Have you visited the Sant Ocean Hall?

I’m lucky enough to live and work in the DC metro area, one of the biggest reasons I love this city (besides being able to feel the thrill and excitement of the Inauguration this past weekend) is the access to free museums. If you’re an ocean lover you might be surprised to know that there are some great spots to visit in DC in between all of the historical monuments you’re checking out. One of my favorite spots to check out on a rainy afternoon in the extension of the National Aquarium on 14th Street. Another fantastic spot would be the Sant Ocean Hall in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. It is the largest and one of the newest exhibits in the museum and contains over 674 specimens, including a replica of a 45-foot-long North Atlantic Right Whale (pictured below), fish x-rays, a scalloped hammerhead (below),  and a giant squid! I cannot wait to visit next month when there’s an exhibit of underwater pictures by Brian Skerry (check out his National Geographic Ocean Soul book here). The next time you’re in DC you have to make a point to visit, as they say “like the real ocean, the deeper visitors explore – the more they will discover”. My two-year old loved all of the interactive exhibits and the space was buzzing with enthusiastic school children. I was particularly happy that the exhibit hall was large enough that we were never on top of anyone and could always escape the ‘enthusiastic school children’. Here are some pictures from my visit on Friday.






Don’t be blue!

The annual BLUE Film Festival was held from August 24-29 in beautiful Monterrey, CA. The event is sponsored by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and has recently become more and more mainstream attracting many high profile ocean community celebrities. The winner of the festival last year, The Cove, even won an Oscar for best documentary!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rick MacPherson’s overview of his time there this year as he recounted how Julie Packard, Executive Director of Monterrey Bay Aquarium, challenged the highly talented and knowledgeable audience on how to engage the public to “care enough to do something about it”. Sometimes it seems as though we try and try and still make no headway.

Of course, in the past thirty years the movement to create a public that cares certainly has taken some giant leaps forward. We’ve been made aware of the bountiful wonders of the ocean and there is a collective knowledge that the ocean is in peril. But, that is only the beginning. Attitudes, skills and participation must be challenged as well. How that happens and where it begins is a perplexing question and unique to each individual.

For instance, not too long ago, I asked some colleagues to see how they got a foothold into the environmental education field and mostly the answers did revolve around wanting to teach others about what we love: woods, mountains or oceans.

With me it has been the sense of place. People have linked a strong sense of place as a child to advocacy efforts in adulthood. For instance, would I be as interested in the ocean and fishing communities if I did not grow up in Cape May County, New Jersey? (In 2009, Cape May County was the fourth largest valuable fishing port in the United States.)

Maybe how we, the ocean advocacy community, begin to think about challenging attitudes, skills and participation levels is to remain optimistic. However, this is more often than not a very difficult task (I am about to have my first child so I am all about remaining optimistic and hopeful for the future).

But, in an effort not to let ourselves get too blue, here is a list of accomplishments that would not have occurred without such a dedicated ocean community:

This is only a fraction of what has been accomplished! Have another success story? Please add it in the comments to keep the momentum going strong. Thanks!

Image (c) http://www.vimooz.com