Erica Donnelly-Greenan, Executive Director
831-462-5660, ext. 8
831-419-7426 (cell)

Emily Pomeroy, Program Manager
831-462-5660, ext. 3

Juliano Calil, Virtual Planet


October 21, 2021 

Save Our Shores to bring an immersive ocean experience to students in the Monterey Bay Region

MONTEREY BAY REGION—Save Our Shores, Virtual Planet Technologies, and Oceans360 have teamed up to create a virtual reality experience of our region's Marine Protected Areas to offer middle school students a glimpse of these magnificent underwater treasures and learn why they are vital to the health of our oceans and a healthy future of all life on Earth. Coastal Quest and Ocean Protection Council provided seed funding for this groundbreaking initiative. 

In the VR experience students join an animated sea lion named Marina on a fun and educational journey in a Save Our Shores submarine observing and interacting with various species in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along Central California and Southern California coastlines. The creators consulted with our region’s indigenous leaders to ensure their traditional territories are identified and honored as students arrive at Año Nuevo State Marine Reserve, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, Casino Point State Marine Conservation Area, and Judith Rock State Marine Reserve during the expedition.

"We are thrilled to bring this first-of-its-kind experience to students within the region," said Save Our Shores Executive Director Erica Donnelly-Greenan. "We hope that experiencing 360-degree immersive views of these life-sustaining marine ecosystems will foster an important connection between youth and the urgent need to protect marine ecosystems."

As they explore their underwater surroundings and take part in a scavenger hunt identifying various species, students learn about the history of California’s MPAs, the regulations that govern the different types of MPAs, and science and conservation concepts such as biodiversity and spillover effect.

"Working with the folks at Oceans360 who captured our 3D video footage and our friends at Virtual Planet Technologies who created the accompanying graphics and interactive elements has been fun and rewarding," said Krista Rogers, Education & Outreach Coordinator at Save Our Shores. "I can't wait to bring this experience to students!"  

After engaging with the virtual reality application, a Save Our Shores educator will strengthen and assess student learning through a class discussion, a writing prompt, and small group work looking at maps of California's MPAs. Students will then be invited to put their newfound knowledge of Marine Protected Areas into “Take Care of Our MPA’s” art posters that can be converted into public educational signs.

The VR experience has English and Spanish narration options and bilingual closed captions to comply with ADA accessibility requirements. A video version of the content is also available as a distance-learning option.

We are currently inviting middle school classes and clubs to test drive the pilot experience and share feedback. Please contact Emily Pomeroy at or 831-462-5660, ext. 3 for details.



Save Our Shores was founded in 1978 as a grassroots organization to prevent offshore drilling in the Monterey Bay and later helped to define and establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Since that time, it has continued to advance ocean conservation and efforts through impactful advocacy, awareness, and action while continuing to mobilize a large following of supporters and volunteers throughout the Monterey Bay Region. In recent years, Save Our Shore has been at the forefront of advocacy to combat plastic pollution and the climate crisis. In 2017, its multi-year campaign to end illegal sand mining along the Sanctuary’s shores resulted in an agreement for the shutdown of the CEMEX sand mine in Marina, CA which officially closed in November 2020. The June 2021 TRUTH + JUSTICE = HOPE—California Ocean & Climate Justice Mini-Fellowship and Summit, a collaboration with the Resource Center for Nonviolence, affirmed the organization’s commitment to integrating a call for environmental justice into its vision, mission, values, and actions.


Save Our Shores
345 Lake Avenue Suite A | Santa Cruz, California 95062
831.462.5660 |

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