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NOAA Joins Conservation Partnership Celebration at Santa Barbara Zoo

APRIL 24, 2023 — On April 14,  the NOAA Marine Debris Program California regional coordinator, Christy Kehoe, joined the “Help the Kelp” marine debris art exhibit unveiling, led by California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) and the Santa Barbara Zoo. The exhibit unveiling was a part of the "Conservation Partnership Celebration" event, which highlighted growing initiatives in support of the local environment.

A sculpture.
The recovered debris in this sculpture was found along the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and its removal was supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program and California State University Channel Islands. Image credit: NOAA.

With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program removal grant, researchers from CSUCI are working with student veterans and members of historically underrepresented groups to remove and assess the amounts, types, and sources of marine debris on the Channel Islands. The Help the Kelp exhibit included sculptures made from marine debris by CSUCI art students to remind us that there are ecosystems that exist beyond what we see on land. Pollution like the marine debris featured in the sculptures is a major threat to marine ecosystems, including local kelp forests. 

Over 100 attendees joined the Friday morning event, where Kehoe provided remarks in appreciation of the CSUCI partnership with NOAA, as well as the importance of additional partnerships supporting outreach like the one between the zoo and CSUCI. Other speakers included the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation,  Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians, and the Help the Kelp artists. California’s Congressman Salud Carbajal represents the 24th Congressional District of California and spoke about the importance of coastal conservation. Local Santa Barbara and Ventura County community members joined in addition to general public visitors at the zoo. 

Arts and sciences will always have an important relationship. The focus of interdisciplinary education at CSUCI and the Santa Rosa Island Research Station encourages art students to extend their creative practice from studio to shore. This event highlighted that progress on the issue of plastic pollution will include collective and coordinated efforts across all sectors from artists, academics, the private sector, government agencies, and nonprofits tackling the issue at various angles and using art to communicate the importance of prevention initiatives.

Last updated Thursday, April 27, 2023 8:18pm PDT