Best-selling author Sy Montgomery to discuss her latest book, Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell with book’s illustrator, Matt Patterson

New England Aquarium Lecture Series: Thursday, Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Aquarium

Sy Montgomery and Matt Patterson with a snapping turtle.
Sy Montgomery and Matt Patterson with a snapping turtle Photo: Courtesy of Matt Patterson

WHAT: Naturalist and animal enthusiast Sy Montgomery, author of the beloved international bestseller The Soul of an Octopus has turned her attention to turtles. Working with wildlife artist Matt Patterson, who created photo-realistic artwork both in full-color and in black-and-white for the book, Montgomery shares some of the heart-pounding dramas and accounts from other dedicated turtle-lovers around the world in her and Patterson’s just-published book, Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell.

In their upcoming lecture, Montgomery and Patterson will share those stories and images of extraordinary people and turtles featured in the book. They include: Founders of the Turtle Rescue League in Southbridge, Mass., who live by the motto “Never give up on a turtle” as they care for between 250 and 1,000 critically injured, abandoned, or hatching turtles each year; Fire Chief, a 42-pound, 60-year-old wild snapping turtle, recovering (with the help of a custom wheelchair) from a spine-severing collision with a truck; experts breeding the world’s rarest turtles for return to the wild; and suburban moms protecting native woodland turtle nests in New Hampshire. They will also discuss the essential, compassionate work to protect turtle nests, incubate eggs, rescue stranded sea turtles, and ultimately release them back into the wild—work that will be familiar to those who follow the Aquarium’s sea turtle rehabilitation efforts.

WHEN: Thursday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: In person at the New England Aquarium’s Simons Theatre, 1 Central Wharf, Boston. The lecture will also be livestreamed via Zoom.

HOW: Register here for the free lecture. Advance registration is required. The New England Aquarium Lecture Series is presented free to the public through the generosity of the Lowell Institute.

WHO: Sy Montgomery, National Book Award finalist, bestselling author of 35 books, and longtime New England Aquarium octopus observer, is known for an outsized sense of adventure. Researching her books, articles, and scripts, she has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire, handled a wild tarantula in French Guyana, swum with pink dolphins, electric eels, and piranhas in the Amazon, and worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes. Her work has been honored with dozens of awards, including the 2017 Henry David Thoreau Prize for Literary Excellence, the Orion Book Award in 2016, and three honorary doctorate degrees. She is a contributor to WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” in a regular segment called “Afternoon Zoo.” Her time at the Aquarium inspired her to write The Soul of an Octopus.

Renowned wildlife artist Matt Patterson takes a hands-on approach to learn all he can about his subjects, making his paintings of wild animals as accurate and lifelike as possible. He has caught alligators with his bare hands from a kayak. He has pulled giant snapping turtles out of Boston’s muddy river, worked with the Turtle Survival Alliance experts to survey radiated tortoises in Madagascar’s Spiny Forest, and trapped and tagged turtles in the rainforest of Belize. He is a member of Artists for Conservation and is a Fellow in The Explorers Club. His work has been featured in Yankee Magazine and Fine Art Connoisseur and he has won numerous awards, including twice winning the Roger Tory Peterson Wild American Art Award and two National Outdoor Book Awards. He lives up the street from Sy Montgomery in Hancock, NH, with his wife, Erin, their cattle dog Roo, two cats, two snakes, and 14 turtles.


MEDIA CONTACT: Pam Bechtold Snyder,; 617-686-5068