Thousands of Celebrities Sighted in Local Woods

By Richard Mineards   |   February 20, 2024
Condor Express owner Hiroko Benko talks to National Geographic (photo by Stacey J. Byers)

Santa Barbara is front and center in a new National Geographic feature declaring “Whales and butterflies are the real celebrities” in our Eden by the Beach.

Writer Norie Quintos says the likes of Harry and Meghan, Oprah, and Gwyneth “aren’t the ones followed and fawned over,” but a rich diversity of wildlife like whales and monarch butterflies.

“With 300-plus sunny days a year and coastal breezes scented by eucalyptus and sage, this American Riviera is firmly connected to the outdoors and nature,” she writes.

Marine biologist Holly Lohuis at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, as well as Hiroko Benko, owner of the popular Condor Express whale watching vessel, are co-directors of the recently named Santa Barbara Whale Heritage Site, a roughly 100-by-25 mile swatch including the Santa Barbara Channel, the Channel Islands National Park, and their watersheds

“Here, where currents whirl and nutrients swirl, a smorgasbord is whipped up for more than 25 residents and visiting species of cetaceans, including 20,000 Pacific gray whales.”

Monarch butterflies, once on the verge of extinction, have made a “stunning comeback” with the 2022-2023 season tallying more than 12,000, with the current season more than doubling their numbers in the area around Goleta.

Invaluable international publicity…


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