SEA Days: Earth Day


Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego or local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.


Tara Sayuri Whitty


Poway, CA

Tara Whitty

Tara Whitty

Schooling Background:

B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and certificate in Environmental Studies, Princeton University 2005

M.S. in Biological Oceanography, Ph.D. in Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Lab groups website:;;

One word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have:


How does your work impact a persons daily life?  

My work aims to change how we think about conservation, so that we think more broadly about solutions that help sustain human rights as well as protect the natural world.  As this work progresses, it will impact: fishing communities and how they are involved in conservation; conservation researchers and how they think about working with fishing communities and designing conservation plans; and, hopefully, members of the public, by promoting a big-picture, compassionate view of how human needs and livelihoods must be considered in order to protect the natural resources that we love.

How did you decide to work on this particular issue?

I have always been interested in the human context of conservation; it is obvious that conservation problems often occur alongside other problems that impact humans, such as poverty.  With artisanal fisheries, human well-being and the well-being of the environment are tightly linked together. Studying these fisheries allows me to use my background in ecology, while also learning exciting ideas and methods from other fields, such as geography, anthropology, political science, development, and design.


How do you predict the story of artisanal fisheries will change in the future?

The challenges facing all fisheries are difficult and will likely grow in the future, as the human population and demands on ocean resources increase. However, to take an optimistic view, I see a future where artisanal fisheries management and conservation work closer together, and where we learn from many different fields to develop innovative, creative solutions to fisheries problems.

Tara Whitty (with backpack) during a research expedition.