Marc Shargel anemones
Marc Shargel has been photographing underwater wonders for decades. This natural scene featuring giant powder-puff anemones was nearly 100 feet deep, off Pacific Grove, on a day when the water was beautifully clear. (Marc Shargel /

Marc Shargel has taken his cameras underwater to photograph sharks, jellies and kelp forests, while on land he has made vivid images of eclipses and the great landscapes of the American West. 

As a scuba diver, Shargel has been watching ecological shifts in the Central California Pacific since the 1970s, and recently used his camera to document stunning changes to California’s kelp forests.

On Saturday, Jan. 13, from 1:30-3:30pm, Shargel will share a lifetime of photographic images and marine observations with guests at the Felton Library, 6121 Gushee St. He will highlight the most extreme, recent changes seen from Big Sur to Mendocino, and explain what science has revealed about recent declines in the kelp forests.

This family-friendly event is free to the public, and is part of Community-led Learning, a project of Felton Library Friends and Santa Cruz Public Libraries. 

Marc Shargel diving
Marc Shargel gets ready to roll off his boat for a dive in Mendocino County. Shargel’s nature photography will be on view through March 29 at the Felton Library. (Steve Greenwood)

Since 1997, Shargel has been a champion for marine reserves, which are no-take areas that function as refuges and nurseries for life in the ocean. He played an integral part in drawing the boundaries for new marine reserves along the Central Coast.

But in 2013, just six years after the new reserves went into effect, stunning changes in marine life presented a new threat. Shargel will reveal a photographic chronicle of the beautiful but now-threatened kelp forests found just beyond local shores.

Shargel’s photos of California marine life were a unique contribution to the debate about creating marine reserves in Central California.

After 2007, as processes to create “parks in the ocean” moved to other parts of the state, he created larger photo essays for each region. These became a series of three lavishly printed coffee-table volumes, his “Wonders of the Sea” books. Following that, he authored the soft cover “Yesterday’s Ocean: A History of Marine Life on California’s Central Coast.”

The Jan. 13 event highlights an exhibit of Shargel’s photography, which will be on view from Jan. 2 to March 29, 2024, at the Felton Library, open to the public 10am-6pm every day except Sundays (10am-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays).

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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