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March 29, 2012

Salute to Stellwagen: Free lectures celebrate sanctuary's anniversary

It's been 20 years since the federal government recognized the rich marine ecosystem known as Stellwagen Bank as a special place — and one worthy of being designated as a National Marine Sanctuary.

To celebrate that milestone, Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop has organized a series of star-studded lectures focusing onhave been organized over the next five weeks.

These talks are varied to interest the general public, ranging from one about what whales hear in the water to shipwrecks to a presentation about seabirds just off Cape Ann's shores. There are also opportunities for the Cape Ann community to participate in key research monitoring birds.

All talks are free and take place at 7 p.m. in the Gorton's Gallery at the new wing at Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop. The talks scheduled are:

Tonight: "Between the Arms of Cape Cod and Cape Ann: A History of Fishing on Stellwagen Bank" presented by William Leavenworth and Karen Alexander. Leavenworth — who has a doctorate in history from the University of New Hampshire, with a dissertation in colonial New England maritime environmental history — is primary environmental historian for the UNH Gulf of Maine Cod Project.

Alexander has been published in historical and scientific journals, and, is coeditor of "Shifting Baselines: The Past and Future of Ocean Fisheries," published by Island Press in 2011. Their work will be featured in the upcoming PBS series, "Saving the Ocean."

April 5: "Seabirds of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary" presented by Wayne Petersen and Anne-Marie Runfola. Petersen, of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, is an expert ornithologist and photographer, and has written or contributed to countless bird field guides. Runfola is volunteer program coordinator for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

April 12: "The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary - Its Future" presented by Les Kaufman, a professor of biology in the Boston University Marine Program, the Senior Marine Scientist for Conservation International, an associate in Ichthyology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and research scholar at The New England Aquarium. Kaufman, who holds a doctorate in marine biology from Johns Hopkins, has conducted research in the Mass Bay—Stellwagen Bank area for 31 years. Whenever possible he is outdoors, either fishing, hiking, birdwatching, or diving.

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