Santa Barbara Middle School recently welcomed back Ernie Brooks, renowned underwater photographer and inspirational storyteller, to his former Brooks Campus on the SBMS Jefferson campus.
True to Brooks’ narrative style, he was able to transport his audience of typically hard-to-captivate middle school aged kids, on a magical photographic journey of world travel, fascinating people and expressions, and remarkable black and white underwater images of sea mammals and aquatic life.
Brooks is an avid supporter and friend of SBMS, and he makes an effort to revisit the campus and connect with the students a few times each year.
SBMS ninth-grade students motored into the Santa Barbara Harbor at sunset on Sept. 26 on board the Vision, their floating classroom for four days. Following a month-long study on the ecology and environment of the Channel Islands, the students set sail for the islands off the Santa Barbara coast with their newly acquired knowledge.
Students were able to interact with wildlife, grid and graph the beach for plastics, explore the sea caves on kayaks, and snorkel and dive while exploring underwater kelp forests. Ninth-grade student Andrew Tebbe was in awe of the family of seals that surrounded their kayaks off Anacapa Island.
“We were in their world, and it felt so cool to be sharing the ocean with these natives,” he said.
On board the ship, students worked in collaborative groups to present research reports on a variety of topics including: local and global fisheries, local sea mammals, Chumash history, and marine debris.
SBMS’s month-long focus of underwater ecology peaked at their weekly Town Meeting on Sept. 27 when professional surfer Dan Malloy spoke to the students about not only his tales of the ocean, surfing and living the dream, but also his stories from his recent California backyard adventures.
Malloy’s latest project is “Slow Is Fast,” a 750-mile bike ride and surf exploration down the California coast, which Malloy says “is an attempt at going on a mini-adventure in my own backyard.” He’s written a book and produced a film on the journey, in which he shared excerpts with the SBMS students.
Malloy is well-known for his travels to the far-off reefs and surf points of the world, but also for his work with local communities along the coasts of every continent on the planet. He and his brothers Chris and Keith were professional surfers who basically quit the circuit and standard sponsorship deals, and began to take their passion in a new direction.
Dan Malloy works with Patagonia, surfing, traveling, filming and promoting the concepts of sustainability, responsible consumption and healthy ocean ecosystems.
Malloy’s presentation to small groups of students and to the whole SBMS student body was the crest of the marine ecology “wave” that SBMS students were riding all September long.
— Sue Carmody is a community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara Middle School.