Suzanne Matus, the New England Aquarium’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, recently gave a “State of the Aquarium” update before two community groups, NEWNC (North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council) and NEWRA (North End/Waterfront Residents Association).
Pandemic Effects and Reopening Plans
On March 13th, the Aquarium closed its doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ticket sales and events support 80% of the Aquarium’s $3.5 million monthly expenses. Facing budget decreases, the facility announced a series of layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and reduced work schedules in April.
Accompanied by several other Boston cultural institutions, a joint letter and collective petition were presented to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation for $6 billion in emergency aid under the CARES Act.
The Board of Trustees recently set up the Mission Forward Fund in an effort to replace lost revenue and remain resilient.
Included within Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plans, the Aquarium is looking forward to welcoming visitors back safely in the coming weeks.
Being able to reach new audiences and remain connected despite being closed to the public has driven efforts to increase engagement across social media.
At the beginning of May, virtual visiting and educational programming debuted, including live webcams offering opportunities for catching a glimpse of life inside the giant ocean tank and the activities of the African penguin colony.
Aquarium Explorer in Residence Brian Skerry has held online lectures talking about his adventures out in the field including his work as a photographer for National Geographic.
Ocean Stewardship and Research
Stewardship of Central Wharf remains a high priority.
Continuing to provide onsite care for more than 20,000 animals, 35 staff members have been reporting into the Aquarium daily while a crew of six operate out of the Animal Care Center in Quincy. Besides rescuing stranded sea turtles, the Quincy location routinely provides health and rehabilitative services to a wide variety of marine life.
Research efforts are ongoing, with surveying flights recently made over the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Situated just off the southeast coast of Cape Cod, researchers spotted two blue whales in late February. 50 bottlenosed and 150 striped dolphins were also identified.
Expressing concern over the Trump administration’s recent decision to modify the status of the 5,000 square mile monument to allow for commercial fishing, the Aquarium continues to work with fishermen and the commercial fishing industry in an effort to find a balance between the use of the ocean while advocating for biodiversity and resource conservation.