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July 25, 2013

Newport Exploration Center & Aquarium Set To Reopen Saturday

This weekend will mark end of nearly nine months of renovation and rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy

NEWPORT, R.I. - After nearly nine months of rebuilding, Save The Bay will reopen its Exploration Center & Aquarium to the general public on Saturday, July 27 at 10:00 a.m. The facility, located on the ground floor of the Rotunda at Easton’s Beach in Newport, sustained catastrophic damage to its electrical and filtration systems when Superstorm Sandy pushed almost two feet of seawater and sand into the building.

When the seawater came in, it naturally settled into the lowest space in the Rotunda – the basement, where most of the Exploration Center’s life systems were located. Filtration equipment, plumbing, and electrical equipment were destroyed. These vital systems kept the aquarium running and allowed all of the critters that were native to Narragansett Bay to thrive in an educational setting. Once the damage was realized, Save The Bay’s staff and volunteers moved quickly into action to rescue, relocate, and in some cases release many of the aquarium’s inhabitants.

“Considering the fact that all of the exhibits were without filtration and aeration for several hours, we didn’t lose any critters,” said Adam Kovarsky, Save The Bay’s aquarist. “Many of our animals were moved to our Bay Center in Providence and several partner organizations took in others. I did have to release our two smooth dogfish sharks back into the ocean.”

Save The Bay’s staff was bolstered by the work of 14 interns and a volunteer engineer. John Haley, co-owner of Portsmouth-based BioProcess H2O, donated hundreds of labor hours in designing and installing a new filtration system on the first floor. His company also provided the equipment at cost.

Other donations of time and labor came from Schneider Electric of West Kingston, and Hayward Pumps of North Kingstown, RI. Schneider Electric provided hundreds of staff volunteer hours cleaning, scraping, and painting the Center, plus collection of several new specimens. Jamie Murdock of Hayward Pumps secured thousands of dollars in aquarium equipment and provided free professional consultation on the reconstruction of the aquariums.

New smooth dogfish sharks and other specimens arrived from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and local fishermen.

“We are so thankful to all of the volunteers and donors for supporting us during our down time,” said Bridget Kubis Prescott, director of education for Save The Bay. “We received many donations and words of encouragement throughout the months from people who were used to seeing us on Easton’s Beach.”

Save The Bay’s education program depends on the use of the Exploration Center & Aquarium. Prior to Superstorm Sandy, about 18,000 members of the public, including more than 3,000 school students, visited the Center. The Newport School District sends its entire third grade for visits to the Exploration Center & Aquarium.

If you go

Location:
 175 Memorial Boulevard in Newport.

Admission: 
$6.00 for ages four and older. Save The Bay members and those three years and under always enjoy free admission.

Hours: 
Daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. through Labor Day
, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. after Labor Day Daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. during public school vacations

For more information: www.savebay.org/aquarium or call 401-324-6020

About Save The Bay

Founded in 1970, Save The Bay is a nonprofit member organization working to protect, restore and explore Narragansett Bay and its watershed. Save The Bay believes the Bay’s future depends on tomorrow’s leaders understanding how important the Bay is to our economy, environment and quality of life. The organization offers education programs to schools, community groups and the general public; protects Narragansett Bay by advocating for Bay-friendly legislation, reviewing permits and raising public awareness; and restores the Bay to full health through its extensive habitat restoration program.