NORWALK, Conn. – State and city officials spent their morning at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk petting stingrays, jiggling jellies and exploring the institute’s research vessel as the aquarium and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection discussed ways they can mutually aid one another in their missions to protect the environment.
Aquarium President Brian Davis led the tour group, which included DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, Deputy Commissioners Mike Sullivan and Susan Whalen, State Sen. Bob Duff, and Mayor Harry Rilling.
Davis took them through some of the aquarium’s more popular galleries and exhibits, and took them out to explore the deck, classroom and amenities of the research vessel, the R/V Spirit of the Sound. The vessel not only takes groups and classes out to explore the wildlife of the Sound, but also collects valuable research data for scientists to monitor the ecosystem.
The purpose of the visit was to introduce the officials to the resources and mission of the aquarium, and to begin to explore ways that the two organizations can work together to research, protect and teach about Long Island Sound.
Davis said that one of the primary goals of the aquarium is to not only teach about the wildlife and ecosystem of Long Island Sound, but for guests to make a personal connection with the creatures that live there and to leave the aquarium inspired to do their part to protect the natural environment of the Sound.
“We really want to lead the charge in the ideas in relation to research and conservation in Long Island Sound,” Davis said at a group discussion following the tour. He said that the aquarium and the DEEP can work together to gather information about the sound, and also to teach that information to guests in an engaging way.
Klee said that many of the major themes of the agency fit in nicely with concepts that are explored at the aquarium, including climate change and the importance of recycling. He also said that it is important to have multiple perspectives around the table when discussing policy and regulations, and to have an agency like the aquarium that spread messages to communities on the importance of conservation.
Duff said that when public and private agencies like the DEEP and the aquarium work together, they can tackle important issues such as nonpoint source pollution.
“I think having this teamwork and having these kid of opportunities to network and coordinate really makes a big, big difference for everybody,” he said.
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