Do you get enough nature in your life? For many of us, nature is like exercise or sleep—we know we need it, but we don’t get as much of it as we should.

Our increasingly urbanized society is producing a disconnect between people and nature. Children spend less than half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago. At the same time, even in the heart of Chicago, we’re always near nature, even if we may not know how to best find it.

To draw us closer to nature, Shedd is announcing new opportunities this summer to experience the natural world here, there and everywhere.

As always, you can visit us to discover aquatic life from around the world, like the weedy seadragons in Shedd’s new special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, whose leafy camouflage lets them glide undetected among seaweed.

But we’re also sharing beauty worth saving around the city we love. You may have already seen the street murals bringing underwater beauty to local neighborhoods, from larger-than-life sea nettles in Logan Square to a mantis shrimp in Forest Park and moon jellies in Edgewater.

If you want to get your fingernails dirty, a new Kayak for Conservation program will let participants paddle out to explore Shedd’s River Island, a new floating habitat we’ve created in the midst of the North Branch Canal in partnership with Urban Rivers. You can embrace our local waterway as you pull invasive plants and survey local birds and turtles.

Chicagoans can also connect with the aquatic life in their backyard on our Shedd Boat Excursion: Lake Michigan. Running July 23 to 29, this 90-minute paid outing will help participants discover the diversity of our great lake. Hands-on activities will introduce the nearby nature we so often overlook—and highlight ways we can all work together to protect the lake and its aquatic inhabitants.

Not sure if you can make the trip to 31st Street Harbor for the Shedd Boat Excursion? We’re also bringing lake wildlife to communities throughout the city with the Shedd Traveling Aquarium. Running July 13 to 30, this mobile immersive experience will surprise and delight with a 2,200-gallon aquarium hosting local species like bluegill, largemouth bass and spotted gar, a nocturnal predator that ambushes crayfish and other small prey.

Even if you find yourself nowhere near Chicago this summer, you can still encounter some of the ocean’s top predators. As sharks take the spotlight in July, we’ll be launching a new campaign to #KeepSharksSwimming. Wherever you are, you can dive under the waves with exclusive 360 videos of hammerhead and lemon sharks in the Bahamas and take action to protect them.

Whether it’s at Shedd or wherever you are, connecting with nature leaves us refreshed, recharged and ready to foster a world thriving with aquatic life, sustained by people who love, understand and protect it. Look nature in the eye this summer, and join us in taking action for animals. I will see you there.

Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Shedd Aquarium