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.

Get general directions to the Aquarium.


Upcoming Lectures


Thursday, April 24

Ocean Stewardship Spotlight
Operation: Blue Pride

Operation: Blue Pride IMAX screening and panel

Our oceans are in serious trouble. Sharks are being killed by the millions each year, reefs are disappearing and overfishing is depleting life in our seas. What happens to our oceans affects everyone on the planet.
While our oceans face difficulties, severely wounded American veterans now face lifelong challenges after coming home from combat. All face lives that are hard for many of us to even imagine. Now there is new hope for the ocean and for veterans—it's called Operation: Blue Pride. Operation: Blue Pride brings together three veterans, severely wounded in combat, on an inspirational mission to help save our oceans and, in time, save us all. Register here.

Click here to view a trailer of the Operation: Blue Pride IMAX film.

Thursday, May 1

Oyster and Salt Marsh Impacts on Cape Cod

Curtis S. Felix, vice chair of the Comprehensive Wastewater Planning Committee in Wellfleet, Mass., Wellfleet representative to the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative and the County 208 Technical Advisory Committee

Can oysters save the world? Come hear the latest on a large-scale restoration effort in Wellfleet, Mass., and learn more about efforts in the Commonwealth to bring back the bi-valve from its nearly 99 percent reduction in population. Learn more about how oysters can clean the water, help restore lost fish populations in Massachusetts Bay, prevent coastal erosion, buffer against ocean acidification and taste great! Register here.


Tuesday, May 6

Shark Research Confessions: Introductions and Adventures in the Field
with New England shark experts

Tobey H. Curtis, shark researcher and fisheries manager, NOAA Fisheries Service
Dr. James Sulikowski, associate professor of marine science, University of New England
Dr. Jeff Kneebone, research biologist
Dr. Greg Skomal, senior fisheries scientist, Massachusetts Marine Fisheries
Heather Marshall, Ph.D. candidate, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth
Dr. Diego Bernal, associate professor, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth
John Chisholm, marine fisheries biologist, Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries Shark Research Program

Dr. Lisa J Natanson, senior research fisheries scientist, Apex Predators Program, National Marine Fisheries Service, Narragansett, RI

Hosted by Dr. John Mandelman, director of research and senior scientist, John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory, New England Aquarium, and Cynthia Wigren, president and co-founder, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

New England is home to many different species of sharks: great white, basking, blue and thresher sharks to name a few. It is also home to many shark researchers who travel all over the world to help the conservation of these fascinating yet vulnerable animals. The speakers will provide an overview of the amazing work they conduct, while providing information on shark biology and their career paths. This lecture is not to be missed by any shark enthusiast! Register here.


Tuesday, May 13

There Will Be Blood: Seal and Sea Lion Healthcare
at the New England Aquarium

Jenny Montague, Assistant Curator of Marine Mammals, New England Aquarium
2013 John H. Cunningham Award Winner

Blood sampling is an important part of monitoring the health of seals and sea lions at the New England Aquarium, but how do you find a blood vessel under all of that fur? The seals and sea lions recognize the marine mammal staff, and they spend hours eating, playing, observing and interacting each day. This familiarity plays a role in the animals’ willingness to cooperate during blood samplingand other diagnostics. In an effort to gain a fuller understanding, Jenny Montague, assistant curator of marine mammals, applied for the 2013 John H. Cunningham Award, a professional development program for Aquarium staff to further their knowledge in a particular area. She has known several of the seals in the collection since they were newborns but needed training to locate and draw from a large blood vessel under the fur and blubber. Her award funded a trip to The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., and the experience of a lifetime. Register here.

Tuesday, May 20
Why Consumers Alone Can’t Save Our Fish

Dr. Jennifer Jacquet, clinical assistant professor, New York University

Seafood is one of the only wild foods (aside from mushrooms) that Westerners eat with any regularity, and demand for it is only increasing. This talk discusses the rise of consumer-based initiatives to save the world's marine life, such as seafood wallet cards and the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-label for wild-caught fish. The principle that consumers should make a point of choosing products that reflect their ideals is a good one, but there are also challenges with initiatives that focus on end consumers—particularly because they ask us to engage as consumers rather than as concerned citizens and relate to fish as a commodity rather than as wildlife. Register here.


Wednesday, May 28
Solving a Cod-undrum: The Survival
of an Iconic New England Fish

Dr. John Mandelman, director of research and senior scientist, John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory, New England Aquarium

The Atlantic cod—a culturally, economically and ecologically important fish species with a rich New England history—has not recovered from stock collapses in recent years, despite substantial management intervention and a major reduction in commercial fishing effort. Although research attention has increased, many questions on cod meant to aid management and promote recovery are not yet fully answered, such as what happens to those cod that are caught by certain fishing gears, but not harvested. Dr. John Mandelman will describe ongoing work by the New England Aquarium and colleagues to better understand the fate of undersized cod that by law must be released after capture in recreational fisheries, and which strategies may increase the probability of survival. Dr. Mandelman will also provide historical context on cod in the region, and describe how evolving tracking technologies are being used to answer important fisheries questions. Register here.

Tuesday, June 3

The Immortal Life of Nitrogen

Harborside Learning Lab

Robinson W. Fulweiler, Ph.D., assistant professor, associate director of Marine Program, Department of Earth and Environment, Department of Biology, Boston University

Without nitrogen there would be no life—no me, no you, no blue whale, no Atlantic cod, no Antarctic krill. But too much nitrogen leads to a series of negative consequences. Human activities have more than doubled the amount of nitrogen cycling through the biosphere in the past 100 years, and in doing so we have introduced large amounts of nitrogen to coastal waters. This excess nitrogen has led to eutrophication, loss of submerged aquatic vegetation, harmful algal blooms, increased low oxygen conditions and dead zones, fish kills, and loss of biodiversity. Fortunately, we can take steps to mitigate this excess nitrogen and to decrease future inputs to marine waters. Fulweiler will tell the story of how one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century transformed our planet and how each of us can help save our coastal ocean through simple, easily adaptable changes. Register here.


Previous Lectures

Wednesday, April 2
Technology to Help Us Save Our Oceans

Shah Selbe, engineer and conservation technologist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and New England Aquarium Marine Conservation Action Fund grantee

We have seen great strides in establishing marine reserves to allow the health of our oceans to
rebound. However, these reserves risk being ineffective without smarter ways to protect them. The
methods currently used tend to be expensive and rely almost entirely on the use of military resources
(which tends to put it at a low priority). Shah Selbe is an engineer and National Geographic Explorer
who works in identifying innovative approaches and technologies that can help. This includes the
development of hardware (low-cost conservation drones, acoustic sensors, etc.) and data management
solutions (smartphone apps, online databases, satellite imagery, etc.). He created MPA Guardian, a
website and smartphone app to allow crowdsourced protection of California's marine protected area
network. He is now working through a grant from National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions to
create low-cost drones to monitor Marine Protected Areas. Join Selbe to hear about some of the most promising technologies and his work in the Caribbean on the Waitt Institute’s Barbuda Blue Halo initiative.


Special Workshop Opportunity — Sunday, April 6

Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints: Taking Better Pictures with Your Digital Camera

Steve McGrath, professional photographer and owner of McGrath Nature Photos

Are you still getting to know your digital camera and its features? Here's an opportunity to learn from an expert in this seminar for beginners. Bring your camera and learn when and how to use its special features, such as program mode, manual mode, aperture priority and shutter priority. Also covered will be basic composition and best use of light for different situations, such as plant, people, macro, and landscape photography.
Equipment requirement: Please bring your own camera (those with aperture priority, shutter priority or manual setting).

This workshop will also use biofacts and live animals from the New England Aquarium collection. We will not be visiting the main Aquarium building during this program. With hands-on practice you will leave prepared to better document your outdoor adventures in nature and promote the importance of protecting the blue planet.










Thursday, April 10






Forage Fish: Now and in the Future

Tess Geers, wild fisheries specialist, New England Aquarium, and Barton Seaver, chef and sustainability fellow in residence, New England Aquarium

Forage fish are key to ocean health and seafood sustainability, but what exactly are they, and where are they found? Join Aquarium wild fisheries specialist Tess Geers and Sustainability Fellow Barton Seaver for an informational and engaging look at forage fish. Learn about the history of forage fisheries in the United States and abroad, and their impact on marine ecosystems. Geers and Seaver will detail how forage fish are used around the world today, and will share their insights on how forage fish offer an opportunity to better use what the ocean can provide. Watch the recorded lecture here.


Thursday, April 17

Invasion of the Lionfish

Victor Douieb, sculptor and conservationist

Known for promoting wildlife and sea life conservation, Parisian sculptor Victor Douieb is heralding the opposite for one species in particular. In the Atlantic and Caribbean, the ever increasing populations of the voracious non-native lionfish are decimating entire ecosystems in their wake. The artist, who has created several sculptures of the lionfish including a version in18-karat gold, will describe aspects of this seemingly unstoppable predator along with measures being taken to abate its expanding reign. His presentation will also detail the process of turning his passion for animals and sea life into bronze and stainless steel works of art.






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