Voices for change: Spreading the word on sustainable seafood

Conservation & Science

Twenty food experts—chefs, culinary instructors, media and writers—gathered around a table, brainstorming about what it means to make an impact.

tr16-1171 Blue Ribbon Task Force members swap ideas at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“Changing minds,” someone called out.

“Inspiring action,” said another.

The 20 are members of the Aquarium’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group of 63 culinarians who are actively promoting sustainable seafood nationwide. Each year, a subset of the Task Force meets in Monterey to learn, swap ideas with their peers, and get inspired.

Sheila Bowman, the Aquarium’s Manager of Culinary and Strategic Initiatives, runs the program. “Task Force members come from a variety of culinary fields. They include chefs, educators, food media and others,” she explains.

“What unites them is that they are all the kind of person who speaks out. Rather than just working in their kitchens or at their desks, they’re actually out in public and on social media…

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Our surrogate-raised sea otters are helping restore a wetland

Conservation & Science

Otter 501 meanders through the tidal creeks near Yampah Island in Elkhorn Slough with a dozing pup on her chest. She massages the pup’s rump and blows air into its fur as she makes her way toward a main channel to feed.

To an observer, 501 might look like any other sea otter going about her business. But she’s thriving in the wild today because of a rather remarkable program at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

According to surprising new research, the same can be said of the majority of Elkhorn Slough’s otters.

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Sea otters are handy with tools

Conservation & Science

What makes people different from other animals? Scientists used to think the ability to make and use tools was a distinguishing characteristic of being human. That changed in the 1960s, when Jane Goodall observed chimpanzees using sticks to fish termites out of mounds. Now, scientists include crows, dolphins and sea otters on the short list of creatures that use tools.

Sea otters dive in shallow coastal waters to collect hard-shelled prey like sea urchins, mussels, abalones, clams and snails. Some of the shells, like the calcium carbonate armor that protects snails, are harder to crack than others—so otters sometimes use rocks as anvils to help break them open.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Aquarium researcher Jessica Fujii tracks sea otters in Alaska. Photo by Nicole LaRoche

Jessica Fujii,  a senior research biologist with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program, wanted to learn more. How often do sea otters use rocks and other items? Do some groups of otters use tools more…

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