Save the Bay: Dive into protecting Narragansett Bay

Eelgrass, the primary seagrass found in Narragansett Bay. (Photo courtesy of Save the Bay)

I am the type of person who is constantly looking for an adventure. So, in the summer of 2022, I decided to be a camp advisor for a summer program that my old middle school was hosting. It was a four-week program in which I mentored the seventh and eighth grade campers. During the third week of camp, we participated in the Save the Bay program (Bay Camp) for a week. I had never heard of Save the Bay until the camp, so I was very curious and excited to start.


On the first day, we gathered in a classroom at the Save the Bay Center to learn more about the program. My coworkers and I told the room full of curious campers to settle down, when two people walked in who introduced themselves as Save The Bay workers. They provided us with an overview of Save The Bay, letting us know that the organization was created in 1970 in response to the development of energy facilities along the Narragansett Bay. Their work has grown from there to protect the bay against pollution.

Throughout the rest of the week, we traveled by boat to different parts of Narragansett Bay and learned about each beach and the kinds of sea life that inhabited it. One time we swam from the boat to the beach and back again to help us become stronger swimmers. The experience really made me look at marine life and spaces in a different way than I had before. But why? Why is it important for individuals and communities as a whole to be more involved in our bay and marine life? It’s been a few years since I completed this program and I am determined to explain why this type of programming is impactful.

Save the Bay is a nonprofit and member-led organization that works mainly through three areas: advocacy, habitat restoration, and education, which all contribute to the overall goal of protecting, preserving, and enhancing Narragansett Bay. But how does getting involved in Save The Bay benefit communities? For one, Save the Bay often works towards protecting the natural environment, including the ecosystem of the bay, which in turn benefits the local community by ensuring cleaner water, healthy habitats, and sustainable resources.

Secondly, Save The Bay provides many opportunities for the community to get involved with their organization. They offer volunteer opportunities that range from beach clean-ups to habitat restorations and more. I wanted to know more about the volunteer programs from someone who has volunteered long-term, so I decided to reach out to Jessie Jewels, Rhode Island’s State Mermaid and a Save the Bay partner to understand how it feels to be a part of the Save the Bay community.

Jessie Jewels

Jewels explains, “My interest in Save The Bay started before I was a mermaid. I saw what they were doing, not only with beach clean-ups but also with their advocacy for maintaining rights for the public to be able to access the coastline. In such a small state, I think it’s really important that everyone has access to the bay.

“Also what’s going on in our environment really upsets me and being able to partner with Save The Bay is my way of feeling like I as an individual am contributing.” She continues, “Through the advocacy work I try to get a lot of people to sign up and be beach clean-up volunteers for seagrass replanting and other stuff — I feel like that’s my way of being able to touch other people so that they can contribute, so that way it’s like a greater contribution to the world.”

Advocacy is an important part of what Save The Bay does for the community because it ensures that people are hearing about the issues that are going on in marine spaces and that people have a voice and a platform to create change. It is important to know that protecting the environment and habitats of the ocean not only benefits our communities, it also plays a role in keeping our planet healthy for all organisms that depend on clean, thriving, and healthy oceans to survive.

I asked Jewels what she thinks is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering at Save The Bay. She responded, “Seeing people be inspired to do the same, just spreading the love of conservancy and of our earth and our ocean. I think right now the most important thing that people can do to help change what’s going on with global warming is talking about it and inspiring others to talk about it, too.”

Healthy beaches, bays, and oceans are crucial to all life on our planet. In these times where there are so many environmental issues going on, the best thing we can do to help is to get involved. From educating ourselves about what’s going on in the world around us to taking action to try and bring about change — whether through volunteering, supporting advocacy efforts, or even just reading and learning about ocean and bay concerns – you can make a difference. I strongly encourage you to check out Save The Bay’s volunteer programs, educational programs, and even internships. You never know, you just may find a fun way to spend your summer and discover a lifelong passion for our marine life.

Lisdani Herrera is an intern at Motif from The Met School in Providence.