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David Packard and Julie Packard: Monterey Bay profiles in depth.

In a large auditorium at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 200 people watch a huge video image of a twinkling comb jelly. "What is that thing?" a girl in the audience calls out. "It's a newly described species of comb jelly or ctenophore," answers an interpreter standing at a podium in the front of the auditorium. "We call it the rabbit-ear ctenophore because of those two long projections. It was discovered and described by scientists at the aquarium's sister institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute."

As the comb jell drifts from view, the interpreter explains to the audience that the video images are coming from a camera on a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, working deep in Monterey Bay. "The video is being transmitted through optical fibers in the cable that connects the vehicle to a research vessel on the surface of the bay. The scientists on board the ship are seeing the images for the first time, and we are seeing what they see, less than three seconds later, through a microwave link to the auditorium. Here, I'll show you what the ROV looks like."

The interpreter touches a computer monitor built into the podium. Instantly, the huge video screen displays an underwater scene of the remotely operated vehicle. The audience stirs with excitement; adults and children fire off questions: Where are they working today? How often does the aquarium show this program? Who's paying for all this?

This "Live from Monterey Canyon" program is a unique collaboration between two institutions: the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Scientists at the research institute use the ship and remotely operated vehicle three or four times a week to study the depths of Monterey Canyon. And every day that they are out there working, visitors to the aquarium can watch live video images of the research and learn about the science process.

Who's responsible for this unique combination of research, technology, science education, and conservation on the coast of central California? An unusual father-daughter alliance makes it possible: The father and daughter are David Packard, with his background in engineering and high standards of excellence, and his daughter Julie Packard, a marine biologist with a passion for conservation. Their visionary work is supported by the Packard Foundation.

An Early Decision for Engineering

Born in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1912, David Packard knew at a young age what he wanted to be--"I decided I was going to be an engineer when I was still in grade school. I grew up with a feeling for mechanical things." In addition to his interest in physical sciences and technology, Packard was always fascinated by the natural world. "I spent a lot of time fishing in the Colorado mountains. I started fishing when I was still in grade school, not more than 12 years old," Packard recalls.

His feeling for mechanical things took him to Stanford University where he earned his bachelor of arts degree and a master's degree in electrical engineering. In 1939, he formed a partnership with his friend and Stanford classmate, William R. Hewlett. From its origin in a small garage in Palo Alto, California, the Hewlett-Packard Company became an international manufacturer of measurement and computation products and systems used in industry, engineering, science, and education. With money made in the computer industry, David Packard and his wife Lucile established a foundation to support environmental and educational projects.

Both David and Lucile made serious commitments of public service: Lucile promoted the arts, as well as medical care at the Stanford Children's Hospital; David served as an advisor on science, technology, and defense to several US presidents and Congress.

As parents, they imparted their love of the outdoors to their children, as well as strong family ethics of conservation and public service. And the Packard children, especially two daughters professionally trained in marine biology, piqued their parents' interest in the marine environment and in the idea of an educational aquarium devoted to Monterey Bay. In the 1970s, David and Lucile Packard funded the building of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Planning the Aquarium

After visiting all of the major aquariums in this country and abroad, David Packard concluded, "Most aquariums were on a fixed budget and had to cut corners and do things you wouldn't want to do if you weren't constrained that way. We decided if we were going to do it, we'd better do it right." The Packards spent $55 million and took seven years to do it right, opening frontiers in aquarium technology. "This has paid off because we've been open nine years and it's as good as new."

David Packard worked closely with exhibit developers and architects during the building of the aquarium. His engineering talents helped conquer exhibit problems that developed: he invented wave machines for the aviary and the kelp forest exhibits, devised and built an exhibit to track the tides, and created other exhibit components in his foundry and shop.

Using the best materials, innovative design, and new technologies, the Packards created a world-class aquarium devoted to life in Monterey Bay. The architecture reflects its setting on historic Cannery Row--and echoes the old Hovden Cannery it replaced on the waterfront.

As revolutionary as the materials and design is the aquarium's regional approach: All of the exhibits feature sea life and communities from Monterey Bay, the heart of the nation's largest marine sanctuary. More than 100 exhibits fill 23 major galleries displaying over 6,500 plants and animals. Among the landmarks is the 28-foot-deep kelp forest exhibit, a giant experiment that worked. No one has ever before succeeded in growing kelp on such a large scale. Like a window into the bay, the exhibit captivates visitors who stand at the base of the swaying kelp forest, looking up at the schools of fish darting through sunlight playing on fronds at the surface, and seeing, for the first time, this entire ecosystem from holdfast to surface. A giant success, the kelp in the exhibit grows at the same rate as the kelp out in the bay.

"The bay is a key part of our identity, what sets us apart," explains Julie Packard, aquarium director. "It's our regional approach that's unique, the exploration of a whole habitat. And in our new exhibit wing currently under construction, we'll be able to tell the whole story of the bay by including the open ocean and deep sea."

Just as the aquarium embraces the bay, it also embraces public education and conservation issues. Julie Packard recalls, "The other strong interest of my father's that made him very enthusiastic about the aquarium, and, in turn, the marine environment, is education. He has always been dedicated to the importance of science education. What really drew him toward the aquarium project was this chance to share with the public, to really enlighten people about the natural world."

Education programs at the aquarium include free on-site programs for over 70,000 school children who visit each year, outreach programs at schools, libraries, beaches, and migrant camps, members' programs, and a lively teachers' institute called "Wet Science." All this is made possible by a dedicated corps of more than 700 volunteers and volunteer guides.

Passing the Conservation Ethic to the Next Generation

Julie, the youngest of the four Packard children, shares her father's passion for education, and attributes her interest in science education to the Packard family environment. "I developed a really strong conservation ethic from childhood because of my family's appreciation of the natural world, and from becoming involved in the family foundation with my father, working on land acquisition and open-space preservation issues. Actually, my interests were more terrestrially oriented until college, when some courses in intertidal biology really sparked my interest and opened up a whole new realm."

After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, Julie conducted research on the cultivation of commercially valuable seaweeds. In 1979, she became the aquarium's project director, working closely with other family members and a team of exhibit developers and designers.

Julie assumed the directorship when the aquarium opened in 1984, and her leadership has been most keenly felt in the aquarium's strong education programs and conservation ethic. Her vision is to get beyond awareness to change habits.

"The aquarium's mission is to raise the consciousness and heighten awareness of the ocean's role in all the earth's systems, including the terrestrial systems so often focused on by conservation organizations," Julie explains.

"My father and I share a vision of getting the public more involved and able to make informed decisions, of sharing science with the public, and of getting conservation organizations to work more closely with the scientific community. We're making new regulations every day in this country, and we must understand how these natural systems work. It must be our highest priority."

In a recent survey by Parade magazine (March 14,1993), the Monterey Bay Aquarium was named the best aquarium in the country by its peers, and it takes its role as a leader in public education very seriously. "I'm really enthusiastic and proud of our education programs," remarks Julie, "especially our teacher programs and our unique relationship with our sister institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute."

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

The research institute began at a symposium held in May 1986 at the aquarium. David Packard organized the one-day think tank of prominent deep-sea researchers and asked them to imagine a new research institute on Monterey Bay. What could they expect to discover?

Expect the unexpected was the response. Stanford University's Tjeerd van Andel pointed out that some remarkable discoveries--like the animal communities near deep-sea thermal vents--have been complete surprises. Build an "acoustic observatory" offshore, Scripps oceanographer Walter Munk told the group. The ideas were varied, but the visiting scientists agreed that the Monterey Canyon offered wonderful research opportunities to explore the deep sea close at hand.

It was the technological barriers to working in the deep sea that caught David Packard's imagination, and the symposium reinforced his desire to have a significant impact on ocean science. "It seemed to me that with the other activities around the bay, the Naval Post Graduate School, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, University of California at Santa Cruz and Hopkins Marine Station (of Stanford University), we had an opportunity to build up a real center of ocean science here."

To fulfill his vision of bringing together engineering and scientific research, Packard established the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in 1987 as an independent, nonprofit center for marine research. Bruce Robison, a biological oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, when he took part in that 1986 symposium, joined the new research institute in 1987. Robison recalls the excitement of those days--a feeling that continues today, "Mr. Packard told us not to be afraid to fail. If you don't fail occasionally, you're not taking the risks needed to make major forward progress."

Now, MBARI's unique oceanographic center provides an environment where 23 engineers and a scientific staff of 27 can take risks with the goal of developing state-of-the-art equipment and innovative methods for deep-sea research. The scientists and engineers work in teams on projects that apply technology to research problems, developing advanced water-sampling systems, chemical sensors, and a network of acoustical devices, and using the remotely operated vehicle to study the depths of the bay.

The idea of using a remotely operated vehicle to study Monterey Bay developed from a seed planted during Packard's appointment as US Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1971. At the Pentagon, he was responsible for military projects using photography, including those taken from manned submarines. "I kind of put two and two together and decided they could do just as good a job, maybe a better job, with unmanned vehicles."

MBARI's remotely operated vehicle Ventana gets plenty of use: 168 days at sea in 1992. And engineers at MBARI are developing and building a new remotely operated vehicle. That ROV and a new ship planned for 1994 (see inside back cover) will allow scientists to explore waters to 4,000 meters deep, four times deeper than ROV Ventana's range.

ROVs support research ranging from studies of undersea landslides caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake to the behavior of delicate gelatinous animals like ctenophores and the distribution of cold-seep communities in the bay. In December 1992, geologists used Ventana to drill the submarine canyon walls. That successful drilling was a first for any ROV, and produced the first cores of granodiorite and metamorphosed sediment from the Monterey Canyon.

Peter Brewer, who left the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1991 after 24 years on the scientific staff to become MBARI's Executive Director, finds working with David Packard inspiring. "David Packard has the ability to visualize a unique mix of scientific research and technology, and his vision is extraordinary. He's like a lighthouse, tall, with scanning vision, in the way he brings his beacon of attention and intelligence to focus on an issue or problem. As a result of associating with him, my own personal vision is now sharper and brighter."

The Packards' long-term goal is to make contributions to science and technology and raise public awareness. "We need more educated people to solve the incredibly complex problems facing us," declares Julie Packard. "My vision and my father's vision is a major research institution working hand-in-hand with a major public education institution. No aquarium in the world is close to doing what we're doing--thanks to our collaborations."

Judith L. Connor is Senior Research Associate at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied the ecology of tropical reef algae. Now, she works on marine habitats far below the sunlit waters, studying deep-sea biology and geology in the Monterey submarine canyon.

Nora L. Deans is Publications Manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where she directs a natural history publishing program and the production of educational materials. With a degree in journalism and biology from the University of Michigan, she has pursued her fascination for the sea as a natural history writer and editor for almost 20 years, most of those at public aquariums. She also edits Current: The Journal of Marine Education for the National Marine Educators Association.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Connor, Judith L.; Deans, Nora L.
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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