A journal of my first two weeks at Georgia Aquarium


Thanks to all of our followers who continue to read our Gaia Endeavors posts! Co-founders Arya Mazdyasni and I are working on a more consistent posting schedule now that I’m living my dream job and able to concentrate on writing at reasonable hours of the day. I have tried to sit down several times over the past two weeks to document my early experiences at Georgia Aquarium, but there are so many amazing opportunities on a daily basis that it has taken me until now to finally provide an update. Here are some of the highlights of my first two weeks as the Walker Conservation Fellow at Georgia Aquarium:

Day 1 & 2

o Orientation, behind-the-scenes tour, viewing of Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow
(which has a great message about avoiding pollution of the marine environment) and
taking in the fact that I am mere steps from the world’s single largest exhibit, Ocean
Voyager, with four whale sharks and 6.3 million gallons of water!

Day 3

o Meeting with Public Relations and Social Media to discuss coordinating efforts to
communicate information about coral conservation efforts. Great conversation with
Georgia Aquarium’s Dive Safety Officer about the necessary steps to be able to SCUBA
dive for my project.

Day 4

o I started my morning watching a preview of Ocean Mysteries: “Reef Madness” about
Coral Restoration Foundation’s (CRF) work to preserve coral reefs in the Upper Florida
Keys! Had a great “getting to know you” session with Senior Scientist Dr. Al Dove.

Day 5

o I caught up on three months of articles shared with me by fellow Property & Environment Research Center (PERC) Enviropreneur Fellows and began helping PERC plan a reef restoration workshop to take place with key stakeholders in the Florida Keys in 2012.

Day 6

o I learned all about the Aquarium’s history and gained additional knowledge about behind-the-scenes aspects through additional orientation. Planned critical meetings for the rest of the week.

Day 7

o My first day of really diving into the project! I started the morning meeting with Dr. Dove, held a kick-off conference call between Georgia Aquarium and CRF, had an hour long conversation with PERC about conference planning, and enjoyed a two plus hour long dinner with the Alex C. Walker Foundation.

Day 8

o I spent the day meeting with Kurt Schnier of Georgia State University and PERC to
discuss approaches to economic modeling for my project. I learned a lot about the
operations of the Aquarium’s main coral exhibit in Tropical Diver thanks to Kimberly Hall, Associate Curator Fish & Inverts, who helped develop it, literally from the ground up. Setup a busy schedule to get authorized to SCUBA dive with the Aquarium! I met Jeff
Corwin, host of Ocean Mysteries, and talked briefly about coral conservation!

Day 9

o A great day of catching up on critical to do items – worked on the project budget,
planned attendance for the 2nd Reef Resilience Conference taking place in Fort
Lauderdale October 18-19, wrote a draft article about the project goals and attended the
Aquarium’s “Aqua Vino” fundraiser event! It was a fun evening of great food/drinks and

Day 10

o The end of an amazing first two weeks at the Aquarium! Getting everything set for
a busy next week. I’m traveling to Fort Lauderdale for three days and then in scuba
training for the rest of the week!

I’m planning to do some live tweeting from Fort Lauderdale while attending the 2nd Reef Resilience Conference. Check it out on Twitter @BrettWHowell and join Gaia Endeavor’s mailing list by clicking on the navigation bar above!

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