Story and video by Kyle Martin
RELATED STORY | From the shores of Santa Cruz
With new legislation in place in California thanks to the passage of SB 834 in September, the state’s oceans will be rid of offshore drilling for the foreseeable future. This is great news for O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a local educational organization that has been spreading ideas of marine conservation and stewardship since its founding by Jack O’Neill, the organization’s founder and Santa Cruz businessman credited with inventing the wetsuit, among other accolades.
After the 94-year-old O’Neill’s death last June, the Sea Odyssey team was quickly approaching a goal of teaching 100,000 students.
Since the Sea Odyssey’s founding in 1996, 4th through 6th grade students in California’s Central Coast have been flowing through the organization’s doors and onto their 65-foot-long catamaran, named the Team O’Neill. They spend three hours at sea learning about marine ecology and nautical navigation, as well as time in the Sea Odyssey classrooms learning about climate change and marine conservation.
Dan Haifley, the organization’s executive director and local marine life activist, will retire by the end of the year. The new and incoming executive director, Cyndi Dawson, a distinguished local marine ecologist, was introduced to the students of Stephanie Martinez’s 5th grade Live Oak Elementary School class on Sept. 27, right before the Team O’Neill made its voyage out to sea with the Sea Odyssey’s 100,000th student aboard.
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