Message from the President & CEO
This year marked our 40 years of environmental advocacy through the Bay Institute policy work, and the 25th anniversary of ocean conservation through the Aquarium of the Bay programs and initiatives. Overcoming the seemingly insurmountable challenges of 2020, this year has been a testament to our collective resolve to turn the tide. The Aquarium re-opened to the public at 25% visitor cap, plunging us further into the fiscal crisis as our overheads and staffing levels went up, while the revenues barely crossed the 10% threshold.
However, this changed dramatically when the City Public Health finally allowed us to re-open at 100% capacity in mid-June. We soon witnessed long unprecedented lines of visitors and a diverse demographic drawn from the 200-mile radius around the Bay Area. The trend continued to show an upswing surge for the next three months, even as we kept a strict vigil on our internal COVID protocols for safety and sanitation. Research work on sevengill sharks, COVID vaccinations for river otters, transportation of wolf eels bred at the Aquarium to institutions around the world, new exhibits on climate change, papers and publications continued at full pace behind the scenes. Capital improvements in our life support systems, new exhibits, and online merchandize design saw a significant uptick.
On June 8, 2021- World Ocean Day- we became the first non-profit in the Bay Area to hold an in-person event graced by the Lt. Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis and the former Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou delivering the Keynote at the 28th TBI Awards and the Blue Marble Benefit where we honored the first Director of the Aquarium, Michael Gallagher, among others. In July, we were invited to meet the Prime Minister of Jamaica where we unveiled our Master Plan to develop a world-class $132 million Oceanarium in Montego Bay. This year also marked the completion of Phase 2 of our Oceanarium business analysis for Norway.
We successfully launched our seventh division – EcoXpeditions – a curated ocean diving underwater photography, field research-based curated five-day module in Hawaii with 16 high-school kids participating from Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first such partnership with an aquarium on the East Coast for us on the West Coast. Other expeditions are planned for Costa Rica, Baja, Florida Keys, Greece, and Galapagos in the coming months. Dr. Sylvia Earle held the release of her new National Geographic Book, OCEAN: A Global Odyssey at the Bay Model, where we hosted 300 guests from across the US and abroad.
The UN COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow led to an announcement from the City of Inverclyde to collaborate with us to start work on a World Climate Museum in Victoria Harbor, Greenock. Accolades of our efforts came from near and far, with the Aquarium of the Bay winning the Best of the Best in Bay Area Family Destination Award followed by the 2021 California Travel Association Sustainability Advocacy Award.
With Google-X and Google Cloud AR/ VR partnership to develop e-learning modules on the anvil, we look forward to a promising 2022 ahead!