Mission Complete! We did it! SOS: Save the Living Coast Discovery Center!

10/29/2013 UPDATE! The Living Coast Discovery Center Has Been Saved! 

I am thrilled to share that as a result of an overwhelming amount of community support (by individuals and organizations alike), the Living Coast Discovery Center DOUBLED the amount they needed to stay open! They were able to raise $401,000!

Click here and here for more details.

I am SO proud of all the staffers, docents and volunteers who fought like crazy to make this happen and I am SO thankful to all those who donated and spread the word.

San Diegans, if you haven’t been there yet, check it out!

————————————————————

Who: The Living Coast Discovery Center

What: The Living Coast Discovery Center has announced a closing date of October 28, 2013 if it does not receive financial support. See the full details and a press release here.

What can you do?: Please donate to support this important facility and please share this story so the Living Coast Discovery Center can continue to spread passion for nature and environmental education.

The Living Coast Discovery Center. photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

The Living Coast Discovery Center. photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

The Living Coast Discovery Center, a small but powerful non-profit, is a magical place. Located in San Diego’s south bay it serves many underrepresented groups, connecting the public with nature, sometimes for the very first time.  It boasts an amazing array of native (naturally local) animals and plants, including bald eagles, endangered green sea turtles, stingrays you can pet, and beautiful endangered agave plants (for a full list of exhibits, click here).  It provides hands-on education via day camps, overnight adventures, VIP animal encounters, on-site classes and more!  Click here to watch a video about the schools that hold their classes there.

The Living Coast Discovery Center is a source of pride for local Chula Vista residents and is, unfortunately, one of San Diego’s best kept secrets.

Like many young non-profits it is struggling financially and needs your help to continue to inspire both the young and old to see the wonder and beauty in nature.  It needs people, like you, who care about wildlife, conservation, environmental education and local organizations, to come together and help raise awareness and funds so it can continue it’s important and impactful work.

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center  from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

Green sea turtles – you can take behind the scene VIP tours and meet their resident turtles up close!                                               photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

Check out an adorable video of a VIP sea turtle encounter here!

one of the raptors you can visit onsite - nearly all of the birds onsite are rescue birds that are non-releasable. photo credit: thelivingcoast.org

one of the raptors you can visit onsite – nearly all of the birds onsite are rescue birds that are non-releasable. photo credit: thelivingcoast.org

One of the natural scenes you can see in the surrounding marsh. photo credit: thelivingcoast.org

One of the natural scenes you can see in the surrounding marsh. photo credit: thelivingcoast.org

Check out their awesome photo gallery here.

Their mission is  to inspire care and exploration of the living Earth by connecting people with coastal animals, plants and habitats. The people that work and volunteer there are so dedicated that one staff member offered to swim the San Diego coastline to raise awareness of this facility and the work they do. That’s the kind of impact it has on people, it’s visitors, board members, volunteers and staff members alike. Some of the volunteers and staff members have vested their entire savings to help keep this place going, but they cannot do it alone. Please donate if you can and spread the word. Every little bit can help.

Garibaldi - the State fish of California and a local San Diego and Living Coast Discovery Center resident! photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

Garibaldi – the State fish of California and a local San Diego and Living Coast Discovery Center resident! photo credit: The Living Coast Discovery Center from http://www.crowdrise.com/swimSanDiego

Why am I such a strong advocate for the Living Coast Discovery Center? Working there for 3 years changed my life. As a direct result I am now in pursuit of a PhD in Marine Biology, studying sea turtle biology and conservation, so that I can continue to be a strong advocate for environmental education, conservation and the use of facilities like the Discovery Center to promote responsible use and exploration of nature.

Me with the first sea turtle I ever worked with. A green turtle at the Living Coast Discovery Center

Here I am with the first sea turtle I ever worked with,  a green turtle at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Four years later I’m working towards a PhD studying sea turtle biology & conservation

I got hired at the Living Coast Discovery Center fresh out of college from UC San Diego. I was hired to help develop the fee-based education programs that have now been running for 3.5 years and have served children from San Diego, Arizona, Mexico, China and Alaska.  Board members have sponsored camp fees for local charities, so that underprivileged children can explore and discover everything the Center has to offer.  Local schools come for field trips year-round where they get to learn about the nature in their own backyard. I personally saw over one-thousand children interact at the Discovery Center and it is my memory of their awe and excitement that keeps me going through the tough days of graduate school. I know that the work that I helped start – the work that the Living Coast Discovery Center continues to do and improve on, is making a difference in people’s lives through hands-on connections with nature. It is actively inspiring people to care and explore their own backyards.

Please help support this cause in any way you can. Donate to help save this amazing facility and one of San Diego’s best destinations for families! Please share this story and let’s keep the Living Coast Discovery Center open! 

 

——–
1. http://www.thelivingcoast.org/about-us/overview/

Advertisements

Fieldwork Adventures 2013

This August my advisor, her daughter and I traveled to  Guanacaste, Costa Rica (the North Pacific coast). In ten days we visited twelve beaches, most are potential study sites for my dissertation research and others we just had to stop at along the way. I had been to Costa Rica before, ten years prior as part of my high school Spanish club, a time when turtles weren’t even on my radar. I remembered it being beautiful, but it outdid all of my memories. The greenest greens and the bluest blues (it sounds cheesy, but it’s true).  The people we met there were wonderful, both the local ticos and the international residents – warm, friendly, helpful and all seemed happy to interact with us and find out what we were up to. We were thrilled at the reception by other biologists we met with and their enthusiasm towards my project.  Special thanks to our funders, Texas A&M Graduate Interdisciplinary Program Summer Fellowship and Texas Sea Grant College Grants-in-Aid of Graduate Research who made this fieldwork possible!

Here’s an overview of our whirlwind adventure.

Day 1: arrive in Liberia:  

Liberia Sunset

First night’s sunset

cafe con leche, bacon, gallo pinto, pineaple and plantains.

Breakfast, yum! cafe con leche, bacon, gallo pinto, pineaple and plantains.

Chiky cookies! A must-have on any roadtrip (or trip in general) in Costa Rica. We always had our chiky cookie stash well stocked!

Chiky cookies! A must-have on any roadtrip (or trip in general) in Costa Rica. We always had our chiky cookie stash well stocked!

Days 2-5:Turtle-trax beaches: Here we met with Lotti and Maddie, two rockin’ turtle girls who coordinate the various beach volunteer projects that turtle-trax offers.  They were wonderful hostesses, giving us  tours of their beaches, field stations and taking us on their nightly patrol and letting me practice my methods on some of the turtles we encountered.

We took Maddie to lunch for being such a great guide at this awesome beachside restaurant called Tanga’s. Plate of the day was delicious: freshly caught fish lightly friend in garlic, french fries and salad.

All and all a great first three days of our trips!
Here are some pictures to sum it up:

Costa de Oro

Costa de Oro

I'm back on a beach!

I’m back on a beach!

Tanga's

Tanga’s

Days 4 & 5: Playa Ostional : 

I couldn’t believe it, I was finally at Playa Ostional! For anyone who studies olive ridley sea turtles, Ostional is a beach you always read about since it is the second largest arribada beach in the world for these turtles. While I didn’t even see a single turtle while in Ostional, it was still amazing just acutally being on the beach. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset here and stayed at an awesome hotel.  Disclaimer: I love sunsets over the pacific ocean, so you’ll see a ton of them.

Ostional Sunset

Ostional Sunset

Ostional Sunset

Days 6 & 7: Playa Grande: At Playa Grande, an important Leatherback turtle nesting beach, we also didn’t see any turtles.  However, we did get to spend two glorious days at the beach (or in the water, in my case).  We had a blast, drinking fresh coconut juice, basking, bodysurfing, and just being at the beach. The beach, in general, is my favorite place to be and always makes me feel at home and Playa Grande (and all the beaches on our trip) were no exception.

fresh coconut, rainbow sandals, ocean = perfect day

fresh coconut, rainbow sandals, ocean = perfect day

Days 8 & 9: Santa Rosa National Park! This was our most anticipated part of the trip. Another famous beach for olive ridley arribadas, Nancite, is part of the Santa Rosa National Park.  The main park hosts a small museum, offices, a cafeteria, and dorms for visiting researchers to stay in while at the park.  We spent one night at the park and then, the next day, we got to hike to Nancite! I’ve heard stories of this hike, it involves a mountain reffered to as the f*&$%^* mountain so you can imagine. However, we lucked out and the roads were good enough that we could drive part of the way, which cuts off at least a few hours from the hike, but it still took about 2 hours to hike over.  The views from the top of the f*&$%^*  mountain are spectacular. You get a panoramic view of the park, including witch’s rock (a famous surf spot).

the view

Nancite is a beautiful, secluded beach that boasts a completely natural ecosystem. The only human presence is in trash that washes up on the shore and the small field station that houses biologists. It is unique in that on the beach you can watch natural ecosystem interactions (like food webs) in action.  The residents of the beach include jaguars, pumas, crocodiles (affectionately referred to as “toasty” after a Tican chip mascot), crabs, birds, turtles (of course!), etc. It truly is a magical place to be. I spent hours walking up and down the relatively small beach watching crabs get carried away by a wave and then running back up to their previous spot only to be carried away when the tide came back again. I, of course, had to go swimming and overcame my fear of “toastys” lingering in the water. Oh, right, turtles! While we weren’t there for an arribada, I did have a green turtle welcome me to Nancite, which is appropriate because they’re what I worked on in San Diego 🙂   I’m not sure any description of Nancite can really do it justice, so I’m going to give you some pictures instead. Hands down – my favorite part of the trip.

Playa Nancite

Playa Nancite

I'm at Nancite!

I’m at Nancite!

Looking back towards camp

Looking back towards camp

Nancite sunset

Nancite sunset

Black turtle nesting at Nancite

Green turtle nesting at Nancite

my bunk

my bunk

Day 10: Bahía Junquillal and back to LiberiaJunquillal was breathtaking, an amazing secluded bay with no development as far as you can see in any direction (except for the small camp grounds at Playa Junquillal). It is also part of the Santa Rosa National Park. Again, words won’t do it justice so:

junq

Back in Liberia we took warm showers, ate a good meal and watched the last sunset of the trip from the same place where it had started ten days earlier.

sunset last night
It was a whirlwind – a magical,  inspiring, wonderful whirlwind that reminded me why I do what I do and how lucky I am to get to do it. As I now sit at my desk in Aggieland working hard at my coursework, this trip is a reminder as to why I am working so hard here in College Station.  I know, next year, I’ll get to return and be home at the beach, once again.