E-Newsletter Articles

January 2012

Julie's Fur Seal Research

The Seattle Aquarium is one of only four institutions across the country that have Northern fur seals on exhibit—and since the passing of our oldest male fur seal, Al, in December, the number of animals living in zoos and Aquaria in the United States has dropped to only ten. Al was well-loved by our community, and his companions Commander and Woodstock continue to charm Aquarium visitors every day. But the importance of these animals extends well beyond their ability to entertain —they also play an important role in helping scientists understand the challenges facing wild populations such as those living in Alaska’s Pribliof Islands where the birth rate has dropped by 5% every year since 1998.

No one is quite sure why this is happening, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been sending scientists to the Pribliof Islands to conduct research on the Northern fur seal population for several years—and often those scientists compare their findings—for example, blood analysis—with that of our Aquarium fur seals to validate the data collected in the field.

This year, Seattle Aquarium mammal biologist, Julie Carpenter, had an opportunity to strap on protective gauntlets and join NOAA scientists in the remote Pribliofs as they performed their annual Northern fur seal research. This was a great experience for Julie, but it was a wonderful bonus for the Aquarium as well, since she returned from this trip with a deeper understanding of these majestic animals and the challenges facing them in the wild. Julie will be able to share her newfound knowledge and first-hand experiences with Aquarium staff and visitors as part of our continuing mission to inspire conservation of our marine environment.

If you’d like to learn more about Julie’s adventures in her own words, please visit our blog.

Why I

Why I is a new section we are adding to the monthly Aquarium newsletter. It will feature statements from volunteers, donors and staff as to why they feel the Aquarium is an important institution to support.

“We support the Aquarium because the Aquarium works to improve the health of Puget Sound's ecosystem, in addition to providing a fun way to learn about its inhabitants. We learn so much from coming to the playful and educational events the Aquarium holds throughout the year, and it's a great place to bring visitors!” – Julia Buck & BJ Last, Aquarium donors

“I support the Seattle Aquarium because of its unique position as a link between Puget Sound and the four million inhabitants surrounding its shores.

Puget Sound is a remarkable resource. We take from it every day. It fills our souls with its aesthetic beauty and our larders with food. It recycles our wastes. We recreate on it and under it. We transport across it. It is a source of many of our livelihoods. Yet we take it for granted and know so little about how it really works. The Seattle Aquarium is one of a few organizations in the Puget Sound area dedicated to understanding and conserving this fragile resource.

My reasons for supporting the Aquarium and its conservation efforts are purely selfish. I want my children and their children to enjoy the same aesthetic benefits that I enjoy. I want those future generations to experience Puget Sound as I have. I want them to be able to walk a beach strewn with driftwood, to hear the call of a loon, to taste a freshly caught crab, and to see the miracle of a salmon spawning in a nearby creek.

Without educating those four million people about the fragility of where they live and conserving the resources we currently have, all of my selfish dreams are for naught. “ – Rick Titcomb, Aquarium volunteer and donor

Chairman's Dinner - February 9th

Each year Seattle Aquarium’s Board of Directors proudly hosts an event to honor and recognize individuals who are making important contributions to further the Seattle Aquarium’s mission: “Inspiring Conservation of our Marine Environment.” The Ninth Annual Chairman’s Dinner will be held at the Aquarium on February 9th.

This year the Board of Directors will be honoring Seattle Aquarium Medal recipient Elliott Norse. Dr. Norse has worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and President’s Council on Environmental Quality. Dr. Norse has published over 140 publications on conservation, and has greatly affected public policy through connecting scientific research to critical decisions affecting the marine environment. The Aquarium would like to honor Dr. Norse’s leadership in helping to preserve the archipelago that is now officially the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, as well as his outstanding contributions to understanding ocean acidification and the study of Pacific Northwest deep-water corals.

The Chairman’s Dinner will also be presenting James L. Bodkin with the Seattle Aquarium Research Award, a grant made each year by the Board of Directors in honor of outstanding field leadership by an individual. James Bodkin leads the sea otter and coastal marine ecosystems project for the United States Geographic Survey’s Alaska Science Center. He has spent more than 30 years studying sea otters from California to Russia and has published more than 100 papers resulting from his research.  Bodkin is currently based at the USGS Marrowstone Point Research Station in Port Townsend, and has been working on the sea otter research project - Coastal Ecosystem Responses to Influences from Land and Sea.

The Seattle Aquarium will also bestow the Scott S. Patrick Inspirational Award to a Board Member whose service to the Aquarium best exemplifies personal passion for the Aquarium, volunteer enthusiasm, effort, spirit, and sense of giving. The recipient of the 2012 award will be announced on the night of the Chairman’s Dinner.

Members of the Board of Directors and Seattle Aquarium staff are looking forward to sharing the amazing accomplishments of these award recipients with the Seattle and marine conservation communities. Please join us if you can.

A Message from our CEO

As I look back on all we accomplished in 2011, I am pleased to report that Seattle Aquarium staff and volunteers have continued to provide excellent programing to children and families in our community.

Later this year, you will receive our annual report. In the meantime, I want to tell you about the impact your gift of time and financial support to our community has had. During the past school year we taught and inspired over 39,000 students at the Aquarium. Many of these youth come from disadvantaged homes and are only able to get a hands-on learning experience at the Aquarium because of your support. We also partnered with 13 schools through the Citizen Science program for more in-depth educational opportunities in the field as high school students investigated the beaches near where they live.

The Aquarium board completed a strategic plan that outlines our priorities through 2030. One of those priorities was to engage our conservation peers so we can work in partnership to accomplish the goals set forth for cleaning up Puget Sound. The Marine Conservation Network was launched in 2011 and brings together the leaders of 15 local organizations who are committed to conserving Puget Sound.

I look forward to sharing with you additional ways you have promoted the education and conservation efforts of the Aquarium. Together, we can Inspire Conservation of our Marine Environment. Knowledge plus action!