MERI’s 2012 ocean environment lecture series celebrates Rachel Carson Blue Hill. Originally published in Compass, May 17, 2012, http://meriresearch.org/

On September 20, MERI Director Dr. Susan Shaw will give the keynote lecture in the series: “In The Footsteps of Rachel Carson: Can Our Oceans Survive?

Fifty years ago, biologist Rachel Carson brought the world’s attention to the toxic and persistent effects of pesticides like DDT on wildlife and humans through her landmark book, Silent Spring. The Marine Environmental Research Institute has dedicated the 2012 Ocean Environment Lecture Series to honor this courageous biologist whose ideas galvanized public opinion and helped give birth to America’s environmental movement. Carson had deep roots in Maine and wrote Silent Spring while living on Southport Island, in the Sheepscot River.

On September 20, MERI Director Dr. Susan Shaw will give the keynote lecture in the series: “In The Footsteps of Rachel Carson: Can Our Oceans Survive?” Her presentation will focus on Carson’s legacy and its relevance to recent discoveries of the rising toxicity in the oceans that is driving marine species to the brink of extinction. 

“Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson warned about the dangers of pesticide spraying on land. Today it is our oceans that are in peril, and marine mammals—seals, dolphins, whales—are so polluted that their bodies are labeled hazardous waste when they wash up on our beaches,” Dr. Shaw said in a press release. “Saving our oceans is a survival issue for all of us.”

In March, Shaw received the prestigious Explorers Club Citation of Merit Award for her leadership in ocean research and conservation.

This special lecture will be introduced by noted author, journalist and wildlife advocate Cherie Mason who campaigned successfully to secure federal funds for the expansion of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine. Known for her long-running environmental radio program on WERU, Mason will include in her talk a portion of the famous 1963 CBS TV interview with Rachel Carson following the publication of Silent Spring. 

Together with fellow ocean advocates Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Anne Doubilet, Dr. Shaw will participate in a June 8 joint celebration of World Ocean Day and the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring. The event at University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center in Portland is sponsored by the Maine Coastal Program and highlights the work of outstanding women in marine science and exploration.

All the 2012 Rachel Carson Lectures are sponsored in part by Cornerstones of Science, a national science literacy initiative based in Brunswick. This year, MERI has assembled an extraordinary group of experts to discuss some of the most pressing issues affecting our oceans in this century and selected lectures will be broadcast on MPBN’s popular Speaking in Maine radio series.

Other eminent speakers from different scientific disciplines in this year’s line-up include:

May 17: Acclaimed explorer Dr. Paul Mayewski reports on climate disruptions from human activity observed from more than 50 expeditions to remote locations like the Himalayas.

June 14: Conservation International’s Dr. Steve Katona will explain a “Dow Jones” measure of ocean health and discuss whether our actions to address the crisis make a difference. 

July 25: Marine biologist-turned-film-producer Dr. Randy Olsen will describe the Ocean Media Project and how scientists can better communicate through story telling. 

August 15: Dr. Nancy Knowlton, a leading coral reef researcher studying marine biodiversity, takes on the challenge of finding ocean conservation success stories.
October 18: Oceanographer Dr. Kara Lavender Law will present a unique perspective on 25 years of plastic floating in the oceans, via a tall ship that sails the seas with student scientists on board.

All lectures begin at 7 p.m. at the MERI Center For Ocean Research, 55 Main St. Blue Hill, with a reception honoring the speaker at 6 p.m. For dates and times of all the lectures this year, go to the MERI website meriresearch.org or call MERI at 374-2135.