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Julie Packard: A 30th Anniversary Message

(Julie Packard is a founder and the executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.)

Thirty years ago today, we began a grand adventure. The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened its doors for the first time—and began changing the way people think about the ocean.

What started in the late 1970s as the dream of a few marine scientists has grown to become the best aquarium in the world, and an ocean conservation leader of international stature.

For that, I want to thank you.

The tens of millions of people who have visited over the years, our Aquarium members and donors, the supporters of our Seafood Watch program, and the dedicated staff and volunteers who keep this place humming—all of you have played a critical role in shaping our development, and a future with healthy oceans.

An uncharted journey

We didn’t know what to expect on October 20, 1984. But the excitement, the enthusiasm we felt that day, has only multiplied since then.

Our commitment to admit school groups free of charge has blossomed into education programs that have reached more than 2 million students, thousands of teachers and hundreds of teens who are emerging as ocean conservation leaders. This year, we announced plans for our Ocean Education and Leadership Center that—with your help—will double our impact over the next few years.

We continue to inspire visitors through living exhibits that are second to none—a fact recognized when TripAdvisor® (the world’s largest travel site) named us the best aquarium in the world earlier this year. We were the pioneer of special exhibitions at public aquariums; our current exhibition, “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes,” is the latest incredible accomplishment of our talented animal care and exhibitions team.

A voice for the ocean

Over the years, we have stepped up our role as a voice for the ocean, through a rigorous science program and effective advocacy on behalf of policies to safeguard the health of the ocean and marine wildlife. We’ve been successful because everything we do is grounded in the best available science. That’s one reason we were able to lead the campaign to ban the shark fin trade in California. And it’s the reason our Seafood Watch program has become the most respected source of information for consumers, chefs and major seafood buyers across North America.

We’re expanding our research work to support recovery of threatened ocean species, including sea otters, Pacific bluefin tuna and great white sharks. We’re also more active on behalf of legislation and policy—in Washington, DC, in Sacramento and in collaboration with business leaders as well as colleagues who share our goals.

Shaping the future

Through it all, we have remained true to our founding values: a commitment to science, and to a culture that supports teamwork and innovation. We also recognize that the future of the ocean—and this Earth we share—will be shaped by how well we nurture and cultivate the talents of our children.

It’s a solid foundation that continues to serve us well. It positions us to think about how we can best make a difference for the ocean—and how to turn our aspirations for the future into reality.

Thank you for being an essential part of this journey. The ocean is on the road to recovery, but we’ve only just begun.

Help us create a future with healthy oceans.

(Photo of Julie Packard by Corey Arnold)


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