The Aquarium has been providing free lectures and films by scientists, environmental writers, photographers and others since 1972. The Aquarium Lecture Series is presented free to the public through the generosity of the Lowell Institute, which has been providing funding for free public lectures at universities and museums since 1836.
Lectures are free and open to the public. Registration is requested. All programs start at 7 p.m. in the Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre unless otherwise noted. Programs last approximately one hour and are followed by a reception. Most lectures are recorded and available for viewing on our YouTube channel.
Thursday, December 5
Meet Your Local Garbage Patch: Surface to Seafloor Marine Debris Cleanup in Boston Harbor and the Gulf of Maine
Rachael Z. Miller, Founder and Executive Director, The Rozalia Project
The oceanic garbage patches get a lot of press, but do you know what is floating right here in Boston Harbor? The Rozalia Project uses underwater robots, nets and hands to clean our ocean from surface to seafloor while studying the problem and running education programs. They operate from aboard the 60-foot sailing vessel American Promise in the Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay as well as from partner docks and vessels throughout the U.S. Rachael Miller, Rozalia Project's founder and executive director, will lead an introduction about the problem of marine debris in our waters here in New England (as well as those thousands of miles away) and follow up with Rozalia Project's trash-hunting adventures, including getting attacked by a lobster, freeing an octopus and making some unusual finds while picking up over 500,000 pieces of ocean trash with 10,500 participants all over the U.S. Register here.
Thursday, December 12
Wild Octopuses: Evidence, Myths and Mysteries
Dr. Crissy Huffard, cephalopod biologist
Octopuses are well known for their ability to change their shape and color in the blink of an eye. More than 300 species of octopus inhabit the intertidal to the deep sea, ranging in size from smaller than a grape to an arm span of over 15 feet. Join cephalopod biologist Dr. Crissy Huffard as she discusses her research on how wild octopuses move, learn, survive, reproduce and evolve. She will also discuss the scientific evidence, or lack thereof, behind popular ideas and myths about these fascinating animals. Not to be missed for a fan of the octopus! Register here.
Monday, August 12
The Invisible Ocean—Extreme Time
Keith Ellenbogen, photographer/videographer and Assistant Professor of Photography, Fashion Institute of Technology
Allan Adams, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Physics, MIT, Department of Physics
The ocean is full of invisible art, balletic behaviors and magical dynamics that are too fast, or too rare, to be seen. In an extraordinary collaboration, underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen and theoretical physicist Allan Adams teamed up with the New England Aquarium and Tech Imaging, Inc. to capture and reveal these extreme moments in exquisite, luxuriant detail as never seen before. Created using the latest in high-speed technology, Ellenbogen and Adams's footage reveals stunning moments of intense, wild dynamics from an oceanic world that few of us ever get to see. It's a world that is, in a very real sense, invisible.
This lecture will showcase their work on the Aquarium's Simons IMAX screen, showing the creatures and behaviors they captured in breathtaking slow motion at 1,200 frames per second. The footage is being used in the Aquarium’s 2013 summer ad campaign—the Aquarium’s first television ads in decades. Along the way, Ellenbogen and Adams will explain how an unlikely dinner conversation and a passion for waves led to some of the most charming animal ads to ever hit the airwaves.
Thursday, September 12
The Search for Jellyfish: Exploration Challenges, Accidental Encounters
and (Painful) Lessons Learned
Kakani Katija, postdoctoral scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Jellyfish play critical roles in many ocean ecosystems as key predators and prey to a wide array of organisms. They are also incredibly diverse, and their dynamic movements allow them to interact in multiple physical regimes throughout the world’s oceans. However, we have little knowledge of jellyfish behavior (i.e., swimming, feeding) that provides insight on how these organisms interact with their natural environment. Kakani Katija will describe her quest to find (and avoid) elusive jellyfish around the world. Learn how the development and deployment of advanced imaging tools provide a new perspective on jellyfish swimming and foraging in their natural environment. Watch the recorded lecture.
Thursday, September 19
Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World
Todd McLeish, author
*Book signing to follow
Join author Todd McLeish as he recounts his adventures studying the elusive narwhal, the rare Arctic whale with the spiral tusk. He will take the audience high above the Arctic Circle with teams of narwhal researchers seeking to solve the mysteries of the animal’s migrations and debating the purpose of its tusk. He will also share insights about the importance of narwhals in Inuit culture and how the warming planet is affecting the species. Along the way you’ll hear about the many other unique animals living in the narwhal’s frozen world, from walruses and polar bears to bowhead and beluga whales. Copies of McLeish’s Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World will be available for purchase and signing. Watch the recorded lecture.
Thursday, September 26
Melting Ice, Rising Seas, Shifting Shorelines:
The New Reality
John Englander, author, High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis
*Book signing to follow
Experts say the sea is rising. What will this mean for those of us on the coast? Author John Englander paints a compelling picture that we have now entered an era where sea level rise, is combing with new storm patterns for an unprecedented assault on our shorelines. With prophetic timing his book, High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis, was published one week before Hurricane Sandy and describes a super storm hitting Atlantic City and New York. Englander has a fresh perspective that is based on rock-solid geology yet is stunning and entertaining. Discover what “intelligent adaption” steps can take be taken to protect assets now and for future generations. Watch the recorded lecture.
Thursday, October 10
Sea Ice, Climate and Observational Mathematics
MIT Lorenz Center Lecture
Professor John Wettlaufer, A.M. Bateman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Geophysics and Physics, Yale University and Professor of Applicable Mathematics, Oxford University
The New England Aquarium is pleased to welcome the Lorenz Center’s 3rd Annual John Carlson Lecture to the Simons IMAX Theatre. Understanding and predicting global climate change may be one of the most complex scientific challenges we face today. MIT recently launched the Lorenz Center, a new climate think tank devoted to fundamental inquiry. By emphasizing curiosity-driven research, the center fosters creative approaches to learning how climate works. To better understand this intricate system, we seek theories that predict observations regionally and globally, from human to geologic time scales. But what are the relevant observations? And how do we construct useful and realistic theories?
This year’s lecturer, John Wettlaufer, has grappled with these questions by creating a mathematical observatory and focusing its telescopes on Arctic ice and climate. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the physics of ice and its role in climate. Watch the recorded Google+ Hangout.
Thursday, October 24
A Changing Antarctica: Studies from the Field
Harborside Learning Lab
Johanna Blasi, Visitor Education manager, New England Aquarium
Ecosystems run on a delicate balance with organisms relying on others for survival. In Antarctica, microbes help transform nutrients, phytoplankton feed krill and krill feed penguins and whales. As temperatures rise rapidly over the Western Antarctic Peninsula, the interactions and connections among these organisms is changing. Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) scientists are working to determine how this change in climate will alter these connections. Aboard the R/V Laurence M. Gould, Johanna Blasi worked with a team from Rutgers University utilizing cutting-edge technology to study phytoplankton composition and abundance along nutrient-rich deep sea canyons. As primary producers, phytoplankton anchors the Antarctic food and figuring out changes in phytoplankton dynamics will help scientists determine the future of this icy continent. Watch the recorded lecture.
Saturday, October 26
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harborside Learning Lab
Followed by a lunch reception
Ocean Stewardship Showcase: Boston Harbor
Alison Nolan, Boston Harbor Cruises
Elisabeth Colby, Boston harbor Islands
live blue™ Ambassadors, New England Aquarium
To preserve and protect a resource like Boston Harbor, it takes a lot of people. Join us for a special lecture event featuring a few of the many businesses, non-profits and teens making a difference every day. We’ll start with a look to the past and present state of Boston Harbor with Elisabeth Colby, Education Program Coordinator and Technician of the Boston Harbor Islands. Then participants in the New England Aquarium’s live blue™ Ambassadors program, a service learning program for youth, will present on various projects they have been involved in around Boston Harbor. This stellar group of teens will present on their efforts to restore the native species and habitats of the Boston Harbor. During the summer this group of teens took part in clam seeding, eel grass plantings and a water quality cruise to look at the health of the harbor and the human influences affecting this important urban waterway. We’ll finish with Alison Nolan, Principal and General Manager of Boston Harbor Cruises. A family owned business since 1926, BHC sees conservation and stewardship as an important part of their daily mission. Watch the recorded lecture.
Tuesday, October 29
Ocean Frontiers 2: A New England Story
for Sustaining the Sea
Karen Meyer, filmmaker, Green Fire Productions
Q & A session to follow the film, program will last approximately two hours, from 7:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m.
How do we meet our ever-expanding demands on the ocean, without destroying it? The answer is explored in an exciting new film from Green Fire Productions, Ocean Frontiers 2: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea. Join the New England Aquarium in welcoming the filmmakers for the premiere of Ocean Frontiers 2, an inspiring story of citizens coming together for the sake of their sea.
Following on the heels of their award-winning Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship, filmmakers Karen and Ralf Meyer bring you face to face with those now embarking on the nation’s first multi-state attempts at ocean planning. Navy scientists, wind-energy executives, fishermen, tribal leaders, government agents and conservationists—all are working as one to promote healthier economies and healthier oceans across the breadth of New England.
Watch a trailer for Ocean Frontiers 2: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea here.
Thursday, November 7
How to Save the Oceans and Feed the World
Andrew Sharpless, CEO, Oceana and author, The Perfect Protein
*Book signing to follow
With Earth’s human population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050—adding the equivalent of two Chinas to current numbers—we need wild fish more than ever to feed us (especially the nearly 1 billion of the world’s poorest people who rely on seafood as their main source of animal protein). The bad news is that wild fish populations are in decline because of overfishing, destruction of habitat and bycatch. We are grinding up small fish such as anchovies, mackerel and sardines into feed for salmon and other farmed animals, even though these overlooked fish are delicious and healthy and could feed millions inexpensively. The good news, as Andrew Sharpless explains, is that if just 25 coastal nations of the world—including the United States—take three steps to better manage their wild seafood supply, our oceans will not only become more biodiverse, they will be far more abundant and capable of feeding hundreds of millions more people every day at a sustainable rate. Sharpless’s message is clear. We can save the oceans and feed the world.
Monday, November 11
Harborside Learning Lab
A Brighter Future: Manta Rays in Peru
Kerstin Forsberg, co-founder and director of Planeta Oceano (Ocean Planet)
Join award winning Peruvian conservation biologist Kerstin Forsberg as she tells the inspiring story of a dedicated international team of scientists, conservationists and fishermen working to save an important population of giant oceanic manta rays off the coast of Peru. This collaborative effort of Planeta Oceano, Shark Savers and the Manta Trust has been supported in part by the Aquarium's Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) and is focused on collecting the scientific data needed to guide effective conservation measures in Peru for manta rays and their relatives the mobula rays, which are threatened by overfishing and bycatch. A longer-term goal of the project is to help fishermen find an alternative livelihood through ecotourism. Kerstin Forsberg, a passionate and accomplished young leader in ocean conservation, was recognized with the World Wildlife Fund's International President's Award, which "acknowledges and encourages outstanding achievements of young people under the age of 30 who are making strong and compelling contributions to nature conservation." In addition, Kerstin has been named as one of Forbes magazine's "30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs."
Thursday, November 14
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm*
Screening of Great White Shark 3D in IMAX 3D
The Return of White Sharks to California
Dr. Christopher G. Lowe, Professor of Marine Biology and Director of California State University at Long Beach Shark Lab
Over a century of overfishing, bycatch mortality and coastal pollution resulted in significant declines in all top marine predator populations off the coast of California. Despite a rapidly growing coastal human population and related impacts on the coastal ocean environment, landmark environmental policies, fisheries management and public awareness of urban ocean issues since the 1970s are finally paying off and reversing this trend. Banning near-shore gillnetting in 1994 has already resulted in major increases in mesopredators and marine mammals, all of which are important prey items of white sharks.
In addition, protection for white sharks was implemented in California in 1994, further reducing fisheries bycatch mortality on young individuals. Fisheries data, marine mammal predation data and anecdotal observations all indicate an increasing white shark population off California, and similar trends have been observed in other regions (e.g., Northwest Atlantic, Australia and South Africa). While there are still numerous coastal ocean issues left to solve, the observed trends give hope for the future.
Notes from Underwater: A Life Growing Delectable Bivalves and How Shellfish Aquaculture Can Change the World
Barbara and Patrick Woodbury, Woodbury Shellfish and
Michael Tlusty, PhD, director of research, New England Aquarium
Barbara and Patrick Woodbury, marine biologists and clam and oyster growers in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, will talk about shellfish aquaculture, sustainability and the key role bivalves play in coastal marine ecosystems. The life of a grower tracks the life cycle of the shellfish they grow. Follow the challenges of grower and grown from hatchery to harvest as sustainable seafood. The world-wide destruction of shellfish habitat and oyster reefs has put coastal marine ecosystems at risk. The Woodbury’s will tell how keystone species like clams and oysters have a dramatic impact on improving water quality, increasing species diversity and reducing coastal erosion and describe how their own research on oyster larval recruitment will help with oyster restoration. Watch the recorded lecture.
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