Conservation & Science

After a jubilant March for Science, we’re marching on for the ocean

Silicon Valley-Jennifer Matlock with Zoe Lofgren arriving at Plaza
The Aquarium’s Jennifer Matlock (fourth from left) heads up the March for Science Silicon Valley beside Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and others. Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium / Paul Sakuma

On Earth Day, April 22, people came together in more than 600 cities around the world to stand up for science. And Monterey Bay Aquarium was all-in, standing up for the power of science to protect our shared ocean.

At the Aquarium, to quote Executive Director Julie Packard, “science is in our DNA.” We use research to make discoveries about marine wildlife and ecosystems, to inform ocean conservation policy, and to inspire the next generation of ocean leaders. We believe that evidence-based science can inform decisions that make our world better.

To show our support, Aquarium staff marched for science in cities across the U.S., including Washington DC, Dallas, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Santa Cruz. We went international too, with staff marching in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Even our resident African penguins joined in with a “March of the Penguins for Science,” waddling through our Kelp Forest gallery while staff—and a Facebook Live audience (now at 2.5 million, and rising)—cheered them on.

Be like an octopus 

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Rachel Sa addresses the crowd at the March for Science Monterey Bay: “We need to be brave and use communication as the vehicle to share the wonder and necessity of science.” Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium / Randy Wilder

Our staff and volunteers showed up in force in Monterey, where more than 1,000 people demonstrated in support of science. Aquarium Guest Interpreter Rachel Sa, who has a science degree from UC Davis, took the podium.

“Every operation we do at the Aquarium is steeped in science, from tagging white sharks and rescuing sea otters, to sharing that information with the people from around the world who visit us throughout the year,” she said.

“It can sound like a cold word, ‘science,’ but when you think about something as cute as an octopus, or perhaps the all-popular sea otter, you need to know that research and careful studies were conducted to learn more about these animals’ lifestyles and to support protection of their habitats.”

Silicon Valley-Jennifer Matlock speaking with logo sign in background
“Can we all be scientists? Can we approach the world with a desire to understand? Can we seek out evidence to support our ideas?” Jennifer Matlock asked the crowd in Silicon Valley. Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium / Paul Sakuma

In Silicon Valley, Aquarium School Programs Manager Jennifer Matlock addressed the crowd while wearing a T-shirt with the Aquarium’s March for Science logo—featuring an octopus. “We know that octopuses are not reaching for power,” she said. “Octopuses are curious and probing. Their tentacles can reach many areas at once and uncover the unknown.

“Maybe all of us who support science are like the octopus. We are curious and probing, too—to discover, to learn, to inform and to inspire the next generation of inquisitive minds. We have a responsibility to take the passion we feel today and continue to support scientists, educators, young people and our planet.  We can embrace our potential to be scientists in our approach to the world every day.”

Jennifer and Rachel know this movement isn’t just about scientists. It’s about the critical role science-based decision-making plays in our increasingly complex society. And that affects everyone who cares about keeping our planet livable—for ourselves, and for the generations that will follow us.

The march is over. What’s next?

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Students from California State University, Monterey Bay stand up for data at the March for Science. Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium / Randy Wilder

One step you can take is to participate in the scientific process, even if you’re not a professional scientist. Citizen science offers a way for the general public to produce valuable data for researchers.

Here at the Aquarium, we depend on citizen science to support important ocean conservation programs, including the California Sea Otter Stranding Network and our electronic tagging studies of tuna and sharks.

“Science is gross, weird and wonderful!” Rachel said at the Monterey march. “The more we talk about science, the more we become advocates for it in our communities. Find ways to get involved, become citizen scientists and join us in our passion for this field.”

Look for more on this blog in the coming weeks about how you can take part in a citizen science program near you.

MARCHCOLLAGE

Aquarium staff joined Marches for Science around the world.


Featured photo: Rey, an African penguin, observes the staff’s enthusiasm (and punny signage) during Monterey Bay Aquarium’s March of the Penguins for Science. Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium / Randy Wilder

Learn more about Conservation & Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

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