Press Release: Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association to Host Annual Aquarium Release Day

Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 28, 2018
Contact: Lydia Gullicksen


Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association to Host Annual Aquarium Release Day 

Nantucket, MA – As the summer season comes to a close, many of the sea creatures that have spent the past few months at the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) Aquarium will be returned to the ocean with much fanfare during the Aquarium “Release Day.” On September 1, 2018, from 10:00 am-1:00 pm, everyone is invited to the MMA Aquarium to help release fish, mollusks, invertebrates and crustaceans back into the harbor.

Release Day is an annual event that attracts hundreds of people. Throughout the summer season, the Aquarium hosts eighty different species of animals that serve as ambassadors of the ocean. Visitors learn about marine ecosystems, the biodiversity of Nantucket waters, animal interaction, invasive species, and preservation efforts. The Aquarium animals aid in these lessons throughout the summer but once the Aquarium closes, it is time for hundreds of them to return to the ocean. Volunteers armed with buckets will be instructed on the proper way to handle the animals and then will help directly by releasing them into the harbor. The animals include horseshoe crabs, pipefish, striped bass, dogfish, sea robins, and oyster toadfish and many more. Each child in attendance will get his or her own creature to release and will then be able to watch the larger species be returned to the harbor by interns and adult volunteers.

“At the start of each summer, our staff, interns, and visitors are excited about the sea creatures that are brought to the Aquarium and displayed.  But they are all equally excited to release these same animals back to their aquatic home in Nantucket Harbor,” says Dave Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association.  “It’s a great tradition and excellent teaching opportunity,” he adds.

Much of the aquatic life in the Aquarium was gathered at the beginning of the summer. Local businesses around the island including Glidden’s Island Seafood, Just Do It 2, Critter Cruises, and Sayle’s Seafood find and donate a variety of animals. The Aquarium is dedicated to maintaining the quality of life of all of its inhabitants so that when the time comes, they will be able to readjust to life in the ocean. For example, each day live shrimp are caught in the harbor to provide a more realistic feeding experience for fish that, like the trunk fish, are accustomed to hunting for food.

The Aquarium is located at 28 Washington Street and this event is free to the public. Donations are gladly accepted to support the MMA’s Aquarium. There is potential for attendees to get wet while participating, so participants should dress accordingly.

The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a newly opened research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages. This year celebrates Mitchell’s 200th birthday with special lectures, events, classes, and exhibits all year-long, culminating in the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Symposium in October 2018 in Boston.