Whalefest Monterey Symposium 2021

Event Date:
Jan 30 - Jan 31, 2021 at 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Old Fisherman's Wharf
1 Old Fisherman's Wharf
Monterey, CA 93940

Coming next year: The 11th Annual Whalefest Monterey on January 30-31, 2021.

Check out all of the Symposium details from our 10th Annual Whalefest Monterey on January 25-26, 2020 below.




10th Annual Whalefest Monterey Announces Updated Symposium Presenters  

Free 2-Day Symposium to be held at the Monterey Conference Center featuring Monterey Bay Aquarium Founder, Julie Packard, and many other marine experts

On January 25th and 26th, 2020, Whalefest Monterey will host a two-day Symposium at the Monterey Conference Center with lectures by top marine research scientists from academia, U.S. government and NGO’s, and documentaries related to ocean and marine life conservation. The aim of the Symposium is to bring marine science research findings from local institutions to the general public, as well as showcase sustainability and ocean conservation projects. Presenters will share their most recent research illustrated with enlightening photos, audio and video clips.

Among the highlights are presentations by Julie Packard, founder and Executive Director of the acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller “Blue Mind.” A recent addition, British documentary producer/director Sarah Conner, will provide a behind the scenes look at how landmark science and natural history documentary series such as the BBC’s Blue Planet II are made.

Other speakers will educate and enlighten the audience with information about rear octopuses in deep ocean waters, how marine mammals use sound, and what is done to prevent whale entanglements.  Issues relating to ocean security will be addressed, as will ways to explore how ships can go to zero pollution in a commercial environment. Other topics cover transdisciplinary, collaborative work in coral reef restoration and underwater footage in 3D using virtual reality.

For anyone interested in a career in whale research, a group of graduate students from Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University will discuss what it’s like to become a marine mammal researcher.

In addition to the Symposium presentations, there will be over 30 educational interactive displays inside the Monterey Conference Center and along the causeway by Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Custom House Plaza – Monterey State Historic Park by organizations whose programs involve the ocean and MBNMS. Next to the symposium in the Conference Center are a 43 ft. inflatable model of a humpback whale people can enter and examine its organs, and a 30 ft. skeleton of a grey whale. A detailed list of exhibitors can be found at www.montereywharf.com

More about the Symposium presentations:

Julie Packard, Founder and Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium with Erika Mahoney, KAZU. "If we're talking about saving the planet, we're talking about saving the ocean: A conversation with Julie Packard"

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., will talk about whales and medicine. He will describe how ocean, water and wildlife’s cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical and spiritual benefits can build a bigger, wider and more diverse blue mind movement.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is represented by Paul Michel, Superintendent, and researcher Chad King. The latter will recount how at a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) dive in 2018, more than two miles deep near an extinct volcano in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, scientists stumbled upon more than 1,000 female octopuses that were actively taking care of their eggs, as well as a fresh “whale fall”.

Sarah Conner, Documentary Producer/Director, BBC, Netflix will provide a behind the scenes look at how landmark science and natural history documentary series are made, including the efforts teams make to support science and raise awareness of important issues. Most recently she was directing on the multi-award-winning BBC Planet Earth: Blue Planet 2 and BBC Frozen Planet 2.  She is now working for Netflix's new Natural History company, producing and directing the marine episode of a new series.  

Bioacoustician Brandon Southall, Ph.D., will explain how marine mammals use sound, how they can be harmed by human noise, and what we can do to reduce noise impacts. Peggy Stap from Marine Life Studies will describe how the Whale Entanglement Team (WET) ® helps disentangle whales and how WET’s new project helps mitigate and prevent future entanglements.

Steve Mandel of Oceans 360 will talk about using virtual reality for underwater conservation education.  He will bring the virtual reality underwater camera system he designed that shoots 3D underwater images down to 200’ so participants can see what the hardware actually looks like and provide VR headsets that participants can use to view videos taken all over the globe in high resolution 3D.

On a different note, Rear Admiral (ret.) Jon White, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, will address how a healthy ocean is critical to safeguarding our national, homeland, energy, food, water, and economic securities, as well as our public health and safety—a concept he refers to as ocean security.  

Colleen Flanigan from Living Sea Sculpture and UCSC will discuss her transdisciplinary, collaborative work in coral reef restoration uniting art, science, education, and technology in Cozumel, Mexico, and her investigation at UCSC to determine how we can provide an aesthetic and functional habitat to help revive dying coral reef ecosystems.

William Oestreich, Shirel Rachel Kahane-Rapport, James Andrew Fahlbusch, and Will Taylor Gough-Students from Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University on their way to careers in marine mammal research -- will share how people become whale researchers, what they study, and the technologies involved.  Each has taken a different path to find their way into the exciting field of whale research.  In this presentation you’ll hear each of their stories and have opportunities to ask them questions.

For more information about the presentations and additional information about Whalefest Monterey 2020 and a full list of activities can be found at www.montereywharf.com

Here's a link to all of the Symposium presentations with speaker bios and the time of their lecture: Click here


Here's a link to the Symposium schedule: Click here


For more Whalefest Monterey details in addition to the Symposium, also go to:https://www.montereywharf.com/event/11th-annual-whalefest-monterey/386.html

Below are video links to some fascinating presentations at our 10th Annual Whalefest Monterey in January, 2020 and prior years:

See above for more details about the presentations include speaker bios and presentation synopses 


Saturday, January 25, 2020


William Oestreich, Shirel Rachel Kahane-Rapport, James Andrew Fahlbusch, and Will Taylor Gough--Students from Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University. "The Formative Stages of Becoming a Whale Researcher"



Paul Michel, MBNMS. "An update on the latest developments concerning the Sanctuary"



Chad King, MBNMS. "Octopus Garden and a Whale Fall: Recent Discoveries in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary"



Welcome. Mary Alice Fettis, Whalefest Committee Chair



Welcome. Mayor Roberson



Julie Packard, Exec Dir. Monterey Bay Aquarium, with Erika Mahoney, KAZU. "If we're talking about saving the planet, we're talking about saving the ocean: A conversation with Julie Packard “



Rear Admiral (ret.) Jon White, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, “Ocean Security: Breaching Challenges Through The Power Of Partnerships”



Colleen Flanigan, Living Sea Sculpture/ UCSC. "Art and Science for Coral Reef Restoration"




Sunday, January 26, 2020


Steve Mandel, Executive Director, Oceans 360. “Using Virtual Reality for Ocean Conservation Education”



Wallace J. Nichols, PH.D., Author Blue Mind. “Whales are Medicine”



Peggy Stap, Marine Life Studies. “Whale Disentanglement by the General Public:  Good Intentions, Bad Decisions and Updates of The Whale Entanglement Team (WET)®” 



Brandon Southall, Ph.D., Southall Environmental Associates. “Listening to California’s Whales: Acoustic Science to Inform Conservation and Inspire the Next Generation”


Here are videos from Saturday's presentations in 2019: 

WhaleFest 2019 - Whale Conservation Efforts, California


WhaleFest 2019 - Creating Sustainable Fishing Future


WhaleFest 2019 - Whale Entanglement Team


WhaleFest 2019 - Monterey, Abalone Capitol of the World


Here's the link to Sunday's Lectures.  

WhaleFest 2019 - Ecotourism as a Tool for Marine Conservation


WhaleFest 2019 - Great Pacific Garbage Patch


WhaleFest 2019 - Shrinking Squid & Climate Change


WhaleFest 2019 - Tracking Ecosystem Changes with Seabird Feathers


Here are some presentations from prior years, too!

Whalefest 2017 - 



Whalefest 2016