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. Most lectures are recorded and available for viewing on our YouTube channel.
Spring 2015 Lectures
Thursday, March 26
Humpback Whales in IMAX 3D and in our Backyard
Dr. Scott Kraus, Vice President of Research, New England Aquarium
Dr. David Wiley, Research Coordinator, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Laura Howes, Director of Marine Education and Conservation, Boston Harbor Cruises
Humpbacks are best known to whale watchers as the gigantic, accomplished acrobats of the whale world. Now, a spectacular new IMAX movie introduces us to their complex and fascinating lives beneath the waves in unparalleled, underwater 3D footage. Humpback Whales is produced by MacGillvray Freeman Studios, one of the world’s most accomplished aquatic filmmakers, and is narrated by famed actor Ewan MacGregor. This film was shot in Hawaii, Alaska and Tonga.
Despite those exotic movie locales, Boston has some of the world’s best, and possibly most accessible, humpback whale watching, just 25 miles to its east at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. After the movie, learn from local whale researchers and naturalists what draws the humpbacks so close to one of America’s largest cities, the highlights of last year's whale watching season and what challenges face America’s only whale feeding sanctuary.
New England Aquarium whale watches resume the last weekend of March, but if you like watching your whales warm, join us in our IMAX theater. Click here to register.
Wednesday, April 15
Protecting the Ocean's Giants: The Future of Manta Ray Conservation
Josh Stewart, Associate Director, Manta Trust and Marine Conservation Action Fund Grantee 2014
Manta rays are one of the most charismatic marine species on the planet, and a top attraction for dive and snorkel tourism. Despite their popularity with the public, we know almost nothing about these enormous, enigmatic rays. As targeted fisheries around the world increasingly threaten manta populations, conservation scientists are racing to learn more about their fundamental ecology to support effective conservation and management action. Learn more about the biology and ecology of these graceful ocean giants, the fisheries that threaten their existence and the research and conservation efforts currently underway to keep these icons around to inspire future generations. Click here to register.
Thursday, April 23
Brian Skerry, National Geographic photographer and New England Aquarium Explorer in Residence
Immerse yourself in the latest amazing stories from beneath the waves as a master underwater photographer reports on his most recent National Geographic assignments. Brian Skerry’s surprisingly intimate portraits of marine life have captured the imagination of a generation. From a fascinating look at dolphins’ intelligence to a profile of the enigmatic Bluefin tuna, Skerry’s camera illuminates long-held mysteries of the deep. Explore the netherworld of seamounts and journey through the interconnected ecosystems of the Mesoamerican Reef in this special lecture event. Click here to register.
Wednesday, April 29
Celebrating Right Whales: The Trials and Triumphs of a Species on the Edge
Amy Knowlton, Research Scientist, New England Aquarium
North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered large whale species in the world, remain precariously close to the edge of extinction with just over 500 individuals presumed to be alive today. The Aquarium research team has been documenting the lives of these animals for more than three decades and describing the challenges the whales face from vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements. Join us as we learn about the important role the Aquarium has played in the development of policies to protect these imperiled whales, and hear stories about some of the most famous right whale families followed through multiple generations.
Click here to register.
Tuesday, May 5
Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock
Stephen W. Kress and Derrick Z. Jackson
*Book signing to follow
Project Puffin is the inspiring story of how a beloved seabird was restored to long-abandoned nesting colonies off the Maine coast. As a young ornithology instructor at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, Dr. Stephen W. Kress learned that puffins had nested on nearby islands until extirpated by hunters in the late 1800s. To right this environmental wrong, he resolved to bring puffins back to one such island—Eastern Egg Rock. Yet bringing the plan to reality meant convincing skeptics, finding resources and inventing restoration methods at a time when many believed in letting nature take its course.
Dr. Kress’s amazing story is brought to life by the incredible photography of co-author Derrick Z. Jackson. Please join us for this special lecture event. Click here to register.
Thursday, May 14
The Soul of an Octopus
Sy Montgomery, author
*Book signing to follow
After a 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect,” about the sensitive sweet-natured giant Pacific octopus at the New England Aquarium went viral, Sy knew she had her next book idea. In The Soul of an Octopus, Sy chronicles a growing scientific appreciation of the octopus’s intelligence, personality and memory. She also tells a love story about coming to know a complex and spirited creature. Join Sy on her journey from behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium’s octopus exhibit to the exotic waters of French Polynesia. Click here to register.
Thursday, June 4
Ocean Stewardship Spotlight Lecture
Notes from the Field: Conditions and Trends in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay
Samantha Woods, Executive Director, North and South Rivers Watershed Association and
Pam DiBona, Executive Director, Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program
Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay are bordered by 50 communities, home to 1.7 million people, all of whom impact the Bays in one way or another. The MassBays National Estuary Program, one of 28 NEPs established under the Clean Water Act, is charged with assessing those impact, and reporting on trends over time—addressing questions like “Is water quality in the Bays improving?” and “Are herring coming back to our rivers?” and even, “Can our salt marshes survive sea level rise?”.
Join MassBays Director Pam DiBona for a report on the State of the Bays based on a recent scientific symposium, and Samantha Woods, Director of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, who brings hundreds of volunteers to the task of finding answers to these questions. Click here to register.
The Biomimicry Opportunity: A Panel Discussion
Sam Stier, Founding Director, Center for Learning with Nature
Chris Garvin, Principal, Terrapin Bright Green
Elizabeth Kripke, Visiting Researcher, Hanlon Lab, Marine Biological Laboratory
Moderator: Peter Lawrence, President and Co-founder, Biomimicry New England
Biomimicry is the process of emulating nature's strategies—which have been evolving for 3.8 billion years—to solve complex human problems. Join us for an introduction to this fascinating topic and its potential for advancement in education and sustainable design. Biomimicry, an approach to innovation that seeks inspiration from nature, often looks to the oceans and marine animals. Panelist will share their experience on this topic and how they are helping to address many of today’s environmental issues and inspire a new group of innovators to look to nature to create sustainable solutions.