Monday, October 24, 2016

Bringing the Bay to You

By Spencer Gossy, Communications Intern

Meet our quirky aquarist and education specialist, Adam Kovarsky, a Charlestown native and Save The Bay team member since 2007. With a wildlife conservation degree and a passion for education, you could say that Adam is 100% Narragansett Bay, with a goal in life to “find the best way possible to benefit conservation efforts."

What are your main responsibilities at the Exploration Center?
I manage our interns and dozens of volunteers, without whom we wouldn’t be able to work. I also manage animal husbandry duties, all of the life support systems at the exhibit, curation of our collection, and I’m able to teach classes here, as well. 

What are some fun facts about the Exploration Center and Aquarium? 
We have hundreds of animals on exhibit, 40-60 species at any given time. We treat about 4,000 gallons of water here, all on a centralized filter. A shipment of 2,400 pounds of salt lasts us about four months. We try to feed our animals right from the Bay; just last week we had a fisherman bring us a huge bucket full of locally caught herring. 

Where do you get your critters?
Our education vessels are amazing floating classrooms and our students will bring specimens to us from their fish trawls. My interns and I do shoreline collections and snorkel for critters. Other science facilities or organizations bring us animals. Beyond that, local fishermen will often bring us unusual specimens, like our rare lobsters.

What is particularly unique about the aquarium?
One of the best things is that we focus solely on local wildlife that come from the Narragansett Bay and its surrounding waters. That’s great because we can move animals in and out as often as we see fit without having the added risk of introducing a virus, disease, invasive species or something that wouldn’t be able to survive. So, our collection changes constantly.

What are the most satisfying aspects of your work?
Save The Bay gives me a lot of freedom to pursue projects I find important to our mission. I’ve been able to add new, cool exhibits and find new and interesting ways to teach about the environment. I enjoy initiating habitat restoration projects, such as the rebuilding of sand dunes at Easton’s Beach. I've communicated with tens of thousands of people about conservation issues facing our planet and, specifically, Narragansett Bay. Being able to help people recognize their personal impact on their local environment has to be the most fulfilling part of my job by far. 

Do you have a favorite exhibit?
A really cool thing right now is that several of our adult little skates have been successfully reproducing and laying eggs, and now we’re getting about three to six babies hatching every week. We’ve been raising these juveniles in our touch tank. One is about a year-and-a-half old, which is about the age when they are less vulnerable and more likely to survive in the wild. We’d like to raise these little skates and then start releasing them into the wild.

Do you have a favorite story about working at the Exploration Center?
Last summer, a school group was out on one of our boats doing a fish trawl. They snagged an abandoned fishing line that still had a striped bass hooked on the end of the line. The students brought him to me after freeing him, and I treated him for a dislocated jaw and swim bladder infection. Now, about eight months later, he's back to full strength, growing, and we’re thinking he’s almost ready to be released into the wild.

What do you hope your guests take with them after a visit to the aquarium?
Our goal is to show people the amazing, wonderful life that lives right here in Narragansett Bay. I want people to leave the Exploration Center feeling empowered in their lives to make small changes that directly benefit the environment. Save The Bay’s number one priority is to protect and improve Narragansett Bay, and through our aquarium, we can really connect our community to the Bay in a hands-on way. 

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