E-Newsletter Articles

February 2012

It's a Girl!

January 14th, at 5am, our sea otter, Aniak, who was herself born at the Seattle Aquarium, gave birth to a bouncing baby… boy? Girl? Nobody could tell, and Aniak probably didn’t care—in the manner of new mothers everywhere, she was just glad her baby had all its flippers and whiskers, and survived an underwater-birth (approximately 50% of newborn sea otters don’t!)

Aniak’s pup weighed 3.43 pounds at birth and was roughly the size of a football—if a football were covered with thick, plushy fuzz. It is now a couple of weeks later, and how she’s grown—enough so that our biologists could finally determine her gender. By the time she is month old, she will have tripled her birth weight!

But she is still completely dependent on Aniak, spending most of her time resting on mama’s belly while Aniak floats on her back. It’s generally six weeks before a baby sea otter starts to dive or eat solid food, and it could be up to six months before she’ll be fully weaned—until then, Aniak is eating for two.

Normally, it costs us about $15,000 to feed just one adult sea otter per year (the Aquarium currently has three). However, as a nursing mother, Aniak eats more than usual. We’re very grateful to the institutional and individual donors whose non-restricted gifts go towards keeping all our sea otters well-nourished. If you would like to help support Aniak and her baby girl, you can donate online.

This will be even more important in the years ahead because we plan to keep this family together—which means, eventually, four mouths to feed! You can watch Aniak and our other otters live on our new otter cams or keep up-to-date on the otters’ lives on our blog.

Aquarium Receives Coastal America Partnerships Award

The Coastal America Partnership is a unique collaboration of federal agencies, state and local governments, and private organizations that work together to protect, preserve and restore our nation's coasts. This action-oriented partnership works to accomplish tasks that no one group could achieve alone.

For the past fifteen years, the Coastal America Partnership has recognized outstanding collaborative projects with the Coastal America Partnerships Award. This award is the highest honor for collaborative efforts given by the Obama Administration. Award recipients are leaders in protecting the coastal and marine environment.

This year, the Seattle Aquarium and the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary received the Coastal America Partnerships Award for our Ocean Science Program. This five-year, $600,000 collaboration aims to create change in K-12 science education by integrating Ocean Literacy within the curriculum and incorporating experiential learning experiences at local beaches.

The Ocean Science Program is designed for fourth- and fifth-grade students (and their teachers) who live in the Puget Sound and Olympic Coast regions. The components of this program include: teacher workshops, training, and support; parent and chaperone training; a classroom beach curriculum; and two all-expenses-paid field trips to Seattle Aquarium or the Fiero Marine Life Center. The program supports ocean literacy principles through experiential, place-based learning focusing on how the ocean affects weather and climate, is inextricably connected to humans, makes the Earth habitable, supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems, and is largely unexplored.

The Ocean Science Program has reached over 500 teachers, 15,000 students and 1,375 families across the (urban) Puget Sound and (rural) Olympic Coast region. The Seattle Aquarium is honored to receive this prestigious award and congratulates the staff that makes the Ocean Science Program a success.

Aquarium recognizes accomplishments of Dr. Elliott Norse

There are many people in our community who have dedicated their lives to conserving our marine environment. Each year, the Seattle Aquarium recognizes an individual whose leadership and lifetime accomplishments reflect his or her environmental dedication. Next week at the 2012 Chairman’s Dinner, we are proud to present Dr. Elliott A. Norse with the Seattle Aquarium Medal for his work protecting ocean ecosystems.

Dr. Norse is Founder and CEO of the Marine Conservation Institute, a Bellevue-based nonprofit dedicated to winning strong protection for ocean ecosystems worldwide. “After studying the seascape for all these decades, we of the Marine Conservation Institute feel we are ready to do something really big, something with biological and economic benefits, from Hood Canal to the remotest oceans on Earth,” says Dr. Norse.

Prior to starting Marine Conservation Institute, Dr. Norse held positions at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, President’s Council on Environmental Quality, Ecological Society of America, and Ocean Conservancy. Because of a workshop organized by Marine Conservation Institute, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13158 on marine protected areas. Dr. Norse also helped persuade President George W. Bush to protect the waters around the northwest Hawaiian Islands in 2006.

Dr. Norse is a lifelong lover of the Earth. “I spent my first years on an estuary in Brooklyn, NY. As I looked down into the green water and watched the sea anemones, sea squirts, crabs and fishes there, I was fascinated. I decided to become a marine biologist… at age 5,” says Dr. Norse.

“When I first earned my doctoral degree, I found that many of my fellow scientists cared deeply about conservation, but were unwilling to ‘come out’ and say that humans are destroying life on Earth. I felt that my number one mission was alerting people to the problem, and my number two mission was offering alternatives that the diversity of life and humankind could both live with. Now a lot more scientists proudly say that they want to address and offer solutions to environmental issues. And that could help to save us, our children, our grandchildren and future generations of humans,” proudly states Dr. Norse.

“We are honored to recognize the lifetime professional impact that Dr. Norse has had through the application of scientific rigor, writing talent and public policy leadership to the field of marine biology,” says Robert W. Davidson, President and CEO of the Seattle Aquarium. “His dedication to protecting the oceans for future generations is an inspiration to everyone concerned with the environment.”

Dr. Norse joins many other esteemed individuals who have received this award including Billy Frank, Jr. of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Governor Chris Gregoire, Kathy Fletcher of People for Puget Sound, Julie Packard of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sylvia A. Earle, Ph.D. of Mission Blue Foundation, G. Ross Heath, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, William C. Arntz, Director Emeritus of the Seattle Aquarium and William D. Ruckelshaus, first head of the EPA.

Save the Date(s)

Our 2012 Sound Conversations is almost here! Mark your calendar today for:

  • Underwater Vehicles for Ocean Exploration on March 1 by Fritz Stahr, Ph.D., manager of the Seaglider Fabrication Center at the University of Washington, which designs and builds remote-operated vehicles used to perform ocean research. Sponsored by: Puget Sound Pilots.
  • What Can Sea Otters Tell Us About the Ocean? on April 5 by research wildlife biologist James Bodkin who will be vising from the United States Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.
  • The Elwha River Undammed: Restoring an Ecosystem on May 3 with Lynda Mapes, a reporter at the Seattle Times.

This program is made possible by our Series Sponsors: COSEE, KING 5 Television and Holland America Line. A reception with light refreshments will precede each program. All of the programs will begin at 7pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

Why I: Terry McLaughlin

This month, Terry McLaughlin, the new Chair of the Board of Directors, shares why he stays involved with the Seattle Aquarium.

“I joined the Seattle Aquarium Board some 12 years ago because I was asked. I'm still at it because I came to appreciate what an important role it plays in our community.

I love to take my grandkids to see the fish, the puffins, the otters and the octopus. But I am more passionate about what these exhibits help them to better understand: the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of our marine environment. The Aquarium has an almost sacred trust to educate and inspire our community to preserve this gift for the next many generations to come.

With this mission, it is not hard to get engaged with the shaping of the Aquarium's future, both as an institution and as a place that reflects the values of our community. We have a unique opportunity to play a significant role in the future of our city as the planning moves forward for the design of a new waterfront. And I have every confidence that the Aquarium will take its proper place as the centerpiece of this exciting development.”

A Message from our President/CEO

As we begin 2012, I want to thank Dan Guy for his tremendous leadership as Board President for the past two years. And now it is my pleasure to introduce you to the new Chair of our Board of Directors, Terry McLaughlin. Terry has been an integral part of the board for over 10 years and an active leader in the community.

Terry co-chaired the teams that oversaw the transition of the Aquarium to nonprofit management. He has also served as Board Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, Finance Committee chairman, and on the Executive Committee.

Terry retired from The Professional Basketball Club of Seattle where he worked for twelve years as the company’s Executive Vice President. Prior to being with the Sonics and the Storm, he was the Deputy Director of the Seattle Center. Terry and his wife, Kathleen, enjoy bringing their two granddaughters to visit the Aquarium.

I am grateful to Terry for his leadership, insights and commitment to the Aquarium. I look forward to working with him in 2012 as we strive to implement our new Strategic Plan. Together, we can Inspire Conservation of our Marine Environment. Knowledge plus action!