This Saturday, September 1, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) will hold its annual animal “Release Day” from 10 am to 1 pm at the MMA Aquarium located at 28 Washington Street. Admission is free and the public is invited to this event.
This free event attracts hundreds of children and families who come to help release the marine life that has been living in the MMA Aquarium back into Nantucket Harbor from where they were collected. Armed with plastic buckets, Aquarium staff directs the young volunteers, turning them into a bucket brigade to release the animals. Attendees should arrive dressed for wading and should plan to possibly get wet.
“We are excited when we catch specimens at the start of the summer season and are eager to share their natural history with visitors. This collection of fish, crabs, shellfish and more represents the biodiversity of Nantucket Harbor. We are just as excited to release them back to the Harbor at the end of the season,” explained Dave Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association. From the number of people who participate every September, it is obvious that the public loves this annual ritual as much as the MMA staff. Animals to be released include horseshoe crabs, trigger fish, crabs, skates, dogfish, and many other species. The event is organized with different species released over the three-hour event. Interns and Aquarium staff direct the young volunteers in the proper and safe way to place the animals into Nantucket Harbor. Well over one hundred animals will be returned to the ocean. Attendees should be prepared to get wet.
The Maria Mitchell Association is named for America’s first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell, best known for discovering a comet over Nantucket in October 1847. MMA was founded in 1902 to preserve her legacy of scientific achievement and to carry on her passion for hands-on learning.