Following a busy summer, Mystic Seaport was honored recently to host a large group of visitors from the sanctuary program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries manages thirteen sanctuaries encompassing more than 150,000 square miles of U.S. ocean and Great Lakes waters. Representatives from these various sanctuaries, along with senior leadership and policy makers, convened in Mystic as part of a five-day NOAA conference to help shape their future initiatives.

In their remarks, NOAA leaders stressed collaboration as essential in our work to preserve, protect, and promote the nation’s ocean resources. Their visit emphasized this need to establish productive working relations to raise awareness about important heritage sites around the country. Dan Basta, the Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, cited the Mystic area, and the Seaport and the Aquarium specifically, as fine examples of how to work together successfully to raise awareness.

Our work with NOAA stretches back many years, and the museum currently has a memo of understanding with senior administrators that will ensure our continued productivity for years to come. In June 2008, Mystic Seaport hosted a three-day Whaling Heritage Symposium sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This one of a kind symposium included plenary presentations, speaker panel sessions, public talks, tours, dinners and receptions – all focused on enhancing our understanding of crucial aspects of the whaling past. Other partners included the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. From what I have heard from those in attendance, this conference established important relationships that are still paying off two years later.

As we look ahead, our ongoing collaboration with NOAA and other compatible institutions will become even more important as we prepare to take the Charles W. Morgan on her 38th Voyage. Many ideas were shared at our recent meeting, and I believe that these relationships will continue to be beneficial to our efforts to educate and inspire.

Our recognized ability to share knowledge and convene a group of like-minded advocates and leaders is one of the best things about Mystic Seaport. In partnership with both NOAA and the Sea Research Foundation, we are poised to do extraordinary things. I look forward to keeping you updated on our shared progress as we all move forward together.