Rosenstiel School Alumna Pens Timely Book About Monterey Bay

Marine Affairs & Policy alumna depicts how a community embraced ocean preservation after an environmental collapse

Carolyn Sotka

MIAMI — December 22, 2010 — This week California Fish and Game Commission voted to create a network of 49 marine protected areas that span 350 miles along the coast of Southern California. The passage of this legislation coincides with the publication of The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival,a book about the people and events that changed the course of Monterey Bay from a bay at its worst, to one of the most celebrated shorelines in the world.

The book was coauthored by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science alumna, Carolyn Sotka and Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.  The team was researching a long-established marine reserve designed to protect the rocky intertidal ecosystems off Hopkins’ shore in the Monterey Bay when Sotka connected with the book’s protagonist, Dr. Julia Platt.

Former mayor of Pacific Grove, Calif., Platt established the Hopkins Marine Life Refuge in 1931, one of the first marine reserves or areas of “no take” in the U.S.  Platt’s basis to establish the reserve was to protect an area so that “tiny larvae may swim or be carried by currents to all points along the shore and become attached, grow up and replace those taken for food or curio.” Platt’s efforts built the foundation for California’s marine life protection that continues today through the establishment of a statewide network of MPAs, similar to that throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Both zoology undergrads at the University of Vermont, Sotka was surprised to find that she and Julia had lived within miles of each in both Burlington, Vermont, as well as in Pacific Grove, California.  “Julia and I share a past, we share a path, and we share a passion,” said Sotka.  “To this day, Julia is one of the most fascinating and inspirational women I have ever met, even if it was hundred years later. I am humbled to tell her story.”

“The Death and Life of Monterey Bay is the biography of a place, but also of the residents who reclaimed it. “Monterey is thriving because of Julia, the eccentric mayor and marine biologist who wasn’t afraid to use pistols, axes, or the force of law to protect her coasts.  It is because of fishermen who love their livelihood, scientists who are fascinated by the sea’s mysteries, and philanthropists and community leaders willing to invest in a world-class aquarium,” according to the authors.

Over the last 15 years, Sotka has helped establish ocean conservation programs at aquariums, universities, and non-profit institutions. She has authored reports, books, podcasts and videos on critical ocean issues. Currently, Carolyn leads outreach efforts to Congress, the media and general public, and government agencies for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Oceans and Human Health Initiative. 

For more information on the book, visit:

About the UM Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

marine affairs and policy •  carolyn sotka •  stephen palumbi •  marine protected area •  environmental •  conservation •