Honoring the Monterey Bay with the Bay of Life Project

Photo credit: Frans Lanting

Residents of Santa Cruz for 40 years, world-renowned photography and storytelling team Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom travel around the globe regularly but they say,

“To us, Monterey Bay is one of Earth’s natural crown jewels. We know of no other place in the world where land and sea interact in such an extraordinary way.”

To honor this jewel, Frans and Chris have launched a multimedia tribute to Monterey Bay with the Bay of Life Project.


The Bay of Life Project connects land and sea and people with nature to promote a unified view of the Monterey Bay region through publications, exhibitions, events, and partnerships. The Project aims to stimulate engagement that contributes to a sustainable future for the Bay of Life.

Frans and Chris have documented our living planet on assignment for National Geographic for more than 30 years. But the place they know best is California’s Monterey Bay, where they have lived for decades.

Monterey Bay is a place of giants, from redwood forests on land to forests of kelp offshore. It supports iconic wildlife from secretive mountain lions to majestic blue whales. All survive in a region where far-flung migrants mix with rare local species that live nowhere else in the world.

The natural abundance of the Monterey Bay region is the result of a unique mix of physical features and microclimates, shaped by the powerful influence of the ocean. A century ago, demand for natural resources stripped the land of trees and depleted the sea of marine mammals and fish. But that ecological collapse has been reversed in our time.

Bay of Life chronicles a remarkable recovery, which shows that damaged ecosystems can be restored when people care and take action together. Such stories of hope are needed as we face new challenges of habitat connectivity, climate change, and the need for more inclusive opportunities for our diverse communities.

The book, Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales, is the centerpiece of the Bay of Life Project and was published in the fall of 2022. A first Bay of Life exhibition will be on display at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz from January 19 - April 30, 2023. The BayofLife.net website is the portal to images, stories, videos and other content from the project, along with a calendar of events and links to partner organizations.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is creating a school curriculum based on Bay of Life for release in the first quarter of 2023. Additional partnerships and programs are in development.


The Community Foundation is truly honored to house the Bay of Life Fund. Gifts to this fund support local nonprofit organizations active in conservation and education in the Monterey Bay region, with a focus on partnerships and collaborative efforts with the Bay of Life Project.

Donate to the Bay of Life Fund

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