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World Wildlife Day – Dr. Peter Auster

Part of my work is focused on studies of change in diversity of marine communities over time and in relation to different levels of protection from human disturbance.  My other focus is on the role of species-interactions in protected versus impacted habitats.  My overall goal is to identify the rules that govern communities of organisms in different ecological settings and to inform policy makers, managers and stakeholders involved in the conservation and sustainable use of our natural heritage. 

Mystic Aquarium is the venue that highlights the spectacular diversity of our ocean planet and translates the science my colleagues and I do to inform the public about current ocean issues.  We don’t tell people what to think, but give them the facts about how to think about issues and to decide if and how to participate in the public process to conserve our oceans.  

Lot’s is going on in regard to efforts to protect biodiversity in the oceans, but issues of economic priority over conservation and sustainable use pervade these discussions.  Locally, the Connecticut Blue Plan for Long Island Sound is winding through the CT Legislature in Hartford for approval.  At the regional level, the New England Fishery Management Council recently passed, and NOAA approved, a Deep Sea Coral Amendment to conserve deep sea coral ecosystems in the northeast region.  On a global scale, negotiations are underway at the United Nations for a new treaty to conserve Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ), as a component of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  All this may sound rosey byt continued vigilance to insure these efforts proceed and are not weakened is critical for success.  All these kinds of efforts will help maximize the diversity of life on earth that emerges on the other side of a rapidly changing climate and stabilization of the human population on our planet.

Life in the ocean is largely out of sight and out of mind.  The focus of WWD shines a light on life beneath the waves, and hopefully engages more people to care, and to act!

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