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Congressman Panetta Highlights Recreational Value of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on “Vet into Your Sanctuary” NOAA Cruise

July 30, 2018
Press Release

MONTEREY, CA – Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) joined Central Coast veterans for a “Vet into Your Sanctuary” Cruise on board the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Fulmar.

The “Get into Your Sanctuary” initiative established by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is aimed at reaching a diverse audience to raise awareness about the value of our sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation through a series of free activities open to the public.  This year national marine sanctuaries are honoring the service of our nation’s veterans by dedicating the “Get into Your Sanctuary” event as “Vet into Your Sanctuary.”

Congressman Panetta recognizes “Vet into Your Sanctuary” for its support and stewardship of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and the value of the public engagement fostered through the program.

"Our community is fortunate to have a national marine sanctuary right here in our own backyard.  It is my honor to support our local veterans as they visit and learn more about this national treasure,” said Congressman Panetta.  “As a veteran, I understand the sense of service to our country and community ingrained in these men and women.  Through this opportunity, they can continue to serve by working to protect our environment and ocean.  Importantly, they can also receive the therapeutic care that they may need through recreational opportunities in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, from whale watching to hands-on research to just enjoying getting out on the water.  It is great to be able to highlight together two of the many qualities we value here on the Central Coast – the service of our veterans and the sanctity of our oceans.”

Congressman Panetta and national marine sanctuary staff took 26 veterans out on R/V Fulmar where they encountered over 30 humpback whales lunge feeding on the masses of anchovies in the bay.  United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Roger Bossart said, “I’ve been a sanctuary Team Ocean volunteer for years and I have never seen this kind of whale activity in Monterey Bay.” 

Veterans learned how to record their whale sightings using “Whale Alert,” a free mobile app available to the public to record whale sightings, which helps in research and protection.  Veterans also dipped a plankton net into the water collecting and observing microscopic photosynthetic plankton.  This plankton creates more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe.

“A lot of veterans live near west coast national marine sanctuaries due to various military installations such as the Defense Language Institute and the once expansive Fort Ord,” said the sanctuary's West Coast Regional Director Bill Douros.  “Veterans understand what it means to protect and serve and demonstrating the importance of these special marine environments through ‘Vet into Your Sanctuary’ Day will promote ocean stewardship."

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1992 to protect biological and cultural resources in 6,094 square miles of area and encompasses a some of the richest and diverse marine life and habitats in the world.  The sanctuary is often called the “Serengeti of the Sea.”

The public are invited to “Get into Your Sanctuary” on August 4, 2018 to discover the recreational opportunities at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and can attend hands-on events at sanctuary visitor centers in Santa Cruz and San Simeon.  To commemorate the beauty and diversity of sanctuaries, members of the public are encouraged to submit photos to the “Get into Your Sanctuary” photo contest, open now through August 15, 2018.  Categories include: sanctuary views, sanctuary life, and sanctuary portraits.