Making Marine Conservation Matter: The Maritime Aquarium

A Familiar Fin made its latest appearance this weekend at the Maritime Aquarium’s Ocean Litera”sea” event! Asked to speak as a featured local author, I shared my book with aquarium-goers, young and old.

Now, I had been to South Norwalk’s aquarium before, but only as an observer. Saturday, I had the privilege of going behind the scenes of the shark exhibit. Sandtigers and other species cruised around the cage with ease, slipping by the enormous glass windows. Standing above the shark tank (pictured below), I listened to the volunteer divers inside the tank participate in a Question and Answer session with curious onlookers. Thanks to new technology, the lead diver in the tank can hear questions posed by inquiring ocean-lovers, and respond in real time.

One of my favorite questions posed on Saturday was the classic, “are you scared?” Chuckling a little, the diver responded with an emphatic no—maintaining that she dives with these sharks every day and finds them to be quite calm and docile even in her presence.

Amazingly, the divers told me that the sharks are even thought to be able to identify each diver. Newer divers the sharks tend to stay away from, while more frequent divers receive a warmer reception—likely a result of sharks’ electroreception, or ability to detect unique electrical impulses from living beings.

After witnessing, first-hand, the incredible work the Maritime Aquarium does to dispel negative myths about sharks (I mean, they quite literally prove to their audience that sharks aren’t man-eaters), I came home inspired and full of hope for the future of our oceans!