Aubrie Fowler: Holdfast

Author: Aubrie Fowler
Fellow Type: California Sea Grant State Fellow
Year(s) of Fellowship: 2017
Host Agency: NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Dear Future Fellow,

Real talk

I’m Aubrie (aka turtle, aka giggles, aka half pint). Just to give you a bit of background about me, I’m a San Diegan at-heart who’s caught the travel bug, an avid water sports recreationist, and founded on the principles of fairness and balance, and that the ocean fixes everything.

As a Resource Protection State Fellow at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), I’m working on professional development, expanding my marine management skillset, and forming partnerships. But this fellowship is so much more than those resume and interview buzzwords.

First off, my fellowship location. I am fortunate enough to currently reside in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a paradise of the Pacific: we have kelp forests, whales, and dolphins in our (cool) waters, palm trees lining the coast, sandy (yet disappearing) beaches, fresh caught local seafood, scenic views, forested mountains, and some cool people who never want to leave Santa Barbara (and why should they?).

I’ll tell you why: they’re forced out of this nice home they’ve built for themselves over the course of a year!

I’m writing to you on the day that marks exactly the half-way point of my fellowship year. How has six months already gone by?!?!

Fellowship Projects

So far, my fellowship year has consisted of several projects, including coordinating Sanctuary Advisory Council meetings which take place every other month and engage stakeholders of various backgrounds. The other major projects have been the Vessel Speed Reduction program, which is a voluntary, incentive program aimed at slowing ships to reduce the threat of ship strikes to whales and to reduce emissions. This year we expanded to the Bay Area, which has been a great opportunity to learn. Additionally, through our partnership with lobster fishers, I’ve helped organize a few island cleanups.

Upper left: Day 1 of the fellowship: I visited the one of the Sanctuary’s research vessels, the R/V Shearwater, in the Santa Barbara Harbor at dusk during a lobster trap film interview. Photo: Aubrie Fowler. Lower left: Merely four days into my fellowship, my first Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting at the Santa Barbara Zoo. I’m the one frantically typing notes in the upper left corner. Photo courtesy of: Upper right: Affectionately referred to as “trash queen” by my supervisor, here’s the spring cleaning crew post-cruise de garbage to Santa Cruz Island, part of our marine debris removal project. Photo: Jackie Buhl. Lower right: Safety first! On board the MOL containership in the Port of Long Beach. Because everyone looks good in a hard hat… Photo: Aubrie Fowler


Looking forward

I’d like to offer a little advice for the incoming Sea Grant State Fellows out there: put down only a few roots or a weak holdfast just to keep yourself anchored over a year’s time, but prepare for swell and job applications after your fellowship.

Your fellowship will be exciting, ripe with learning experiences, and a whirl-wind all at the same time. However, be sure to keep your options open if you know ahead of time there’s a low chance of getting hired post-fellowship at your host agency.

Pura Vida, 


Gaviota sunset

Left: Gaviota sunset. *Enter symbolic quote here.* Photo: Aubrie Fowler. Right: Cheers! Photo: Aubrie Fowler

Written by Aubrie Fowler