Every day, Micheli is greeted by a flotilla of harbor seals, sea otters and sea lions, while flocks of brown pelicans and kittiwakes soar overhead.
``Last week I saw two humpback whales swimming right out there,`` she says, pointing toward a white buoy a few hundred yards offshore.
Despite this idyllic scene, Micheli knows that the only way to evaluate the true health of Monterey Bay is to understand the complex web of life below the surface.
``We need to look at marine communities, not just single species,`` she says.
An authority on protecting coastal ecosystems, Micheli left her position at the University of Pisa in January to become an assistant professor of biological sciences at Hopkins Marine Station - Stanford`s 11-acre ocean research laboratory located on the rocky shore of Monterey Bay about 90 miles south of the main campus.
``I was drawn to Monterey Bay because it`s at the cutting edge of research on marine reserves,`` she notes, ``and I`m particularly interested in studying the interactions of the marine communities that live in the bay.``
Like many scientists, Micheli is profoundly concerned about the impact of human exploitation on the world`s seas. A recent report by the National Research Council (NRC) estimates that 30 percent of international commercial fish stocks have been depleted below the point where they will be able to produce large yields. In the United States, 80 percent of 191 commercial stocks are believed to be fully exploited or overfished, according to the NRC.