Tomorrow is the opening of the new Sant Ocean Hall in the National Museum of Natural History, and today I had the privilege of being in the Baird Auditorium to hear remarks from President Bush concerning his administration’s efforts to protect our oceans. Regardless of party affiliation, it is exciting to be in the vicinity of the President, as the Secret Service operates the security measures needed to keep our leaders safe. The central core of the museum was closed to staff and public until 11am today when the visit concluded. We waited in the auditorium while the President toured the new exhibition and learned about what Smithsonian scientists are doing to learn about our oceans to underpin protection efforts. Touring with him were our new Secretary Clough, Chairman of the Board of Regents Roger Sant (for whom the exhibition gallery is named), Natural History Museum Director Cristian Samper, and other dignitaries.
President Bush said "oceans are important as an economic lifeline" and spoke of the 88-point "Ocean Action Plan" that has guided the work of the White House in restoring diminished fish stocks, protecting coral reefs, expanding ocean research and educational programs, expanding the Monterey Sea Sanctuary in California and protecting whales in shipping lanes. It was a brief presentation, but it brought attention to the new Sant Ocean Hall, which will do much to enlighten the public about the importance of oceans in our lives.