August 25, 2022

MBARI and Monterey Bay Aquarium mourn the passing of founding visionary Chuck Baxter

Chuck Baxter (left) in the control room of MBARI’s now retired research vessel Point Lobos with Jim McFarlane, Senior Scientist Bruce Robison, and Chris Grech.

Chuck Baxter (left) in the control room of MBARI’s now-retired research vessel Point Lobos with Jim McFarlane, Senior Scientist Bruce Robison, and Chris Grech. Image: Jonathan Blair © Monterey Bay Aquarium

Chuck Baxter—one of the four visionaries who first imagined our education and conservation partner, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and who contributed to shaping the vision for MBARI—died August 19 in Carmel at the age of 94.

Throughout his long and storied career, Baxter was an inspiration to many, most of all his students at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. He made major contributions to our understanding of the oceanincluding the impacts of climate change on marine life.

Lucile Packard (seated), MBARI Founder David Packard, and Monterey Bay Aquarium founders Robin Burnett, Nancy Packard Burnett, Chuck Baxter, and Steve Webster at the opening celebration for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

MBARI Founder David Packard (left) with wife Lucile (seated) at the opening celebration for the Monterey Bay Aquarium with Robin Burnett, Nancy Packard Burnett, Chuck Baxter, and Steve Webster. Image: © Monterey Bay Aquarium

“He was responsible in so many ways for the unique vision that continues to define Monterey Bay Aquarium: exhibits that introduce people to the rich habitats and multitudes of marine creatures in the bay, the attention we pay to underappreciated ocean life, and the ways we encourage a spirit of curiosity and wonder,” said Julie Packard, Chair of MBARI’s Board of Trustees and Executive Director of Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Baxter played a major role in defining MBARI’s research path, especially its studies of the ecology of the Monterey Canyon. He will be remembered for his thoughtful yet low-key approach, as well as his kindness and humor.

“MBARI owes Chuck a debt of gratitude for his tremendous support over the years. We extend our deepest condolences to Chuck’s wife and partner, Susie Harris; to his children and grandchildren; and to the extended Baxter family,” said Chris Scholin, MBARI’s President and CEO.

“Chuck was a deep thinker who played an important role in realizing David Packard’s vision for MBARI,” said Bruce Robison, senior scientist at MBARI. “He was a classic field biologist who challenged us to see nature as never before, using our new technologies. He was a mentor, a wise counsel, and a warm, insightful friend to us all.” 

Learn more about Baxter’s remarkable life here