2011 Sea Secrets Lecture Series Schedule Announced

Virginia Key, Fla. — December 1, 2010 — The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and the Ocean Research and Education Foundation, today announced the roster of distinguished scientists and explorers who will speak in the 2011 Sea Secrets lecture series. The events, which are free and open to the public, are designed to provide insight and information about the oceans that cover two-thirds of our planet, and much of which, are still an enigma. Programs take place in the Rosenstiel School Auditorium, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key, beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6:00 p.m.

Sponsored by The Shepard Broad Foundation, The Charles N. and Eleanor Knight Leigh Foundation and Southern Wine & Spirits and organized by UM Professor Emeritus Robert N. Ginsburg, Sea Secrets is designed for the South Florida non-scientific community. The following is the schedule for Sea Secrets in 2011:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
(and how it got its weird name)

Richard Ellis, Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History

Sperm whales have been a mystery to humans since even before Melville’s Moby Dick. Prominent conservationist Richard Ellis, widely recognized as both author and foremost painter of marine subjects in the world, will open this year’s lecture series with a discussion on these remarkable animals. Ellis is the author of more than a dozen books on wildlife topics ranging from tuna to the endangered polar bear. He is a special adviser to the American Cetacean Society, an Explorers Club member, and from 1980-1990 he was a member of the International Whaling Commission. The lecture will combine his artistic aptitude with penetrating insights into the natural history of the amazing sperm whale.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Alanna Mitchell, Journalist and Author

Just how sick are our oceans? Hear the answer from Alana Mitchell whose second book Sea Sick: The Hidden Crisis in the Global Ocean won last year’s prestigious Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. As a journalist with the Canadian Globe and Mail she specialized on the environment and was widely recognized for her incisive reporting on the vanishing forests of Madagascar. To assess the health of our oceans she traveled the planet interviewing scientists and fisheries managers to discover what plans are underway and what the social and political challenges are to developing a plan to sustain marine resources. No wonder that the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Reuters Foundation named Mitchell the world’s best environmental journalist of 2000. Come to hear a first-hand report on the hidden crisis and what might done to mitigate it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Bruce Strickrott, Expedition Leader and Chief Pilot, DSV ALVIN

In the famous novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea published in 1870, Jules Verne expressed what many had dreamed: the ability to visit and explore the unknown depths of the ocean. For more than four decades, the leader in ocean floor exploration has been the deep submergence vehicle ALVIN, based at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Chief Pilot Bruce Strickrott has conducted 308 dives to hydrothermal vents, cold seep communities, undersea volcanoes, seamounts and mid-ocean ridges around the globe. He will share what it is like to spend eight hours or more peering through ALVIN’s viewports, using robotic ‘hands’ or manipulators to sample animals and sea floor deposits, and from time to time having those eureka moments of unexpected discovery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Kenny Broad, Director, Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science
and Policy at the University of Miami

Absolute darkness, dramatic reversing currents, extreme depths, poisonous gasses, tight squeezes… these are just some of the challenges that make ‘blue holes’ or sink holes under the sea, one of the least understood extreme ecosystems on the planet. Last year, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad designed an expedition to the Bahamas that included more than 150 dives and involved unique collaboration between cave divers, scientists, and a specialized film team from the National Geographic Society. Come to hear about the unknown microbes they discovered, the bones of extinct animals and see images of how they squirmed through the labyrinthine passages.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Peter Ward, Professor of Paleontology, University of Washington

Nothing may be more critical to Floridians than knowing if sea level rise will flood our shores. Some key answers may come from thousands of miles away, in Antarctica. There, teams of geologists and paleontologists led by Professor Peter Ward are exploring sixty-million year old rocks for fossil evidence of ice sheets. Using ammonites, ancient relatives of the chambered nautilus, they are hoping to establish whether ice sheets existed back then. At that time atmospheric carbon dioxide topped 1000 ppm – or about three times present levels – and ice sheets remained intact. If there were indeed ice sheets under such high carbon dioxide and there was limited sea level rise, perhaps we are not in as much danger as we thought - at least in the short term?

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

sea secrets •  richard ellis •  alanna mitchell •  bruce strickrott •  alvin •  kenny broad •  blue holes •  dr. peter ward •  sea level rise •