Summer is here, along with summer vacations. In the spirit of World Oceans Day last week, I decided to research vacation ideas that offer a chance to actually help out the ocean. There are plenty of eco-friendly hotels and resorts out there, and more power to them. But my goal was to seek out more personal ocean interactions that support conservation efforts either directly or at least financially. String a few of these Bay Area activities together, and you've got yourself an ocean-friendly staycation.
Take an hour-long docent-led tour at the Marine Mammal Center. You'll learn about the dangers local marine mammals face, and how the MMC works to rehabilitate injured and sick animals.
Visit a local beach with your smartphone and document sightings of wildlife and pollution for Project Noah's California Coastal Wildlife Watch project using their free app.
Go whale watching with a non-profit organization that supports conservation efforts like the Oceanic Society, which runs trips year-round. I took a trip with these guys a couple of years ago to the Farallon Islands, and it was unforgettable. Whales and white sharks proved elusive, but we saw enormous jellies, a school of rare dolphins, and hundreds of birds. In cooperation with Cascadia Research, the Oceanic Society sponsors long-term humpack whale research in the Gulf of the Farallones.