ALL ISSUES    |    SPRING 2017
Brown pelicans

Julie Packard
Director's Note

Julie Packard, Executive Director

Recent months have been a time of reflection and concern for all of us who care about the future of the environment, including our ocean on which all life depends. In these times of uncertainty, one thing has remained clear: I'm so grateful to be part of an institution that is such a positive force for change—all made possible by people giving of their time, their support and their conviction.

Thanks to you, the Aquarium will continue to amaze and delight families; spark a love of science and nature in young people; offer a sanctuary for wonder and reflection; and create lifetime memories for millions of people.

Put simply, times like these demonstrate the power of enduring and influential institutions like ours that can forge ahead to advance our mission despite what's happening in Washington. When it comes to impact, I'm confident 2017 will be the most eventful in our 33-year history.

If you visited recently, you probably noticed construction activity on Cannery Row. We've begun work on our new Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. It's the most ambitious project we've undertaken since we opened the Aquarium and it will take our education programs to a whole new level.

My deepest thanks to everyone who has donated to support our $65 million campaign for this state-of-the-art learning center and programs for an expanded audience of students, science teachers and emerging ocean leaders. I look forward to sharing our progress with you.

California has the world's sixth largest economy, and decisions we make on environmental issues often lead the way across the country—and around the globe. In November we celebrated passage of Proposition 67, which upheld the first-in-the-nation statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout shopping bags. We were a major player in the campaign to secure this victory. Ocean plastic pollution will remain one of our top areas of conservation focus in the coming year.

Our Seafood Watch program took the global stage last fall when Jennifer Kemmerly, our Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, joined Secretary of State John Kerry to spotlight our leadership in the global sustainable seafood movement. We are engaged worldwide, building collaborations to move seafood production toward sustainability.

Our Conservation Research team has made major strides as well. In partnership with colleagues and commercial fishermen in Japan, we tagged over 3,000 Pacific bluefin tuna on their spawning grounds in the Sea of Japan—an unprecedented effort to understand what lies behind the dramatic decline in the bluefin population. We're also collaborating with engineers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to refine new clip-on camera tags for adult white sharks, to learn about their behavior during the months they spend far offshore between California and Hawaii.

We also released an important study confirming that sea otter pups we rescue and release are surviving in the wild at a rate comparable to pups raised by their own mothers. Significantly, nearly 60 percent of the sea otters in Elkhorn Slough are animals we've released, or offspring of those animals. This local sea otter population boom is restoring one of California's most important coastal wetlands to health.

These are just a few of the exciting initiatives from the updated strategic plan approved by our Board of Trustees in December. We have much to look forward to in the new year—and so much work to do. Your support and engagement makes it all possible.

Thank you for helping ensure everyone can enjoy a healthy ocean now and for generations to come.