Save Ocean Journey | AspenTimes.com

Save Ocean Journey

As a former Aspen resident, I am writing this to my old friends in the hope that a small but profound tragedy can be averted.

As you may have heard, Colorado’s Ocean Journey, an extraordinary aquarium which opened in Denver three years ago, will close forever on April 2, unable to pay off high-interest bonds on its initial debt.

Some people think it is a monument to poor planning and deserves to die; others think it is an invaluable educational and environmental resource that, despite its growing pains, should not disappear without a fight.

If the latter category appeals to you, please read on:

Ocean Journey was never supposed to use public funds, and because of that, the City of Denver and State of Colorado are, right or wrong, playing hands-off in its demise.

It seems to me that the only way to save Ocean Journey is to stay true to its original premise, and make a last, huge round of private donations to the aquarium. Can this work? There’s a painless way to find out: Ocean Journey is now accepting PLEDGES for donations.

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If they can’t reach an agreement with the bond holders using the pledged funds, then the pledges will be torn up and Ocean Journey will close on schedule (they are reserving just enough money to safely transport the 8,000 animals to other facilities). On the other hand, if a miracle occurs and they remain open, it will have been money very well spent on our part; a win-win situation.

Why should Aspen care? For one thing, Ocean Journey belongs to, and should be supported by, all Coloradans. Residents of the Western Slope may not get to visit Ocean Journey very often, but if it disappears, they will never have that opportunity again.

But more importantly, remember that the rest of the world is not exposed to the beauty and fragility of nature on a daily basis as you are. By focusing on rivers in Colorado and Indonesia, Ocean Journey very effectively teaches children (and adults) how their actions affect not only their own back yard, but the other side of the world as well.

Without institutions like Ocean Journey to remind us of the otherwise hidden beauty of our planet, this message will be lost in the noise, followed by the habitats, followed by ourselves.

If you believe in what they’re trying to do, please pledge generously (and soon). If not, don’t. Call Ocean Journey at (303) 561-4406 or visit http://www.oceanjourney.org for details.

I’m not affiliated with Ocean Journey. I grew up in an area with museums, zoos, planetariums and aquariums to go to, and parents with the foresight to take me there.

Those experiences led directly to my becoming a scientist, in the hope that I could give something back to the world. I believe that Ocean Journey can inspire future generations in the same way.

Mike Grusin

Boulder