‘The Seacoast Science Center became involved in ocean planning before we really knew what it was. In 2008, we were offered the skeleton of a juvenile humpback whale that had been hit by a ship outside Boston Harbor. As soon as we saw it we knew that the 32′ long skeleton could become the centerpiece of our exhibits, but we struggled with how to tell our visitors–mostly families with young children—how this young whale died. Named Tofu for her white fluke, whale biologists knew her life story: her family tree, where she was born, even when and where she died. We knew people would relate to Tofu, and telling her story would connect people be to the ecology of Gulf of Maine whales, but that her cause of death would be upsetting: Tofu was hit by a ship. Our visitors are visibly saddened when they learn this. People want to know how to prevent ship strikes, and that is where ocean planning comes in.
Tofu was hit in the middle of the shipping lane in Boston Harbor that ran right through the whale feeding grounds. Too late for Tofu but not for other whales, an agreement was reached by the shippers, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, the Coast Guard and environmentalists to move the shipping lanes slightly to the north to reduce the risk of whale strikes.
This is a perfect example of how by paying attention to nature, people can make small changes, like moving a line on a map, that will have a big impact. Everyone, even children nod and understand it immediately.
Adults realize that changing a major shipping lane is not as simple as moving a line on a map. However, they also know that the ocean is changing, that ocean health is under increasing pressure and we need to manage ocean resources differently. They understand the value of good science and mapping and agree that using this information to decide what to do and where just makes sense. Now when we tell Tofu’s story, we include ocean planning. People come away with a better understanding of whales, the sea, and how human’s can have a positive impact on the future ocean: for the Seacoast Science Center, that’s the ocean education trifecta.’
Read more from Wendy here.
©2015 Rick Friedman Photography