News & Events - Press Releases

6. Mystic Aquarium

Press Contact: Aliza Bran
(202) 414-0798;

Web Site:

Left to right: Justin Richard, Stephen M. Coan, Mrs. Obama.

Left to right: Justin Richard, Stephen M. Coan, Mrs. Obama. Click image for a larger view.

Founded in 1973, Mystic Aquarium has a collection of 4,000 animals, including such species as beluga whales and the endangered African Penguin.  The Aquarium is known for its research and rescue operations, for its strong efforts in community engagement and education, and for its positive influence on people such as Justin Richard, who went from  visitor, to  volunteer, to intern at Mystic Aquarium, and is now doing research at the Aquarium as part of his doctoral degree.

“It is an honor of the greatest magnitude to be recognized as a top institution among so many worthy candidates across the country,” said Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Sea Research Foundation, the parent of Mystic Aquarium, who will accept the award in D.C.“We have worked hard to create in-depth and meaningful educational and public engagement programs that not only foster the next generation of environmental stewards but helps everyone learn about and understand the wonderful and fragile ecosystem around them.”

Justin Richard also will travel to Washington and share the impact that Mystic Aquarium has had on his life during the May 8 celebration. Watch video of Justin's story on YouTube. Read transcript (PDF, 51KB)

Praise for Mystic Aquarium:

“Mystic Aquarium is a true state treasure. Its commitment to educating the community and visitors about ocean life and exploration, as well as the importance of preserving and protecting our natural resources, had made a hugely positive impact on the country. The aquarium also serves as a terrific draw for tourists, boosting Connecticut’s economy year after year with new and exciting exhibits for thousands of visitors to enjoy. I could not be more proud of Mystic Aquarium’s hard work and I offer my congratulations to this extraordinary institution.” – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT)

-“Mystic Aquarium is a crown jewel of eastern Connecticut. Their selection for this prestigious award, honoring their contribution to our community, is an appropriate recognition of the important role the Aquarium plays for Connecticut residents and visitors alike. Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Coan and the fantastic staff and board members at Mystic Aquarium - they should be very proud of this achievement, which recognizes their outstanding dedication to the Mystic community.” – U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (CT)

“My sincere congratulations to the Mystic Aquarium for receiving the well-deserved National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Mystic Aquarium provides incredible opportunities for families throughout Connecticut to learn about our oceans and marine life in an engaging, hands-on environment. Additionally, the ground-breaking research conducted at the Mystic Aquarium and through its partnerships with research institutions is critical to address climate change and protect our oceans. It’s because of the Mystic Aquarium and the great work of museums and libraries throughout Connecticut that I’m proud to support robust federal funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Once again, my heartfelt congratulations for the Mystic Aquarium team’s incredible work.” – U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT)

“Mystic Aquarium is a gem all Connecticut residents are proud of and are richly deserving of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. For over forty years the dedicated staff has educated and amazed families, school groups and scores of others. From the beluga whales to African Penguins to the Titanic exhibit, there is truly something for everyone. Congratulations to Mystic Aquarium on this great honor. “– U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT)


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