SECORD, D.*; RUPP, J.: Interpreting Marine Invasive Species for the Public: A University-Aquarium Collaboration
Economic and ecological problems associated with aquatic non-indigenous species (NIS) are growing nationally and internationally. Many of these species introductions are preventable, and are caused by vectors that an informed public can do something about directly (live bait, aquaculture, and pet industries) or indirectly (by supporting policy limiting ballast water dispersal of coastal organisms). In order to reach the broadest possible audience with accurate, up-to-date information on the biology, prevention, and control of marine NIS, the University of Washington-Tacoma (UWT) and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA) in Tacoma, WA are jointly designing a public exhibit on NIS for aquaria throughout the Pacific Northwest. We describe the involvement of undergraduate environmental biology students, UWT faculty, PDZA curatorial staff, local, state, and federal agencies, the Washington and Oregon Sea Grant Programs, and Northwest graphic design firms in this collaborative effort. Undergraduate research and internship experiences in scientific documentation, organism husbandry, artistic design, and public interpretation of science and science policy are at the heart of this effort. This poster describes both the content of the proposed exhibit (concepts of invasion biology and key live organisms as examples) and the process of developing the necessary broad-based collaboration. Key messages of the exhibit include the distinction between native and non-indigenous organisms, costs and benefits of allowing new introductions (passively or actively), and lessons from specific case studies (e.g. zebra mussels, European green crabs, Chinese mitten crabs, saltmarsh cordgrass, and introduced ctenophores and sea squirts).