Creating a Sustainable Future for Sea Life
Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
The ocean sustains all life on earth. From the air we breathe to the seafood
we eat, our very survival depends on healthy seas. – Monterey Bay Aquarium
Founded in 1984 on the site of a former sardine cannery on Monterey’s famed Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) has become one of the world’s leading aquariums with an annual attendance of some 2 million visitors.
Home to thousands of sea plants and animals, the aquarium has over 600 species on display. And what a display it is!
Visitors can view coastal marine life in the MBA’s 28-foot-high Ocean’s Edge tank that makes you feel you are submerged underneath the sea. This offers a rare chance to see a live “kelp forest” of Giant California Kelp.
The forest can be seen from different observation levels along with the sea life inhabiting it.
There’s also a 1.2 million-gallon tank that provides a window on the sea life and ecology of Monterey Bay.
Other viewing areas include habitat displays housing penguins, sea otters, jellyfish, squids and octopuses.
You can get up close and personal with the penguins and other animals in the aquarium’s Splash Zone.
Or go on a Mission to the Deep and take a virtual dive far below the water’s surface for a 360-degree video projection view of the ocean’s dark, cool depths.
Built in honor of marine biologist Edward Ricketts (the basis for the character “Doc” in John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Road),
the Monterey Bay Aquarium was funded initially with a grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. Since then it has taken the lead in marine research and the promotion of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
The aquarium is committed to preserving marine sea life and habitat: As stated on its website, “Our dedicated scientific staff and partners employ state-of-the-art methods to advance our scientific understanding of the animals and ecosystems we study.”
Executive Director Julie Packard says, “The ocean needs a greater voice when we consider conservation issues. We must consider ocean health in the context of climate change and human survival. The ocean plays a critical role in enabling life on Earth to exist. It makes the oxygen we breathe and buffers us from the impacts of rising greenhouse gases and global temperatures.”
To find out more, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel talked to Ken Peterson, the MBA’s Communications Director, and got this link to the museum’s Future of the Ocean blog, which has up-to-date stories on its programs.
One of the The MBA’s top priorities is studying the biology and ecology of endangered species, including turtles, sea otters, sharks and bluefin tuna, to ensure their preservation.
Along with this, the aquarium is working to educate people on the need to employ sustainable fishing methods and food chain practices.
SurfWriter Girls appreciate what the MBA’s Seafood Watch program is doing to help restaurants and consumers make better seafood selections so that animals won’t be fished to extinction.
In addition to working with international regulatory agencies to eliminate illegal fishing, the aquarium provides Seafood Watch consumer pocket guides
and mobile apps to use when you are dining out or buying seafood. The MBA notes “Since 1999, we’ve distributed over 51 million consumer guides and our smartphone app has been downloaded over 1.5 million times.”
Thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium we can all enjoy the ocean’s gifts for many years to come.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
– Jacques Cousteau
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