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Friday, April 1, 2016

Aquarium’s April calendar features Partnerships in Conservation

Spotlight on cooperative efforts

The polymathic Leonardo Da Vinci said “Water is the driver of Nature.” 

Today that quote is even more meaningful as individuals and institutions band together to promote the health of the many aquatic systems that support life as we know it on our planet.   

At the center of this movement regionally is Mystic Aquarium, who, through their collaborative, conservation-focused research and educational initiatives, is actively working to engage people in a better understanding and appreciation of aquatic animals and their habitats, and what we all can do to help conserve them for future generations.

“Tides are rising rapidly, as much as one foot over the next decade. This, combined with vastly changing weather patterns, means that there is an urgent need for action now.  Mystic Aquarium has been elevating our role in ocean conservation.  Collectively we need to establish practices and approaches for developing a more resilient coastline that balances human development with the needs of aquatic animals and their environments,” said Dr. Stephen M. Coan, President and CEO of Mystic Aquarium.

Throughout the month of April, Mystic Aquarium researchers and educators are working diligently with local, regional and national partners with initiatives to educate and engage community members in the areas of ocean conservation.

On March 31, Dr. Peter Auster of Mystic Aquarium and Dr. Scott Kraus of New England Aquarium released their wide-ranging scientific analysis of Cashes Ledge and New England submarine canyons and seamounts – areas proposed for permanent protection as a national monument by The Protect New England's Ocean Treasures Coalition. The Coalition, composed of Center for American Progress, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment America, Mystic Aquarium, National Geographic Society, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, New England Aquarium, Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, and The Pew Charitable Trusts, is advocating for the establishment of a Marine National Monument in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Mystic Aquarium and the University of Connecticut will be hosting a free film screening of SONIC SEA on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30pm at the Avery Point Auditorium.  This 60-minute documentary film explores how sound in the ocean is impacting whales and other marine life. Dr. Auster and fellow Mystic Aquarium colleague and Research Scientist, Dr. Paul Anderson will also be available for a Q&A following the showing.

The film features oceans protection luminaries including Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau; ocean noise experts Chris Clark of Cornell University, Leila Hatch of NOAA, and Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research; and the performer and activist Sting.

On Thursday, April 14, Mystic Aquarium partners with Rhode Island College, The Providence Journal and Leadership Rhode Island to host a panel discussion to explore the future of commercial fishing in New England. Set for 6:00pm to 8:00pm, this free event takes place at Sapinsley Hall in the Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts at Rhode Island College.

Panelists include John Bullard, Regional Administrator, NOAA Northeast Regional Office; Dr. Graham Forrester, Professor/Scientist, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island; Dr. Erica Fuller, Environmentalist/Sr. Associate Attorney, Earth Justice; Matt Tinning, Senior Director, U.S. Oceans Program, Environmental Defense Fund; David Goethel, Commercial Fisherman, Captain; and Mark Phillips, Commercial Fisherman. Various topics will address the development of sustainable fish populations and sustainable fisheries.

On Friday, April 22, Mystic Aquarium will host the annual Party for the Planet with hands-on activities and games aimed at educating the public and inspiring action to protect our shared environment.  Additionally, Mystic Aquarium will work to support the efforts of Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, to promote the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawl nets.

The government estimates that more than 50,000 sea turtles are killed annually by shrimp trawling nets in the Southeastern waters of the United States.  The use of TEDs is proven to be 97 percent effective at saving sea turtles. On Friday, on Oceana’s behalf, Mystic Aquarium will be asking students to craft letters to the Obama Administration asking them to take action to protect sea turtles.

On Saturday, April 23, activities move to Bluff Point State Park in Groton for a beach clean-up and more. Throughout these days, the Aquarium’s conservation youth group and volunteers will lead hands-on activities that highlight unique habitats and conservation issues affecting ecosystems around the world.