A sea otter standing on hind legs and holding a cube of squid in her front paws

Julie Packard

Julie Packard, Executive Director

School's back in session, which means we're welcoming our first classes to the Learning Labs in our new Bechtel Education Center. Because of your generosity, we've taken a commitment that dates back to our founding — the offer of free admission to every visiting school group — to a new level of impact. We now have the facilities and staff to host 80,000 schoolchildren each year in programs led by our talented team of educators. Thank you so much for making this possible.

As with our education programs, Seafood Watch has far exceeded anything we could have imagined when it was created. We started with a modest goal: to raise awareness among consumers about the connection between individual buying decisions and the health of ocean wildlife and ecosystems. Today, thanks to its foundation in rigorous science and ecosystem-based management principles, Seafood Watch is global in scope and influence.

Our collaboration with the Chilean farmed salmon industry, announced earlier this spring, has the potential to shift 28 percent of global production to sustainable methods. That's astonishing — and it's only one of many sustainability milestones our seafood team is working to achieve.

Our scientific research is having an influence around the world as well. In June, we and our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute published disturbing findings about the spread of microplastic through the deep ocean — in concentrations higher than in the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" — and the way these particles are moving into the ocean food web. This report was the first detailed look at the spread of microplastic pollution in Earth's largest habitat. It provides new evidence to support action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic.

This fall, when the United Nations takes stock of where we stand in meeting 2020 global climate action goals, we will again be present to make certain the ocean has a voice. We're making so much progress in California, and the Monterey Bay region, to reduce sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Monterey Bay Community Power, which sources all electricity that powers the Aquarium from clean-energy sources, is expanding into San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. And we're moving forward with our own commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions — and a clean-energy Aquarium fleet — by 2025.

Of course at the heart of it all is the Aquarium itself. This summer, we welcomed and inspired hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world for whom the Monterey Bay Aquarium remains a magical window into the life and majesty of the ocean that sustains us.

Beyond our walls, we're building on our 35-year commitment to the recovery of California's threatened sea otter population as we work to help sea otters return to more of their historical range. As we've learned over the years, sea otters contribute so much to the health of coastal ecosystems. This fall, we will look to you to support the next strong steps needed to bring back these remarkable animals.

As we celebrate our 35th anniversary this year, I'm in constant awe of our Charter Members — a special group of people who believed in us all those years ago and who have supported us each year since.

New members and Charter Members alike are such an important part of all that we do for the ocean on so many fronts. I speak on behalf of our ocean planet when I say thank you — for everything.

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