Your intrepid captain here, hauling you — kicking and screaming if necessary — once again, out of that chair and into the outdoors. I often advocate wild adventures and experiences in the food chain, but this time I’m highlighting an opportunity for the mind to explore a wild and wonderful place with minimal physical exertion.
The Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary comes to virtual life — the real life of the sanctuary is portrayed virtually — for your education and amazement. You don’t have to go far to view critters and habitat that only a small percentage of our population actually gets to visit in person, even though it is 20-something miles away.
Santa Barbara and Ventura County residents and visitors now can explore Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary without getting their feet wet through new state-of-the-art touch-screen NOAA kiosks at four sites along the coast.
“The new kiosks are a visual and auditory showcase of what the sanctuary has to offer,” said Chris Mobley, superintendent of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. “With the touch of a button, users can learn about marine life and habitats, and get the latest information about our education and outreach programs, research projects and resource protection efforts.”
Developed by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in partnership with the NOAA National Weather Service, the kiosks also provide real-time weather and ocean condition reports and information about the sanctuary’s partners, including museums and visitor centers.
The kiosks have been installed at the California Welcome Center in Oxnard, the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Ty Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara and the Harbor Patrol office at Santa Barbara Harbor. There are existing units at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and Channel Islands Harbor. Three more units are slated for installation in early 2009.
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Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.