Having recently moved to central California, I have become obsessed with the interesting history that makes up this region. My family and I have made it a point to explore all the different areas that make this part of the country so breathtaking and diverse. We have ventured to the Monterey Bay area a number of times, and it has become one of our favorite spots on the planet. Our last trip included a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. starfish.jpg I was impressed not only with the beauty of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the amazing exhibits but also with the aquarium’s dedication to sustainability. Cannery Row in Monterey, where the aquarium is located, has a very colorful past, which was documented in John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and paints a realistic portrait of Monterey during the Great Depression. “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses.” – from John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row What remains in modern day Cannery Row is “a poem… a quality of light, a tone… a nostalgia, a dream” and restaurants, hotels, shops and a world-renowned aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the southernmost end of Cannery Row, at the site of the Hoven Cannery, a sardine cannery, which opened in 1916 and closed in 1973. To commemorate the site’s origins, the aquarium sounds the original Hoven Cannery whistle at noon each day. Each cannery had its own distinctive whistle that would sound to call its workers when a school of fish was caught in the cannery’s nets. fish1.jpg The stated mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is “to inspire conservation of the oceans.” It accomplishes that goal and many others.

Sustainability at the aquarium

  • One of the many sustainable zoological practices employed by the aquarium: Whenever possible the staff prefers to breed animals at the aquarium rather than collect from the wild. 
  • Some of the aquarium’s energy saving practices – motion sensors and efficient lighting in the office spaces, have replaced aquatic pumps with energy saving models. 
  • Other sustainable practices – a comprehensive recycling program is in place and all aquarium vendors are encouraged to recycle as well. 
  • More than a third of the aquarium’s full-time employees carpool, walk, telecommute or bike to work and receive incentives like free bus passes and prime parking spots. 
  • All Monterey Bay Aquarium restaurants have phased out plastic water bottles and paper cups. They also serve only sustainable seafood and source local ingredients whenever possible. 
  • Additionally, the aquarium is currently pursuing a Green Business certification with the City of Monterey. 
  • Also, in the aquarium there are interactive displays teaching people how to “Make Smart Seafood Choices” and how to “Save Energy to Save Our Oceans.” 
  • To find out more about sustainable seafood choices, courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, visit http://www.seafoodwatch.org/
If you are visiting the Monterey area, make sure you take the time to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. To find out more about, visit http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/.