President’s Blog: August 29, 2017
President's Blog

President’s Blog: August 29, 2017

Dear Friend: As I write this our thoughts and prayers…

Dear Friend:

As I write this our thoughts and prayers are with the people impacted by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.  I know that many members of our community have relatives and or friends in the areas impacted which is a tremendous worry.  Be assured of our support.


Annual Staff and Volunteer Appreciation

Last Friday evening we celebrated our annual Staff and Volunteer Appreciation Night.  Approximately 400 people attended with music by the Macha Brothers Band.  The pie eating contest was the highlight of the evening.

Thank you to all of our staff and volunteers for making the 2017 summer season a wonderful experience for hundreds of thousands of people!

I want to express my deep appreciation to Terry Wilson from our Human Resources Department and the entire Human Resources team for coordinating this event.  And I know that all of us are grateful to Executive Director of Ocean Blue Catering, Kathy Lloyd, Executive Chef Trad Dart, and the entire Ocean Blue Catering team for making the evening special for all of us.

Here are some images from the evening:


President’s Council

The Council met last Friday and welcomed three new members:

Alejandro Melendez-Cooper, Executive Director of the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut

Tony Sheridan, President, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut

Jeff Hubbard, Market President, Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, Key Bank

The Council provided insight and advice on several key marketing issues, capital projects and conservation initiatives.  Senior Vice President for Mission Programs, Katie Cubina, presented on several projects that Mystic Aquarium is involved with to preserve and protect Long Island Sound.


Long Island Sound Dredging

Long Island Sound is a major international shipping channel.  It is an essential military passageway for submarines and other naval vessels, and is a recreational waterway for millions of people in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

During the President’s Council meeting some Councilors asked about the controversy between Connecticut and New York on dredging Long Island Sound for commercial and military ship traffic.  There is no dispute that dredging is needed to assure the vitality of the waterway for these purposes.  However, there is considerable disagreement between the states as to where the dredged material should be placed within the Sound.

I asked our Senior Scientist, Dr. Peter Auster, to provide some perspective on this issue for us.  He writes:

“ The exposure of contaminants by dredging is not a significant environmental issue in Long Island Sound.  Studies in the 1970s and 80s by others at UConn and their colleagues at other institutions, at dredge material disposal sites in LIS (and in channels subject to dredging), found that there was no contaminant uptake signals in test animals that could be attributed to dredge and disposal operations.  Indeed the clear signal came from rain events, such that contaminants washed off the land and streets, sent to outflow pipes to rivers and then out into LIS.  This runoff event signal was generally very clear.  In summary, on this issue we have met the enemy and he is us.

The important issue, that we focused our comments on during the DEIS comment period, was about insuring dredge disposal did not bury important and rare habitats out in LIS.  Designating dredge disposal sites means we are making a conscious decision to impact an area of the public commons in order to keep harbors and channels open for commerce and recreation.  The general paradigm for such operations is to dump sediments from dredging on similar grain size material in the ocean.  Here we used the data and information presented in the DEIS to argue that some areas in the proposed disposal sites were spatially rare hard bottom and important for LIS resource species as well as a refuge habitat from warming surface waters (a climate change issue) for some CT ESA species of concern (that we nominated).  The boundaries were adjusted in the FEIS based in part on our comments to avoid dumping on such habitats.”


Mystic Wide Clean-Up

On Tuesday of this week, Mystic Aquarium staff and community volunteers participated in a clean-up of Mystic in our immediate area as well as downtown Mystic and the Mystic River Boat Launch. Nearly 500 pounds of litter was collected, from car parts and beverage containers to mono-filament line and cigarette butts. This is a tremendous effort and much appreciated; it shows that we are living our mission in our backyard as a community. Here are several images taken through-out the day.

NBC Connecticut covered the event. Please take a look at the link below:



Cedar the Loggerhead Turtle

Curator of Fish and Invertebrates, William Hana reports that Cedar, a loggerhead turtle rescued in South Carolina, and rehabilitated by the Fish and Invertebrate staff, will be released in October to the Ocean in the area where it was born.

Cedar arrived a Mystic Aquarium as a newly hatched turtle, measuring about the size of a hockey puck.  Today Cedar is healthy, much bigger in size, and has outgrown the tank at Mystic Aquarium, which is a great success story!   Congratulations to the Fish and Invertebrates team!

See you all soon!



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