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Federal funds help aquarium explore Long Island Sound salt marshes

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Young guests get a close look at one of the 8- and 9-foot sand tiger sharks on exhibit in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The ecology and history of Long Island Sound is the focal point of a new exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the aquarium a $523,000 grant, funded by the American Rescue Plan, to support the development of an exhibit called “The Salt Marshes of Long Island Sound.”

Long Island Sound’s salt marshes provide rich habitat for coastal wildlife and protect shoreline communities from the signs of climate change.

"This exhibit will attract additional visitors to The Maritime Aquarium and Norwalk, while helping them understand the historic, cultural, social and ecological importance of Connecticut’s salt marshes, thus inspiring actions to protect these vital shoreline habitats," said Jason Patlis, President and CEO of The Maritime Aquarium.

The exhibit is expected to open in summer 2023, offering in-person and virtual educational opportunities. The aquarium uses new multimedia interactive displays to celebrate how salt marshes support the coastal resilience of Long Island Sound's shoreline communities, Patlis said.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to their 75 exhibits and nearly 7,000 animals.

“The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk — with its innovative and creative programming — is a regional magnet for people of all ages,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “This funding enables the Aquarium to expand its vital role, enhancing the understanding and appreciation of the ecology of Long Island Sound and its shoreline.”

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.