Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Seward - Sea Life Center: What Ted Did Right, Sort of

In the shadow of the Stevens indictments, many Alaskans are saying, "But Ted Stevens did so much for Alaska." The Sea Life Center in Seward has Uncle Ted's fingerprints all over it. We have a first class facility for research and education on Alaskan sea life. For a state with approximately 44,000 miles of coast line this is important. Seeing the creatures living in almost their natural environments can spark the imagination and passion that is necessary to inspire people to learn and perhaps even develop a career.

There's no way the average citizen can get this close to living flounders and rockfish, sea lions, and puffins. This is not the kind of thing that you can measure the value simply in numbers of visits per year.

The knowledge people gain here, the kids who are inspired in different ways to learn more and pursue careers related to the sea life is incalculable. This has been one of Ted's babies. [At first I was upset when I saw the big scratches on the glass of the giant tanks at the Sea Life Center today. Who would be so low that they would scar these beautiful tanks? But when I looked closer, I saw the scratches were NOT on the outside, but the inside. Maybe the sea lion wants out.]

And perhaps it is a symbol of the tragedy of Ted Stevens.
Poor judgment by the protagonist (hero/heroine) causes a fall from grace and social ranking. Poor judgment is a tragic flaw, or error, called hamatria. It leads to personal catastrophe and unintended harm to others. (Gallaudet)

In an era when government projects are scorned and every institution has to support its own bottom line, there is something to say for politicians who have the vision and the clout to help establish places like the Sea Life Center. Here's the hero part. (I also heard one of the guides today say that the state of Alaska paid for about 2/3 of the original cost.) But how did everyone think it was going to be maintained? Especially in an era when new taxes are opposed by most politicans? Was Senator Stevens planning to live and be Senator forever and thus maintain places like the Sea Life Center in perpetuity? Did he think that once it was built the State and others would step in to keep it going? How did he expect an expensive institution like this to be able to fund itself?


And then there are the sleazier side of the Sea Life Center where money was funneled through the Sea Life Center earmarked specifically to purchase property a Stevens aide who had speculated on land in downtown Seward. [Update April 2009: The ADN link isn't giving access to the article it seems. The specific citation is: Ben Stevens ' secret fish deal - State senator helped steer Adak pollock to a company he had financial stake in Anchorage Daily News (AK) - Sunday, September 18, 2005 Author: RICHARD MAUER Anchorage Daily News ; Staff]

Horned Puffin and Murre

King Eider

Steller Sea Lion Rear Flippers

I didn't check to see whether this is Woody the sea lion they used to have.

Tufted Puffins

Researchers took a baby red legged kittiwake from its nest (I think they said this is the first place in the world of only two that have successfully bred kittiwakes) to weigh it and measure it. The parents were less than pleased.

All these pictures were taken today in the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward.

1 comment:

  1. Steve-- there is no way I can get down there and your blog is second best and I'm not complaining! These pictures are beautiful! I especially appreciate your commentary-- your enthusiasm and knowledge of all that is going on makes it even better.

    I have to laugh because reading Progressive Alaska, Sean was complaining about everything that Ted has brought up here which is kind of his job. If the state elects that chair cushion polisher, we won't have these wonderful places since he is basically promising to do nothing.


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