Our Blue Planet Speakers
With support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Tennessee Aquarium launched Our Blue Planet Speaker Series in 2010 to help inland residents understand their connection to the world’s ocean. Hundreds of members of the regional community have come to hear the world’s foremost experts discuss the health of our ocean and its inhabitants. Explore the links below to delve deeper into our speakers’ work and discover how you can make a difference to our blue planet.
September 6, 2012
Alexandra Cousteau is an explorer, filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues. Like her grandfather Jacques-Yves, Cousteau is dedicated to promoting the conservation and sustainable management of water in order to preserve a healthy planet. Her global initiatives seek to inspire and empower individuals to protect not only the ocean and its inhabitants, but also the human communities that rely on freshwater resources.
Closer to home, on her Expedition Blue Planet: North America, Alexandra joined Dr. Anna George, Director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, on the Emory River in Tennessee to determine the long-term impacts on fish populations after the Kingston Coal Ash Spill in 2008. A remarkable storyteller, Alexandra will leave you inspired to be a voice for environmental freshwater stewardship for future generations.
Dr. Bob Ballard
February 16, 2012
One of the most well-known deep ocean explorers, Ballard is best known for his discovery of the R.M.S. Titanic. A 2003 recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal, Ballard has spent his career exploring the unexplored waters of the deep ocean and pushing the boundaries of technology. Ballard is a pioneer in the early days of deep-diving submersibles and has reached more than 1.7 students through the award-winning distance learning educational program, the JASON Project.
November 17, 2011
Demon Fish: Understanding Our Relationship with Sharks
Juliet Eilperin, environmental reporter for the Washington
Post, spoke at the Aquarium about her latest book, Demon Fish:
Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks. Eilperin shared her experiences
with cultures across the world and more specifically what unique roles sharks
play in each of these cultures.
Eilperin spoke on the fear-based reputation that
sharks have in many cultures and the serious threats facing shark populations.
While humans kill over 80 million sharks annually, sharks kill between four and
five people worldwide. A species that predates the dinosaurs by 200 million
years, sharks are no doubt resilient. Unfortunately, overfishing and ocean
acidification are new and very serious threats to sharks.
Learn more about Juliet's latest book and her other work:
Dr. Larry McKinney
April 21, 2011
The Gulf of Mexico and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:
Why Both Should Matter to You
Dr. McKinney, Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, addressed students from Ivy Academy, Tyner Academy and Boyd Buchanan School during an outreach lecture on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Later that evening, Dr. McKinney addressed community members regarding the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon and the future of the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. McKinney emphasized the dramatic impact that everyday decisions and actions have on the state of the Gulf.
“The 9th largest body of water in the world is a robust and dynamic system well positioned to take our abuse, but it is not indefinitely elastic and there are challenges that are now taxing even the gulf.”- Dr. McKinney
Learn more about Dr. McKinney’s work at the Harte Institute:
Dr. James McClintock
November 12, 2010
Meltdown! Marine Life Discoveries in Antarctica
Dr. James McClintock, University of Alabama at Birmingham Polar and Marine Biology Endowed Professor, shared his experiences from his many missions to Antarctica. Speaking to local high school students during an outreach lecture and community members on the evening of November 12, Dr. McClintock shared his team’s discoveries during his thirteen missions to Antarctica.
From research for flu preventative patches to chemical compounds active against melanoma, Dr. McClintock’s discoveries in Antarctica raise his concerns regarding climate change. “We could lose species. We could lose a cure for cancer.”-Dr. James McClintock.
Dr. Sylvia Earle
June 25, 2010
The World Is Blue
Dr. Sylvia Earle spoke to Aquarium community members on the current challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico. A National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence and former NOAA Chief Scientist, Dr. Earle shared her vast knowledge of our ocean and her hope for its future.
“Ed Wilson, a great hero of mine… said he was really concerned that we are letting nature slip through our fingers. But the greater worry, is that we are observing a time when nature may be letting us slip through her fingers. But it doesn’t have to happen. It doesn’t have to be that way. We have the power. The real key, is using it.”- Dr.Earle
Learn more about Dr. Earle’s work to protect our ocean: