Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

Sea Research Foundation, Inc.

  • Mystic, CT
  • http://www.mysticaquarium.org

Mission Statement

The mission of Sea Research Foundation, Inc. d/b/a Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research.

Main Programs

  1. Mystic Aquarium
  2. Aquatic Research
  3. Education
  4. Conservation Initiatives
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Sea Research Foundation's Mystic Aquarium is located in Mystic, Connecticut. The Aquarium is the largest informal science education provider in Connecticut, reaching over 100,000 students annually. Our research team conducts studies around the world, including in Alaska, the Arctic, South Africa and Singapore. Our STEM Mentoring program works with Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the United States to positively impact the social development and academic achievement of at-risk
and high-risk youth. Since 1973, we have hosted more than 20 million visitors, provided direct educational programs for over 2 million children and adults, published over 150 scientific reports, and pioneered the care, display and study of thousands of species of marine life.

ruling year

1997

Principal Officer since 2008

Self-reported

Dr. Stephen M. Coan

Keywords

Self-reported

Mystic Aquarium,Marine mammal, fish and invertebrate research and education and deep sea archaeology

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Also Known As

Mystic Aquarium

EIN

06-1480300

 Number

2311927241

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Marine Science and Oceanography (U21)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Taking a closer look at the many facets of Mystic Aquarium reveals that it offers much more than a traditional aquarium. From running an in-house preschool, to offering a safe space and free programs for children and adults with special needs, to rehabilitating and releasing stranded marine mammals, to connecting underserved children across the country with inspiring role models and mentors, to conducting world-class research on multiple continents, to sending its staff to the far reaches of the planet to help save endangered species, Mystic Aquarium is truly a unique and important institution on a local and global level. The following is just a sampling of some recent major awards, honors, and accomplishments of the Aquarium:
• In 2010, Mystic Aquarium's Sea School became the country's first and only licensed pre-school based out of an aquarium.
• In 2012, Mystic Aquarium was recognized for the opportunities that the organization offers to special-needs students by winning the Angela Peterson Diversity Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This prestigious award from the accrediting body of zoos and aquariums is the top honor for excellence in workforce and audience diversity.
• In 2014, Mystic Aquarium was honored by the White House with the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Medal, the nation's highest honor for service to the community, for offering inclusive learning opportunities to people of all ages, socioeconomic status, ethnic origins, languages and physical abilities.
• In 2015, Mystic Aquarium's AZA Accreditation was renewed with citations for “world class research program" and “science-based educational and cultural exchange program."
• Between 2014 and 2015, 15 peer-reviewed publications were authored or co-authored by members of the Mystic Aquarium research team with research projects focused on beluga whales, aquatic animal health and behavior, aquaculture, community ecology, marine protected areas in the preservation of biodiversity, penguin molt abnormalities, snapping turtle research and conservation, local aquatic ecosystems, anthropogenic and environmental stressors impacting marine ecosystems across the globe, ecology and education.
• In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded Mystic Aquarium a $3,000,000 competetive grant to develop and implement a conservation-focused science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) group mentoring initiative to develop and implement its newly conceived International Youth Conservation Program, working with youth at more than 100 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the United States.

Ongoing initiatives and accomplishments of Mystic Aquarium include:
• Being an accredited member of AZA and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
• Helping to save the endangered African Penguin from extinction as a founding member and co-leader of AZA's African Penguin Species Survival Plan
• Mentoring the marine scientists and veterinarians of tomorrow

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Mystic Aquarium

Open year-round, Mystic Aquarium is one of America’s premier nonprofit marine science research and education institutions.

• Since 1973, we have hosted more than 20 million visitors, provided direct educational programs for over 2 million children and adults, published over 150 scientific reports, and pioneered the care, display and study of thousands of species of marine life.

• More than 700,000 annual visitors explore Mystic Aquarium’s 11 acres, home to over 4,000 animals, including fish and invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and marine mammals.

• The Aquarium is the largest informal science education provider in Connecticut, reaching over 100,000 students annually.

• Our research team conducts studies around the world, including in Alaska, the Arctic, South Africa and Singapore.

• In 2014, Mystic Aquarium was honored by the White House with the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Medal, the nation’s highest honor for service to the community.

• In 2015, we launched a 5-year strategic plan, “One Ocean, One Mission,”showcasing our vision as an organization deeply rooted in local and global action for protection of oceans and aquatic species, integrating the Aquarium’s conservation, education, exhibits and research programs in a unified, highly collaborative manner.

• Mystic Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

• Each year, thousands of individuals and families, corporations and foundations support Mystic Aquarium through membership, philanthropic gifts, sponsorship and grants.

Category

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

Program 2

Aquatic Research

Mystic Aquarium is more than just a place to see aquatic animals and environmental exhibits. We’re a recognized leader in oceanic research. Our ongoing aquarium research projects enable us to study animals in controlled environments and natural habitats. These projects help us learn more about each species, so we can give them the best care possible, or help in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of stranded animals back into the wild.

Category

Population(s) Served

Budget

Program 3

Education

The mission of Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research. As such, Mystic Aquarium is firmly committed to engaging students and the community at large to discover and learn about the wonders of our ocean planet. Mystic Aquarium strives to promote collaborative and integrated efforts that reaffirm this commitment to local and global conservation. The Aquarium is the largest informal science education provider in Connecticut, reaching over 100,000 students annually.

Mystic Aquarium partners with public schools and extended learning programs across Connecticut, and boys and girls clubs throughout the country, to provide high-quality STEM education opportunities for youth. Mystic Aquarium solicits grant funding to offer these programs for students from disadvantaged school districts. Some of these offerings include:

Outreach classes conducted by Mystic Aquarium educators in public schools allow students to learn about their local watershed through multiple touch-and-learn activities.

Coastal field studies along the Connecticut shoreline help students to discover the effects of natural and man-made influences on numerous habitats.

Aquarium field trips provide students with opportunities to investigate hands-on exhibits, exploring Earth's many aquatic ecosystems and cultivate awareness of their connection to the environment.

Scientist speaker events offer a unique and reinforcing opportunity for these students to see many pathways to STEM careers, as well as help them better envision a place for themselves in a STEM field.

The effectiveness of Mystic Aquarium’s multimedia STEM and experiential learning programs is evidenced by internal and external program evaluations involving quantitative and qualitative metrics, and is based on a robust literature that supports our model and program design. Informal education settings, such as afterschool programs where underserved youth spend significant amounts of time, are an ideal venue for providing academic enrichment (Fenichel and Schweingruber, 2010; Vandell et al., 2007). Afterschool programs provide youth with the sense of belonging and safety needed for true learning, show significant promise for building youth’s 21st century STEM skills, promote the likelihood of gradation, and address the need for science education that captures the minds of youth from diverse backgrounds. Providing afterschool youth service providers with effective learning approaches that can positively impact youth achievement is a key but often overlooked factor in elevating minority and underserved youth (Afterschool Alliance, 2011).

Mystic Aquarium also offers Professional Development opportunities to provide teachers with critical STEM content and pedagogical skills related to Long Island Sound and their local watershed. Workshops incorporate current research and monitoring data, environmental health assessments, and information about conservation initiatives. Teachers receive a printed curriculum that includes lesson plans and links to additional multimedia resources, equipping them to engage their students in a variety of authentic, hands-on activities about their local aquatic ecosystem and its connections to Long Island Sound and the ocean. Geared to meet the Next Generation Science Standards, teachers gain the knowledge and resources to help their students to realize their impact on the environment, and how they can make a positive change and become environmental stewards.

Category

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

Program 4

Conservation Initiatives

Educational Programs that Increase Public Awareness

• Coastal Cleanup Programs- Mystic Aquarium educators teach participating families and groups about the threats human activity poses to the natural environment. Groups participate in beach clean-up events having a direct positive impact on the environment.
• Sustainable Seafood Program- Mystic Aquarium is a partner in the Sustainable Seafood Program with Monterey Bay Aquarium, focusing on the northeast region. The main exhibit floor has exhibit graphics that discuss the importance of making sustainable seafood choices and offer a take-away brochure. Educational programs for schools also highlight this topic.
• Seal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program- As a founder of the Northeast Region Stranding Network, Mystic Aquarium rehabilitates and releases numerous seals every year. This effort is highlighted at the Seal Rescue Clinic where aquarium visitors can learn about and see this program in action. Educational brochures are also available to educate the public on what to do if they see an animal on the beach and provide a tool to identify the seal species. Educational programs for schools also highlight this topic.
• Special Event Days- Educational program days are held at the aquarium to educate the public about environmental issues. Examples include annual Earth Day, Endangered Species Day, World Oceans Day, African Penguin Awareness Day, and National Estuary Day programs.
• Run / Walk for the Penguins- This event provides information for the public on African penguins and the threats facing their survival in the wild. The funds raised through this event go toward furthering conservation and research efforts both at the aquarium and in South Africa.
• FrogWatch and Amphibian Monitoring Project - In conjunction with AZA’s Frog Watch initiative, families attend an extensive training program led by Mystic Aquarium educators and are trained on amphibian species identification methods. Participants then attend monthly monitoring programs at three different environmental sites to assess the population sizes of local amphibians (including salamander species).
• Snapping Turtle Health Assessment – Working in collaboration with Tributary Mill Conservancy and National Geographic, Mystic Aquarium research and veterinary services staff are conducting health assessments on American snapping turtles. Additionally, crittercam camera systems are deployed to acquire behavioral information.
• Habitat Restoration –Engaging volunteers in restoring a tidal wetlands and invasive ridden coastal grassland system to accommodate for climate change effects including saltwater intrusion and extreme precipitation while engaging the community through stewardship initiatives. This project serves as a model for regional coastal communities.
• Nature Play – Initiated a family Conservation Club to engage community members and families in direct on-the-ground citizen science and conservation efforts. Activities serve as an introduction to local conservation and sustainability topics and offer concrete steps to become active environmental stewards.
• Horseshoe Crab Monitoring - Collaborating with Avalonia Land Conservancy, Sacred Heart University and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center; host yearly horseshoe crab monitoring events with over 200 individuals in attendance and tagged approximately 148 crabs over one season.

Category

Environment

Population(s) Served

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

    For years, visiting scientists, researchers, students and interns have vied for the opportunity to observe, learn from and work beside Mystic Aquarium's extraordinary research and animal care team and the amazing marine creatures they steward. However, the lack of a central, unified space where education and training can co-exist with actual research and therapeutic care has kept these programs from reaching even higher standards of quality and distinction, and has also limited the expansion of scientific expertise and programmatic endeavors. The answer is simple — but not easy: a single, state-of-the-art building large enough to house all Mystic Aquarium scientists, as well as visiting researchers, interns and students, and simultaneously provide for the highest level of care for the animals housed at Mystic Aquarium.

    Mystic Aquarium has thus embarked on a campaign to construct a new Ocean Conservation and Research Center (OCRC), to be located on the Aquarium campus. The OCRC will expand available research, laboratory and classroom space, and also offer additional veterinary facilities for animals. It will expand the Aquarium's conservation, education and research efforts; provide spaces for state-of-the-art animal care and cutting-edge research; and offer hands-on science learning opportunities for the next generation of scientists, veterinarians and environmental stewards. So far, $3.2 million has been raised to begin construction of the OCRC, but we need your help to raising the remaining funds to complete this critical project.

    The new OCRC would allow for the consolidation of the Aquarium's animal care and research staff and current laboratories, as well as the creation of new laboratories and collaborative learning spaces. The OCRC will be accentuated by a two-story entryway, to complement the design of the AASC. This main entryway into the research facility will welcome visitors and staff. The highlight of this space will be a large window into a central laboratory that will allow visitors to view Mystic Aquarium's active research first-hand.
    Beyond the lobby, on the ground floor, the central laboratory will bring together all laboratory functions in one open space to foster collaborative animal health analysis and diagnosis. Within the separate research stations will be the water quality laboratory, where all diagnostic testing conducted on Mystic Aquarium's life support systems will take place. Additionally, a clinical laboratory will manage all the diagnostic testing for the Aquarium's animals and will contain the veterinary care pharmacy. The remaining two stations will be devoted laboratory space for current research projects and will be fitted with the necessary research technology including centrifuges, scales and balances, fume hoods and ultrapure water. Beyond the central laboratory will be additional specialized laboratories, surgical and animal exam rooms and equipment and support spaces.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Sources of Support: Raising the funds necessary to build the Ocean Conservation & Research Center is the number one priority of Mystic Aquarium over the course of the next year. To date, $3.2 million has been secured of the $4.5 million campaign goal.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Mystic Aquarium is committed to securing the funds necessary to build the Ocean Conservation & Research Center, and the realization of this goal is the number one priority of the organization in 2016.

    To date, $3.2 million has been secured of the $4.5 million campaign goal.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Not available.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Not available.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Sea Research Foundation's Mystic Aquarium is located in Mystic, Connecticut. The Aquarium is the largest informal science education provider in Connecticut, reaching over 100,000 students annually. Our research team conducts studies around the world, including in Alaska, the Arctic, South Africa and Singapore. Our STEM Mentoring program works with Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the United States to positively impact the social development and academic achievement of at-risk
and high-risk youth. Since 1973, we have hosted more than 20 million visitors, provided direct educational programs for over 2 million children and adults, published over 150 scientific reports, and pioneered the care, display and study of thousands of species of marine life.

Social Media

Funding Needs

Sea Research Foundation invites you to take action by sharing in our mission. One of the most significant ways for doing so is by making a charitable gift. Your support is needed to help us: - Immerse a new generation and make a difference for at-risk youth with The JASON Project, Immersion Learning, and the many educational program offerings at Mystic Aquarium. - Further a Connecticut institution. Promote environmental understanding and conservation by supporting our programming and research. - Make a difference, one creature at a time. Help us rescue stranded marine animals by supporting our Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program. - Open up new depths of learning by supporting the work of Dr. Robert D. Ballard and the Institute for Exploration.

Accreditations

Association of Zoos and Aquariums- Accreditation

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External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

SEA RESEARCH FOUNDATION INC
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Sea Research Foundation, Inc.

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

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Principal Officer

Dr. Stephen M. Coan

BIO

Dr. Stephen M. Coan is President and Chief Executive Officer of Sea Research Foundation, Inc. d/b/a Mystic Aquarium. Dr. Coan has served as Executive Director of two educational organizations, held faculty appointments at Tufts University, Bentley College and Cambridge College. He earned his bachelor's degree from Brandeis University, and both a Master's in Management degree and a Doctorate in Social Policy from the Heller Graduate School at Brandeis.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"Located approximately halfway between the New York and Boston metropolitan areas, Mystic Aquarium is the largest cultural attraction in New England outside of Boston. The Aquarium serves a diverse audience comprised of tourists from across the country and around the world; local families drawn from Connecticut, Rhode Island and the rest of southern New England; students and teachers from K–12 schools throughout New England who visit the Aquarium and participate in its educational programs; and thousands of youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across the country who participate in the Aquarium's conservation-based mentoring program.

Since its founding in 1973, Mystic Aquarium has been a leader in global efforts to protect our ocean planet, while advancing the science of marine animal care. In the past 43 years, the Aquarium has hosted more than 20 million visitors, provided direct educational programs for over 2 million children and adults, published more than 200 scientific reports, and pioneered the care, display and study of thousands of species of marine life.

Each year, Mystic Aquarium hosts more than 700,000 visitors from all walks of life to explore its 4,000 resident animals — including fish and invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and marine mammals. An iconic destination for families, Mystic Aquarium promotes a strong conservation ethic through its exhibits, animal presentations and programs, and instills a strong sense of environmental stewardship in children and adults alike.

The Aquarium has a long history of conducting high-quality research that has contributed to the advancement of husbandry techniques for animals in an aquarium setting, as well as improvements in aquatic animal medicine. Today, Mystic Aquarium is celebrated for its award-winning animal care team, hands-on marine animal encounters, world-class education programs, scientific research endeavors and conservation efforts. Champions of animal conservation, Mystic Aquarium scientists, trainers and veterinarians travel the world to help protect endangered and threatened species — from our local waters and across the United States, to Central America, South Africa, Singapore and the Arctic.

In 2015, Mystic Aquarium launched a 5-year strategic plan entitled, “One Ocean, One Mission." The plan brings together the institution's conservation, education and research initiatives under a newly created Mission Programs area. This highly collaborative and integrated effort reaffirms Mystic Aquarium's commitment to local and global conservation. In 2016, Mystic Aquarium's mission to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research is stronger and more urgent than ever before.


"

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Dr. George M. Milne Jr.

Senior Partner, Radius Venture LLC

Term: Dec 2010 - Dec 2016

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?