The Adventure Begins

Todd McLeish

Natural History writer Todd McLeish, who has just published his third book, “Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World,” will kick off the 2013-2014 Adventure Series on October 17.

For more than 65 years Mystic Seaport has hosted the Adventure Series, providing attendees a unique opportunity to meet each “adventurer” firsthand and experience a wide range of challenges—both on the sea and land all over the world. The 2013-2014 Adventure Series, “In the Wake of the Whale and Other Environmental Issues,” features topics ranging from the elusive narwhal in the Arctic, to rowing across the Atlantic, the rebirth of South Georgia, and the Charles W. Morgan’s upcoming 38th Voyage.

Todd McLeish kicks off the series Thursday, October 17, with his multimedia presentation “Arctic Whales in a Melting World.” The Rhode Island-based author, who has been writing about wildlife and environmental issues for more than 20 years, will recount his adventures studying the elusive narwhal, the northernmost whale on the planet—the whale with the  spiral tusk. McLeish will discuss the work of narwhal researchers who are seeking to solve the mysteries of the animal’s migrations and the purpose of its tusk; the importance of narwhals in Inuit culture and how the warming planet is affecting the species; and the many other unique animals living in the narwhal’s frozen world, from walruses and polar bears to bowhead and beluga whales. Copies of McLeish’s new book Narwhals will be available for purchase and signing.

Upcoming presentations include:

Mark Roye and Nancy Krill Mark Roye and Nancy Krill: “Polar Bears to Penguins”
November 21

Roye and Krill dreamed of sailing to more challenging destinations than the tropics–they wanted to follow the routes of the early Yankee maritime fur traders, sealers, and whalers, particularly those venturing around Cape Horn to the Pacific Northwest. Roye’s passion for story-telling and maritime history, combined with Krill’s fine photography, chronicles voyages aboard their 44′ ketch Tamara from Hudson Strait to Alaska, by way of Newfoundland, the Azores, Cape Verde, Brazil, Argentina, the Falklands, Cape Horn, Antarctica, Chile, and the Galapagos. The couple was awarded the 2011 Cruising Club of America’s Charles H. Vilas Prize and the 2012 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.

Katie SpotzKatie Spotz: “Alone Across the Atlantic in a Rowboat”
December 19

At age 24, Katie Spotz has a long list of accomplishments, but her most remarkable feat was a row across the Atlantic Ocean in 2010 which lasted 70 days, setting a world record from Africa to South America for the youngest solo ocean rower. Throughout her row, Spotz wasn’t just seeking to make history, she was also raising money for the Blue Planet Network, a nonprofit funding safe drinking water projects for the billion people around the world in need. As interest grew of Spotz’s efforts, donations came flooding in and the total, to date, is more than $150,000.

Rachael Miller, Rozalia Project's founder and executive directorRachael Miller: “What’s Down There”
January 16

Founder and Executive Director of Rozalia Project, Rachael Miller, will visit Mystic Seaport to present an eye-opening talk about what’s lurking in the urban and coastal waters of Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and the Gulf of Maine. Miller will discuss the problem of marine debris in our waters and describe her trash-hunting adventures that include getting attacked by a lobster, freeing an octopus, and making some unusual finds while picking up more than 500,000 pieces of ocean trash together with 10,500 participants all over the United States.

Thies MatzenThies Matzen: “South Georgia in the Wake of the Whale”
February 20

South Georgia is an island of superlatives: a glaciated Himalaya protruding from a storm-torn ocean, a Serengeti in Antarctic climes. Its coasts, in summer, hold the highest density of birds and mammals on this planet. It is one of the ultimate meeting points of bird and sea life on earth. Blue Water medalists Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson stayed on South Georgia for 26 months – through two winters – living aboard their iconic 30′ wooden sailboat Wanderer III. Industrial whaling, the fateful interaction between our planet’s most intelligent and its largest inhabitant, started in South Georgia. Half a century later, its whaling stations are succumbing to the forces of nature. The island is now taking the lead in changing its legacy from exploitation to rehabilitation.

Joe RomanJoe Roman: “Raising Whales: How Cetaceans are Helping Restore the Oceans”
March 20

Joe Roman is an author and conservation biologist who has tracked whales from the Bay of Fundy to the sushi bars of Japan. He will discuss his examination of the history and future of whales in the modern ocean, using DNA technology and the collection of fecal plumes. Before the age of industrial whaling, cetaceans exerted significant influences on marine ecosystems, not only as consumers of fish, but also by pumping nutrients to the surface, increasing ocean productivity. After death, whale falls bring massive pulses of nutrients to the deep sea, sequester carbon, and provide habitat and food for many deep sea creatures. Whales are now recovering after centuries of commercial harvest. Roman will discuss these restoration efforts and how great whales can help maintain the health and resilience of the oceans.

Dana HewsonDana Hewson with the Charles W. Morgan Captain: “Readiness for the Morgan’s 38th Voyage”
April 17

Dana Hewson, Vice President for Watercraft Preservation and Programs at Mystic Seaport, will team up with the to-be-announced captain of the Charles W. Morgan when she sails on her 38th Voyage to historic ports of New England in May 2014. They will describe how the 19th-century wooden whaleship, built to hunt whales, was prepared for a 21st-century voyage of discovery and education. The program marks a special send-off to the Morgan before she leaves in mid-May 2014 to fulfill her new ambassador role.