All lectures start at 7:00 p.m. in the Simons IMAX Theatre, unless otherwise noted.

marine iguana in Galapagos

Thursday, October 27

Stress in Wild Animals: From the Arctic to the Equator

L. Michael Romero, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology, Tufts University

In contrast to stress-related disease in humans, the stress response is vital for helping wild animals survive in their natural habitats. The hormonal and physiological responses to stress are similar in all vertebrates. When these systems are activated at the wrong times for the wrong durations, disease can result. However, these same systems allow wild animals to survive natural stressors such as storms, predation attempts, and starvation. Join professor Michael Romero as he presents highlights from more than 25 years of research on stress in wild animals. Furthermore, he will discuss how understanding the stress response may also show us how animals cope with human-created changes in their habitats.

lobster with shell disease

Thursday, November 3

Epizootic Shell Disease in the American Lobster, Homarus Americanus

Jeffrey Shields
Professor of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary

Populations of the lobster, Homarus americanus, off southern New England are threatened by epizootic shell disease (ESD). The disease causes a rapid necrosis of the shell making infected lobsters unmarketable. The disease has negatively affected the fishery, but it has been difficult to quantify its impact on lobster populations. ESD is caused by a shift in the bacterial community (dysbiosis) that occurs in relation to changes in environmental and anthropogenic stressors. Temperature is a key variable in ESD but its effect has not been well characterized.

Join Jeff Shields as he discusses environmental diseases in lobsters and what can be done about them. He will present an overview of the disease and give new findings on his recent studies. He will also address aspects of the dysbiosis, the effect of temperature on individuals and projected effects on populations, as well as new insights into the epidemiology of the disease. Understanding the complex interplay among temperature, disease dynamics, and lobsters is critical for assessing the risk of expansion of the disease into the Gulf of Maine. 

Lecturer MatT Ayer holds fish

Thursday, November 10

Fish Blowing Up? Handling Barotrauma in the Gulf of Maine

Matt Ayer
Recreational Fisheries Biologist, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Barotrauma is an injury caused by a change in gas pressure. In many fish species, barotrauma occurs when the swim bladder expands or ruptures as fish are brought to the water’s surface. In the recreational groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine, there are multiple species that exhibit signs of barotrauma when caught. In some cases, these symptoms can be severe and significantly increase the mortality of discarded fish. One method of increasing the survival of released groundfish is to assist their descent and recompression using a “release device.” Such devices are commonly used in other parts of the country, but have been only recently introduced to Gulf of Maine anglers. Learn from recreational fisheries biologist Matt Ayer about fish filled with air and how anglers may be able to help them

lecturer lisa-ann gershwin

Wednesday, November 16

Jellyfish: Are They Taking Over?

Lisa-ann Gershwin, Ph.D.
Director, Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services

Jellyfish! The mere mention of the word sends shivers down the spines of those who have been stung—or don’t want to be. Whereas once only swimmers feared their stings, more and more, it seems, jellyfish are demanding attention in a variety of ways.

Whether they get sucked into the water intake pipes of nuclear power plants and trigger emergency shutdowns, capsize fishing trawlers, kill tourists, or surreptitiously take over ecosystems, reports are drifting in from all the world’s oceans. Join lively and passionate Australian scientist and writer, Lisa-ann Gershwin, as she explains why we are seeing more jellyfish and what it means for our future.

Dr. Gershwin will sign copies of her most recent book, Jellyfish: A Natural History, in the IMAX lobby directly following her lecture.

lecturer robert vincent

Thursday, November 17

Invasive Species and Carbon Cycling in Coastal Dunes of Cape Cod

Robert Vincent, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sea Grant College Program

MIT Sea Grant coastal ecologist Dr. Robert Vincent is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service to study carbon cycling in coastal dune habitats, as well as the effects of historic peat deposits on the establishment and persistence of invasive plants (Phragmites australis). With the increased risk of erosion from coastal storms exposing the once-buried peat deposits, and the challenge of controlling an aggressive invasive species, this dynamic system has a lot going on. Join Dr. Vincent to learn how the research findings from this study will inform future conservation efforts in the region as well as allow us to gain a deeper understanding of carbon cycling in coastal dunes.

lecturer Brad Chase stands in water

Thursday, December 1

The Sea-Run Fish of Massachusetts

Bradford Chase
Marine Fisheries Biologist, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Diadromous, or sea-run fish, have the risky life strategy of leaving the ocean to migrate toward coastal rivers where humans and many types of fish and wildlife predators challenge their quest. Less than one percent of the fish on the planet have adapted to this reproductive life history, but many, such as salmon and eel species, are well known for their high value and cultural importance. Join Bradford as he discusses the diadromous fish of Massachusetts with information on their biology, management, and threats to survival, with a special focus on the iconic river herring and American eel.