Dr. Stephen Palumbi discusses his work on developing new methods to help design marine parks for conservation. His latest book is an unusual environmental success story called The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival.
How do an economy and an ecosystem recover in the face of record unemployment, devastating oil spills, and a rancorous public debate? California’s Monterey Bay offers a surprising and timely example. Once known for rampant whaling, overfishing, and putrid canneries, Monterey Bay has become a world-renowned tourist destination famous for its picturesque coastlines, enchanting otters, and popular aquarium.
Stephen R. Palumbi received his Ph.D. from University of Washington in marine ecology. His research group studies the genetics, evolution, conservation, population biology and systematics of a diverse array of marine organisms.
Professor Palumbi's own research interests are similarly widespread, and he has published on the genetics and evolution of sea urchins, whales, cone snails, corals, sharks, spiders, shrimps, bryozoans, and butterflyfishes. A primary focus is the use of molecular genetic techniques in conservation, including the identification of whale and dolphin products available in commercial markets.
Current conservation work centers on the genetics of marine reserves designed for conservation and fisheries enhancement, with projects in the Philippines, Bahamas and western U.S. coast. In addition, basic work on the molecular evolution of reproductive isolation and its influence on patterns of speciation uses marine model systems such as sea urchins. This work is expanding our view of the evolution of gamete morphology and the genes involved.
Steve's recent book, The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change, shows how rapid evolution is central to emerging problems in modern society. In January 2003, Steve appeared in the TV series, The Future is Wild, a computer-animated exploration of the possible courses of evolution in the next few hundred million years. His new book, published in November 2010, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival, is a good-news environmental story about the difference that ordinary citizens can make in creating diverse, sustainable ecosystems and diverse, sustainable economies.
In 2002, Professor Palumbi moved his laboratory from Harvard University to Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, where he is now the Director of the station. Steve is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, married to physician Mary Roberts, father of two grown children, and founding member of the band Sustainable Sole
Photographer and Manager of Lifelong Learning for the California Academy of Sciences.
Stephen Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station and author of The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, tells the story of how the return of the nearly extinct sea otter to Monterey Bay helped restore the bay's fragile ecosystem.
Rare, completely marine otter (Enhydra lutris) of the northern Pacific, usually found in kelp beds. Floating on its back, it opens mollusks by smashing them on a stone balanced on its chest. The large hind feet are broad and flipperlike. It is 4065 in. (100160 cm) long and weighs 3590 lbs (1640 kg). The thick lustrous coat is reddish to dark brown. By 1910 it had been hunted almost to extinction for its fur; now fully protected, it is gradually increasing in numbers.