Julie Packard Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Aquariums traditionally have really been much like zoos, you know, menageries. They really began as a collection of exotic animals just for people's kind of recreational interests -- for their curiosity, if you will.
Today the aquarium community is really dedicated to a science, education and conservation mission, if you will. I think it starts not only, again, connecting people with the animals but telling the stories about the status of these animals in the wild: what their trajectory is, how humans interact with that.
Aquariums together reach hundreds of millions of visitors around the world. They also run vast public education and K-12 education programs that reach a lot of kids. I mean, just here at our aquarium, and we're in a relatively small community of Monterey, we have something like 80,000 school kids that come every year with their teachers, and the global aquarium community reaches far more. There are many aquariums in Japan, many in Europe, a great aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. The aquariums of the world are really, I think, a force for educating the world's youth about the ocean, and why they should fall in love with it, and how they can connect with its future.
John O'Sullivan Curator of Field Operations, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Where many of us can go to a national park or to a safari, and as you go further away from your home the costs increase, but you can see these things. You can see a coyote on a walk in your neighborhood.
For people to learn how to see the ocean, the marine environment, will generally take the will of first knowing how to swim or getting dive certified, and there are costs and fears and cultural challenges with that aspect. We bring -- and to be quite honest with you, our kelp forest exhibit is a wonderful example of how we can bring over a million people to view a kelp bed. We would not want a million people diving off the aquarium in that kelp bed, because just that exchange would be detrimental to that ecosystem.
We are bringing them something that they can appreciate, become awed and look at without the challenges of getting wet.
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