Bay of Life Project Presents Unified View of Monterey Bay

Humpback whales lunge feeding surrounded by gulls, Monterey Bay, California, USA

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE) is pleased to be part of a group of core collaborators presenting Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales, a new project and exhibition by Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom that brings land and sea together for a unified view of Monterey Bay. The exhibition will be on view at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) from January 19–April 30, 2023.

Monterey Bay is a place of giants, from redwood forests on land to whales offshore. But a century ago, demand for natural resources had stripped the land of trees and depleted the sea of marine mammals and fish. That ecological collapse has been reversed in our time. Bay of Life celebrates a remarkable recovery which shows that damaged ecosystems can be restored when people care and take action together. That may offer a model for other places at a time when we need such stories of hope as we face new challenges of resource stewardship, habitat connectivity, and impacts from climate change.

“To us, Monterey Bay is one of earth’s natural crown jewels,” artists Lanting and Eckstrom said in a joint statement. “We know of no other place in the world where land and sea interact in such an extraordinary way.”

The exhibition is a centerpiece of the Bay of Life project, which connects art and conservation through education and engagement with local partners. The project includes a book as well as programs produced in collaboration with the Santa Cruz COE, and others.

“When it comes to teaching about our environment, as important as the science itself is empowering our youth to develop a caring relationship with the natural world,” said Amity Sandage, Environmental Literacy Coordinator at the Santa Cruz COE. “That’s exactly what we aim to accomplish by connecting this breathtaking exhibit and book to our students’ curriculum, campuses, and communities.”

To support schools in introducing the Bay of Life to students across grades K-12, the Santa Cruz COE is mapping the inspiring visual storytelling of Lanting and Eckstrom to a unique array of real world education resources. Educators can explore the curriculum and resource collection on an accompanying website and at the Educators Mixer–Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales on February 3. Registration is required. 

Additional Bay of Life project partners include Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Santa Cruz Metro, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Seymour Marine Discovery Center and Watsonville Wetlands Watch. Learn more about Bay of Life at


Frans Lanting has been hailed as one of the great nature photographers of our time. His influential work appears in publications and exhibitions around the world. Lanting’s books include Into Africa, LIFE, Jungles, Eye to Eye, and Okavango. Lanting is an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund and has received numerous awards for his work, including the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands inducted Frans Lanting as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark, that country’s highest conservation honor.

Chris Eckstrom is a writer, editor, and videographer. She is the author of Forgotten Edens, and as a staff writer she contributed to many books published by the National Geographic Society. She earned a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Best Magazine Article on Foreign Travel for her National Geographic Traveler story “The Last Real Africa.” The editor of Lanting’s books, she has also produced stories for the National Geographic Channel.