‘Search for Last Virgin Coral Reefs’ is topic of annual oceanography lecture at URI, Dec. 4

Book signing event precedes and follows lecture

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – November 17, 2009 – Marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala will present the annual Charles and Marie Fish Lecture in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island on Friday, Dec. 4 at noon.

The free public lecture, entitled “The Search for the Last Virgin Coral Reefs,” will be held in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sala’s lecture will focus on his search for the last healthy marine ecosystems on Earth as part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas program. He believes that what are thought to be natural coral reefs are not, because most scientific studies have been conducted on degraded reefs. He has led a series of recent expeditions that have revealed a world that was unknown to most people, including reefs where predators are more abundant than their prey. His research has provided clues to what is truly natural in the ocean, offering important implications for their future.

Sala grew up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and dedicated his career to mitigating human impacts on marine life after witnessing the harm that people do to the oceans. A former professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he became a National Geographic Fellow in 2008 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He is also a member of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life.

Before and after the Dec. 4 lecture (11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.), a book-signing event will be held with authors of two new marine science books. Darlene Trew Crist, communications director for the Census of Marine Life’s education and marine outreach team, which is based at URI’s Office of Marine Programs, will sign copies of World Ocean Census, the story of the Census’s ten-year global research initiative. The book was co-authored by Office of Marine Programs Associate Director Gail Scowcroft and James Harding. In addition, URI public information officer and science writer Todd McLeish, will sign copies of his book Basking With Humpbacks, which examines the lives of threatened marine life in New England waters and features the expertise of several URI faculty and alumni.

The annual Charles and Marie Fish Lecture is supported by income from the Charlie and Bobbie Fish Endowment for Oceanography. The Fish’s established URI’s first marine biological program in 1935, as well as a graduate program in oceanography at the Narragansett Marine Laboratory, which later became the Graduate School of Oceanography.

For more information about the lecture, call the URI Office of Marine Programs at 401-874-6211 or visit http://omp.gso.uri.edu/ompweb/content/charles-marie-fish-lecture.