When it comes to speaking up for wildlife and shoreline environment, not even a pandemic could stop Shoreline Education for Awareness volunteers. Bandon’s SEA organization, well into its 3rd decade, persisted through sheer dedication and ingenuity to ensure seal pups were unharmed, beaches stayed clean and nesting shoreline birds were protected against unknowing tourists and drones. They also created a series of on-line educational seminars.
But it wasn’t easy according to Mary Garrett, SEA’s president.
“We certainly faced a number of challenges to keep SEA energized and engaged,” said Garrett. “Those challenges in the long run have strengthen us and forced us to look outside our usual ways and methods to keep our mission moving forward.”
Not only has SEA been without an office for over a year while the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge’s new headquarters was being constructed, but the organization also faced obstacles such as the COVID shutdown impacting their ability to educate visitors and share spotting scopes at Face Rock and Simpson Reef for the public. The scopes provide a close-up view of seals and sea lions hauling out at Simpson Reef - something most visitors have never seen and will never see again. Such opportunities can be life changing events for some.
“We knew we had to stay connected, to keep our momentum moving. To counter the shutdown, we provided online Zoom seminars for the public and maintained our monthly board meetings via Zoom. Zoom was a great lifeline for SEA, but it does not match what can be accomplished during in-person gatherings and social times together,” Garrett stated.
This summer, Oregon’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council approved SEA’s proposal to make Coquille Point a Marine Garden. If adopted, this will preserve the ecological integrity of this important rocky habitat area, while maintaining public access and providing for educational opportunities of this intertidal habitat.
SEA has returned to the sand this year and is doing what it does best: safely engaging with visitors and helping them understand the whys and hows of protecting the wildlife, rocky habitat and the shoreline to minimize human disturbances at Coquille Point and Face Rock, in particular. SEA also strives to help keep Oregon’s beautiful beaches clean and will be co-hosting another SOLVE beach clean on Saturday, September 25, in Bandon City Park. See their website for more information.
In addition to being a friends group to Bandon Marsh NWR, SEA also has collaborative relationships with Washed Ashore, Audubon Society, SOLVE, Oregon State Parks and St. John’s Episcopal Church. They hope for new and unique opportunities for volunteers this coming year and look for ideas/recommendations from our membership.
If you’d like to learn more about SEA, its volunteer opportunities and projects or other fun educational activities such as the Nurdle Patrol or SEA’s upcoming educational seminar series, go to www.sea-edu.org or call 541-313-6751.