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President’s Blog: December 11, 2017

Dear Friend:

Happy Holidays to all of you.  This has been a busy season of celebrations at the Mystic Aquarium.  Last Thursday, the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce honored two people who are near and dear to us.

Andy Wood:  Excellence In Tourism Award

Senior Vice President for External Relations Andy Wood received the Joyce Resnikoff Excellence In Tourism Award.  In her remarks, Ms. Resnikoff noted that during his five year tenure at Mystic Aquarium, Andy has established himself and Mystic Aquarium in the community and state as a leader in advocating for the tourism industry.

Andy’s work in this area includes chairing the Tourism Committee of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and past work on the Greater Mystic Visitors Bureau.  He has been engaged at the state level with the Department of Economic and Community Development on tourism issues, including the annual Governor’s Tourism Conference and efforts to create a robust, centralized marketing effort.

Congratulations to Andy on this well-earned recognition.

Andy Wood Receiving the Joyce Resnikoff Excellence in Tourism Award


Susette Tibus:  Lifetime Service Award

Trustee Susette Tibus was recognized by the Chamber with a Lifetime Service Award for her service to that organization and her incredible commitment to the Mystic community, including Mystic Aquarium.

The evening was punctuated by tributes to Susette.  Her sister, Carleen, gave a very moving speech about their father’s service during World War II.  A native of the Philippines, he was present when the nation was invaded by Japan.  He fought for the country, was himself tortured and was able to save his brother from the Bataan death march.

He then joined the United States Navy to continue fighting. He experienced terrible discrimination including a lack of appreciation for his extensive education, background in military intelligence, and demonstrated bravery.  He was assigned to serve as a cook and barber on a submarine.

After the war he settled in Groton, where he raised Susette, her sister and brother.  He was a barber who became counselor and friend to many in his local shop located in Uncasville.  I would like to share with you some excerpts from my remarks of the evening:

I am sure that Susette will share some comments about her father tonight.  In truth, any recognition that she ever receives she deflects to honor him. But his story is where her values come from, and like him she practices abiding loyalty, courage of convictions, deep patriotism, and an incredible work ethic.

Saint Paul wrote that the measure of all things is love.  I know for a fact that Susette hates Hallmark cards, but I also know that everyone in this room loves Susette and that she loves us, unconditionally.

Would I nominate Susette for sainthood?  Certainly not; she would never sit through the ceremony and she tends to swear sometimes.

Consider however, the words of the great philosopher, Eli Wiesel:  “The opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference.”

Tonight we celebrate someone who is never, ever indifferent.   She may well tell you she hates something you are wearing or something you said, but she never seeks to change anyone from who they are.  She is someone who empowers others and who, long before it was normative, embraces diversity, not as a concept, but in each person she meets…

Susette Tibus receiving the Lifetime Service Award


Recent Publication by Research Scientist, Dr. Paul Anderson

 Mystic Aquarium’s Dr. Paul Anderson, has been researching sharks for many years, including a project aimed at determining how to reduce the number of sharks killed accidentally as bycatch in New England waterways.  He recently published a scientific article on his work.  The abstract is below:

 Hyatt, M.W.; Anderson, P.A., and O’Donnell, P.M.  Influence of temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen on the stress response of bull (Carcharhinus leucas) and bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) sharks after capture and handling. Journal of Coastal Research.

Capture and handling stress can induce acidosis in sharks. This response, endured during commercial bycatch and in catch-and-release recreational fisheries, could be exacerbated in certain environmental conditions. To assess environmental influence on stress response, changes in acid-base physiology were evaluated immediately after capture and removal from gillnets among wild bull and bonnethead sharks caught in waters of differing temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. Time from capture to blood collection was also recorded. Effects of these water quality parameters on acid-base physiology were evaluated by modeling their ability to predict measures of acid-base physiology.  The models suggest that bull sharks experienced a mixed metabolic and respiratory acidosis in warmer waters and at the low end of their salinity tolerance, and that bonnethead sharks experienced a metabolic acidosis in warmer waters with a potential for respiratory acidosis at the high end of their salinity tolerance. In bonnethead sharks, capture and handling time exacerbated acidosis. Based on these findings, it is recommended that commercial and catch-and-release fisheries conduct operations cautiously during times of the year when water temperatures are high and salinities are at either extreme, by decreasing soak times, using the strongest proper tackle gear to reduce fight times, and releasing sharks as soon as possible after capture and detection.

Dr. Paul Anderson



Mystic Aquarium and UCONN Pre-College Program

 Thanks to Vice President of Conservation and Education, Kelly Matis, we are offering an excellent new program in collaboration with University of Connecticut in veterinary science.  Take a look at this program below listed on the UCONN website: .



‘Tis the Season

This is a magical time of year at Mystic Aquarium.  I want to share with you some images of the season.  Last Friday night more than 7,000 people converged on Mystic Aquarium for Festival of the Light! Each weekend this month we will continue to have special events, including visits from Santa and Rudolph.


Saxophone Santa and his biggest fan

Kix Dancers

Finally, something to warm your hearts: During Festival of Lights we collected over 9,000 pounds of non-perishable food and over $500 in monetary donations for the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center in New London.

See you all soon!



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