Wednesday, March 31, 2010

North Atlantic right whales switched at birth!

Recently researchers at the New England Aquarium, in collaboration with researchers at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, are reporting the first genetic confirmation of adoption in a wild cetacean. This is also the first documented case of an adoption in a baleen whale!

Right whale mother Mavynne (catalog #1151) is one of the whales involved in the 1986 switch. Here she is photographed with her newest calf.
Mavynne has been a regular on the Right Whale Research Blog. Learn about her close call with fishing gear here.

While working to create right whale family trees by linking right whale DNA data with our Right Whale Catalog’s long-term photo-identification data, the genetic profiles of two mothers were found to mismatch their calves. After a thorough investigation to eliminate the possibility of error, researchers confidently believe that this is indeed a case of North Atlantic right whales switched at birth, also known as a confirmed case of a double adoption.

How did this happen? Researchers believe that since this coincides with the approximate time of an intense storm that occurred within the right whale calving ground (find more information about the calving ground on recent posts on the Right Whale Research Blog), that it was within the chaos of the storm the calves were switched. Researchers believe that this must have occurred within the first couple weeks of the calves’ births, before the mother-calf pairs were able to recognize each other's calls and so the calves imprinted on the new adopted mother. The work was recently published in Aquatic Mammals.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dive 'Under the Sea' in IMAX 3D!

No need to get wet. Let the Simons IMAX Theatre take you under the sea with the largest screen in New England!

Under the Sea 3D will transport you to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth, including Southern Australia, New Guinea and others in the Indo-Pacific region, allowing you to experience face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious, stunning and curious creatures of the sea.

Click for tickets and show times.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Special deal for Aquarium member moms!

Your Aquarium membership is the ticket for great deals to see "The Little Mermaid" at the Wheelock Family Theatre! Members of the New England Aquarium receive a special discount to see this beloved family classic on stage during Mother's Day weekend.

All tickets purchased with your NEAQ membership are only $18 (regular price $25) on Friday May 7 at 7:00 p.m., Saturday May 8 or Sunday May 9 at 3:00 p.m. You can order tickets through the Wheelock Family Theatre over the telephone at 617-879-2300 or online (use the discount code NEAQ and be sure to have your membership card available). A special discount of $3 off the regular ticket prices will apply throughout the run if you are unable to attend over Mother's Day weekend.

In addition to special deals for tickets to family theater, click here and here to learn about additional benefits to Aquarium membership. You can become an Aquarium member online! Or consider a gift membership for the mothers in your life.

The Little Mermaid
April 16 - May 16
Friday nights at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m.
School vacation week matinees at 1:00 p.m.

Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway on the campus of Wheelock College in Boston's historic Fenway

Click here to purchase tickets. Please have your membership card available when purchasing tickets!

About WFT's "The Little Mermaid":

Award-wining actress Andrea Ross (Saint Joan, Sarah Crewe, Liesl, Ramona Quimby, and Winnie Foster) is the ever-curious Little Mermaid Pearl, enthralled with the unknown world beyond the sea and the humans that inhabit it. On one of her adventures to the ocean's edge, a charismatic young man catches her eye. After a ferocious storm sweeps him from his ship, Pearl swims to his rescue, and falls desperately in love. Her quest to find him lands her in the clutches of the spiteful Sea Witch, with whom she must make a dreadful bargain.

Above the sea, among the humans, the voiceless Pearl struggles with loss, misunderstanding and rejection but overcomes each setback with courage and growing confidence, ultimately winning the heart of everyone she meets including Prince Stefan. Faithful to Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale (but with a happier ending), this adaptation teems with fascinating characters, dramatic undercurrents, deep emotions, rippling humor, and a titanic battle between good and evil. "The Little Mermaid" will thrill young children, teens and adults alike.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rock your Earth Day!

Earth Day is turning 40, and 92.5 The River is putting together a celebration fit for the planet! They Might Be Giants and Citizen Cope will be playing on the Rose Kennedy Greenway between the Aquarium and Rowes Wharf on Thursday, April 22 between noon and 3 p.m. Bop with other folks who care about the environment and discover new ways to protect the Earth.

Visit our booth on the Greenway to learn how the Aquarium can help you live blue for a better planet. Living blue is about making daily changes, big and small, that help protect the environment. Pick up some handy activity lists that include something for everyone. Learn what kinds of seafood choices are best for our oceans and why. Ask some questions, our educators will be on hand armed with loads of information about our oceans and ways you can help protect the plants and animals living under the sea. We even have some surprises up our sleeves!

While you're in the area, stop by the Aquarium to visit the fur seals in the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center -- the intimate open-air exhibit overlooking Boston Harbor -- or lose yourself peering into the Giant Ocean Tank's lively Caribbean coral reef. The Aquarium is open until 6 p.m. during school vacation week! Head over to our Visit Planning pages to make the most of your trip.

Aquarium researchers quoted in the 'New York Times'

Home saltwater aquariums are a booming industry. While they may foster an increased appreciation for our oceans, marine biologists -- including two New England Aquarium experts -- are voicing some concerns in an article in today's New York Times. Click to read more on the controversy over the question: Are Aquariums Getting Too Lifelike?

Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Curious about ornamental invertebrate fisheries? Expand your understanding of this topical issue. Register to hear "Crawling to Collapse: Ecologically Unsound Ornamental Invertebrate Fisheries" on June 1 at 7 p.m. Andrew Rhyne, PhD, research scientist at the Aquarium and an assistant professor at Roger Williams University, is speaking at the Aquarium's Lecture Series, sponsored by the Lowell Institute.

Friday, March 19, 2010

'Hubble 3D' is now playing!

Buckle up, you're in for a 3D journey like you've never experienced before. You'll feel like you're in space palling around with the astronauts and gliding through distant galaxies. Hubble 3D is now playing at the Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre! With the telescope celebrating 20 years in space on April 24, there's no better time to enjoy Hubble 3D. Celebrate this important milestone in crystal clear IMAX 3D!

Check times and buy your tickets in advance for this critically-acclaimed IMAX masterpiece that will rocket your world.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Hubble 3D' soaring with positive reviews!

Be among the first to blast into orbit with Hubble 3D, opening Friday at the New England Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre and at theaters nationwide!

Join narrator Leonardo DiCaprio and a brave team of NASA astronauts on a landmark shuttle mission. No other documentary puts you as close to zero-gravity! From the seat-shaking moments of liftoff to the dazzling images of distant galaxies, experience the power and wonder of space exploration in spectacular IMAX 3D. This family-friendly space adventure brings you alongside astronauts floating above Earth as they perform a series of suspenseful space walks to repair the Hubble telescope--our best link to the far-flung mysteries of outer space.

Get your tickets today!

Here is what others are saying about the film:

"Projected in an almost tactile three dimensions on giant IMAX screens, 'Hubble' is about as close as most of us ever will get to a trip into space."
- Associated Press (via

"Structured around a tricky NASA service-and-repair mission, the latest IMAX venture from producer-director Toni Myers ("Under the Sea 3D") lingers to transfixing effect on images captured by the famous telescope, inspiring the viewer's awe in the possibilities of giant-screen cinema as well as the mysteries of space."
- Variety

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

April means clownfish and clowns

If you are in town visiting clownfish in the Aquarium's Pacific Reef Community next month, consider making a day of it with Bello the clown and our friends at the Big Apple Circus! Mention the Aquarium promotional code NEAQ10 and save.

From April 3 through May 16, 2010, Bello is back on City Hall Plaza performing breathtaking feats of humor in the theatrical focus of one ring, with no seat in the audience more than 50 feet away. Bello is also joined by a fleet of stellar circus stars.

"Amazing performances! Genuine humor! Friendly and intimate! Big Apple Circus is one terrific troupe!" - The New York Times

The Big Apple Circus is your circus, and Big Apple and Bello are back in town! SAVE UP TO 30% per ticket on select seats and locations. See show times and buy tickets online or call 888-541-3750. Mention promotional code NEAQ10 online, by phone, or at the Big Top Box Office (no service fees) on City Hall Plaza.


d2e supporting Aquarium programs

The creators of Boston's down:2:earth expo want to help consumers incorporate eco-conscious products and actions into their lives. From April 9 through 11 at the Hynes Convention Center, the Green Living Festival will showcase Earth-friendly wares and activities.

Since conservation is a cornerstone in the Aquarium's mission, the Harbor View Cafe will participate in a preview party on April 9 called Local Bites to discuss sustainable seafoods. Guests can see cooking demonstrations and sample dishes from local restaurants, all while helping the Aquarium. A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit the Sustainable Seafood Programs. Visit the Aquarium's booth on Saturday or Sunday to enter to win a harbor seal training session or a behind-the-scenes tour.

Tickets and expo information are available online.

The Aquarium encourages people all over the world to modify their everyday activities in an effort to protect our oceans. The Sustainable Seafood Programs promote ocean-friendly seafood and responsible management of fisheries resources. The live blue initiative promotes tips such as taking public transportation and using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances.


Show the world how you live blue!

Now accepting artwork submissions for the New England Aquarium's Earth Day Art Show! We are looking for artwork that shows why you choose to live blue. Living blue is about making daily changes, big and small, that help protect the environment. Draw a picture, make a collage, paint, get creative!

The art show will open on Sunday, April 25, as part of our Blue Discoveries Family Day celebration. Come to the Aquarium that day to see your art on display in the windows of the Aquarium’s Ocean Center, and enjoy free activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the Aquarium in honor of Earth Day. Get more information about Blue Discoveries Family Day at

- Theme: Why should we live blue?
- Open to kids ages 5-17 years old, families are encouraged to submit group art.
- Work must be on paper, maximum size 30 inches by 30 inches.
- Art will be on display at the Aquarium from April 25 to May 25, 2010.
- For more information, call 617-226-2149 or email

Deadline for submission: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Send art to:
Hannah Stinson, Education Programs Coordinator
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf, Boston MA 02110


Monday, March 8, 2010

See Avatar on the largest screen in New England!

See the world's biggest movie on New England's largest screen!

Experience the special effects spectacular in downtown Boston at the New England Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre. Let director James Cameron's revolutionary cinema technology and riveting action sequences transport you to a world filled with lush alien jungles where an exotic civilization is fighting for survival. Get tickets today!

Member passes are not accepted for this special feature.


Saving right whales

The Right Whale Aerial Survey Team here at the New England Aquarium knows that what they do is crucial to the success of this endangered species. They work long, hard hours along with the observers from the Wildlife Trust and the Florida Conservation Commission as part of this massive collaborative effort (EWS, Early Warning System) that has been growing for the past seventeen years to protect right whales from ship strikes in their only known calving ground. As our researchers found out, this year is not without its daily reminders of just how truly awesome, beautiful and wondrous the right whale really is.

Photo: Whale #2710 with her calf. Learn more about this whale in a previous blog entry or type her number in the Right Whale Catalog. Note: All work and images are under scientific permit from NMFS.

While flying their surveys and relaying real-time information on the right whales' locations to commercial and military ship traffic, the U.S. coastguard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local harbor pilots and members of the research community, they are able to witness and document a tremendous amount of information on the right whale, learning more and more about these elusive creatures.

This year we have spotted numerous mother/calf pairs including one of our favorites - Aphrodite (#1701) - with her fifth known calf, multiple Surface Active Groups (SAGs) and a quick sighting of Shackleton (#2440), one of our whales in the Sponsorship Program. We even documented Skittle (#3260) with her first known calf that was less than 20 hours old when sighted!

To find out more about this aerial survey season and see these whales and their fascinating behaviors visit the Right Whale Blog.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Have you caught 'The Ultimate Wave' yet?

The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D is making waves at the Simons IMAX Theatre. The Boston Globe recently reviewed the flick and highlighted the spectacular scenery and impressive 3D effects saying, "Schools of fish swim right at the viewers. Water seems about to splash into laps." It's just another reason to take the whole family on a tropical vacation to Central Wharf.

Buy your tickets today!

9-time surfing world champion Kelly Slater shares the screen with whales, dolphins, coral reefs, monster waves and the stunning scenery of Tahiti.

Click here to watch the trailer!

Sharks and their Winter Whereabouts

Against a backdrop of sand tiger sharks in the GOT, the Aquarium's CFO Walter Flaherty invited a marine biologist with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to share his exciting research about white sharks at a media event on Wednesday. Dr. Greg Skomal tagged several great whites off of Chatham last summer in order to track their migratory patterns. Well, those tags have recently started returning valuable information. To his surprise, he is finding that the sharks are generally hugging the Eastern Seaboard and are wintering in Florida.

Skomal explained that he was surprised the sharks appear to be sticking so close to shore because other data indicates white sharks in the Pacific head far out to sea. But he also cautions that scientists are at the beginning stages of understanding the habits of these fascinating predators. Tracking migratory patterns are just one little step to getting a greater understanding of their behaviors.

Lots of local media came to hear Skomal's exciting findings. Here are some links to their stories:
Keeping tabs on sharks, Greater Boston (Aquarium expert Dr. John Mandelman participated in shark discussion with Emily Rooney!)
Tagging along with great whites, Boston Globe
Cape sharks will be back, data shows, Boston Herald
No privacy for traveling great whites, Martha's Vinyard Times
Tags Chronicle the Migratory Journey of Sharks, WBZ-TV, Channel 4
Tracking results for sharks tagged off Chatham, WHDH, Channel 7

The state's research might not come as a surprise to our right whale observers. They spotted a huge shark off the coast of Georgia and Florida earlier this winter. Visit the Right Whale Aerial Survey Blog to see the picture. At first, they actually weren't sure whether it was a shark or a baby whale!

Through our own research projects and the work of our colleagues, the Aquarium is wholly committed to developing and implementing new solutions to protect sharks living in our oceans. We were happy to be able to host this exciting announcement. Learn about some of our research projects on shark mortality and stress physiology.

And how about those sharks that were on display during the press conference? The GOT Blog is a great resource for information about sand tiger and nurse sharks. See what it takes to give these large predators a full physical exam. You also can find out just why sand tiger sharks have so many teeth.