climate change of managed stocks in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci., 21 February 2023. Sec. Global Change and the Future Ocean. Volume 10 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767                                                                                    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767/full

Actions taken for protection

1. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): The establishment of MPAs helps protect the ocean and its inhabitants, including cetaceans. Within the SB Channel Whale Heritage Area, there is a network of 17 MPAs, covering close to 20% of the waters. With limiting activities in these areas, there is less harm to cetaceans and destruction to their habitat.

2. Vessel Speed Restrictions: To reduce the risk of ship strikes, speed restrictions have been imposed for vessels travelling through the SBCWHA from May-December since 2014. ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ is a voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) Program along the coast of California, including the SB Channel. This program incentives shipping companies to incorporate sustainable shipping practices across their global supply chain. By slowing down, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and has positive human health outcomes.

3. Whale Watching Guidelines: Whale watching tour operators have adopted specific guidelines to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from whales to avoid disturbance while still allowing for enjoyable viewing experiences. They are put in place by national governmental agencies who are mandated to protect cetaceans under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

4. Acoustic Monitoring: Whale Safe Program: Monitoring the acoustic environment helps assess the impact of human activities, such as underwater noise pollution, on whale populations. Continuous acoustic monitoring is used to study ambient noise levels and track whale vocalizations, allowing for better management strategies.

5. Research and Education: There is ongoing research to better understand whale populations, migration patterns, and behaviours in the SB Channel. This valuable information helps inform conservation efforts and provide educational outreach to raise awareness among the public.

Community Importance

Firstly, whales, dolphins and porpoises contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting biodiversity. As they move through these coastal areas, they enhance nutrient cycling by releasing excrements rich in nitrogen, iron, and other essential elements. This nutrient enrichment promotes the growth of phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain, supporting various fish species that are important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Furthermore, the presence of whales contributes to eco-tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. Whale watching is a popular activity within the SB Channel, with whale watching boats departing from three different harbors. This popular activity provides economic boost to local communities through tourism-related businesses. This not only generates revenue but also creates job opportunities for residents, thus benefiting the local economy.

Whales serve as important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. Their movement, behaviors, and population numbers can send signals about the abundance of prey species and the presence of any environmental changes or threats that might impact the region. By studying and monitoring whales, scientists and citizen scientists can gather valuable information to inform conservation efforts and make informed decisions on marine resource management,  ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local marine ecosystems.

In summary, all whale species contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by supporting marine biodiversity, boosting eco-tourism and the economy, and providing valuable ecological insights.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency responsible for protecting whales and dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. To protect whales and dolphins from harassment and to promote a better understanding of the need to avoid harassment, the NMFS provides these guidelines for safe, non-disruptive whale watching:

-Vessels should not operate at speeds faster than a whale or a group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards (meters)

-Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards (meters).

-Aircraft should not fly lower than 1000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale’s normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale’s normal activity constitutes harassment and it is against the law.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/

Fact 1

Santa Barbara Channel is known as the ‘Whale Superhighway.’ This area is one of the most important migration routes for whales along the west coast of North America. It serves as a vital corridor for various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and even fin and blue whales. Thousands of these gentle giants pass through and even stop to feed in the SB Channel each year, making it a critical hotspot for whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Fact 2

Cetaceans in the SB Channel are culturally significant. Since ancient times, whales, dolphins, and porpoises have held cultural significance for many coastal communities. For the local Chumash, the presence of cetaceans play a role in their rich cultural mythology and traditions. Cetaceans are considered sacred and are believed to have guardianship over the ocean. Understanding the cultural connection helps foster a greater appreciation for cetaceans and encourages their protection to preserve cultural heritage as well.

Fact 3

Cetaceans in the SB Channel contribute to the local ecosystem. They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. They are primary consumers of krill and small fish, helping to control their populations and ensuring a balanced food web. Additionally, the waste materials released by cetaceans in the form of nutrient-rich fecal plumes contribute to the fertilization of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. This process promotes the overall productivity and biodiversity of the region, benefiting countless other marine species. Everything is connected!

Bottlenose dolphin - specie

Stability

Stable.

Threats

  1. Ship Strikes: The busy shipping lanes in the SB Channel can pose a danger to whales. Collisions with large ships can result in severe injuries or even death.                                 Redfern et al. 2013. Assessing the risk of ships striking large whales in marine spatial planning. Conservation Biology 27(2):292-302.
  2. Entanglement in fishing and mariculture gear: Whales often become entangled in fishing and mariculture gear, such as nets, traps, and lines. This can hamper their ability to swim, feed, and breathe properly, leading to exhaustion, injury, or drowning.                                  NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment page for whale entanglements: https://www.integratedecosystemassessment.noaa.gov/regions/california-current/cc-projects-whale-entanglement
  3. Ocean noise pollution: Underwater noise from human activities such as shipping, seismic surveys, and military exercises, can disturb and disorient whales. It can interfere with their communication, mating behaviors, and foraging activities, affecting their overall well-being.                                                                                                                                      Erbe et al. 2019. The effects of ship noise on marine mammals. Front. Mar. Sci., 11 October 2019. Sec. Marine Conservation and Sustainability. Volume 6 - 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606                                                                            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2019.00606/full
  4. Pollution and contamination: The SB Channel is exposed to various forms of pollution, including oil spills, chemical pollutants, and marine debris. These contaminants can accumulate in whales’ bodies through the food chain, leading to health issues and reproductive problems. https://news.fullerton.edu/2022/11/new-study-reveals-alarming-amount-of-microplastics-ingested-by-baleen-whales-off-californias-coast/
  5. Climate Change: Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and changes in prey availability due to climate change can significantly impact whale populations. For example, reduced availability of certain prey species can affect the feeding patterns and reproductive success of whales.                                                                                  McClure et al. 2023. Vulnerability to climate change of managed stocks in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Front. Mar. Sci., 21 February 2023. Sec. Global Change and the Future Ocean. Volume 10 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767                                                                                    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1103767/full

Actions taken for protection

1. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): The establishment of MPAs helps protect the ocean and its inhabitants, including cetaceans. Within the SB Channel Whale Heritage Area, there is a network of 17 MPAs, covering close to 20% of the waters. With limiting activities in these areas, there is less harm to cetaceans and destruction to their habitat.

2. Vessel Speed Restrictions: To reduce the risk of ship strikes, speed restrictions have been imposed for vessels travelling through the SBCWHA from May-December since 2014. ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ is a voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) Program along the coast of California, including the SB Channel. This program incentives shipping companies to incorporate sustainable shipping practices across their global supply chain. By slowing down, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and has positive human health outcomes.

3. Whale Watching Guidelines: Whale watching tour operators have adopted specific guidelines to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from whales to avoid disturbance while still allowing for enjoyable viewing experiences. They are put in place by national governmental agencies who are mandated to protect cetaceans under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

4. Acoustic Monitoring: Whale Safe Program: Monitoring the acoustic environment helps assess the impact of human activities, such as underwater noise pollution, on whale populations. Continuous acoustic monitoring is used to study ambient noise levels and track whale vocalizations, allowing for better management strategies.

5. Research and Education: There is ongoing research to better understand whale populations, migration patterns, and behaviours in the SB Channel. This valuable information helps inform conservation efforts and provide educational outreach to raise awareness among the public.

Community Importance

Firstly, whales, dolphins and porpoises contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting biodiversity. As they move through these coastal areas, they enhance nutrient cycling by releasing excrements rich in nitrogen, iron, and other essential elements. This nutrient enrichment promotes the growth of phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain, supporting various fish species that are important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Furthermore, the presence of whales contributes to eco-tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. Whale watching is a popular activity within the SB Channel, with whale watching boats departing from three different harbors. This popular activity provides economic boost to local communities through tourism-related businesses. This not only generates revenue but also creates job opportunities for residents, thus benefiting the local economy.

Whales serve as important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. Their movement, behaviors, and population numbers can send signals about the abundance of prey species and the presence of any environmental changes or threats that might impact the region. By studying and monitoring whales, scientists and citizen scientists can gather valuable information to inform conservation efforts and make informed decisions on marine resource management,  ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local marine ecosystems.

In summary, all whale species contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by supporting marine biodiversity, boosting eco-tourism and the economy, and providing valuable ecological insights.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency responsible for protecting whales and dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. To protect whales and dolphins from harassment and to promote a better understanding of the need to avoid harassment, the NMFS provides these guidelines for safe, non-disruptive whale watching:

-Vessels should not operate at speeds faster than a whale or a group of whales while paralleling them within 100 yards (meters)

-Vessels should be operated at a constant speed while paralleling or following whales within 100 yards (meters).

-Aircraft should not fly lower than 1000 feet while within a horizontal distance of 100 yards from a whale.

Generally, a whale’s normal behavior should not be interrupted. Such annoyance may cause a whale to change its direction rapidly, swim faster, or swim in an erratic pattern. To interrupt a whale’s normal activity constitutes harassment and it is against the law.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/

Fact 1

Santa Barbara Channel is known as the ‘Whale Superhighway.’ This area is one of the most important migration routes for whales along the west coast of North America. It serves as a vital corridor for various whale species, including gray whales, humpback whales, and even fin and blue whales. Thousands of these gentle giants pass through and even stop to feed in the SB Channel each year, making it a critical hotspot for whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Fact 2

Cetaceans in the SB Channel are culturally significant. Since ancient times, whales, dolphins, and porpoises have held cultural significance for many coastal communities. For the local Chumash, the presence of cetaceans play a role in their rich cultural mythology and traditions. Cetaceans are considered sacred and are believed to have guardianship over the ocean. Understanding the cultural connection helps foster a greater appreciation for cetaceans and encourages their protection to preserve cultural heritage as well.

Fact 3

Cetaceans in the SB Channel contribute to the local ecosystem. They play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. They are primary consumers of krill and small fish, helping to control their populations and ensuring a balanced food web. Additionally, the waste materials released by cetaceans in the form of nutrient-rich fecal plumes contribute to the fertilization of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. This process promotes the overall productivity and biodiversity of the region, benefiting countless other marine species. Everything is connected!

Criteria

1. Cultural Importance Of Wildlife

INDICATOR 1.1 Cultural heritage links people to cetaceans demonstrating an understanding and on- going respect for cetaceans and habitats.

- Written, recorded, or illustrated evidence of cetaceans communicated through religious or cultural beliefs.

  • Syuxtun Story Circle on Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara

Across from Ambassador Park, near West Beach in Santa Barbara, California, a 20-foot-wide mosaic sits on the village site of Syuxtun (also spelled Syuxhtun), the largest Chumash settlement spanning all of the Chumash lands. The story circle features 21 separate panels, depicting aspects of Chumash religion, history, present, and future. The mosaic was a community-based project, emphasizing the importance of togetherness and connection through time and space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cImDxSIGQek&t=1s

https://theclio.com/entry/130791

https://www.independent.com/2009/11/05/within-syuxtun-story-circle/

- Audio, video or written recordings of local or traditional ecological knowledge.

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s website: ‘Elevating Chumash Values and Traditional Ecological Knowledge at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.’

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/jan21/elevating-chumash-values.htm

  • Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation: The Chumash culture has been considered one of the most unique and advanced in the continent, and there is much to learn from a people who understand the relationship between humankind and earth’s natural resources; they both feared and respected the natural world as their greatest teacher of Traditional Knowledge, for they knew then and know now that all our lived depend on it for survival.

https://www.wishtoyo.org/cp-chumash-history

  • Ethnohistory of the Chumash Islanders with Dr. John Johnson from Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFcSzA_5_l0

- Documents proving that cultural heritage linked with cetaceans is embedded into school or further education curriculums, or through school outreach programs.

  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s ‘Maritime on the Move program in Carpinteria. Picture of kids in life size tomol.
  • The Chumash People: Materials for Teachers and Students, including page 23, Chumash uses of Natural Materials

https://www.sbnature.org/collections-research/publications/14/the-chumash-people-materials-for-teachers-and-students

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Education Programs on Chumash Myths, Games, and Dances. The Swordfish Dance was one of the most important held at ceremonies. The dancer wore an actual swordfish skull decorated with shell inlay, or a headdress to symbolize the ‘sword.’ The Swordfish was given offerings of beads and other gifts because he was believed to be the chief of all sea animals. When whales were stranded on the shore, they were said to have been driven ashore by Swordfish as food for the people. In fact, swordfish sometimes are known to attack whales, so this Chumash ‘myth’ was founded upon direct observation.

https://www.sbnature.org/collections-research/anthropology/chumash-life/myths-games-and-dances

- Evidence of traditional or indigenous culture linking people with cetaceans being recorded and shared.

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s ‘Conversation with a Curator: Whales’ Tales’

Curator of Anthropology John R. Johnson, Ph.D., describes how whales were depicted in Native American art on the West Coast, and how Chumash Indians and other Native Americans interacted with the leviathans of the sea. He shares some of the Museum’s related artifacts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZVNNCKjMhU

INDICATOR 2.2 The presentation and interpretation of cultural heritage that is linked to cetaceans is respectful and sensitive to those living and working in the Whale Heritage Area.

- Promotional materials and/or contracts demonstrating the involvement of local and indigenous communities in developing and delivering cultural heritage experiences.

  • The Chumash People: Our Ancestors’ Gift Across Time: A Story of Indigenous Maritime Culture Resurgence”- Pdf uploaded

https://nmschannelislands.blob.core.windows.net/channelislands-prod/media/archive/maritime/pdfs/chumash.pdf

- Evidence of local participating and feedback on the planning of new (or changes to existing) cultural heritage experiences, interpretation, and presentation linked to cetaceans

  • Public event: “Revisiting Island of the Blue Dolphins” on Aug 15, 2023 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.                           Welcome to the revisitation of Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins from a variety of critical perspectives that illuminate the story of the historical figure who has been called the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island.

https://www.sbnature.org/visit/calendar/7386/revisiting-island-of-the-blue-dolphins

- Written or illustrative guidelines ensure that volunteering and engagement with local people via cultural heritage linked to cetaceans is ethical and does not involve intrusion or exploitation.

  • Cultural Card: A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness. American Indian and Alaska Native. This guide was given to all employees and volunteers at the Channel Islands National Park-July 2023.

INDICATOR 1.3 Efforts are in place to continually revive, reimagine, and enhance cultural heritage linking people to cetaceans.

- Planning documents describing concepts for new artistic interpretations linking cetaceans and people.

  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s exhibit, ‘Whales are Superhereos’. Uploaded is a pdf of the exhibit and a two separate word documents of the planning of the exhibit back in 2021-2022.

- Photographs, videos or audio recordings demonstrating contemporary interpretation of cultural heritage linked to cetaceans

  • Channel Islands National Park’s website:  Limuw: A Story of Place

This Chumash creation describes Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) as the birthplace of the Chumash people. Told by Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Chumash elder.

https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/historyculture/limuw.htm

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s website: Chumash Heritage:

https://channelislands.noaa.gov/maritime/chumash.html

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s website: Chumash Heritage: ‘Homecoming : Journey to Limuw’

Every year,  members of the Chumash community undertake a tradition tomol journey to their homeland in Limuw, now also known as Santa Cruz Island. “Paddling in, there’s no other homecoming like that,” says paddler Eva Pagaling. Hear the Chumash paddler’s stories in this Story from the Blue.

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue/wk259-stories-from-the-blue-chumash.html

INDICATOR 1.4 The community regularly monitors the impact of the cultural heritage linked to cetaceans and takes action to strengthen that impacted based on the latest evidence.

- A monitoring/feedback system is in place to capture how cultural heritage positively impacts people’s relationship and connection to cetaceans and nature.

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) Advisory Council: Chumash Community Working Group

The CINMS is a community-based body that provides a public forum for consultation and deliberation on resource management issues affecting the waters surrounding the Channel Islands.

CINMS is a place of important cultural significance for the Chumash people. The Chumash Community Working Group advises and makes recommendations to Sanctuary Advisory Council concerning Chumash community-related issues, activities, or interests at or near the Channel Islands.

https://channelislands.noaa.gov/sac/

- Evidence that the desired outcomes of heritage-based projects are factored into evaluation

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s 2023 Management Plan- two-page summary

‘Enhancing collaboration with Chumash community partners, including respectfully inviting greater involvement and supporting use of traditional ecological knowledge.

https://channelislands.noaa.gov/manage/plan/

2. Respectful Human-Wildlife Coexistence

INDICATOR 2.1 The community works collaboratively to ensure cetaceans are protected through research, nature conservation, regenerating biodiversity, and safeguarding individual animals from harm.

- Published list of protected sites and assets, indicating type of conservation status and vulnerability.

  • Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s (SBCK) map of Marine Protected Areas in the Santa Barbara Channel. Map uploaded

https://www.sbck.org/our-work/advocacy/marine-protected-areas/

  • SBCK’s list of individual MPA, listing conservation status and species assets. Example, Anacapa Island MPAs:

https://www.sbck.org/explore-your-mpa/anacapa-mpa-profile/

  • Channel Islands National Park’s Marine Protected Areas. Map uploaded

https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/nature/marine-protected-areas.htm

- Legislation designed to protect cetaceans from harm

  • NOAA’s Fisheries Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Screen grab of homepage uploaded

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/marine-mammal-protection

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/laws-policies/marine-mammal-protection-act

- Proof of communication with visitors, local people and other stakeholders to reduce the spread of alien species. Uploaded screen grab from Channel Islands National Park’s website and uploaded a short video

  • Channel Islands National Park’s Biosecurity

https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/biosecurity.htm

  • Channel Islands National Park’s Superintendent, Ethan McKinley and Juliana Matos’s webinar on ‘General and Biosecurity Program Updates for Channel Islands National Park’

https://vimeo.com/526225670

- Published scientific papers and academic reports describe the conservation of protection of species in relation to impacts or benefits to the broader ecosystem.

  • Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies initiative. By creating seasonal and predictable slow speed zones, this program helps companies protect endangered whales, reduce fuel use and regional greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality and human health outcomes. Uploaded screen grab of home page and link for 7 minute video explaining the program.

https://www.bluewhalesblueskies.org/

          Video: Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryrM-PpA2wg&t=6s

           Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Report on 2014 Vessel Speed Reduction Incentive Trail in the Santa Barbara Channel Uploaded   screen grab

https://www.ourair.org/wp-content/uploads/VSR-Trial-Report-revApril2016.pdf

- Published paper: ‘Evaluating Adherence with Voluntary Slow Speed Initiatives to Protect Endangered Whales’ Uploaded screen grab

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2022.833206/full

- Published paper in Marine Policy: “Managed and unmanaged whale mortality in California Current Ecosystem. Uploaded screen grab

https://www.ecomagazine.com/news/policy/to-save-california-s-whales-put-overlooked-threats-into-policy

- Measures or policies designed to achieve conservation objectives take into account animal welfare concerns, and vise versa.

  • Press release from January 2023: New Protection for endangered whales along the California coast adopted. Changes include shipping lane adjustments, expanded area to avoid. Uploaded screen grab

https://www.noaa.gov/news-release/new-protections-for-endangered-whales-along-california-coast-adopted

INDICATOR 2.2 The community raises awareness about the protection of cetaceans, including ways for everybody to help contribute to solutions.

- Evidence of education resources and strategy.

  • Website for Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area, already created with information on citizen science opportunities (Happy Whale), whale watching opportunities, and information about the cetaceans of the Santa Barbara Channel. Uploaded screen grab

https://www.sbwhaleheritage.org

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Outreach, ‘Protecting your Channel Islands’ Brochure. Uploaded pdf of brochure

https://nmschannelislands.blob.core.windows.net/channelislands-prod/media/docs/2018-protecting-your-channel-islands.pdf

  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s ‘Whales are Superheroes’ exhibit and programs. Uploaded screen grab

https://sbmm.org/maritime-museum-exhibits/whales-are-superheroes/

- Evidence that learning about the importance of local cetaceans forms part of the school curriculum.

  • National Marine Sanctuaries’ Lesson Plans and Activities for teachers and students to learn and gain a better understanding of whales, the impacts whales face, and the role we have in protecting these species. Uploaded screen grab

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/education/teachers/whales/lesson-plans-activites.html

  • Canalino Elementary and Carpinteria Family School’s project, ‘Whales Come to Life’ February 2023

https://www.coastalview.com/news/canalino-whales-come-to-life/article_06eebf14-a327-11ed-b945-27576ea10c10.html

Wonderful 8 minute Video, ‘Breach’!

                             https://vimeo.com/793413789

INDICATOR 2.3 The community influences the protection of cetaceans through strategies that are based on practical, scientific, or traditional knowledge.

- Ongoing long-term independent conservation-research delivered by a number of stakeholder, including NGOs, academic institutions, and government bodies.

  • Cascadia Research Collective’s Humpback and Blue Whale Photo-ID Project- US West Coast, including the Santa Barbara Channel.  Uploaded screen grab

https://cascadiaresearch.org/project/photo-id/

- Citizen science projects run collaboratively and involving tourism business

  • Whale Alert App Upload screen grab

https://www.whalealert.org/

  • Happy Whale- uploads from Condor Express whale watching trips Uploaded screen grab

https://happywhale.com/org/22

  • Happy Whale-uploads from Island Packers Uploaded screen grab

https://happywhale.com/org/21

  • Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, University of California-Santa Barbara. Uploaded Whale Safe screen grab

Mission to restore the health of the ocean by leveraging the power of science, technology, and collaboration to develop replicable and scalable solutions.  Their collaborative project-Whale Safe-Preventing fatal ship collisions with endangered whales using AI-powered ocean sensors, big data models, citizen science, and ship tracking data.

 https://bosl.ucsb.edu/

INDICATOR 2.4 The community recognizes that there may be differences in opinion, interests, or values related to the protection of cetaceans, and meets this challenge through continual dialogue, collaboration, and mediation where necessary.

- Methods are in place to ensure certain individuals, or elites with greater power, cannot dominate the decision-making process, leading to harmony and wider consensus within the community

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Advisor Council Uploaded screen grab

The CINMS Sanctuary Advisory Council is a community-based body that provides a public forum for consultation and deliberation on resource management issues affecting the waters surrounding the Channel Islands.

https://channelislands.noaa.gov/sac/

  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Board of Directors and Advisory Council

SBMM is the fiscal sponsor for the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area. Uploaded screen grab

 https://sbmm.org/maritime-museum-board-of-directors/

- Membership of decision making bodies includes increased representation of women and minority groups

  • Steering Committee for Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area- So far we have 14 community and advisory members and 9 are women. Screen grab of google spreadsheet
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Board of Trustees. Screen grab

https://www.sbnature.org/about/board/

    INDICATOR 2.5  The community supports and implements sustainability and environmental initiatives that have a positive impact on cetaceans and the marine environment.

    - Research to understand environmental impacts on cetaceans as part of the efforts to reduce them

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Soundscape Research. Uploaded screen grab

    https://channelislands.noaa.gov/research/soundscape.html

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Water Quality Research. Uploaded screen grab

    https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/sentinel-site-program/channel-islands/water-quality.html

    • Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit (CICRU). Uploaded screen grab

    CICRU strives to assess the man-made and natural detriments to whales, dolphins, and porpoises in and around the Santa Barbara Channel.

    https://www.cicru.org/

    - Implementation of measures to encourage reduction in energy use and adoption of renewable technologies.

    • City of Santa Barbara Sustainability and Resilience. Uploaded screen grab

    https://sustainability.santabarbaraca.gov/sb-clean-energy/

    • Environmental Defense Center’s Climate and Energy initiatives. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.environmentaldefensecenter.org/programs_post_type/climate-energy/

    • Condor Express, whale watching boat in Santa Barbara

    In 2020, the Condor Express was re-powered with four brand new 700 horsepower Scania Diesel engines, making it faster and more efficient. Specifically designed with wildlife in mind, the boat is propelled by 4 large Hamilton jets. There are no propellers or sharp rudders underneath, making the boat completely whale and dolphin safe.  Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.condorexpress.com/the-condor-express-vessel

    - Implementation of measures to reduce plastics, discard fishing gear and other solid waste entering waterways

    • The Log- article, ‘More fishing line recycling stations popping up around Southern CA, including Santa Barbara and Ventura harbors.  Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.thelog.com/local/more-fishing-line-recycling-stations-popping-up-around-southern-california/

    • Support letter from Jamie Diamond, CEO/General Manager of Santa Barbara Landing

    “Santa Barbara Landing recognizes its responsibility as gatekeeper to the world-renowned northern Channel Islands, SBL pledges to maintain sustainable practices among our fleet, prioritizing conservation of our oceans and land. We have repowered three of our five vessels to EPA tier 3 marine engines. We were the first sportfishing boats and landing on the west coast to implement fishing line recycling receptacles. Our boats are stocked with almost entirely recyclable products. We partner with California Department of fish and wildlife, NOAA National Marine Fisheries, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, The Nature Conservancy, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Channel Islands Marine Mammal Institute, and many others to support scientific research, education, and outreach.”

    Uploaded Jamie’s Support Letter for the designation of SBCWHA

    - Evidence that interpretative cetacean/wildlife material has been well researched and is accurate

    • Channel Islands National Park’s website-Marine Animals. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/nature/marine-animals.htm

    • Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area’s website-Meet the Cetaceans. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.sbwhaleheritage.org/meet-our-cetaceans/

    - Art and Craft projects utilizing local sustainable sustainable materials.

    • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Science Night: Whales are Superheroes

    Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s education team participated as an exhibitor in Science Night for 8 different elementary schools in the county during the 2022-2023 school year. Each exhibitor had a classroom to hold an activity and lesson related to their organization. SBMM and over 650 students of all ages made “no-sew whales” from recycled table linens and locally sourced fabric scraps followed by a lesson about whales' importance to our ecosystem. They all went home with ‘Whales Science Night Booklet’. Uploaded 2 pictures and pdf of bookel

    INDICATOR 2.6 The community regularly monitors the health and protection of cetacean populations and adopts strategies based on the latest evidence.

    - Evidence of on-going science based monitoring of cetacean populations and the habitats they depend on.

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Aircraft Surveys. Uploaded screen grab

    https://channelislands.noaa.gov/science/field-operations/aircraft-surveys.html

    • Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute- committed to conducting research on the causes and illness and injury to marine mammals. Uploaded screen grab

     https://www.cimwi.org/research

    • Whale Safe-2018 and 2019 were the worse years on record for whale-ship collisions off the West Coast of the United States. Using real time information provided by citizen scientists using whale alert app, the goal is using technology-based mapping to prevent fatal ship collisions with whales. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.citizenscience.gov/catalog/203/#

    - Evidence of citizen-science focused projects encouraging community engagement and feedback

    • Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s Naturalist Corps Volunteer program. Uploaded screen grabs for both website

    https://www.nps.gov/chis/getinvolved/supportyourpark/channel-islands-naturalist-corps.htm

    https://channelislands.noaa.gov/involved/apply.html

    3. Responsible Wildlife Tourism

    INDICATOR 3.1 The community has strategies in place to identify and raise awareness about exploitative, extractive or consumptive captive or wild cetacean tourism attractions.

    - Evidence of the promotion of responsible cetacean tourism experiences as an alternative to existing exploitative, extractive, captive or wild cetacean tourism within or outside the WHA

    • Home page of Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area, where its mentions, ‘The Santa Barbara Channel is one of earth’s premier whale watching destination. Come experience these amazing animals in the wild. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.sbwhaleheritage.org/

    - Evidence of advocacy work to encourage local people and visitors to only visit responsible cetacean experiences

    • Whale watching opportunities in the Santa Barbara Channel

    https://www.sbwhaleheritage.org/whale-watching-tours/

    • Love Letters to the Sea with Art Educator, Sondra Weiss

    Uploaded pictures

    http://www.143figureit.com/love-letters-to-the-sea

    INDICATOR 3.2 The community promotes responsible wild whale and dolphin watching experiences.

    - Evidence that a changing tourism demand, combined with sustainable, animals friendly tourist offerings, is having a positive impact on cetaceans/wildlife, the local community, and the tourism industry.

    • Support letter from Kathy Janega-Dykes, President/CEO of Visit Santa Barbara. Uploaded letter
    • Support letter from Marlyss Auster, President/CEO of Visit Ventura. Uploaded letter

    - Reference in accessible materials to specific international, national and local laws, standards and guidelines that apply to cetacean tourism and focus on animals welfare and nature conservation.

    • Brochure “Protecting Your Channel Islands” with details on ‘How to Enjoy Your Sanctuary’ with Watching Guidelines.

    https://channelislands.noaa.gov/manage/resource/responsible-boating.html

    Uploaded brochure as a pdf

    INDICATOR 3.3 Responsible whale and dolphin watching guidelines are adopted within the Whale Heritage Area and regularly updated to follow expert or science-based best practices. These guidelines conform to international, national, or local legislation where it exists.

    - Regular scientific input and output, with scientific knowledge contributing to the evolution of guidelines/regulations

    • NOAA’s information on ‘how your actions can impact marine wildlife’

    https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/insight/viewing-marine-life

    Uploaded screen grab

    • NOAA’s Marine Life Viewing Guidelines

    https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/insight/viewing-marine-life

    Uploaded screen grab

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctiuary Regulations

    (7) Disturbing marine mammals or seabirds by flying motorized aircraft at less than 1,000 feet over the waters within one nautical mile of any Island

    (9) Taking any marine mammal, sea turtle, or seabird within or above the Sanctuary, except as authorized by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as amended, (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., Endangered Species Act, as amended, (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as amended, (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq., or any regulation, as amended, promulgated under the MMPA, ESA, or MBTA.

    Uploaded screen grab

    - Results of research projects designed in influence the use or adaption of guidelines/regulations

    • New protection for endangered whales along the CA coast adopted-Jan 2023. Screen grab uploaded

    https://www.noaa.gov/news-release/new-protections-for-endangered-whales-along-california-coast-adopted

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctiuary-Vessel Impacts

    https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/sentinel-site-program/channel-islands/vessel-impacts.html

    INDICATOR 3.4 Efforts are made to enforce responsible whale and dolphin watching guidelines and international, national, or local legislation where it exists.

    - Evidence of a system in place for anyone to report irresponsible practices.

    • CA.gov Division of Boating and Waterways ‘Sharing the road with whales and all marine animals’. Uploaded screen grab

    https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=29214

    • What does harassment mean under the Marine Mammal Protection Act?. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/node/8091

    • Important contact information on brochure ‘Protecting Your Channel Islands’. Uploaded brochure-pdf

    https://nmschannelislands.blob.core.windows.net/channelislands-prod/media/docs/2018-protecting-your-channel-islands.pdf

    - Evidence of regular guide training or sharing of best practice between guides with variable experience is documented. Training could be through an official training course or through a more information sharing of best practice concepts between guides, staff, and other stakeholders with local expertise.

    • Webinar: Whale Conservation in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Screen grab uploaded

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MLK28EeXpo&t=1s

    • Channel Islands National Park’s From Shore to Sea lecture videos

    Cascadia Research senior biologist John Calambokidis discussed his work examining the trends of populations of blue, fin, humpback, and gray whales in southern California during July 2017 https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/2017sts.htm

    • Sean Hastings, Policy, Information and Management Officer at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary- his SB TEDX talk: “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies”

    https://tedxsantabarbara.com/2021/sean-hastings-protecting-blue-whales-and-blues-skies/

    • Channel Islands Natural Corps- 5 week training course to volunteer on Whale Watching Boats. Updated screen grab

    https://channelislands.noaa.gov/involved/apply.html

    INDICATOR 3.5 Tourism and the behavior of tourists are well managed to reduce negative impacts on cetaceans and habitats.

    - Actions are taken to manage visitor flows and impacts

    • Channel Islands National Park’s Law and Policies

    https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/management/lawsandpolicies.htm

    • Channel Islands National Park’s Superintendent’s Compendium- August 2021 Listing the maximum island day use arriving with concessioners.

    https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/management/upload/Superintendent-s-Compendium-March-2022-Channel-Islands-NP.pdf

    - Guidelines for visitor behavior at natural sites are made available to visitor, tour operators, and guides before and at the time of the visit.

    • Channel Islands National Park’s app. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/app.htm

    INDICATOR 3.6  The community plays a key role in designing and operating responsible whale and dolphin watching experiences, which provide direct social and economic benefits.

    - Evidence exists that people living within the Whale Heritage Area take priority when it comes to designing, managing, and operating cetacean experiences and relevant training or support is in place where necessary

    • Support letter from Sea Grant Program at the University of Southern California:

    ‘A World Cetacean Area distinguishes locations around the world that are sustainable travel destinations where whales and dolphins (cetaceans) are embraced in the local culture, economics, politics and social fabric of the community. These are areas where people and cetaceans coexist respectfully. Our research program at USC Sea Grant examines how protective designations benefit not only natural resource ecosystems, but also the people and economies that depend upon those resources.’ Uploaded letter of support

    - Regular feedback mechanism and surveys document unbiased public attitudes towards cetacean experiences and related tourism.

    • Island Packer’s feedback card. Uploaded picture
    • Island Packer’s Comment page. Uploaded screen grab

    https://islandpackers.com/contact-us/complaints-compliments/

    • Island Packer’s Trip Advisor page. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60769-d1510055-Reviews-Island_Packers-Ventura_California.html

    • Condor Express’ Trip Advisor page. Uploaded screen grab

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33045-d1091762-Reviews-Condor_Express_Whale_Watching-Santa_Barbara_California.html

    INDICATOR 3.7 The community monitors the impacts on tourism on targeted species and habitats and regularly acts to reduce those impacts based on latest evidence.

    - Evidence of on-going science-based monitoring of the positive or negative impacts of tourism on cetaceans and the habitats they depend on.

    • Santa Barbara Channelkeepers Crusise Ship Monitoring

    https://www.sbck.org/our-work/field-work/cruise-ship-monitoring/

    • News article: ‘Public invited to share opinions on cruise ship program’

    https://www.edhat.com/news/public-invited-to-share-opinions-on-cruise-ship-program

    - Evidence of citizen-science focused projects to assess the positive or negative impacts of tourism on cetaceans.

    • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park’s Naturalist Corps volunteers collecting valuable data and educating whale watchers at the same time. Uploaded screen grab

    https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/apr19/citizen-science-volunteers-in-national-marine-sanctuaries.html

    • Support letter from Ralph Clevenger. Uploaded letter

    Since my retirement I’ve acted as a volunteer naturalist for the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, taking hundreds of tourists on whale watching trips into our Channel. These trips reflect the growing popularity of educational tourism in the world and when people understand why certain areas are so rich in life it encourages them to protect these places as well as the animals that live and visit.

    Steering Committee

    Management Plan

    Number of people engaged in the Wildlife Heritage Area project 28
    Number of individuals, organisations, and businesses working together 6 businesses, 12 organisations and 24 individuals
    Number of people employed in wildlife-related activities 100s, maybe over 1,000. Still trying to get a more precise number. But three harbours with hundreds of private boats and 100s of boat based businesses too: Whale watching, island excursions, kayaking, diving, snorkelling, wildlife cruises.
    Estimated economic contribution to the local economy Based on a press release from Channel Islands National Park Aug 23’: A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 323,000 visitors to Channel Islands National Park in 2022 spent $21.8 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 258 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $31.9 million. This does not take into account all the coastal recreational opportunities and revues based on wildlife related activities outside of the park boundaries and along the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties coast. So these numbers might be double.

    Other key statistics

    Utilise the sustainable tourism strategy from local whale watching tour companies, Island Packers and Condor Express and implement across a broader group of stakeholders including the smaller whale watching companies based in the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, CA.

    Management Plan File

    Back to Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area