Coastal Perspectives lecture series begins Feb. 7

sTo Len makes a sound recording of the waterway at Sandy Point in West Haven.
sTo Len makes a sound recording of the waterway at Sandy Point in West Haven. Photo courtesy of sTo Len

The Coastal Perspectives lecture series begins its 27th year in February, hosting free presentations for the public at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in the Auditorium at the Avery Point campus of UConn. sTo Len, CT Sea Grant Arts Award recipient for 2022, will give the final talk on April 18.

The series is sponsored by CT Sea Grant, the Marine Sciences Department, the Maritime Studies program and the UConn Avery Point Director’s Office.

More information can be found here.

The series includes:

  •  Tuesday, February 7, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    Molly James, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
    Harmony of Nature – fostering connection to the environment through music
    Harmony of Nature is an international collaboration, science communication, and experimental music project between pianist Hea Youn “Sophy” Chung and oceanographer Molly M. James. Born out of an unlikely friendship and language exchange during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chung and James conceptualized the project and received initial funding from Arts Council Korea to plan and test its feasibility. Harmony of Nature converts natural phenomena into sounds through coding technology and expresses them in classical music. After converting data into sound, the goal is to convey current climate change and natural flow by expressing the nuances (shape, texture, etc.) of the natural phenomenon in classical music. By expressing invisible science and natural phenomena through art, we want to more effectively convey scientific concepts, especially the effects of climate change, through music. Ultimately, we want people to connect emotionally with nature and better understand their local environment.
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  • Tuesday, February 21, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    (Join us in-person or online! Sign-on information will be posted below about 1 week prior to the event.)
    Tim Pettee, Founder and President, Greens Ledge Light Preservation Society Inc.
    Preserving Our Maritime History: The Epic Restoration and Bright Future of Greens Ledge Light
    Tim is the founder and President of Greens Ledge Lighthouse Preservation Society. With initial funding from Tim and the Pettee family, The Greens Ledge Preservation Society bought and led the renovation of the 120-year old Greens Ledge Light located one mile offshore in Long Island Sound west of the Norwalk Islands. The 5-year, $2 million restoration was completed in summer 2022. Join us as Tim explores the history of Greens Ledge Light, one of many offshore sparkplug lighthouses in the Northeast US and shares the bold plans for the next 100 years of the lighthouse.
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  • Tuesday, March 7, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    (Join us in-person or online! Sign-on information will be posted below about 1 week prior to the event.)
    Timothy Dale Walker, Ph.D.; Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    Uncovering and Recentering the Maritime Underground Railroad
    Underground Railroad scholarship has focused almost exclusively on interior overland routes used to escape enslavement in the Antebellum South. Largely overlooked, however, is the great multitude of enslaved persons who made their way to freedom aboard merchant vessels plying coastal routes along the Atlantic seaboard. This crucial but neglected aspect of the Underground Railroad story is the focus of this talk — and a groundbreaking volume of essays edited by Timothy Walker published in 2021. With innovative scholarship and thorough research, Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad demonstrates that escaping bondage by sea was commonplace — especially from southern coastal regions where slave labor in maritime industries was ubiquitous. Such work gave enslaved people experience with vessels and seafaring, a knowledge of coastal geography, contact with ships’ crews from northern free states, and access to ocean-going northbound voyages. Successful escapes from the far South were almost all achieved by sea. By highlighting these little-known stories and describing the less-understood maritime side of antebellum escapes from bondage, this presentation will reshape our perception of how the Underground Railroad functioned, to provide a more comprehensive, accurate historical perspective.
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  •  Tuesday, March 21, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    (Join us in-person or online! Sign-on information will be posted below about 1 week prior to the event.)
    Sarah Porter, Filmmaker
    Horseshoe Crabs: How 350 Million Year Old Sea Creatures Are Vital to Our Survival
    NYC has a surprising amount of nature and wildlife, including thousands of horseshoe crabs that come to the shores in the spring to mate. With the worldwide race to develop and manufacture vaccines came renewed interest in these incredible sea creatures and their blue blood. These animals are over 350 million years old and have been critical to the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Although the bright blue blood plays a vital role in helping end the pandemic, their numbers are in decline. Numerous species, including humans, depend on horseshoe crabs and it’s up to us to help ensure their survival. For this mini documentary, Sarah went out into the field and spoke with some “local heroes” in NYC who have been protecting them. Her team explored the nighttime waters of Brooklyn with elementary students to help monitor and tag them, data that then helps determine catch limits on how many can be taken by the biomedical and fishing industry.
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  •  Tuesday, April 4, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    (Join us in-person or online! Sign-on information will be posted below about 1 week prior to the event.)
    Tessa L. Getchis, Connecticut Sea Grant, University of Connecticut; Department of Extension, University of Connecticut
    Zofia A. Baumann, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
    Ensuring the Future Viability of Connecticut’s Natural Oyster Beds
    Connecticut has nearly 10,000 acres of protected natural oyster habitat. Oysters and oyster farming are a highly valued part of Connecticut’s maritime economy, environment, and culture. These beds have served as the primary source of seed for the state’s multi-million-dollar oyster industry, have sustained commercial harvest for nearly two centuries, and are among the world’s few self-sustaining oyster populations. Yet there are environmental and human-induced impacts to these critical habitats that reduce their function and ability to provide ecosystem services. In 2018, the state began a major planning effort to restore its oyster beds. The effort focused on characterizing oyster habitat across the state, compiling environmental and human use data for decision-making, and establishing management, research, outreach, and policy actions to help further facilitate oyster restoration. It is anticipated that these collective efforts involving a multitude of partner organizations will grow the state’s capacity for oyster restoration, result in a net gain in ecosystem services provided by oyster habitats, and ensure the sustainability of the shellfish industry that depends upon them.
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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2023; 7:30 p.m.
    (Join us in-person or online! Sign-on information will be posted below about 1 week prior to the event.)
    sTo Len, Department of Sanitation Artist in Residence, NY
    The Art of Water, Waste, and Wonder
    Join us for a talk on interdisciplinary art, collaborating with water, and the act of embedding in a municipal agency as an artwork. Len will cover his evolution as an artist and his on-going Sanitation residency that has included ride-a-longs on collection trucks, activating lost archives, and trips to waste processing centers across NYC. sTo Len is a genre fluid artist from New York by way of Virginia and Vietnam.  Len works within this cultural dichotomy by incorporating issues of place, identity, history, and the environment. Growing up in the Washington DC area, sTo was influenced by the art and activism of the local punk scene, which he continues to embody through artwork that combines those ethics with experimental takes on traditional craft. sTo has exhibited his work internationally and co-founded the alternative art space Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn which held over a hundred exhibitions and events between 2004 – 2019.
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