SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.—The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara–World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance have launched a new global program, Wildlife Heritage Areas, and have named a large portion of The Santa Barbara Channel Islands as the 9th Whale Heritage Area in the World. Santa Barbara local Jean-Michel Cousteau is the President and CEO of Ocean Futures Society and honorary President of the World Cetacean Alliance. The explorer and conservationist has spent over seven decades working on behalf of the planet’s oceans and inspiring people worldwide to protect them and conserve marine life for future generations.
This recognition as a Whale Heritage Area means the World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance will work with a coalition of responsible travel businesses and wildlife charities to highlight the region’s commitment to promoting responsible ecotourism, providing ocean educational opportunities, supporting ongoing research and conservation efforts, and honoring the timeless cultural connection to whales. This is a big step forward for responsible tourism, as more people become aware that zoos and aquariums exploit animals for entertainment. Wildlife Heritage Areas will meet an increasing demand from tourists to ethically see wild animals in the wild.
“Whale Heritage Areas are becoming the gold standard for responsible whale watching destinations worldwide,” says Cousteau. “But they also have so much more to offer. By interweaving natural and cultural elements and placing communities at their very heart, these areas will become places where people respect, celebrate, and protect cetaceans and their ocean home long into the future. I am very excited to finally have one of these Whale Heritage Areas in my hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif.”
Event in Support of Ocean Futures Society
Cousteau was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award on November 11 at the Ocean Futures Gala at the Ritz Carlton Santa Barbara, commemorating this and many decades of his enduring work for our planet’s oceans. Guests enjoyed sustainably sourced cuisine, local wine, and cocktails while dancing the night away. The Gala and weekend activities supported the work of the Ocean Futures Society (OFS), a marine conservation organization founded by Jean-Michel Cousteau in 1999 and based in Santa Barbara.
The celebratory event was supported by local companies and organizations such as Visit Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, Rusack Winery, Por La Mar Nursery, Westerlay Orchids, The Ritz-Carlton Brand and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.
The Ocean Futures Society (OFS) continues to impact millions globally with its inspirational films, outdoor educational programs, books, curriculum, and multimedia presentations. The OFS Mission: Explore the global ocean, inspiring and educating people worldwide to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet.