I took my kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium a few times. I would love to tell you I did it for them, but nope, I did it for me. I grew up wanting to train orcas at Sea World (forgive me, I was a child) and have always been borderline obsessed with all things under the sea. Monterey Bay Aquarium was... a marvel. So you can imagine my delight when I saw Finding Dory on Friday with my niece. It got me to thinking about how we can help aquariums conserve and protect our sea life. Because if you loved Finding Dory (and who didn't?), you're going to want to keep her world the way it's meant to be.
The Marine Life Institute in Finding Dory is inspired by the Monterey Bay Aquarium... "The Jewel of Monterey, California" according to Sigourney Weaver's soothing voice over in the movie. The Aquarium has been going strong since 1984 on Monterey's famous Cannery Row. According to its website,
For over 30 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has worked to protect ocean life for future generations by inspiring young and old with the beauty and wonder of the ocean. We count on the generosity of people like you to support our urgent work.
Jon Hoech oversees all live exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and was excited to see it come to life on the big screen in Finding Dory. He told CBS News that the filmmakers and the Aquarium share common goals:
[Those goals are] to educate people about the ocean environment and just as importantly, connect them with the ocean environment. And I think when you take a fun, comedic, entertaining movie like Finding Dory, it does help to do that.
So how can you support aquariums like the one in Monterey?
- Donate. As we can all imagine, these aquariums are hugely costly to run, not to mention the conservation and science programs donations help to fund. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has several ways to donate: You can offer a one time general donation, become a monthly donor, or join a donor circle (an annual donation which provides critical support for ocean conservation programs)
- Become a member. This is a great way to get your kids involved as well. Help them connect to sea life, educate them on the importance of conservation... plus if you've taken them to see Finding Dory, you can pretty much guarantee they'll be interested. Also, memberships generally come with a few "perks," like discounts at the gift shop, previews of special exhibits, and early entry privileges.
- Volunteer. Want to be a seasonal volunteer guide? Aquariums rely heavily on volunteers doing everything from working on the information desk, to helping care for the animals (squeal!), to becoming an exhibit diver. Even your teen can become a Teen Conservation Leader, which makes me sad I'm already a stupid grown up.
My sons still remember our times at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The dark quiet of the Outer Bay exhibit, where we watched the only Great White shark in captivity slowly circle the surface. The jellyfish fields, and the sea otters. Going "diving" for the first time as underwater explorers in the Great Tide Pool.
I think we all were wishing with all our might we could become marine biologists then, heading out on the ocean at dawn with our bleary eyes and our sense of purpose.
Doing our part to save the ocean. At least we know now that we still can.