O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a local nonprofit that usually hosts hundreds of schoolchildren per year on its 65-foot catamaran on the Monterey Bay, has switched gears to bring education into people’s homes.
On Nov. 19, the organization will co-host a virtual event along with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, focusing on the science and beauty of bioluminescent waves.
Marine biologist Dr. Steve Haddock and seascape photographer Johnny Chien will lead the program. They will explore the “glowing waves” phenomenon, which is caused by algae blooms of sea plankton being churned up, usually in warmer waters.
Rachel Kippen, O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s executive director, said they were inspired to do the event after watching people’s reactions to the recent bioluminescent blooms that occurred along Santa Cruz County beaches this summer.
“People were flocking to the beaches in droves to see it,” Kippen said.
The family-friendly event will include presentations by Haddock, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and Chien, whose images of the recent plankton displays went viral online. The two will also talk about how their fields of science and art intersect. There will be a Q&A session near the end of the presentation.
As for O’Neill Sea Odyssey, Kippen said they are struggling, but holding fast. The organization has received support via a Paycheck Protection Program loan and various donations that have helped make its virtual programming possible.
“It’s been tough. The phrase ‘hands-on’ is literally in our mission statement,” Kippen said. “We want to be out on the water, teaching kids. But we’re doing OK. We’re powering through.”