Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 Marathon: Find these shirts!

The runners on the New England Aquarium marathon team are in full taper mode and gearing up for the big run on Monday. There will be pasta dinners and good-night's sleeps in the weekend ahead. And for the spectators, you have some homework to do: Make sure you know who you're cheering for during the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Ta-da! These are the team shirts for the 2015 New England Aquarium Marathon Team! See if you can find these clownfish-inspired technical jerseys from among all the runners on the course Monday.

Aquarium team runners (from left) Danielle Foley, Keegan Willette, Meg Rabinowitz and Chris Bauernfeind (team coach)
model the technical shirts at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank 

Collectively, the team has raised more than $100,000 toward the Aquarium's education outreach programs—and they're not done yet! These programs bring ocean-themed education opportunities to underserved neighborhoods throughout the Boston area. Kids can get their hands wet feeling a sea star or a crab, discover about how giant whales eat teeny-tiny food and learn how all our actions impact our ocean and what we can do as a community do to protect this vast, watery resource.

Help us reach even more kids and share the wonder of our blue planet! Consider sponsoring the team as a whole or look at their thumbnail here to support one of our runners individually.

Team runners with marathon team coordinator Deb Bobek and team founder John Hanzl (right)

We hope you'll join the Aquarium family and support our runners on Monday. When you find these clownfish among the sea of runners, be sure to cheer extra loud—for the runner and for our ocean.

2015 Aquarium marathon team shirt

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vacation Week Visiting Tips

Isn't it amazing to see those snow piles dwindle? Don't you want to bolt from the house and explore? Come visit your friends at the Aquarium!

The dwarf seahorses in the Yawkey Coral Reef center will blow your mind with their tininess. 

But before you visit, here are a few visiting tips (psst, members, look for some tips especially for you in this tropical turquoise color):

1. Buy your timed tickets online
Buying your timed tickets online means you can skip the line! Simply print them at home or show your e-ticket on your smartphone in the Main Lobby! Don't worry if you miss your time, though. We'll get you in. Here are other Frequently Asked Question about timed tickets.
Members with membership cards can head straight into the Main Lobby! Expedite your entry by having your bar-coded membership card and a photo ID in hand. Unless you need to purchase additional tickets at the Member Services desk, you can proceed directly to an entry scanner in the lobby. Need to renew or buy a membership?  You can do it online and then bring your confirmation email with you during your visit. (Note, there is a delay in receiving some benefits when purchased online.)

2. Avoid peak times
The middle of the day is our busiest time. If you want plenty of face time with Myrtle the green sea turtle or Sierra the sea lion, plan to arrive before 10 a.m. or later in the afternoon after 3:00 p.m. Be sure to check the website for any last minute changes.

3. Take public transportation
Taking public transportation is the blue thing to do! The Aquarium stop on the MBTA's Blue Line is just a few steps from our Front Plaza. If you're driving, check out nearby parking options,—prices vary. Here's some more information about accessibility at the Aquarium.
Only members get validated parking at the Harbor Garage next to the Aquarium!

4. Get even closer with our Animal Encounter programs
Perch on top of the four-story Giant Ocean Tank to feed the animals. Smooch a seal. Go behind the scenes of your favorite exhibits. The New England Aquarium's immersive Animal Encounter programs take your visit to a whole new level. 
Members enjoy special discounts to this program—plus at the Gift Shop and Harbor View CafĂ©!

Animal Encounters are a dynamic way to get even closer to the animals.
Large photo: Meet Myrtle, Inset: Meet and Greet a Fur Seal

5. See the world in incredible IMAX 
The Simons IMAX Theatre's six-story movie screen is the largest in New England. Now imagine 50 tons splashing down during an epic breach in Humpback Whales 3DGreat White Shark 3D gives these gorgeous top predators their due. And coming starting Friday, April 17, sink into the spectacular details of a coral reef with Secret Ocean 3D. 
Members, don't forget to use your member IMAX e-passes when ordering by phone, online or in person.

Still have questions, like can I leave and return to the Aquarium during my visit? Is photography allowed? What about food options in and around Central Wharf? Poke through our FAQs for answers to these questions and more.

Start your aquatic safari with our penguin colony!

After you visit, don't be strangers! When you get home, there are plenty of ways that you can connect with the Aquarium online. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Commander Meets the Mayor

The Aquarium's newest arrival—a Northern fur seal named Commander—met with Boston's commander in chief Mayor Marty Walsh during a light-hearted event at the Aquarium today.

Captive audience: Are the young visitors more excited to see Mayor Walsh or Commander the fur seal?

Today marine mammal trainer Kim Cummings and Aquarium CEO Nigella Hillgarth welcomed Mayor Walsh into the exhibit to learn about fur seals, feel Commander's thick fur coat and even feed the large male fur seal some of his lunchtime meal.

Mayor Walsh drops a fish into Commander's mouth

Commander made the cross country trip earlier this winter via a donated flight from FedEx. He was brought to Boston as part of a cooperative breeding program that is dedicated to increasing the number of Northern fur seals in American zoos and aquariums. Currently, there are only nine of the unusual-looking seals in the U.S. with five of them at the New England Aquarium, which has had two pups born in the last three years.

Commander and the commander

Commander arrived from the Seattle Aquarium via FedEx back in February. He spend time behind the scenes for routine quarantine, and recently joined the sea lions on exhibit full time—just in time for the region's April school vacations.

Aquarium CEO Nigella Hillgarth introduces Mayor Walsh to Commander

Commander currently tips the scales at nearly 400 pounds but will be a solid 500 pounds by this summer. He's so big that it's hard to miss him. But he often lounges toward the back of exhibit, where you'll find him resting (something these big male fur seals do a lot of) or grooming.

Commander grooms his fur in preparation for the Mayor's visit. (Actually, fur seals really groom all day, every day.)

Northern fur seals are a vulnerable species that are found across the north Pacific but primarily off of Alaska. They are in the same family as California sea lions but also feature the second thickest fur in the world.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Secret Ocean 3D opens April 17!

Secret Ocean 3D is now playing! Save time and buy your tickets online.

Amazing little animals are on massive display in exquisite detail in our new IMAX film Secret Ocean 3D. Never have so many delicate and diminutive animals looked so huge than on the largest screen in New England! Here's a taste of what you'll experience with Secret Oceans 3D.



Jean-Michel Cousteau directs his first IMAX film, narrated by renowned marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, exploring the ocean’s intricate secrets on New England’s largest screen thanks to brand new 3D macro photography. Take a closer look at our oceans and you’ll find that the smallest living things can be a powerful inspiration for protecting the blue planet.

Anemonefish

With unprecedented macro videography, the hidden beauty of our oceans blossom before your eyes as thousands of colorful fish ripple over vibrant corals and stunning, 400-pound giant clams. Observe the genius of a camouflaged octopus hunting along a reef. Hover next to a basket star as it unfurls its tangled tendrils at nightfall.

Winning Free Tickets on the Aquarium's Social Networks
Over the last couple weeks, we gave away IMAX tickets on Facebook and Twitter (see—it pays to follow us on Facebook and our other social communities). In one giveaway, we asked folks to count the number of Christmas tree worms in this picture. Tricky, right?! The answer is 6.

One giveaway asked folks to count the Christmas tree worms

Here's the explanation: The worms use those brightly colored feather dusters to grab particles of food as well as for respiration. The closely-packed plumes of the same color are from a single worm! So those two yellow feather dusters count as one worm, same for the maroon one and the white one in the background. In the lower left of the picture, you'll notice that there's no feather duster. That's the tube where a Christmas worm lives, and you can see the inklings of color at the mouth of the tube.

Another giveaway simply asked you to fill in the blank. 

In another ticket giveaway, we asked folks to comment on Facebook and tell us their favorite ocean animal. We even have simple like and share a photo contests! There are many ways to engage with us on social media, and sometimes those ways land you free tickets. Congratulations to our recent winners—enjoy Secret Ocean 3D!

Follow us on social to learn about future giveaways, new animals and behind-the-scenes tidbits about the New England Aquarium:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Whale it up this weekend!

There are some huge happenings around Central Wharf these days—like, school-bus huge. We’re talking about humpback whales, of course! Plan your own whale-a-palooza this weekend with Humpback Whales 3D at the Simons IMAX Theatre and an unforgettable New England Aquarium Whale Watch.

Start on the big screen with Humpback Whales 3D, where these surprisingly agile behemoths appear life size on the largest movie screen in New England.

Imagine this life-size action splashing down in 3D!

Thunderous breaches and in-your-face feeding frenzies are bowling over landlubbers watching Humpback Whales 3D at the Simons IMAX Theatre. In fact, this is the first time these graceful giants have been filmed with the clarity and enormity afforded by IMAX technology, and it’s simply spectacular.

A sense of scale: Humpback whales can grow to be 60 feet long. 60 feet!

Float peacefully in indigo blue water alongside a lifesize humpback whale, hear enchanting whale song in digital surround sound and whiz along the water in a skiff alongside scientists in the field. This film provides a global perspective of this species and its diverse habitats as humpback whales bounce back from the brink of extinction. Buy your Humpback Whale 3D tickets online.

Then a short stroll across the Aquarium's Front Plaza and you’re poised for an exhilarating dose of sea breezes and wildlife as you observe whales in our coastal backyard on board a New England Aquarium Whale Watch, presented by Boston Harbor Cruises!

Passengers on a New England Aquarium Whale Watch get front row seats to see the whales in person, in their habitat.

Have you ever wondered what whale breath smells like? Want to record your own feeding frenzy videos? Be among the first to welcome the whales back to their summer feeding grounds on Stellwagen Bank, which is one of the world’s richest feeding grounds for marine animals, including whales, seals, sea birds and dolphins.

Whale Watch tickets are available online through our partners at Boston Harbor Cruises.

Feeding frenzy on Stellwagen — for whales and seabirds!

As if that's not enough whales for you, check out the Aquarium's Gift Shop windows adorned with the adorable cetaceans created by illustrator and Aquarium educator Maris Wicks.

Playful whales adorn the Gift Shop's windows

If there's one way to make it a big weekend, it's adding some whales. Make it happen! Check out humpbacks in IMAX, artfully drawn and in real life with the Aquarium.