Friday, December 13, 2019

A Look at the Shedd's Scientific Research Efforts in the Bahamas

If you're like us, you love having the Shedd Aquarium so close to your house.  While we've wandered around the building many of times, we appreciated this long (and gated) article in the Chicago Tribune talking about the scientific research the institution is conducting in the Bahamas.  

It's a long one, but wanted to highlight this blurb that caught our attention:
The aquarium is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions, but few of the nearly 2 million annual visitors realize that it is more than a menagerie and spends more than $3 million annually on its field research team. The Shedd’s applied-science efforts have been refocused in recent years under CEO Bridget Coughlin, herself a Ph.D. in applied biochemistry, to have one group studying local freshwater aquatic life and the second working in the Bahamas, an independent country spanning some 600 miles to the east of southern Florida.
Their tight lens on Bahamian marine life takes advantage of the Miami-based Coral Reef II, commissioned by Shedd in 1984 for the collection of marine life to display back in Chicago but long since repurposed for science, a conversion mirroring the change zoos and aquariums have made toward conservation. This group of salt-water researchers was already studying creatures along the food chain from conchs to iguanas to groupers to sharks. Adding coral at the low end made sense, Coughlin says, because of coral’s huge significance in the marine environment and to the Bahamas and as a climate-change bellwether.
“It’s a great marrying of something the public understands — coral bleaching, temperatures of the ocean rising — and a great scientific endeavor,” Coughlin says. “What we do on site (is) to engage people with animals and then extrapolate it to out in the wild and how Shedd can contribute to the solution.”

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