More Than Just Pretty Fish: This Aquarium Is a Force in Ocean Preservation

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world famous for otters, sharks, a spectacular setting — even appearances in movies such as "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Finding Dory," and TV shows such as "Big Little Lies" and the BBC/PBS series "Big Blue Live."

But that’s just the most visible part. The Aquarium is also a powerful force for protecting the oceans through education, advocacy, and the development of young leaders. In this episode, Spencer speaks with the Aquarium’s senior communications strategist, Ken Peterson, about the dramatic impact the Aquarium is having in ocean conservation — and the protection of all life on earth.

Show Links

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)

Big Blue Live

Seafood Watch

"How One 16 Year-Old Got a City to Say No to Plastic Straws" (article about #NoStrawNovember founder Shelby O’Neil at

Ken Peterson

Ken Peterson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Ken Peterson is senior communications strategist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In that capacity, he’s responsible for developing messages about a public aquarium that’s evolved from its beginnings as arguably the finest public aquarium in the world, to become a global leader in ocean conservation.

The scope of its activities include policy advocacy, marine research and science education involving protection of marine ecosystems and wildlife, sustainable seafood, climate change and ocean plastic pollution.

Prior to joining the aquarium in 1989, Ken was a writer and editor for 15 years with California newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News and Monterey County Herald, with a focus on coastal, land use and environmental issues. 

As a member of the Mercury News staff, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for contributing to coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and is a past Jeopardy! champion.

You can follow him on Twitter at @aquaken.