Cristal's Blog


June 13, 2024

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Santa Barbara is known for its stunning coastal scenery, dynamic community, and rich biodiversity. Among the treasures of this region are the marine mammals that inhabit our oceans; from playful dolphins to majestic whales. Unfortunately, these magnificent creatures often face threats from pollution, entanglement, and disease. The Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) is dedicated to addressing these challenges and giving marine mammals a second chance at life.

Six volunteers with Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute releasing seals from a line-up of individual carriers back to the ocean.
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute


Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) is dedicated to marine conservation. Founded to positively impact conservation through the rescue, rehabilitation, research, and education of marine mammals, CIMWI plays a crucial role in promoting ocean and human health here in Santa Barbara. Watch this vital nonprofit in action.

CIMWI is not just an organization but a community of passionate individuals united by a common goal. The Board of Directors, composed of professionals with more than 165 years of collective experience in marine mammal care, leads this dedicated team. Their expertise is complemented by an army of volunteers who are the backbone of CIMWI's daily operations. These volunteers bring their skills, time, energy, and unwavering dedication to make a significant difference in the lives of marine mammals.

Three rescued seals swimming in a pool at a rehab center.
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

Rescue and Rehabilitation

The heart of CIMWI's mission is the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals. When a marine mammal is found in distress, CIMWI's rescue hotline springs into action. Volunteers coordinate responses, assess the situation, and perform rescues, often in challenging conditions. These efforts are not just about saving a single animal but are part of a broader conservation strategy aimed at preserving marine biodiversity.

Once rescued, the animals are transported to CIMWI's rehabilitation facility, where they receive medical attention and care tailored to their specific needs. The goal is always to rehabilitate and release them back into their natural habitat. Each successful release is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the CIMWI team and a victory for marine conservation.

A cute drawing of a seal with blue ocean in the background, on the cover of a children's book.
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

Research and Education

CIMWI's work extends beyond rescue and rehabilitation. Research is a vital component of the nonprofit’s mission, providing valuable insights into marine mammal health and the challenges they face. By collecting data on stranded animals, CIMWI contributes to a better understanding of disease patterns, environmental impacts, and human interactions affecting marine life. This research is crucial for developing effective conservation strategies and informing public policy.

Education is another cornerstone of CIMWI's efforts. Through outreach programs, the organization educates the public about the importance of marine conservation and how individuals can contribute to protecting our oceans. Schools, community groups, and visitors to the area benefit from CIMWI's educational initiatives, which foster a greater appreciation for marine mammals and the need to protect their environment.

Six young volunteers jumping in the air with smiles on their faces
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

The Role of Volunteers

This all-volunteer organization thrives on the dedication and enthusiasm of individuals eager to make a difference. Volunteers take on various roles, from managing the rescue hotline to providing direct care to animals, assisting with administrative tasks, and participating in outreach and education efforts.

Volunteers gain invaluable hands-on experience and learn about marine mammal biology, rescue techniques, and rehabilitation processes while contributing to the welfare of these incredible creatures. The sense of fulfillment that comes from seeing a rehabilitated marine mammal return to the wild is unmatched.

Two seal pups kissing.
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

How You Can Help

CIMWI's success relies on community support. There are several ways you can get involved and help give marine mammals a second chance at life:

  1. Volunteer: CIMWI is always looking for dedicated volunteers. Whether you have a background in marine biology or simply a passion for marine conservation, your contribution can make a significant impact. To apply, complete CIMWI’s volunteer application here and email it to or fax it to (805) 963-9684.
  2. Donate: Financial contributions are crucial for maintaining CIMWI's operations. Donations help cover the costs of medical supplies, rehabilitation facilities, and research initiatives. Every dollar donated goes directly towards saving marine mammals and supporting CIMWI's mission.
  3. Spread the Word: Raising awareness is a powerful tool in conservation. Share CIMWI's mission with your friends, family, and social networks. The more people who know about the challenges facing marine mammals and the work CIMWI is doing, the stronger the support network will become.
  4. Participate in Events: CIMWI hosts various events throughout the year, including fundraisers, educational workshops, and community outreach programs. Participating in these events is a great way to support CIMWI and learn more about marine conservation.
Two sea lions heading out to sea
Image courtesy of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

A Brighter Future for Marine Mammals

The Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute is a vital part of the Santa Barbara community, working tirelessly to protect the marine mammals that grace our shores. Through rescue, rehabilitation, research, and education, CIMWI is making a tangible difference in marine conservation.

Every marine mammal given a second chance at life is a testament to the power of community, dedication, and compassion. By supporting CIMWI, you are contributing to a healthier ocean and a brighter future for marine life.

Organizations such as CIMWI, dedicated to caretaking the earth and all of its creatures, thrive here in Santa Barbara. Isn’t this the kind of community you’d like to be a part of? If you're considering a move, feel free to explore my Santa Barbara real estate listings or use the property search tool on my comprehensive website. Whether you're seeking a cozy retreat or a luxurious estate, I'm here to assist you in finding your perfect piece of paradise in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Hope Ranch, Summerland, Carpinteria, or Goleta.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch