Weston resident and current freshman at Dartmouth College, Emily Mead, quietly wants to make sure that the children of a small island nation in the Phoenix Islands have the learning tools they need to express their creativity and have some fun. Summer volunteering at The New England Aquarium, Emily learned that the children of Kanton island, part of the Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area (PIPA)) are so isolated, a thousand miles southwest of Hawaii, that obtaining basic supplies can be a challenge. When The New England Aquarium Marine Coral Scientist, Dr.Randi Rotjan and Ocean Photographer Keith Ellenbogen were planning the 2012 PIPA research expedition to study the thriving marine life, Emily saw an opportunity to reach out to the island’s Minister of Education who then provided her with a wish list from teachers, educators and children. Along with the scientific experiments, camera equipment, crew and experts, a box carefully stowed in the expedition boat containing a special message and thoughtfully assembled by Emily, was hand delivered at the end of the long trip across the Pacific.
The children of Kanton where delighted that someone oceans away took a special interest in their tiny island and sent letters of thanks, sparking a budding pen pal relationship with Emily Mead. Through Emily’s connection to this far away place, she has learned about the importance of Marine Protected Areas for ensuring revitalization for endangered marine species and economic stability for the habitants of the surrounding islands.
PIPA is one of the largest Marine Protected Area and a Unesco World Heritage Site. It seems so far away but Emily’s story is just one of many that connects us to this beautiful fragile and endangered ocean world. On April 2nd, Women Working for Oceans (womenworkingforoceans.org) will present “Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints ” with Dr.Randi Rotjan and Photographer Keith Ellenbogen at the Simon’s Imax Theater/New England Aquarium. Randi and Keith will take us on an ocean adventure, featuring the people of Kanton as well as the Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area, highlighting this pristine ecosystem through science and photography that will educate and inspire conservation.
Tickets are on sale HERE or on our “Events” page at womenworkingforoceans.org