SBnature Journal 2022 VOL. 8, NO. 1

Page 1

2022 VOL. 8, NO. 1

SBnature Journal S A N TA B A R B A R A M U S E U M O F N AT U R A L H I S T O R Y

A WATER RAT’S GIFT Thousands of Hours of Marine Education




SBnature Journal 2022 VOL. 8, NO. 1






















A WATER RAT’S GIFT Thousands of Hours of Marine Education

MAKING IT WORK Student Volunteer’s Undefeated Passion


LIVING GEMS A Bird Man’s Obsession



2559 Puesta del Sol Santa Barbara, CA 93105 805-682-4711 Wed–Mon, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

211 Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-962-2526 Open daily 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

A NOTE FROM LUKE President & CEO We hope to pique your curiosity, inspire your wonder, and enhance your understanding of the natural world.

Have you visited the Sea Center since our reopening in early March? While it was closed for needed repairs, our fantastic Sea Center staff and Exhibits Department used the closure as an opportunity to install a wonderful new second-floor exhibit, Dive In: Our Changing Channel. The exhibit is as informative as it is entrancing, so please be sure to enjoy the Sea Center on your next trip to historic Stearns Wharf. Here at the Museum our ever-popular Butterflies Alive! exhibit will take flight once again. The butterfly team has made some special new additions to the lineup of species that will be in residence. While our wonderful dinosaurs continue to serenade our visitors from across the creek, our Backyard and Nature Club House are sure to be more popular than ever as we incorporate a number of activities into those spaces that were previously part of our indoor Curiosity Lab. We are also proud to present Rare Earth in Fleischmann Auditorium from June 11 to September 5. Come be dazzled by a glittering variety of gem and mineral specimens from the Museum’s collections and around the world. Rare Earth will not only impress you with its beauty, it will also engage you in an important conversation about the extent to which we rely on minerals in everyday life. It might even challenge you to consider how we as humans assign value to elements of our natural world. As with everything we do here at the Museum and Sea Center, we hope to pique your curiosity, inspire your wonder, and enhance your understanding of the world around us and our place within it. We think we do that well, while making it fun along the way. But we couldn’t do it without your support! Thank you. I look forward to seeing you soon, whether beside the sea or beside Mission Creek. Thank you for your support!

Luke J. Swetland President & CEO



Delivery of Bering in 1985, photo by Bill Dewey



ary Robinson recalls Bering’s dramatic journey to the Sea Center in 1985. Bering and Baja are the Sea Center’s fiberglass models of Gray Whale mother and calf. Bering came from Monterey to the local airport for painting by artist Paul Fairweather. Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Charles Woodhouse, Ph.D., assisted by sharing photo documentation of stranded whales to get the details right. Finally, Petroleum Helicopters gave Bering a free lift home. “The wharf was full of people,” says Robinson. Calf Baja was there, with a sign: WAITING FOR MOM. Helicopter and suspended whale came along the beach and settled on the wharf. The transport made national news, but was only half the battle: “Because the tail was wider than the window, they had to turn the whole whale on its side” to enter the building.

Dr. Woodhouse (right) consults on the model whale’s design

Robinson connected with the Museum while working as a diver-collector for UCSB. Hired to design and build the original Sea Center’s seawater system, he became its first manager. At that time, the dominant features were Bering, Baja, and a whale skeleton. The place was “more a visitor center than a working marine lab. We wanted to do interactive activities in a building that really wasn’t designed for that,” he recalls. They soon expanded outdoors, building a small, amphitheater-style “touchtank in-the-round.” It was an early test for building the hands-on, personal connection with marine life that we continue to foster. “The divers would go out, jump off the pier, collect what they found, then bring it up and have a program,” teaching people about animals, ecosystems, and marine debris. The immediacy, spontaneity, and hands-on nature of the program built bonds between visitors and marine life, Robinson relates. It was the forerunner of today’s Intertidal Wonders and Live Dive.

In the early 2000s, we remodeled the Sea Center, drawing again on the expertise of scientists at the Museum. Curator Emeritus of Malacology Paul Valentich-Scott remembers designing the Wet Deck based on his time working on an oceanographic research vessel: “One of the primary goals was to give people a real feeling of what it is to be a marine scientist,” including the likelihood of getting wet at work. “We wanted it to be a little bit messy, to actually show what it’s like to be in a lab,” he recalls. Guests visiting the Wet Deck can “see all the life that surrounds us, in very minute detail” thanks to microscopes and monitors that display organisms sampled from the water, sand, and pilings directly below. “When there is a one-on-one experience, with a particular organism or body of water, people understand it and they want to protect that. We try to instill that connection between an individual and the ocean,” says Valentich-Scott. The latest updates chart the same intimate and immersive course. Meanwhile, our touch pools and Wet Deck continue to do what they do best. 5


A young visitor immersed in the kelp forest experience


n March 11, Members were the first to check out the Sea Center’s refreshed upstairs exhibit, Dive In: Our Changing Channel. It’s a new take on our core topic, the unique biodiversity of the Santa Barbara Channel. The space has a more organic feel, a lot more ecological context, and some fun interactive additions. While exhibits staff prepared the new interpretation, contractors were hard at work making the zone more seaworthy. Water is a fact of aquarium life, and the previous flooring material in the upstairs space allowed some leaks to travel across a structural beam. The need to check on the condition of this beam and upgrade the flooring was a major motivator for the closure and updates. Contractors stripped the upstairs, confirmed the


beam’s integrity, cleaned some mineral deposits, and applied protective epoxy. Finally, brand-new cold-welded rubber flooring sealed the deal; we’re ready to get wet! Although this change is invisible, it makes us stronger for the future. We see it as another step on our path to resilience and sustainability, and thank donors like Hank and Mari Mitchel for making it possible. The Sea Center made a giant leap on this journey in 2019 when we added solar energy with funding from Community Environmental Council, Asteri Solar, and Mission Wealth. Downstairs is mostly unchanged, but the Channel Catch habitat, home to some of the Sea Center’s biggest fish, is now supported by a gift in honor of marine biologist Lionel Albert Walford. See page 20 to learn about the Museum’s role in the early days of his notable career.

Exhibits Lead Francisco Lopez working with The Environment Makers on immersive projection. Photo by Juan Minera

Giant Pacific Seahorse upstairs at the Sea Center

Mature Red Abalone in hand at The Cultured Abalone Farm



he Sea Center is all about hands-on experiences, like touching friendly sharks to bust myths. We were pumped to get our hands on big farmed abalone at The Cultured Abalone Farm (TCAF) in Goleta! The experience built our interpreters’ understanding of how TCAF sustainably raises California’s beloved marine snails on an impressive scale. TCAF raises Red Abalone for food, and—like the Sea Center—endangered White Abalone to support species restoration. We’re stoked to

share this firsthand info with our guests and spread the word about the important role sustainable aquaculture plays in species restoration and the future of our oceans. Sea Center volunteers and students from Santa Barbara High School will also have the chance to tour TCAF and learn about aquaculture hands-on. The program is made possible by NOAANAAEE (The North American Association for Environmental Education) Aquaculture Literacy mini-grant.

Our involvement with science and conservation constantly presents new opportunities for our staff to expand their expertise. Volunteers are always learning, too. Does that sound like you? As we ramp up our educational programming to previous heights and beyond, we’re looking for people of all ages and backgrounds to join our crew. If you want to be beside the sea, look for opportunities at and

Sea Center and Museum staff feeling the cultured vibe on their abalone farm tour


A WATER RAT’S GIFT Thousands of Hours of Marine Education

I Tatro’s shift also presents great photo opportunities like this marine snail on the move. Photo by Ken Tatro


’ve always been a water rat,” says Ken Tatro. In these few words, he sums up decades of experience in and around water, from surfing the beaches of Southern California and Baja, to his time in the U.S. Navy. Raised in Hawthorne, Tatro grew up exploring the coast of L.A.’s South Bay, where he learned to surf and got his diving certification. He taught his kids to swim, raising them “so whenever they encountered the water, they would always be comfortable and at the same time respectful of it.” For the last 16 years, he’s been sharing his ever-growing water wisdom with Sea Center guests.

Tatro started volunteering at the Sea Center in 2006, and has served a weekly shift ever since, interrupted only by a pandemic and the occasional vacation. Clocking about 160 hours per year, he’s contributed thousands of hours to marine education, and that’s just at the Sea Center. Tatro also belongs to Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, a joint program of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. Members are trained to provide interpretation for local whale-watching boats. He’s also a docent with Hollister Ranch Conservancy Tide Pool School, leading field

Engaging guests of all ages at Intertidal Wonders

trips for school groups in that remarkable stretch of coast. Tatro feels privileged to live in a region with such strong marine institutions.

Wet Deck—where the equipment for sampling life continually brings up surprises—gave him his own opportunities to learn, too.

phenomena, foreshadowed by indigenous knowledge. Everything is connected and marine life is deeply tied to life on land.

He sees the regional focus and small size of the Sea Center as an asset, not a limitation: “It’s much more intimate and personal, with volunteers to share information and answer questions.” His favorite Sea Center stations are Intertidal Wonders and the Wet Deck, which provide a forum for guests to ask the questions they come up with on local beaches. For some guests, it’s their first exposure to sea life. “They leave with a new perspective.” Working the

“The ongoing training is fantastic. When I started at the Sea Center, I knew a little bit about some of the sea life, but it was still an eye-opener. Like an ol’ dry sponge falling into a puddle of water, I sucked up all the info I could, and I’m still doing it 16 years later.” His ongoing learning isn’t merely about becoming familiar with more species, but being stimulated by the explosion of oceanography, including scientific discoveries of interconnected ecological

“Folks are finally realizing we need to become much more aware of the ocean, and take better care of it. Healthy ocean, healthy planet. It’s great to be able to pass on to the public the little we humans know about the ocean, the last real frontier on Earth.” At the Sea Center, he’s found comrades in that quest among volunteers and staff alike. “Everyone here is about the same thing: concern and care for the ocean.”


MAKING IT WORK Student Volunteer’s Undefeated Passion


lexa Coburn is easy to talk to. “Our visitors see that; they aren’t shy to ask her all kinds of questions,” says Science Communication Coordinator Olivia Bañez. “I don’t like to be a super-formal person, so I don’t interpret in a superformal way,” explains Coburn, who volunteers both as an interpreter and aquarist assistant. “I like to add my own personal qualities to make it memorable, whether I tell a joke, or a really weird, niche story about an animal.” Watching Coburn converse with guests, you’d never know the hills she’s climbed to get here. She’s loved marine science since first grade (her father teaches science), but her hometown is landlocked Bakersfield. Her family occasionally traveled to Pismo Beach, exploring tide pools. She used this early expertise to volunteer beside her mother at a zoo in Bakersfield. Participating in Kern Environmental Education Program (Camp KEEP) impressed on her the

ways humans impact coastal ecosystems. She wanted to get closer to the beach for college, steering her future toward marine science education. But social anxiety was as daunting as the distance to the beach. “Growing up, I was a very shy kid. It took me a long time to even try breaking out of my shell.” As a new UCSB student, she started volunteering at the Sea Center and building her communication skills. “It made me a lot more confident in myself, in my ability to translate scientific information. It’s made me a different person, socially and academically. I struggled with my schoolwork the first years of college, but coming to the Sea Center at that time was the light of my week, since everybody’s so supportive here.” Coburn found her fit as an environmental studies major/earth science minor. Her coursework in topics like climate science and the Channel Islands enhances her expertise at the Sea Center. As an interpreter, her priority is to make guests aware of their power: “People don’t realize how much they could affect the beautiful space around us. It’s about making people care about the environment and see the relevance of everything they do, how it might impact the ocean.”

Though she’s achieved her goal of studying by the sea, transportation remains a hurdle. As a full-time student and part-time worker without a car or bike, making time to get to the Sea Center takes effort and planning: “It’s my weekly trek. I take the bus. It takes 25 minutes to walk from the transit center. But I get my cardio in, and it’s totally worth it for me. When I’m passionate about something, I will make it work.” Her long-term objective is a career in informal marine science education. Her dream job? “Sea otter aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.” She sees her hours at the Sea Center as the biggest foundational block for her career trajectory. “Being an aquarist assistant has taught me more skills than any lab at UCSB. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had.”

Coburn loves making a personal connection with guests.


Trainbearer (Lesbia amaryllis) John Gould A Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming-birds 1849–1861

Portrait of John Gould, 1849 by T. H. Maguire

LIVING GEMS A Bird Man’s Obsession As the delicate fluff of the hummingbird conceals the pounding heart of a territorial zealot, the Maximus Gallery’s new exhibition, Hummingbirds, is more than an enchanting surface of summery romanticism. Behind the Victorian handcolored lithographs hovers the forceful and complex personality of English naturalist and entrepreneur John Gould. The 20 lithographs are a sample of 360 plates Gould published in a monograph on hummingbirds issued in unbound parts from 1849 to 1861. The series was the culmination of Gould’s obsession with birds he called “living gems.” One of the most remarkable things about this obsession is how it animated Gould through years of dedicated labor when he still had yet to see the living animal. The son of a gardener to aristocrats and royals, Gould abandoned his father’s trade for taxidermy, at which he excelled. His passionate ornithological interest led him to join the young Zoological Society of London, becoming a curator and preparator for their collections. Birds were so dear to him that he desired his epitaph to refer to him as the Bird Man. “He was the one who received the

famous Galapagos finches from Darwin,” says Maximus Gallery Curator Linda Miller. Gould noted the differentiation that formed a noted evolutionary case study. “He did a lot of taxidermy and descriptions at a time when classifying the natural world was of keen interest to people in England.” He even stuffed a giraffe, a gift from Egyptian viceroy Mohammed Ali to George IV’s menagerie. Hummingbirds were even more exotic, only appearing as enigmatic dead specimens received from Latin America by way of other colonial powers. When Gould embarked on the hummingbird monograph, he had already published hundreds of plates representing birds from around the world, directing the work of artists like his prolific and skilled wife, Elizabeth Coxen Gould. Almost a decade into his monograph, he visited the U.S. on a pilgrimage to see living hummingbirds. His writing captures the quasi-religious quality of the moment that made this Victorian naturalist’s heart beat faster: “It was on 21st of May, 1857, that my earnest day thoughts and not infrequent night-dreams of thirty years were realised by the sight of

a Humming Bird.” Its flying movement utterly defied his expectations; it reminded him of machines. He tried to take two living hummingbirds back to London, but the hardiest died two days after arriving. “It’s one of ornithology’s more poignant stories,” representing the ambitions and limitations of colonial science. As Gould biographer Isabella Tree writes: “If the British had no claim to territory in South America, they could at least steal the glory of naming one of its inhabitants.” Gould’s work fed the curiosity and ambition of Europe’s scientists in their drive to categorize and authoritatively name all organisms, even those with which they had no living familiarity. After observing their blurry, dynamic wings, Gould still continued to publish illustrations with birds in poses that evoked his romantic dreams more than their bumblebee-like physicality. The exhibition counterbalances these mythic “gems” with highspeed photography and the zipping sounds of living birds. Hummingbirds runs through September 5 and is included in Museum admission and free for Members. 13



his summer is shaping up to be special. Not only will Fleischmann Auditorium be full of rare and sparkly treasures, our Sprague Butterfly Pavilion will host spectacular butterflies from Costa Rica for the first time ever. Rare Earth— the exhibit that will transform the auditorium—will feature a dazzling array of gems and minerals. There will be some gorgeous fossils, too, including a colossal set of Columbian Mammoth tusks (see page 19). Exhibits and curatorial staff have been hard at work creating this geologic extravaganza since 2019, when we planned to release it as our big summer exhibit in 2020. Two years later, we’re excited to share a host of exceptional mineral wonders from Southern California and around the world.

Photos by Robert Mosley (The Arkenstone)


Above: Butterfly Coordinator Jimmy Friery prepares pupae in the butterfly lab. Below: Zsembik admires a Blue Morpho.


ecurring summer favorite Butterflies Alive! opens May 28, but our work starts long before that opening date, as we prepare our pavilion habitat and butterfly supply chain. During the height of the exhibit, the pavilion houses about 1,000 butterflies. To keep them in this abundance—and to host nonnative species like Malachites, morphos, and owls—we rely on butterfly farmers who (like our pavilion) are USDA-certified/ permitted. Those farmers rear the caterpillars and ship them to us as chrysalides. We put the chrysalides on display in a specially-designed emergence chamber in Santa Barbara Gallery. Since we can’t control the conditions experienced by our farmers, there’s always a lot of chance involved in what species arrive and thrive during the summer season. Taking a peek in Santa Barbara Gallery gives you a window into what’s coming up next in the pavilion.

Shepherding these fragile invertebrates through their enigmatic life changes requires biological knowledge, regulatory compliance, daily dedication, and fine motor skills. Director of Guest Experience Kim Zsembik trains her staff to safely perform many delicate tasks, including using a dab of hot glue to affix the chrysalis’s natural silk to the suspension rods in the emergence chamber. In 2020, a short video of Zsembik demonstrating the gentle art of chrysalis-gluing went viral on the Museum’s TikTok account, garnering over 430,000 views and 70,000 likes from curious users. Zsembik is used to answering a lot of butterfly questions. The top question is probably “Why can’t you release the butterflies from the pavilion?” The answer is twofold: ecosystems and agriculture.

“A lot of Lepidoptera—the order that includes butterflies and moths—are considered pests,” explains Zsembik. “We have very hungry caterpillars before we have adult butterflies.” Releasing masses of butterflies, including non-native pavilion favorites, could have negative effects on local crops and wildlife. For answers to more butterfly questions, visit butterflyFAQ, where Zsembik and Schlinger Chair & Curator of Entomology Matthew L. Gimmel, Ph.D., have shared their butterfly FAQ.

Secures $500K for Students The 22nd Annual Mission Creek Gala: Seahorse Soiree took place Saturday, April 30 at the newly reopened Sea Center. Our generous supporters exceeded our goal and raised more than $500,000 to support Museum and Sea Center education programs, including field trip scholarships to low-income schools. 172 guests enjoyed a lovely reception in the Sea Center’s first floor exhibit areas, Shark Cove and Intertidal Wonders. Guests then made their way to a clear tent on the wharf with beautiful seahorse centerpieces, all designed by Joy Full Events, Inc. and Hogue & Co. Museum trustees sponsored six marinethemed tables representing elements of the Sea Center’s new exhibit Dive In: Our Changing Channel. Between courses prepared by duo catering, guests enjoyed a spirited live auction hosted by Teen Programs Manager Charlie Thrift. Past attendees may remember Thrift’s moving student testimonial at our gala in 2020, when he spoke as a former participant in the Quasars to Sea Stars teen program. After dinner, Sea Center Volunteer and Quasar Lucy London spoke passionately about the important work of the Sea Center and Museum. We are grateful to the Gala Honorary Committee for organizing such a successful evening: Top: Sea Center on Stearns Wharf lit up for the Seahorse Soiree Middle: Sandy Bottom Lair table inside the tent on the wharf Bottom: Heather Hambleton and Melissa McCann enjoy the opening reception at the Seahorse Soiree.


Stacey Byers, Carolyn Chandler, Sheri Eckmann, Venesa Faciane, Elisabeth Fowler, Heather Hambleton, Ken Kelly, Annette Kowblansky, Bobbie Kinnear, Patty MacFarlane, Nancy Martz, Nanette Nevins, Susan Parker, Holly Pieretti, and Pam Valeski.


Field trips to Chumash rock art near the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks (above), and the Huntington (right)

The Leadership Circles of Giving is a select group of individuals who understand the value the Museum and Sea Center bring to our community… inspiring stewards of nature for generations to come. In recognition of their exceptional generosity, Leadership Circles Members have access to behind-thescenes opportunities.

rarest of the rare from our collections. A curator from each Collections & Research Center department will choose and discuss their top five rare specimens from the unique collections they curate. We will visit anthropology, invertebrate zoology, vertebrate zoology, entomology, earth science, the Maximus Gallery, and the Library.

This fall and winter, we’re excited to bring back our Leadership Circles Behind the Scenes Science Salons. Playing off the theme our summer show Rare Earth, each event will focus on the

Explorations, our Leadership Circles fieldtrips, also return this year. Members spend the day with Museum scientists and our President & CEO as we open the door to amazing adventures. Places like the

Leadership Circles Members provide invaluable support for all our educational programs, research, exhibits, and irreplaceable collections. Join us.

Anza-Borrego Desert, Carrizo Plain, Dangermond Preserve, and the Huntington Gardens are examples of past Explorations. On July 26, we’ll venture to the Cultured Abalone Farm located on the historic Rancho Dos Pueblos on Santa Barbara County’s Gaviota coast. These activities are just a few of the special benefits offered to Leadership Circles Members. To learn more, join, or upgrade your membership, contact Development Officer Diane Devine at or 805-682-4711 ext. 124.


THINGS OUR GEOLOGISTS WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW Jenna Rolle, M.S.; Sabina Thomas, Ph.D.; Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D.

Our region was underwater for a lot of Earth’s history... including the Age of Reptiles! We don’t expect to find dinosaur fossils here.

Invertebrate fossils are abundant here. During all that time underwater, marine organisms created shells. Sedimentary formations—like the Santa Barbara Formation in the lowlands and the Coldwater Formation seen on canyon trails—beautifully preserved these shells.

Vertebrate fossils are much rarer.

You can develop your eye for fossils with study.

Folks often show us wannabe fossils: rocks with a geologic history that created shapes reminiscent of life’s traces. Fossil eggs are extremely rare, but egg-shaped rocks with cracks in them are everywhere!

In real fossils, textures—like porous bone, or the ridges of a scallop—help distinguish the real thing. Experts who work with real specimens quickly recognize familiar patterns of life or geology. Improve your skills by studying nature. Our exhibits are a great place to start!

Vertebrate fossils on public lands are protected. Leave them in place so scientists can learn from their context.

Even ordinary rocks can tell interesting stories. They’re old and have seen a lot. If you know what to watch for, you can learn where and how rocks have formed in the Earth’s crust, or deep in the mantle. You can discover if they’ve been pushed around by water, wind, or ice. We live on rocks; they give us resources: metals, building stones, tools, and soil. Saying “It’s just a rock” doesn’t do them justice.

Cadoceras elatmae ammonites donated to our collections by Ed Womack




artin Jenkins is generously committed to sharing his passion for paleontology with museums around the world. An avid collector, he has impressively amassed one of the largest private collections of paleontological objects, after just 12 years. His specimens are preserved and shared with the public in some of the most notable natural history museums in the world. Originally from Manchester, and a graduate of Cambridge University in history, Jenkins moved with his family to Montecito from London in 2016. As someone who loves natural history museums, he soon made his way to ours. Asked which is his favorite hall, he quickly answered, “The paleo hall, naturally.” While walking through Earth & Marine Sciences, as it’s officially named, Jenkins realized that he had some special specimens that could elevate the Museum’s collections.

“It is truly an honor to donate the first dinosaur to the Museum,” says Jenkins, of his cast of a very rare, fully articulated Nanosaurus agilis skeleton. This six-foot long, fast-running, plant-eating dinosaur lived about 157 to 145 million years ago in the Southwestern United States during the Late Jurassic Period. This specimen was studied by the foremost Nanosaurus agilis expert, curator and researcher at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Paleontology, Rod Scheetz, Ph.D. Paleontologists around the world are using 3D scanning and printing to produce exact replicas of precious fossils like this. Now on display here, it will be seen by thousands of visitors annually. Jenkins also gifted a matched pair of Colombian Mammoth tusks to complement the Museum’s Pygmy Mammoth tusks and skeletons. Pygmy Mammoths are the descendants of Colombian Mammoths that likely

swam out to our Channel Islands, seeking food and protection from predators. Their diminished stature is an example of the well-known island effect. The limitations of the environment favored smaller individuals, and the mammoths eventually evolved to roughly 40% of their original height. Over 11 feet long, the Colombian Mammoth tusks will first be displayed in the Museum’s summer show, Rare Earth. They will then be added to our permanent exhibits, just a few feet away from Jenkins’ Nanosaurus. The Museum’s mammoth display will be one of only a few in the world where the public can see both types of tusks at once. Due to heightened protection for elephants, mammoth tusks are increasingly sought for the illegal ivory trade. Jenkins was motivated to donate the tusks not only for a paleontologically important display, but to ensure they wouldn’t be carved into miniature mammoth figurines for the commercial ivory market. Extraordinary donations like these are important to the Museum’s collections. For over 100 years, we have fortunately received incredible private collections, many containing extremely rare and scientifically significant objects. Jenkins’ donations have joined this legacy and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share them with you.



ere’s a story of two generations of courtship at the Museum, a tale of serendipity, generosity, marine biology, and the seductive allure of our mechanical rattlesnake.

Top: Giant Black Sea Bass at the Sea Center Upper right: Guests spotting fish in the Channel Catch habitat Circle: Bert Walford at work Lower right: Marine Game Fishes in the Museum Library

The Sea Center’s 300-gallon Channel Catch habitat featuring our largest fishes has a new mascot: Lionel Albert Walford (Bert to friends). He never saw the Sea Center, but is inextricably tied to us. Sarah and Lincoln Hollister— Bert’s daughter and son-in-law— have established a fund in Bert’s name to support the Channel Catch. They reside in Princeton, New Jersey, but trace their family’s origin to our Museum. Lincoln and Sarah began their courtship at age 12. He recalls a pivotal early visit to the Museum: “I had to show this charming girl the rattlesnake button. That basically captured her at the age of 13.”


By then, Museum romance was already a family tradition. Sarah’s parents met here in 1935, when her mother Lucille Duff worked for the Museum arranging flowers. Sarah recalls her mother’s job: “My idea of what she did was that she went out into the country to gather flowers” which went on display. “It seems very imaginative and wonderful.” Enter young Bert, stopping at the Museum to write a book about big fish. Marine Game Fishes of the Pacific Coast was the product of Bert’s work during a cruise on Max Fleischmann’s yacht Haida (a vessel SBMNH patron and Board President Fleischmann often used to host scientific expeditions). In Fleischmann’s preface to the book, he describes their ambition to fill a gap by creating a guide to help anglers ID their catch. Assisted by an illustrator and photographer, Bert’s writing

aimed to “satisfy the angler, and perhaps also contribute something to the scientist.” Bert also published the scientific contributions of the cruise separately. “You can picture this justPh.D. scientist coming off Fleischmann’s boat, needing a place to sit down and write that book,” says Lincoln. “That puts them—a man and a woman of basically the same age—at the same place in the same time.” Perhaps the heady scents of wildflowers and fish-preserving formalin were in the air. Soon the couple was married and living in Palo Alto, where Sarah was born. Bert went to work for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, rising to Chief of the Branch of Fishery Biology and, ultimately, serving as the director of the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory in New Jersey. He earned the Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award in 1970. His knowledge of biology, ecology, and fisheries management led to numerous advisory roles, including an early conference to discuss human-caused climate change. He was an officemate and mentor to Rachel Carson. And as in Marine Game Fishes, he made marine science accessible to the public, advocating for education and citizen science.

“Bert was my scientific role model,” Lincoln attests. “He showed what could be done by getting a top-flight education in the sciences, how one could pursue a rewarding career. He exemplified somebody who was psychically rewarded by science.” Lincoln’s own rewarding scientific field is geology. His uncle Joe Hollister was a geologist and early mentor of the legendary Tom Dibblee, Jr. Inspired by growing up on the Central Coast, Lincoln remembers visiting the Museum often for our geological exhibits. Bert encouraged him to pursue academia over the civil service. He started teaching geology at Princeton University in 1968, as the theory of plate tectonics spread from that innovative zone. After 43 years active faculty and 11 years emeritus, studying mountains and moonrocks and traveling the world in the name of geoscience, Lincoln is permanently Princetonian. But he and Sarah never lost their connection to the Museum. They visit whenever possible, not only because this is a special place in their family history, but because they—like Bert—value and share the work of furthering scientific

literacy for non-scientists. The Sea Center does that work particularly well, creating opportunities for hands-on, personal experiences with wildlife and scientific tools. I hope when you visit the Sea Center you’ll think of Bert and appreciate his legacy, and Sarah and Lincoln’s gift. We’re proud to inspire the scientists and stewards of the future, and—who knows—maybe kindle some more romance!

Luke J. Swetland President & CEO If you are interested in leaving a special legacy gift to the Museum, please contact Director of Development Caroline Baker at



3 1 6 5 9



4 7


11 1 Nature Adventures camper exploring Mission Creek 2 Behind the scenes during Sea Center exhibit install. Photo by Jenna Savage Davis

3 Our new membership manager hasn’t been eaten by dinosaurs...yet. 4 A new backdrop for jellies 5 Festive Fleischmann Auditorium for Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace 6 Bat specimens flock to Maximus Gallery for What’s In Our Drawers. 7 Luke J. Swetland and Lorraine and Keith Reichel celebrated the reopening of the Towbes Family Bridge.

8 Featured artists hosted tables for guests of The Artist’s Table Soiree. 9 Mission Creek Legacy Society Members gathered for a delicious lunch at Broder.

10 DIY cochineal insect tie dye with S.B. Fibers Arts Guild. Photo by Cathy Moseley

11 Grace, Ralph, and Diane Waterhouse helped make The Artist’s Table Art Sale a success.

12 Chasing Garibaldi at the Sea Center


259 Puesta del Sol Santa Barbara, CA 93105

SBnature Journal is a publication of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. As a Member benefit, issues provide a look at the Museum’s exhibits, collections, research, and events. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a private, non-profit, charitable organization. Our mission is to inspire a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world. For information about how to support the Museum, contact Director of Development Caroline Baker at 805-682-4711 ext. 109 or



Cover photo: Giant Pacific Seahorses at the Sea Center. Photo by Juan Minera


Butterflies Alive! at the Museum


Rare Earth

at the Museum


The Artist’s Table Soiree & Art Show at the Museum


Star Parties

at the Museum

For more information on upcoming events visit

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.