Lindsey Kayal

Bio Topic - Saturday September 4 @ 11 am Topic - Sunday September 5 @ 12 pm

Ret Talbot is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who frequently reports on the marine aquarium industry. Most often addressing topics at the intersection of the hobby, science and conservation, Talbot is a strong advocate for a robust and sustainable marine aquarium trade where aquarists serve a critical role on the front line of reef conservation. As a marketing consultant and editor, he has worked with many leading marine aquarium companies to promote that vision. When he isn't writing about saltwater aquaria (or tending to one of his five tanks), Ret is often fly fishing in either salt- or freshwater and writing about conservation issues related to angling and healthy fisheries.

Trained as a writer, Ret holds degrees in writing from both Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). He has travelled the world as a mountaineering and fishing guide, as well as a writer seeking out stories in some of the most remote and inaccessible regions on the face of the Earth. His aquarium-related books include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Saltwater Aquariums (September 2009) and Coral (spring 2011). His aquarium articles can be found in print publications such as CORAL Magazine and Tropical Fish Hobbyist or online at, where he is the saltwater aquarium feature writer. Ret and his wife Karen, an artist known for her fish paintings, split their time between Laguna Beach, California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Coral - Everything You Didn't Know

To a reef aquarist, live coral specimens often justify a relatively high price tag, but reef aquarists are far from the first humans to have found value in these fascinating animals. The ancient Gauls adorned their swords, shields and helmets with coral until the demand in India, where coral fetched the highest price of any first century trade commodity, made it too scarce to be practical. In Central America, the coastal Mayans mined coral from reefs for building foundations indicative of a family's wealth and status, not to mention worthy of their relatives' remains. Coral figures prominently in Greek, Roman and Indo-Pacific peoples' mythologies, a fact not lost on seers, artists and writers who have insured coral a place in religious structures, art museums and the literary canon. Not just the stuff of warriors, the wealthy and intellectuals, coral has far more pedantic uses. Utilized as a cheap construction material and an ingredient in the world's fourth most widely used drug, coral is part of daily life for many people around the world. In this presentation, based on Talbot's forthcoming book titled Coral (Reaktion Books, 2011), Talbot tells the complex, interesting and often surprising story found at the intersection of coral and human history.

Wild Papua New Guinea - A Model for a Robust and Sustainable Marine Aquarium Industry?

Ret Talbot traveled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the spring of 2010 to research a story for CORAL Magazine about PNG's emerging marine aquarium industry and SEASMART, the program responsible for bringing the trade to PNG. Over the course of the better part of a month, Talbot observed every step in the chain of custody from collection in remote coastal villages to export from the capital city. During that time, he had unparalleled access to local fishers, SEASMART staff and key government officials responsible for overseeing the trade in PNG. From some of the most pristine and diverse tropical reefs in the world to the state-of-the-art export facility in Port Moresby, this presentation summarizes Talbot's experiences in one of the most remote and culturally diverse countries in the world. Talbot strives to answer the question of what role wild-caught fishes and maricultured corals should play in a robust and sustainable marine aquarium industry, while, at the same time, assessing whether or not SEASMART's stated commitment to sustainability, equitability and profitability is, in fact, a feasible model for the future of the trade.