Last year the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk ordered a new hybrid research vessel that is due to make its debut sometime this spring. The new boat is a 65- foot catamaran that is much larger and much more environmentally friendly than the old boat, the Oceanic that it is replacing. The new vessel will be powered by a unique hybrid propulsion system that is very fuel-efficient reducing fuel intake by 75%.
The real plus of the new vessel is that it has a climate controlled indoor area and a much larger classroom. It will be used for the very popular “creature cruises” that go out year-round and provide an immersive educational experience for participants. The boat will be used for educational programs for students on field trips during the week and for public outings on weekends. Marine Life Study courses are offered from April – October and a highlight of these cruises are the live animals brought on board to be studied. From December – March, the Aquarium offers seal watching cruises.
The only thing missing for this new vessel was its’ name! The staff of the Aquarium decided to run a contest for students from Norwalk in grades 3-12 which are the grades that the Aquarium’s educational programs target. As a result of the contest, the Aquarium received 315 names from 399 students.
The winning name, the Spirit of the Sound was submitted by 38 students, but per contest rules, the first person to submit the name, Kiara Velazquez, a sophomore at Brien McMahon High School, won the contest’s grand prize for submitting the name first.
In addition to winning a free outing aboard the “Spirit of the Sound”, for her immediate family, she also won a free IMAX movie screening for one of her classes at school. The runner up of the contest, Jordan Good, won a tour for her school class and a free Aquarium visit plus IMAX tickets for up to ten.