DENNIS PULESTON: EXPLORER, NATURALIST &
On display will be 250 of Puleston's bird paintings, his journals, awards and photographs.
As one of the founders of the Environmental Defense Fund, Puleston's
conservation impact on both a local and national level is immeasurable.
ABOUT DENNIS PULESTON:
Dennis Puleston was born on December 30, 1905 outside of London. He studied biology and naval architecture at London University, and ultimately settled in the United States marrying Betty Wellington in 1939. Puleston became an American citizen in 1942 and served in World War II. After the war, Puleston was appointed the Director of Technical Information at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. It was here that he fell in love with the islands flourishing osprey population, he wrote:
They were everywhere, repairing their huge stick nests on dead trees, utility poles and platforms erected especially for them. They even nested in the middle of towns and raised chickís right along the highway, oblivious to traffic
Puleston kept detailed records of the osprey's reproductive history that resided in the Gardiners Island Wildlife Refuge. After several years noticed a large decline in the osprey population and discovered that as the osprey parents attempted to incubate their eggs the weight of the their bodies were crushing their chick's shells before they were born.
In 1962, a breakthrough book "Silent Spring" by Rachael Carson was published. This landmark book revealed, on the environment as a whole, but especially on birds. Puleston concluded that the harmful effects of pesticides, especially D.D.T (dichlorodiphenyl-trichlorethane) must interfere with female osprey's ability to produce the thick eggshells their species requires to survive incubation.
Puleston reached out to the Suffolk County Mosquito Control Commission to stop the spraying of D.D.T, they refused. Pulseton along with a group of others filed a class action in New York State Supreme Court to force the Commission to stop using D.D.T. After presenting seven watercolors that he painted to illustrate how D.D.T was destroying local wildlife, The Suffolk County Legislature was convinced to ban D.D.T.
A year after the victory over banning the spraying of D.D.T in Suffolk County, Puleston was overwhelmed with stories of similar struggles across the country. As a result, Puleston and his colleagues formed the EDF, Environment Defense Fund. As a result of Pulestonís labors, the amount of D.D.T. residues in the environment dropped and the osprey were saved, along with all of the wildlife on Long Island.
It was during the later years of his life that he was able to focus on his passions of painting and writing about Long Island wildlife so that he could step back and fully admire all that he was able to save.
On display Through September 28, 2013. For full details please call: (631) 727-2881.
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