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‘From Shore to Sea’ Lectures Follows Chumash Tomol Crossings

The September “From Shore to Sea” lectures will feature Alan Salazar discussing the importance of the tomol, a traditional plank canoe used historically by the Chumash for fishing and travel between the islands and mainland for trade. The tomol connected Chumash communities and continues to be significant to their culture.

In September 2001, the Chumash resumed their tomol crossings by paddling to the island of Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) from Channel Island Harbor. Salazar has participated in seven crossings as part of an annual celebration of their culture. He will share how these journeys are an affirmation of Chumash tradition, which contemporary Chumash regard as a gift to their ancestors and children.

Salazar is a Chumash storyteller, a traditional Chumash paddler, a practitioner of Chumash spiritual ceremonies and his village’s fast runner. He has dedicated most of his life to learning about Native American cultures and sharing that knowledge with the young and old, including more than 100 presentations in California schools. His family survived the mission period and is one of a small number of families that can trace both Chumash and Tataviam ancestry.

Blue whales are an endangered species that frequent the Santa Barbara Channel during the summer months to feed on krill, their primary food source. Blue whales in the Eastern Pacific are the only known recovering blue whale population in the world with a size estimated at nearly 2,000 animals, which is about 10 percent of the world population. Although the population has grown since protection began in 1966, additional conservation efforts are needed to ensure the population’s continued recovery is not impeded by sources of human caused mortality such as ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

Collins has been working in the Vertebrate Zoology Department at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History since 1973. Michelle Berman is the associate curator of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters.

The lectures will occur at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor, and Wednesday at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Shauna Bingham is volunteer and outreach coordinator for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

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