BAY OF LIFE: From Wind to Whales

California’s Monterey Bay is the hottest hot spot for biodiversity in North America, according to The Nature Conservancy. The region’s natural abundance is the result of a unique mix of physical features and microclimates, shaped by the powerful influence of the Pacific Ocean. Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales connects land and sea to show the dynamic linkages between them, from condors feeding on beached whales to tiny seabirds nesting in towering redwoods. In the Monterey Bay, it is the winds of spring that bring the whales of summer.

Bay of Life features iconic wildlife from mountain lions and peregrine falcons to salmon, whales, and elephant seals. All survive in a region where endangered endemic species mix with cosmopolitan migrants within a complex matrix of human activities.

Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom have documented the crown jewels of our planet’s natural heritage for National Geographic for more than three decades, and they consider Monterey Bay to be one of them.

In Bay of Life they showcase the region’s natural richness in the context of human occupation and environmental impacts, from Native Americans to Spanish colonizers and American settlers—and up to the present day. Events triggered by the Gold Rush in the 19th century led to the overexploitation of resources, which stripped the land of trees and the sea of fish and marine mammals. But this ecological collapse has been reversed in our time through a unique combination of efforts involving committed conservationists, visionary scientists, dedicated philanthropists, enlightened politicians, and an engaged citizenry. In Bay of Life Lanting and Eckstrom describe an ecological recovery which shows that damaged ecosystems can be restored. That offers a model for other places at a time when we need such stories of hope.

The Project launched October 2022 in connection with important dates that have played a role in the restoration of Monterey Bay including the 30th anniversary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The Bay of Life book was published by Earth Aware Editions as a book in various formats for different audiences including a Collector’s Edition for partners, supporters and decision makers and a hardcover edition for the project launch and initial distribution. A softcover edition for a broader audience; and a Spanish-language edition to expand the reach into Latinx communities are in development for 2024.

A traveling exhibition debuted at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in January 2023, featuring images and stories from the book along with additional interactive content designed to stimulate community engagement.

A series of presentations and events, both public and private, are being produced by Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom in collaboration with partners and beneficiaries to highlight their activities and goals.


Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales, a new exhibition by Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom that brings land and sea together for a unified view of Monterey Bay. The exhibition debuted at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA, in January 2023.

This exhibition is a centerpiece of Lanting and Eckstrom’s Bay of Life Project, which connects art and conservation through education and engagement with local partners. The exhibition is sponsored by Bay Photo, with additional support provided by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz.

Contact us for booking inquiries.