Big Blue Live: Day 1

Big Blue Live shows the life of the Monterey Bay in a new light - glowing live from your TV screen.

by Neil Khosla

Sep. 1, 2015.—Did you know that the largest living animal on the planet, the blue whale, is also the heaviest animal to ever live on Earth? And it swims through the waters of the Monterey Bay.

If you tuned in to Big Blue Live last night, you would have seen an amazing birds-eye view of this majestic marine mammal coasting through local waters. Just knowing that such a beast exists is amazing. To see it on television is another story. Check out the show's spectacular (and funny) live blue whale sighting.

I watched the show with my family, which was an educational experience for everyone. My dad learned a lot about the diverse marine life of the waters in the Monterey Bay. I learned that my mom is getting tired of watching nature documentary shows every night.

Seriously though, the most fascinating thing that we learned about was the intricate food web connections in the ocean. Some species are extremely important for sustaining diversity in the wild. These species are called “keystone species.”

The sea otter is one such keystone species. The sea otters snack on the sizable supply of sea urchins that sit on the ocean floor. These urchins graze on the kelp forests that cover the Monterey Bay. Without sea otters, urchin populations would grow excessively. These giant populations of sea urchins would munch on the kelp until the underwater forests disappeared.

This happened once before. In the early 20th century, sea otters were hunted for their fur. By the 1930’s, very few sea otters were to be found in local waters. The sea urchins quickly mowed down the thick forests of kelp. Soon, fish that depended on the kelp began to disappear. Larger animals that ate the fish started to dwindle in numbers as well.

But, a small population of 50 of sea otters was found under the Bixby Bridge on Highway 1. These furry swimmers were protected from hunters, and were able to grow in numbers. They eventually made their way to Monterey Bay and the rest is history!

Nowadays, we can see a beautiful array of species all over local coastal waters. Take a trip out there sometime and see for yourself. If you want to get up close to some colorful marine life, I recommend a visit to Natural Bridges for a day of tidepooling.

If you didn’t catch Big Blue Live last night, you missed out. Luckily there are still two more nights of this captivating special live series. So tune in tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm on KQED for the next installments of the show.

Follow this link to learn more about sea otters, and watch a super cute video