President’s Blog: March 4, 2019
President's Blog

President’s Blog: March 4, 2019

March 4, 2019 Dear Friend of Mystic Aquarium: Before I…

March 4, 2019

Dear Friend of Mystic Aquarium:

Before I reveal to you several exciting developments here at Mystic Aquarium, please allow me to share the extraordinary accomplishments of 2018. Some key highlights of the past year include:

  • We welcomed nearly 800,000 guests in 2018, well over our goal of 750,000
  • We raised more than $11 million in funding including $2.25 million for the national youth conservation mentoring program and $1.5 million for completion of the Aquaculture Laboratory in the Milne Center
  • Our conservation and education programs reached more than 150,000 people
  • Four new exhibits including Jurassic Giants, Discover Long Island Sound, an improved Covanta Cove and the Ocean Power Technologies exhibit were opened
  • Approximately $3 million in infrastructure improvements were completed including maintenance to the Foxwoods Marine Theater and installation of a new beluga lift system in the Arctic Coast that will allow us to expand our already exemplary animal care.
  • We welcomed two Steller sea lions from another facility, underscoring our unique role as the only institution in the contiguous United States caring for this iconic and endangered species
  • Animal care professionals assisted with the rescue and rehabilitation of a stranded beluga calf in Alaska
  • 18 seals were treated and released from the Animal Rescue Clinic
  • 20 surgeries were completed in the new John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation Veterinary and Animal Health Center
  • We made significant advancements in our diversity efforts including a 21% increase in the number of minority vendors working at Mystic Aquarium


Last Friday evening we officially dedicated and opened the Milne Ocean Science and Conservation Center.

Milne Center

This $10 million addition to our campus includes:

  • A conference facility for up to 300 people
  • A $1.5 million Aquaculture Laboratory that will service our fish and invertebrate quarantine and holding needs as well as the breeding of exotic display fish and related research efforts
  • Digital learning spaces for our educational programs
  • An art gallery where conservation-themed art by local artists can be displayed and celebrated
  • Offices and meeting space for our education and conservation team
  • Direct access to the Wiederhold Foundation Veterinary and Animal Health Center for seamless collaborative activities and public engagement in animal care


Here are some news stories about the opening. Please click the links to read.

The Day


Westerly Sun

Many thanks to all on our team who have worked so hard to assure that this building was finished on time. Special thanks to Keith Sorensen, Dr. Allison Tuttle, Kelly Matis, Roz Gilhuly and their respective teams for their tireless efforts.


We celebrate the return of Natasha, a beautiful beluga who resided at Mystic Aquarium many years ago. The teamwork in the coordination of her travel from San Antonio and placement in the Arctic Coast habitat was incredibly inspiring. Curator of Marine Mammals and Birds, Laurie Macha, deserves special thanks and recognition for her outstanding work in managing this complex process.


Mystic Aquarium is a center for global research for the conservation of beluga whales with a core team of five full-time scientists studying belugas within a larger, world-renowned marine science research program. We operate state of the art laboratories dedicated to beluga research and our scientists all hold faculty appointments with the University of Connecticut.

Beluga research conducted at Mystic Aquarium is intended to increase general knowledge on beluga whales and produce favorable outcomes for endangered beluga populations such as those in Cook Inlet, Alaska and the Saint Lawrence Estuary in Canada.

Consistent with recommendations for research contained in the “Cook Inlet Beluga Recovery Plan”, Mystic Aquarium’s research includes the following investigations:

  • Health and the physiological response to environmental and anthropogenic stressors
  • Development of non-invasive techniques to assess health in wild beluga populations
  • Beluga hearing and the potential impacts of marine sound on the wild populations
  • Development of photogrammetry to more accurately measure the size, body condition and reproductive status of wild beluga populations
  • Dive physiology of belugas to better understand how anthropogenic stressors that interrupt diving are impacting health of wild populations
  • Baseline understanding of the microbiome of belugas so that bacterial infections and other diseases adversely impacting beluga populations can be understood
  • Evaluating beluga behavior and reproduction patterns in a controlled setting to better understand optimal conditions for reproduction in the wild
  • Testing deployment and viability of telemetry devices and cameras for deployment on wild populations


We are very proud of our strong presence in social media.  Please take a look at the following story featuring Adam Cilley from our staff. Please click the link to read.

The Day


We are incredibly grateful to the ongoing and dedicated support that comes from visitors, members and donors. It is this spirit of cooperation that we are able to achieve successes like those in 2018 and allows us to continue to inspire current and future generations of ocean stewards through conservation, education and research.

Thank you for all that you do to make this community a better place and to fulfill our important mission, every day.


Stephen M. Coan, PhD

President and CEO

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