The Science

Something we get asked everyday is “So how did you guys get a research grant to do this trip?” Well, here is the method to our madness:

Interviews – Learning about how Californians interact with the coast

The California coast means many different things to many different people, one person’s playground is another person’s 9 to 5 job, and everybody has a story to tell. Each day once safely to shore, we will be interviewing ecologists, environmental groups, fisherman, coastal residents, surfers and any other crusty character who has a connection with the ocean. Through these interviews, we wish to explore how Californians interact with the coast. Once the trip is over, we will compile our interviews into a radio show through the Stanford Storytelling Project.

If would like to be interviewed for our project, please email Ian Montgomery ( with your name and your local beach. We will paddle right up to you!

Kayak Intertidal Project – Inspired by Ed Ricketts

We hope to build a comprehensive snapshot of California’s coastal ecology from Monterey to San Diego.

Using a pad of waterproof paper on our kayaks, we will write down all the marine mammal life, # of pieces of floating garbage, and the # of other boats we encounter each day.

Once ashore, we will photograph homemade quadrats, two 25 cm by 25 cm frames made from PVC pipe and elbow joints, that we place down on the intertidal. To give the photos some context we will record the latitude, longitude, time of day, tide level, and the estimated distance from water level for each photographed quadrat. We hope to compile a unique photographic record of the intertidal, as we will be able to access some pretty remote stretches of coastline with our ‘yaks.

Global warming and human collecting have tremendous effects on intertidal organisms. With warming ocean and air temperatures, everything from mollusks and tube snails are migrating northward to cooler waters. Chuck Baxter and Jim Barry from Hopkins Marine Station first noticed the connection between rising sea surface temperatures and northward migrating in the mid 1990’s.

Once the trip is complete we will check our record against Ed Ricketts’ collecting cards stored away in the Hopkins library. Ed Ricketts was a dear friend of John Steinbeck and pioneering marine biologist who lived and worked in Monterey, California during 20’s and 30’s. Most of his belongings were destroyed in a fire at his lab, but the semi-charred collecting cards of intertidal organisms from Monterey to San Diego remain in the safe care of Joe Wible at Hopkins Marine Station.

In the tradition of learning from history, we hope to add the record of California’s intertidal so that others may one day use our trip to learn about how the coast continues to change over time.

Thank you to: Jon Christensen, Pam Matson, Meg Caldwell, Steve Palumbi, Anne Egger, David Kennedy, Richard White, Keith Loague, George Somero, Rob Dunbar, Kaustuv Roy, and Jim Watanabe for their help in creating this project



  1. Hey, you guys should check out the photography of Chris Jordan, specifically his work documenting plastic on Midway island-×24

    Also the Plastic pollution Coalition= very involved in the threats to the ocean posed by plastic.
    I am guessing that you will see a lot of plastics in your intertidal photographs, and maybe your work could inspire a video or article by these guys, which in turn would build interest in your trip.

  2. I’ve lived on the coast all my life (near Moss Landing) and call Moss landing beach my home beach, lol. ive taken the drive on hwy one from mty to la many times. You’re very fortunate to be able to see our wonderful coast from the perspective that will be virtually unmatched. Getting funded for this in such trying economic times is not something you should take too lightly.
    Bring us all back something from this trip that will enlighten us and strengthen our love for our state’s natural beauty.

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