Conservation & Science

Climate change: A triple threat for the ocean

The ocean headlines these past few months have been unsettling. 

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Now is the time for climate action. It’s not too late; we still have a choice about the kind of future we want to leave today’s children.

A just-released scientific report connects these and a host of other ocean changes with human activities that take place largely on land. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate marks the first time that the IPCC has written a stand-alone report on the marine realm. It presents a detailed account of the increasingly severe consequences of climate change for the ocean, its trillions of creatures and, ultimately, ourselves. 

The report makes clear that to protect the ocean, we must first reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we must also reduce ocean stress, caused by overfishing and pollution, so the ocean is healthy enough to weather the changes already underway.

“The bottom line is that we need the ocean. And right now, the ocean needs us,” said Julie Packard, executive director of the Aquarium. “It’s not too late to take courageous climate action and safeguard the ocean from further damage.” 

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California Action Alert: Help us turn the tide against ocean plastic pollution!

UPDATE Sept. 16, 2019: Unfortunately, the State Legislature did not vote on the California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act in 2019.  However, leaders can pick the bills back up in 2020. We are confident that there will continue to be momentum next year to advance this legislation. Please stay tuned! 

(Clic aquí para leer en español)

Monterey Bay is celebrated around the world for its beautiful ocean views and photogenic wildlife, like sea otters, sardines and whales. But even these protected waters are more polluted than they seem.

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Researchers found plastic in the bodies of pelagic red crabs, which are food for many ocean animals, from the surface to the deep sea. Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Patrick Webster

Aquarium and MBARI scientists recently found plastic throughout the Monterey Bay water column, from the surface to the deep sea. And most of it matched the same type of plastic used in the single-use products we discard every day, like water bottles, takeout food containers and other packaging.

If we don’t change course, the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean is projected to double in just six years. But California is in a position to get out in front of this challenge and lead the U.S. toward a cleaner future.

The California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act sets a target of reducing 75 percent of packaging waste—and the most polluting single-use plastic products—by 2030. And it sets criteria to make sure that what remains is increasingly recycled or composted.

Join us in urging your California legislators to vote YES on the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

This bill is among the most visionary approaches to solid waste legislation in the state’s history. It tackles the growing problem of plastic pollution in our ocean and waterways, and inspires innovation to “design out” waste from the products and packages we use every day.

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Alerta, hora de actuar California: ¡Ayúdanos a cambiar el curso de la marea para evitar la contaminación por plástico!

Actualización Sept. 16, 2019: Desafortunadamente, la Legislatura Estatal no votó sobre la propuesta California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act en el 2019. Sin embargo, los líderes pueden retomar las propuestas de ley en el 2020. Confiamos que continuará habiendo el empeño para avanzar en esta legislación el próximo año.

¡Favor de mantenerse atentos!

(For English, click here.)

La Bahía de Monterey es conocida alrededor del mundo por sus bellísimas vistas oceánicas y su fotogénica vida silvestre, como las nutrias marinas, sardinas y ballenas. Sin embargo, aún estas aguas protegidas, sufren por la contaminación más de lo que parece.

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Los científicos encontraron plástico dentro del cuerpo de langostinos pelágicos, quienes sirven de alimento a muchos animales marinos desde la superficie hasta lo más profundo. Foto realizada por © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Patrick Webster

Recientemente, los científicos del Acuario y del MBARI encontraron plástico a lo largo de toda la columna de agua de la Bahía de Monterey, desde la superficie hasta el mar profundo. Además, la gran mayoría de él coincidió con ser del mismo tipo de plástico utilizado en los productos desechables que usamos todos los días, como botellas de agua, recipientes de comida para llevar y con otros empaques.

Si no cambiamos el curso, se estima que la cantidad de plástico que llega al océano se duplicará en tan solo seis años. Sin embargo, California puede hacerle frente a este reto y asumir el liderazgo en los EE. UU. para lograr un futuro más limpio.

El California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (Ley de Reducción de Contaminación por Plástico de California) tiene por objetivo el de reducir el 75 por ciento del desperdicio de plástico—y el uso de los productos desechables de plástico más contaminantes—para el año 2030. Además de determinar los criterios para garantizar que lo que quede, se recicle o se use como composta cada vez más.

Únete a nosotros y pide  a los legisladores de California  que voten SÍ por el Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. (Ley de Reducción de Contaminación por Plástico).

Este proyecto de ley se encuentra entre las más visionarias legislaciones en la historia del estado en lo referente a desechos sólidos. Aborda el creciente problema de la contaminación por plástico en nuestro océano y nuestras vías fluviales, e inspira a innovar, diseñando maneras de desalentar los residuos de los productos y empaques que usamos todos los días.

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Speaking up for sustainable fisheries

As new members of Congress get up to speed on key issues like oceans and climate, we’re in Washington, D.C., to raise our voice for ocean conservation.

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Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly addressed Congress on the state of fisheries.

On May 1, Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, the Aquarium’s vice president of global ocean initiatives, testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Waters, Oceans and Wildlife about the state of fisheries. 

Jenn was invited by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), the subcommittee’s chair, to provide information on the status of U.S. and global fisheries. Building on her remarks to the United Nations in 2017, she provided insight into seafood markets and made policy recommendations to advance the sustainability of U.S. and global fisheries. 

Watch her testimony:

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Acceso para personas discapacitadas y conservación de los océanos: Juntos somos más fuertes

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El año pasado, el Acuario pidió a los legisladores de California que aprobaran el proyecto de Ley Straws On Request (popotes a petición). A medida que esa ley entra en vigor, y las comunidades de la Bahía de Monterey adoptan nuevas leyes locales para reducir el uso de plástico de un solo uso, trabajamos con nuestros colegas de la comunidad de discapacitados para asegurarnos de que cualquier persona que necesite un popote de plástico pueda tener acceso a ella.

En el artículo de hoy, Allie Cannington de la Red de Organización de Personas con Discapacidad (DOnetwork por sus siglas en inglés) discute los resultados de un nuevo estudio que evalúa la conveniencia de alternativas a los popotes o popotes de plástico de un sólo uso para las personas que las necesitan. DOnetwork es un programa de la Fundación de Centros para la Vida Independiente de California, financiado por el Departamento de Rehabilitación y el Consejo Estatal para la Vida Independiente.


A partir del 1 de enero de 2019, los restaurantes de servicio completo en California sólo podrán ofrecer popotes cuando los clientes los soliciten. Al mismo tiempo, algunas ciudades y condados de los Estados Unidos están aprobando leyes locales que restringen los popotes y otros materiales plásticos de un sólo uso.

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Honoring a new slate of California Ocean Champions in Sacramento

On March 19, 2019, hundreds of ocean advocates gathered in Sacramento to discuss ocean and coastal issues with state decision-makers during Ocean Day California. In the evening, the Aquarium hosted its tenth annual awards reception for about 200 state officials and legislators, their staff and ocean leaders from across the state. 

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Guests enjoy the spread by Tataki Sushi & Sake Bar, featuring Seafood Watch Best Choice fish and vegan sushi.

Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard presented four state legislators with our 2019 Ocean Champion Awards, honoring their significant contributions to California’s ocean and coastal leadership. The award is part of the aquarium’s work to inspire and inform government decision-makers to take science-based action on behalf of the ocean.

“California has become a beacon of hope for the nation, and for the world,” Julie said. “Our state is living proof that environmental and economic health are inextricably linked.”

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Disability access and ocean conservation: Stronger together

(Clic aquí para leer en español)

Last year, the Aquarium called on California legislators to pass the Straws On Request billAs that law takes effect—and Monterey Bay communities adopt new local laws to cut back on single-use plastic—we’re working with our colleagues in the Disability community to ensure that anyone who needs a plastic straw can still access one.

In today’s guest post, Allie Cannington of the Disability Organizing (DO) Network discusses the results of a new study assessing the suitability of alternatives to plastic single-use straws for people who need them. DOnetwork is a program of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, funded through the Department of Rehabilitation and State Independent Living Council.


As of January 1, 2019, full-service restaurants in California may only provide straws when customers ask for them. At the same time, some cities and counties across the United States are passing local laws restricting straws and other single-use plastic materials.

At first glance, straw bans—intended to slow the rate of plastic pollution, particularly in our ocean—may seem beneficial for everyone. And yet, they can also threaten the independence of many people with disabilities.

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Russell Rawlings, left, tests a reusable stainless steel straw with a silicone tip as part of the Disability Organizing Network’s study.

Russell Rawlings, a Disabled advocate from Sacramento, reminds us that straws are an assistive technology tool. The AT Industry Association defines assistive technology as “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.” Other well-known examples of assistive technology include wheelchairs, hearing aids and speech-to-text technology.

Hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities rely on straws as assistive technology every day. Historically and to this day, single-use plastic straws have provided people with disabilities access to independence, community integration and public life.

“Bottom line, straws enable me to access hydration with dignity,” Russell says. “Would it be possible to hydrate without them? Only if I had assistance. Do I feel the same level of dignity in a public setting without them? Absolutely not.”

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