Conservation & Science

Julie Packard: ‘A success story worth sharing’

From August 23 through September 2, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary will host Big Blue Live – an unprecedented series of live natural history broadcasts from PBS and the BBC. Big Blue Live highlights the remarkable marine life that gathers in Monterey Bay each summer, and celebrates an ocean conservation success story of global significance. We’re publishing guest commentaries about conservation efforts that contribute to the health of the bay and our ocean planet. The first is from Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard.

We’ve always known that Monterey Bay is a unique and special place for marine life. That’s what allowed us to create an entire aquarium focused on the wildlife and habitats found in the bay when we opened 31 years ago. It’s why the bay became the largest national marine sanctuary in the continental United States, and why millions of people come here to experience the spectacle of ocean wildlife, whether on a scuba dive, atop a kayak or from shore.

Executive Director Julie Packard (Photo by Corey Arnold)
Executive Director Julie Packard (Photo by Corey Arnold)

Now, thanks to an unprecedented series of live prime-time broadcasts, PBS and the BBC will tell the bay’s remarkable story in spectacular fashion to millions of people across the United States and Great Britain. We’re thrilled to be the studios from which the broadcasts of Big Blue Live originate – and thrilled that these public broadcasting leaders recognize that the comeback of marine life in the bay is a conservation success story worth sharing with the world.

The recovery didn’t happen by accident, and the growing impacts of climate change could yet write a new chapter in the story of Monterey Bay. But what we’ve seen in the bay and beyond offers clear evidence that the ocean is resilient. Wildlife and ecosystems can recover – and recover spectacularly – if give them half a chance.

That’s why we show people what a healthy Monterey Bay looks like, through our living exhibits. It’s why we’ve invested in important research for more than three decades as we document how apex predators like sea otters, great white sharks and bluefin tuna are doing in the wild. We need the best science to inform policies that safeguard critical habitats essential to their survival.

Kelp forest and seafloor marine life at Point Lobos State Reserve. Photo by Bill Morgan
Kelp forest and seafloor marine life at Point Lobos State Reserve. Photo by Bill Morgan

Now, we’re stepping up our efforts, on so many fronts. With the generous support of Aquarium members and donors, we’re championing legislation and policies to protect vulnerable species, and to get plastic pollutants like microbeads out of the ocean. Seafood Watch partners with dozens of local restaurants that share our commitment to serving that comes only from ocean-friendly sources. We’re collaborating with the city of Monterey and the local fishing community to make sure that the bay supports a vibrant commercial fleet, delivering sustainable local seafood here and in markets around the state.

Internationally, we’re working to address illegal fishing on the high seas, and to improve aquaculture practices. We want the effective fisheries management approaches championed in the United States to become the standard around the world.

We’re also working with major businesses in North America to leverage their purchasing power to shift seafood production in more sustainable directions. Disney Parks & Resorts just announced its partnership with our Seafood Watch program – the latest major foodservice company to rely on Seafood Watch science to shape its buying decisions.

California and the United States have long been ocean conservation leaders – and Monterey Bay is the crown jewel of those efforts. Through Big Blue Live, millions of people will see the results.

Learn how you can support our Conservation & Science work on behalf of healthy oceans.

Photo of breaching humpback © Jim Capwell.

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