President’s Blog: October 10, 2017
President's Blog

President’s Blog: October 10, 2017

Dear Friend: Mystic Aquarium Assisting with Stranded Beluga Calf in…

Dear Friend:

Mystic Aquarium Assisting with Stranded Beluga Calf in Alaska

A stranded beluga calf, struggling to survive on its own, was rescued from Cook Inlet, Alaska on Saturday, Sept. 30. The male calf is undergoing intensive around-the-clock care provided by a team of beluga whale experts including Georgia Aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld, and Mystic Aquarium who’ve flown from across North America to support the Alaska SeaLife Center.

The calf was found alone and in distress near Trading Bay in Western Cook Inlet before being transported to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, under a permit by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office (NOAA), for 24-hour critical care. Estimated at four weeks old, the calf is a member of the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population, which has declined to approximately 328 individuals left in the wild.

With any cetacean rescue, particularly with a neonatal calf, there is a high risk of complication and survival is estimated at less than 10 percent. The beluga calf was 162 centimeters long (64 inches) and weighed 64.5 kilograms (142 pounds) when it arrived at the Center.

Supervisor of Marine Mammals Carey Richard flew to Seward to assist SeaLife Center staff with around-the-clock care for the calf.  Other members of the Mystic Aquarium veterinary and husbandry teams are engaged in his care via various remote communication methods.


Hacking is Hip

Last week Mystic Aquarium joined with nine other non-profit organizations in the “Random Hacks of Kindness Junior Kids – Coding for A Cause” hack-a-thon at Mitchell College.  The mission of Random Hacks of Kindness Junior, Inc. (RHoKJr) is to empower students to use technology to positively impact the challenges facing local nonprofits in their communities.

During the day, 36 students, grades 4-8, were paired with computer science mentors and nonprofit representatives to develop prototype smartphone apps for local charities.


Columbus Day Parade

On Sunday, Ainslie Seeber, Mary Ellen Mateleska, Kelly Matis, Amy Gollenberg, Dale Wolbrink, and Jacinta Simoncini, along with five children and two dogs, trudged through the rain in the annual Columbus Day parade in Westerly.


American Humane

Last Thursday, Georgia Aquarium Chairman and CEO, Mike Leven, hosted a group of aquarium and zoo leaders from throughout the world at a working session to discuss the newly created Humane Conservation certification program.  Mystic Aquarium was one of the first organizations to be certified under this program, earlier this year.

Chief Scientist and Vice President of Research, Dr. Tracy Romano, has participated in the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane which developed the certification standards.

The meeting focused on increasing the number of institutions participating in the certification program and opportunities to bring increased media focus to the positive care animals receive in zoos and aquariums.

A description of the American Humane Conservation Certification program and a video about it can be found at:

American Humane, I learned, was founded in 1877 to promote the safety and welfare of animals, with a particular emphasis on horses.  During World War I, the last major conflict to involve horses in battle, American Humane was officially engaged by the United States Department of War to care for wounded horses on the battlefields of Europe.  The organization cared for an average of 68,000 wounded horses a month during the height of U.S. involvement in World War I.

Today American Humane works with the U.S. Department of Defense in caring for military dogs that served in conflicts and that suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome.  They also have a program that reunites service and K9 police dogs with their handlers and caregivers.

We are pleased to be affiliated with American Humane, and we subscribe to the rigorous certification process that they have developed for aquariums and zoos.  It is important to note that certification is not the same as accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium, which we also value and aspire to meet every five years.

American Humane is entirely focused on animal welfare.  The AZA accreditation process evaluates the entire operation of a zoo or aquarium including governance, finances, capital infrastructure, safety standards for guests, employee policies, and animal care to assure that an institution is holistic and fully capable not only of caring for animals, but also of carrying out a comprehensive education and conservation mission for the public.


Coastal Resiliency: Now More Than Ever

Mystic Aquarium and the La Grua Center are co-hosting a panel discussion on Wednesday, October 11 at 6:00 pm at the La Grua Center in Stonington.

The panel discussion, “Coastal Resiliency: Now More Than Ever”, will address the critical topic of climate change and coastal resiliency in light of recent severe weather events in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. Panelists are Juliana Barrett, Associate Extension Educator, University of Connecticut Sea Grant Program; Jim O’Donnell, Executive Director, Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA); and David Vallee from NOAA’s National Weather Service. The Panel Moderator is Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President for Mission Programs, Mystic Aquarium

The event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5. Please see the link below for details about the event.


See you all soon!


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