Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Snorkeling with Alexandra Cousteau


In 2009 the Tennessee Aquarium was awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase inland residents’ awareness of their connection to the ocean.  One part of this ambitious project is the “Our Blue Planet” lecture series that has brought leaders in ocean research and conservation to the Tennessee Aquarium.  Last week, the last speaker of the series is part of a family whose name is synonymous with ocean exploration: Alexandra Cousteau.

Like her grandfather, Alexandra is a passionate environmentalist.  She is an advocate for sustainable management of our water resources.  She has traveled the globe to locations where watersheds have been negatively impacted by water misuse, but also to places where sustainable management of water has been successful.  Her mission is to "engage individuals around the world through telling the story of our water planet."

She accomplished this mission as she spoke to high school students in the morning, then to a full house in our IMAX theater that evening.  She showed some of the short documentaries she has filmed all over the world, but focused on some of the imperiled watersheds in North America, including the Emory River, the Colorado River, the Potomac River, and Mobile Bay.  These videos, as well as her no-nonsense presentation style, were successful at motivating citizens of all age groups.  She encouraged all of us to be conscious of our water use, and to be advocates for our watersheds.  Everyone has the right to clean water.

We decided to take Alexandra to the Hiwassee River and show her some of the aquatic wildlife that makes the Southeastern U.S. so unique.  We were joined by two Waterkeepers:  Donna Lisenby the Watauga Riverkeeper, and David Whiteside the Tennessee Riverkeeper.  We had a brief, but eventful, time on the Hiwassee. Our catches included three Hellbenders, a Tangerine Darter (Percina aurantiaca), and one of the most controversial fish in history, the Snail Darter (Percina tanasi).  It was a great day on the river and everyone had a good time. We hope Alexandra will come back.

Donna Lisenby and Alexandra Cousteau with a Hellbender

Tangerine Darter (Percina aurantiaca)


Snail Darter (Percina tanasi)
TNACI with a tanasi!

Anna and Alexandra with a Hellbender
All photos taken by Andree Herbert.

Here's a great video about the day from our friend, Donna Lisenby.

1 comment:

mohona akter said...

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