This year marks the most exciting Sea Stars celebration yet! To recognize this year’s 30th anniversary of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the annual Sea Stars Brunch is shifting to a formal evening Gala—not to be missed! At the Sea Stars Gala on Sept 17th, 2022, in the historic Cocoanut Grove Ballroom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, we expect our 300-500 guests to include movie stars, politicians, award-winning musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and the who’s who of marine conservation.

The program will consist of presentations to our 2022 Sea Stars in Research, Resource Protection, Education and Outreach, Business/Recreation/Tourism, and the overall Panetta Sea Star. It will also include talks from Secretary Leon Panetta and our esteemed board of directors, the premiere of the teaser short film about the history of the sanctuary, and a special presentation from Frans Lanting (National Geographic photographer.)  Along with the memorable program, the evening will include dinner, drinks, and fabulous silent and live auctions, followed by live music and dancing.

In celebratory ocean theme, guests are invited to dress in formal attire— “Blue” tie (tuxedos with blue bow ties) and long, blue/green ballgowns. But of course, all apparel is welcome. Instead of a “red carpet,” we plan to have a “blue carpet,” with probable paparazzi in attendance. The ballroom will be decorated by provocative works of art from Ethan Estess and playful art created by K-5th grade students from Westlake Elementary School. This evening will be talked about for decades.

All proceeds from the Sea Stars Gala will support critical wildlife protection and educational programs for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Thank you to our sponsors for helping make this night possible! Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available. Contact for more information.

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Read more about the sanctuary here.

Main Image: A leather star clings to a rocky pinnacle within a kelp forest, where all the rocks are covered with colorful algae or bright invertebrates, like the orange tunicate (Chad King)