Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute Awarded Grant to Establish International Coral Reef Program

Museums Connect grants to engage U.S. and Taiwanese students in conservation efforts.

The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego and Taiwan’s National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium were awarded a 2012 Museums Connect grant that will enable the institutions in both countries to connect with youth and teach them the challenges of saving the world’s coral reef ecosystems. Museums Connect is an international cultural exchange program that will connect coral scientists, aquarium staff and community leaders with 30 middle school students in San Diego and Pingtung, Taiwan, in the hopes that the program, called Coral Reef Ambassadors, will help to foster in these students an interest in coral reef science, and will help to develop cross-cultural research skills as well as skills in coral reef and marine conservation.

Both the Scripps Institute and the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium will receive a $65,000 grant that will enable each site to set up a live coral reef aquarium biotope that represents reef ecosystems in both Taiwan and the United States.

Aquarists from both institutions will teach the students the latest techniques in coral reef science in a hands-on learning environment. “We are excited to launch this unique international effort,” Birch Aquarium at Scripps Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth said. “Scripps Oceanography scientists are at the forefront of coral reef research and we look forward to working with Taiwan scientists and students on this critical issue.”

Other partnerships fostered by Museum Connect grants include collaborations with the Sonoma County Museum and Gyeonggi-Do Museum of Modern Art in South Korea; the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland and the Hong Kong Space Museum; and San Francisco’s International Museum of Women with The Women’s Museum of Denmark, The Ayala Museum in Manila, Philippines, and the Museum of Islamic Civilization in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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Fish · Saltwater Fish