Our Mission

Inspiring stewardship and curiosity for the natural world through the exploration of science

Learn About Get Inspired

What's New?

Students growing white seabass

On February 4th, students at 5 Orange County schools got white seabass delivered from our partner, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute. The fish were about 90 days old and about 3" long. Students will raise them now until late May when they will be released in the ocean.

Wanna Kiss a Whale?

The lagoons of Baja are the only place in the world where whales willingly interact with humans, often allowing a rub down, a hug, or a kiss. It's a magical experience! We have been guiding tours to baja since 2013 to learn about these majestic giants.

4,500 Baby Abalone Turning 1

Our partner, The Cultured Abalone, are raising 4,500 baby green abalone for our Green Abalone Restoration Project. At one year old, our babies are growing up nicely.

Recent Events
In The Media
Read about us in Forbes magazine
In The Media: Read about our work in Forbes Magazine January 2020

What We've Accomplished So Far

After being gone for more than 20 years, we restored Orange County’s kelp forests.  With help from more than 200 volunteer divers to plant it and monitor it and with the help of 5000 kids growing it in their classrooms, we restored this precious resource.

Orange County Kelp Forests Are Thriving Again
Sea urchins devoured our kelp and persisted for decades. Their predators include sheephead, and lobsters which are heavily fished and sea otters (non-existent in Southern California). Without sufficient predation, we reached a tipping point after the El Nino of 1983 and our kelp never recovered.
Samples of sea urchins were taken on every restoration trip so assess the size and species of sea urchin harvested. We actually found an urchin not normally found along our coast and published this information.
Each tile was rubber banded to the reef with 100% rubber bands. All these materials were tested by the State of CA. An Ideal spot for each tile had to be found.
Baby Kelp growing on Tiles
Up to 3 days per week, our volunteers helped to harvest sea urchins off the reefs to make room room for kelp to grow. Millions of sea urchins were removed from reefs in Newport and Laguna beach.
Kelp was grown on small strips of unglazed, non-leaded bathroom tiles in our lab and in classrooms and transferred onto the reefs to be planted. The kelp is less than 1/8″.
Within just a week, we would see the kelp grow up to 12″. Each little kelp plant would compete for light and space to grow . Eventually the holdfast would grow off the tile and onto the reef.

While working in 36 different schools we have been able to educate 11,800 students with HANDS ON custom made nurseries for abalone, aquaponics, giant kelp, and white sea bass. We also lead Science Expeditions programs to take kids out into nature to experience ecology and geology. Scuba diving, hiking, climbing, rappelling, camping, star gazing, kayaking, and snorkeling are all part of our 1-5 day programs.

Kids measuring Green Abalone
Students learning fish anatomy while studying kelp forest ecology.
White Sea Bass in the Classrooms
Accessing the health of a sporphyll for kelp reproduction.
Student tending to Pacifica High School’s Aquaponics garden which feeds students on “Salad Fridays”.

To celebrate the return of Giant Kelp to our Orange County coast we created KelpFest in Laguna Beach. It is an annual event to educate the public about this import algae living off our coast. With thousands of participants including more than 300 girl and boy scouts, it is a treasured event in Laguna Beach.

KelpFest launched in 2010

Our accomplishments would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers.  We have trained over 300 generous volunteers to monitor, survey, and outplant, to assist us in our ocean restoration projects.  THANK YOU 

Getting ready to dive.
Tagging our first abalone for outplanting.
Harvesting our abalone after a 15-month pilot project to study survival techniques.
Volunteers help us survey for wild juvenile abalone.
Surveying for evidence of abalone reproduction along our coast.
Celebrating New Year’s Day after a juvenile abalone survey.

Our programs have reached more than 11,000 kids in 36 different schools in LA and Orange Counties.  Grades 2- college level. We now have students returning to work with us as professional marine biologists!

High School students on a field trip with us to UC Wrigley Marine Institute to learn about Kelp Forests.
Drawing from a middle school student of what she wanted to be when she grows up… a marine biologist!
Students from South Gate Middle School learning about abalone anatomy.
The Abalone Army! Proud 7th graders wearing their Abalone Army T-shirts after spending the year raising them in their classroom.
Our Science Expeditions programs teach kids to do underwater scientific diving, In this course, they produce original research and learn to dive.
Our Science Expeditions includes studies in Island ecology and geology with AP Environmental Science students in High Schools.
Millikan high school students learned to grow food through the science of Aquaponics.
Middle School students all got their own aquaponics kit to learn water chemistry, fish biology, and food production.
These middle school students are observing their young growing abalone.

1470 students from 5 different schools have raised and released 1444 white seabass into the ocean. This program is in partnership with Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Huntington Beach High School’s white seabass tank. Getting ready for release.
Students catching their fish to move them out to the ocean for release.
Students learned to dive and do underwater research then actually released their white seabass underwater!
Before release, students anesthetize the seabass and then weigh and measure them.
At each seabass release, the students check for tag retention and then release each fish individually.
Orange Coast College students are growing seabass in their Aquarium Science class and release their fish twice per year.
White seabass on the way to their release.
Warner Middle School students release their fish twice per year in Huntington Harbour.
Each white seabass that is released it anesthetized , weighed, measured, and tagged by the students.

It took us 3 years to get a permit from the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife to restock green abalone in the ocean.  Once we got it, we did a 15 month pilot project to see if outplanting large green abalone would yield us good results.  It worked!  We got 40% of our abalone to survive. This was the best survival rate of any project in California history and will be the recipe for our success.

Diligent volunteers helped us go out and track our abalone every 48 hours so that we did not lose them on the reef.
All of our abalone were tagged with inventive tagging devices designed by high school and middle school students, to see what worked best.
We found that abalone don’t like to be told what to do. so they were passively released in milk crates and allowed to find their own “homes”, in their own time, on the reef.
“Beware of Dog” Mysterious deaths of our abalone prompted us to put up signs to scare off any potential human predators. We never really solved this mystery.
In order to help our volunteers, we created a grid system and quadrant numbers that they could reference while they were mapping the abalone underwater.

Growing abalone for restocking is a marathon not a sprint.  Our research and the work of others globally indicates that the older an abalone is when outplanted, the better survival rates will be. We aren’t cutting any corners. We plan to wait until our abalone are at least 6″ or about 14cm. Everything in the ocean eats baby abalone!  Only a handful of predators can eat a 6″ abalone.

First we had to find and collect broodstock (parents). 20 males and 20 females, from the wild.
The broodstock were tagged and measured and then taken to The Cultured Abalone Farm where we rent space for them to live comfortably and get fed fresh kelp everyday.
The gonads of the abalone were checked to determine sex and gonad scores. This helped us know when they were ready to spawn.
Spawning day at the farm. Basically stressing them out causes them to spawn. Thermal shock is part of the treatment.
The hatchery at the Cultured Abalone Farm. This is where we rent space to grow our abalone.
Developing egg
Veliger larvae 43 hours old! Microscopic! Shell is already growing.
Settled baby abalone 1mm in size.
Our baby green abalone at 9 months old. 90mm-200mm in size.
Happy Birthday! 1 year olds! 2cm-3cm in size.

Get Inspired could no longer sit and watch this devastation so we raised the first funds to start the restoration project. We paid fishermen to go out and collect sea urchins to clear the reefs for kelp to grow and for abalone to recover. Now, 3 other organizations are also raising funds.

Purple sea urchins have decimated the bull kelp forests of Northern California because the sunflower stars are gone, killed by a virus. Abalone are starving. In 2017, it was reported that 30% of the population was dead.
Sunflower stars “melted” due to a virus in 2015-2016. Sea stars died along the entire coast of western North America during this apocalyptic event.
Fisherman harvesting urchins by the 1000’s to clear the reefs for the return of the annual bull kelp.

-Caruso, Nancy L. (2017). Outplanting large adult green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) as a strategy for population restoration. California Fish and Game 103(4): 183-194

Ebert, T. A., Barr, L. M., Bodkin, J. L., Burcham, D., Bureau, D., Carson, H. S., L. Caruso, N., et al. (2018), Size, growth, and density data for shallow-water sea urchins from Mexico to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1956–2016. Ecology, 99: 761. doi:10.1002/ecy.2123

Burcham, D., Nancy L. Caruso. 2015. Abundance, size, and occurrence of Arbacia stellata in Orange County, California.  2015. California Fish and Game (101)3

-Gruenthal, K. M, D. A. Witting, T. Ford, M. J. Neuman, J. P. Williams, D. J. Pondella II, A. Bird,  N. Caruso, J. R. Hyde,  L. W. Seeb, W. A. Larson. 2014. Development and application of genomic tools to the restoration of green abalone in southern California. Conservation Genetics 15(1): 109-121

How You Can Help

As a non-profit organization we survive on the generous donations from our sponsors. Please consider donating today.