Lowell Lecture

Marine Conservation Action Fund: Supporting Coral Reefs in India to Coastal Dolphins in Africa

Date & Time

Nov. 4, 2014


IMAX Theater at New England Aquarium
1 Central Wharf Boston, MA 02110
Driving Directions


MCAF grantees: Dr. Rohan Arthur, senior scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation and Dr. Gill Braulik, research fellow, University of St. Andrews

Presenting Organization

New England Aquarium



The Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) is a unique program that supports the New England Aquarium's commitment to ocean conservation by funding small-scale, high-impact projects across the globe. Tonight's lecture will feature the work of two past MCAF grantees.

Dr. Rohan Arthur focuses his research on coral reefs across the world and the uncertain future they face. In few places is this more evident than in the developing tropics where the health of the reef is linked inextricably with the livelihoods of the human communities that depend on them. He will string together a set of narratives from the Lakshadweep Archipelago and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (both in Indian waters) to build a case for "incidental conservation", where the goals of reef resilience emerge as happy accidents of apparently unrelated community or economic processes. When they work, they can be at least as successful in enhancing reef resilience as more direct conservation measures. And if they do nothing more, these narratives may help us conceive of the range of situations under which reef conservation is likely to work.
And yes, one of his stories involves a giant octopus.

Dr. Gill Braulik will then take you on an adventure with river dolphins found in several of Asia's largest river systems, many of which run through some of the most densely populated human regions of the world. Subject to a myriad of threats, from construction of mega-dams, to intensive fishing, to intensely polluted waters, these dolphins are now among the most endangered mammals in the world. The Indus River dolphin, is one of the most ancient of all dolphins, a brown, blind but fascinating creature that has persisted in the desert rivers of India and Pakistan for millennia, but now is reduced to just a few thousand individuals. Dr Braulik tells the story of her 12 years of working against the odds, and often in hostile environments to try and save the blind river dolphins of the Indus River in Pakistan.