BAY OF LIFE: From Wind to Whales

California’s Monterey Bay is the hottest hot spot for biodiversity in North America, according to The Nature Conservancy. The region’s natural abundance is the result of a unique mix of physical features and microclimates, shaped by the powerful influence of the Pacific Ocean. Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales connects land and sea to show the dynamic linkages between them, from condors feeding on beached whales to tiny seabirds nesting in towering redwoods. In the Monterey Bay, it is the winds of spring that bring the whales of summer.

Bay of Life features iconic wildlife from mountain lions and peregrine falcons to salmon, whales, and elephant seals. All survive in a region where endangered endemic species mix with cosmopolitan migrants within a complex matrix of human activities.

Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom have documented the crown jewels of our planet’s natural heritage for National Geographic for more than three decades, and they consider Monterey Bay to be one of them.

In Bay of Life they showcase the region’s natural richness in the context of human occupation and environmental impacts, from Native Americans to Spanish colonizers and American settlers—and up to the present day. Events triggered by the Gold Rush in the 19th century led to the overexploitation of resources, which stripped the land of trees and the sea of fish and marine mammals. But this ecological collapse has been reversed in our time through a unique combination of efforts involving committed conservationists, visionary scientists, dedicated philanthropists, enlightened politicians, and an engaged citizenry. In Bay of Life Lanting and Eckstrom describe an ecological recovery which shows that damaged ecosystems can be restored. That offers a model for other places at a time when we need such stories of hope.