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, July 16

Rescue, Rehab and What Comes Next: Saving Sea Turtles at the New England Aquarium

Dr. Charles Innis, Aquarium Director of Animal Health, and Connie Merigo, Aquarium Director of Rescue and Rehabilitation

Ever wonder what happens when a sea turtle washes up on shore in New England, or how hundreds of sea turtles are cared for during mass casualty stranding events? Since 1968 the New England Aquarium has helped thousands of sea turtles here at the Aquarium and during other emergency events around the U.S. For sea turtles found sick or injured, returning to their ocean home isn’t possible right away. These turtles become patients in our Sea Turtle Hospital and receive veterinary care until they regain optimal health and are strong enough to return to their natural habitat. This evening’s lecture will highlight turtle rescues and the medical management of sea turtles ranging from giant leatherback turtles to emergency care and management during large scale events involving hundreds of sick or injured turtles. Click here to register.



Thursday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.

Helping Endangered Species in Our Backyard

Bryan Windmiller, Executive Director, Grassroots Wildlife Conservation

We may not have wild pandas and snow leopards, but New England is full of regionally endangered and threatened plants and animals. To maintain and restore the diversity of our natural heritage, we need to intelligently and actively help many of our rare wild neighbors. Come and learn about hands-on projects, in which Massachusetts school children and adults are helping us protect rare species, with a focus on our threatened freshwater turtles. Click here to register.





Thursday, August 13, 7:30 p.m.

Living Fossil and Blue Blood: The Story of the Horseshoe Crab and Human Health

Kathryn Tuxbury, MS, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, New England Aquarium, and
John Dubczak, General Manager, Endotoxin and Microbial Detection Division, Charles River Laboratories

The American horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, is an ancient marine arthropod with a lineage that goes back 440 million years. It is an important species for both its pivotal place in the ecosystem and for its valuable use in everyday human health; biomedical manufacturers and conservationists alike have a vested interest in making sure this species continues to thrive and flourish. As stewards of the environment, we have a responsibility to preserve, protect and strive to achieve balance between our need for this valuable material and the livelihood of the animal that provides it. In this presentation, we’ll discuss how these animals experience challenges in and out of their natural habitat and also review the significance of their remarkable blue blood to human health and the innovative technology that further safeguards this species and assures the sustainability of this important resource. Click here to register.


Previous Lectures

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.

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.

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.


Luminous Seas

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.

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.


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.

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.



Monday, May 18
Where Leatherback Sea Turtles Spend Summer Vacation (and Why It's Important)

Dr. Bryan Wallace, Senior Scientist, Abt Associates, and Marine Conservation Action Fund adviser
Ever wondered what leatherback turtles do on their summer vacations? Dr. Bryan Wallace will show off actual leatherback home videos, which provide a turtle's-eye view of the underwater smorgasbord of massive jellyfish on which turtles gorge each summer in Nova Scotia to fuel their high-energy lifestyle. Dr. Wallace will explain how leatherbacks' summer activities allow them to acquire the energy they need to migrate and reproduce, how not all leatherback vacation destinations are the same, and why all of this matters for marine conservation.



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.


Friday, June 5
Special Lecture Event
The Bat Man of Mexico

7:30 p.m.

Dr. Rodrigo Medellin, Scientist, Professor and Author

Did you know that bats and tequila are connected? The lesser long-nosed bat is crucial to the agave plant that is used to make the famous liquor export. Mexico's very own Bat Man, Rodrigo Medellín, has dedicated his life to saving these important pollinators from disappearing and we are lucky to have him make a stop at the New England Aquarium Lectures. Don't miss this unique opportunity!


Stop by the Aquarium's outdoor cafe, The Reef, before the event and enjoy beautiful harbor views and a special treat. In honor of Rodrigo's visit, we will be offering "The Bat Man" cocktail, featuring 1800 Tequila. Mention this offer and receive complimentary Reef Chips with the purchase of a Bat Man cocktail!

Learn more about the Bat Man and a recent documentary about his work in this piece from The New Yorker magazine, and by watching this trailer from the BBC.





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