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Santa Barbara Travel Blog

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Tank at the Aqaurium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.
Wow! So much has happened recently, I don’t even know where to start! Needless to say, I am living in Santa Barbara now… and I’m seriously having the best time of my life.

I just got back from a two day conference at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California called Conference on Ocean Literacy. It was a meeting of the minds sort of thing where about 100 people interested in ocean literacy got together to talk about important issues and what sorts of things need to be done to further the cause. There were, I believe, 5 other conferences meeting at the same time in other locations around the country, including one in Washington, DC, so we got to tap into what was going on over there and watch some of their presentations as well.
My sting ray buuuuddy.
Overall, the conference was extremely motivating and inspiring to me - I learned so much more about ocean literacy and why it is important for kids (and adults too, for that matter!) to learn about the ways their life affects the ocean as well as how the ocean affects their life. Just spending two days at the aquarium and seeing how many groups of school kids and families went through was pretty impressive as well… So much potential to educate and impact people!

I think the highlight of my week was seeing Jean-Michel Cousteau speak from Washington DC. He is the coolest guy… like his dad, he has done so much to educate and excite people around the world about ocean conservation. And wouldn’t you know it, his Ocean Futures Society is based right here in Santa Barbara… maybe someday I’ll run into him :) There was also an interesting talk from a guy named Richard Louv who wrote a book called Last Child in the Woods about how kids today sit inside playing video games instead of getting outside an experiencing things, and the effects of this lifestyle.

Model of the blue whale... with people, to put it in perspective.
He brought up some really interesting points… I was so shocked to hear that some 20% of kids in Los Angeles have NEVER seen the ocean. And kids today can identify thousands of corporate logos, but less than 10 plants and animals from their own backyards. Seriously. Its insane. Anyway, after his talk I’ve never been more convinced of the need for kids to just go outside and dig in and get dirty to build that curiosity and wonder that makes them want to learn. Maybe the fact that kids are doing that less and less these days is a reason that so few of us major in math and science fields when we get to college.

I also really enjoyed hearing from some of the science teachers that were at the conference. We went out to dinner (the biggest, most delicious dinner of my life, at that) with one teacher in particular who is just an absolute expert in her field. She won California Teacher of the Year, and she shared with me some of her classroom management techniques and what she does to get her kids excited about learning. You can tell she has a huge impact on her kids’ lives, because she stays in contact with them for YEARS and YEARS. They keep coming back to her to share their accomplishments because they love her that much… hopefully I can be that type of teacher some day…

Another very cool thing was the behind-the-scenes aquarium tour. I touched a shark, a ray, a sea anemone, a sea cucumber… I don’t even remember what else, but that was a pretty cool experience. We also got to go behind some of the tanks to get a look at the aquarium from the other side, and I feed a bunch of the animals in a coral reef ecosystem tank - very cool. The female sea lion at the zoo just had a baby, so I got to see the pup as well. She (he?) was sleeping the whole time, but was seriously adorable - so furry and small. I was tempted to take it home with me.

The Aquarium has a really sweet shark lagoon touch tank, where I bonded with a sting ray. I guess I was making this guy angry somehow, because he spent about 10 minutes trying to leap up the side of the tank at my face. Luckily he didn’t get me.

Theres this model of a blue whale and her calf that is in the lobby of the Aquarium of the Pacific. It is 88 feet long, and for a while was the largest model in the United States. You always hear that the blue whale is the largest animal, blah blah blah, but until you are standing beneath that thing, you can’t even understand how HUGE it is. On a real blue whale, the tounge alone is the size of an elephant. And baby blue whales gain as much as 200 pounds every 24 hours. Can you imagine!? During the summer, migrating blue whales drift through Santa Barbara, and I am planning to go on a whale watching tour with the two other interns, Dez and Anja, within the next few months. Looking forward to that!

Writing that made me realize that I have not even written about all the fun stuff going on in my life yet. I’ll cut this entry off now, because I know that it is long and boring and most of you don’t even care about everything I am learning… but just know that I am having a great time, meeting a ton of new people, and I’m just so excited to be here. The beach is officially my new true love (Oh, P.S. I learned to skimboard this weekend… well tried to learn… my attempts all failed, but it was still pretty fun.) I promise I’ll give more interesting updates in the near future.

Oh, and hooray for the World Cup Starting today!! You all better be watching… Viva Mexico! :)

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Tank at the Aqaurium of the Pacifi…
Tank at the Aqaurium of the Pacif…
My sting ray buuuuddy.
My sting ray buuuuddy.
Model of the blue whale... with pe…
Model of the blue whale... with p…