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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Celebrating America’s first marine national monument

Blue Park exhibit is open
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Mystic Aquarium celebrated the opening of a new gallery exhibit dedicated to the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Through the generous support of the Naktenis Family Foundation, “Our Blue Park” takes guests on a photographic journey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Mystic Aquarium senior research scientist, Dr. Peter Auster called the exhibit a “visitor’s center for this ocean wilderness.”

Designated in September of 2016, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England was the first marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Peter Auster was instrumental in providing the scientific rationale for conservation of the area.

“The exhibit highlights some of the most memorable moments of the expeditions that my colleagues and I have had the privilege of conducting,” said Auster.

Featuring three underwater canyons and four seamounts, the monument is a biodiversity hot-spot. Currently protected from commercial extractive activities, this unique landscape supports an incredible diversity of marine life — including endangered whales, sea turtles, seabirds and fragile deep-sea corals.

Mystic Aquarium seeks to connect with adults and children alike to raise awareness about conservation -locally and globally - through meaningful engagements like “Our Blue Park” to ultimately spark action.  The vibrant imagery of the exhibit will engage visitors in learning the importance of this region-one of the best remaining undisturbed ecosystems in the North Atlantic. Its ongoing protection is vital to current and future scientific research. 

“These canyons and seamounts will serve as a laboratory to study fragile, vulnerable, and largely untrammeled nature,” said Auster, “but most important is it’s a gift to the American people, indeed to the world. Even for those who will never go there; knowing that such a place exists as part of our collection of wild places evokes a sense of national pride and stewardship. I hope the exhibit creates such a feeling for each of our guests-revealing the otherwise hidden natural geological and biological treasures at and beneath the surface.”