I’ve been to the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America every year since 2007 and several times before that. Having been to so many MACNAs before, and being part of the team that organized the Mile High MACNA in Denver for 2014, this is a show that I am intimately familiar with, and still hold dear for a multitude of reasons.
Every year I come up with some new and original angles to encourage people to come and attend this show. The usual reasons always arise; seeing the new gear, spotting some killer corals, meeting with old friends and making new ones. Of course some people are all about going to the speaker presentations, investing in the coral raffle, or really drilling down into some devices they’re shopping for.
Let’s not forget that many of the MACNAs are held in awesome American cities, each usually offering some interesting sights to see and novel experiences to do – and New Orleans is certainly gets high marks in this category. All of these are good reasons, and any number of these are excellent motivations to go to MACNA.
While I dabble in any number of these, especially the new gear and hot corals, MACNA for me is the Big Leagues of the coral reefing community. This where for the last 15 years (although MACNA is older than that) the movers and shakers, the highly engaged reefers, the shops and the manufacturers all get together.
For one glorious weekend during MACNA we all have the chance to find out what people all over the country, and many parts of the world, are doing within the reef aquarium world. This hobby absolutely thrives on information and this is what excites me the most about attending MACNA.
Our current digital lifestyles has brought many of us together, but at reef shows we all get to see each other in real life, talk face to face, find out what people have really been up to, and what their plans are. My articles and videos are only a snippet into my reefing life, and the same goes for everyone’s ephemeral social media updates.
MACNA is the best place for the dedicated reef keepers to get together and manifest our sense of community in a real and tangible way. Having known many of the reefers for so many years, it’s always great to get a personal update on people’s tanks, some feedback from the new gear they are using and the latest corals to tickle their fancy.
It’s this strong sense of community, that we’re all on this journey together, that makes the North American reef scene one of the most productive and fertile in the world. I’ve seen what it’s like in different parts of the world which are devoid of these kind of regular and well attended reef shows, and I remember what it was like trying to learn something, anything, new back in the 1990s when the ‘scene’ hadn’t grown to what it is today.
The Marine Aquarium Conference of North America is the culmination of a whole generation of saltwater aquarists who’ve built this great movement. If you think being in a good reef club is fun, then you must come to MACNAs to see how big ‘Our’ reef aquarium club really is.
For real though, I’m super stoked to meet Gerald Heslinga, one of the true gurus of giant clams, and to share some dive notes with Ned Deloach, very stoked to see some new blood in the speaker lineup. The last club-organized MACNA will be in New Orleans the last weekend of August, from Friday the 25th to Sunday the 27th, and we all hope to see everyone there! [MACNA]