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Earth Day message of marine conservation featured at San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay

Marine conservation efforts highlighted at San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay for Earth Day
Marine conservation efforts highlighted at San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay for Earth Day 03:12

The original message of Earth Day when it began more than 50 years ago remains relevant in 2024 and the staff at San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay want to emphasize conservation and reducing pollution all year long to its visitors at Pier 39.

"I think that awareness needs more and more investment, exploration, discovery, and also storytelling," said Dr. George Jacob, the president and CEO of the aquarium. "I think they should be aware of a simple axiom that if there is no blue, there's no green."

The aquarium features 24,000 animals including 200 species, many on display in one of the longest tunnel systems in the country. Their underwater experience holds 750,000 gallons of salt water and allows people to interact with sea life in a more intimate setting.

"That's one of my favorite things in here is highlighting these animals that make such a difference in the bay, that most people don't know about, and how beautiful they are, all the animals that live in the bay," said Melissa Schouest, the aquarium's director of animal care. "I really feel like it immerses people, there are animals swimming all around you, they come right up to you, you get a face-to-face, up close, and personal encounter with them."

Jacob says the aquarium works to educate visitors about the values celebrated on any given day on Earth Day, established in 1970 and considered the start of the modern environmental movement. The aquarium strives to ensure enough emphasis goes toward the water as well as the land. Exhibits inside the aquarium cover the effects of climate change, the harm from plastic pollution in the oceans, and the loss of natural habitats.

"This environment actually immerses you straight into the oceans and you begin to appreciate the incredible biodiversity that exists in the San Francisco Bay and beyond," he told KPIX while giving a tour through the underground tunnels.

The origin of Earth Day is in the ocean and with the annual event often comes a local call to action to have a global impact. Jacob says people in the Bay Area and those visiting the aquarium can reduce their carbon footprint in many ways. One of the major focuses of this year's Earth Day is limiting the use of plastics; Jacob also suggests changes to your diet, less consumption of products overall, and finding more recyclable items.

"Understanding the diversity, the biodiversity, and the habitat requirement makes us sensitive to why we should keep the oceans pristine," he said.  

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