Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Researchers search for elusive right whale mating grounds

by Amanda Thompson

When winter approaches, New England Aquarium’s right whale researchers normally leave the freezing waters of northern Maine. But not this year! The Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute (CWI) are chartering a vessel from Bar Harbor, ME, to, as researcher Moira Brown says, "go on a quest to find the elusive North Atlantic right whale mating ground!"

Researchers scan the fog for right whales.

On this quest researchers will brave the winter elements to survey the area from the coast of Bar Harbor through the Jordan Basin. Their goal is to collect photographs of right whales for individual identification, scarring and health assessment as well as skin biopsy samples for ongoing genetics studies, and fecal samples for studies on reproductive hormones.

There will be four trips out to sea in total and they will be conducted from November through early January, the dates will be determined by the weather. Funding for this field study has been provided by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (through a grant to the Aquarium) and the Canadian Wildlife Federation and TD Bank (through a grant to CWI).

See how the weather is cooperating and read more about this exciting search hunt for the mysterious North Atlantic right whale mating ground with posts from the Jordan Basin on the Right Whale Blog!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aquarium's New Animal Care Center in Quincy Hosts Open House for Donors

24 rescued sea turtles, 9 baby bonnethead sharks and a school of cownose rays among first residents of new $3.7 million facility

Quincy, Mass. - November 18, 2010
The 240 by 100 foot brick industrial building was formerly used in shipbuilding, but it is now the futuristic looking home to dozens of rescued and endangered sea turtles, [Note: The number of sea turtles now convalescing in Quincy has drastically increased! Get the latest on patient counts on the Rescue Blog.] a school of cownose rays, and a nursery for nine baby bonnethead sharks. The New England Aquarium tonight will host an informal open house for trustees and donors of its new Animal Care Center in the Quincy Shipyard. The new $3.7 million facility is the new state of the art, private, offsite holding facility for the Boston aquarium.

A rescued sea turtle is examined for treatment at the Animal Care Center. Click on photo for hi-res version. (Photo: C. Leblanc)

Left: A sand tiger shark swims in a holding take.
Right: A rescued sea turtle rests on a towel while being examined.
Click on photos for hi-res versions. (Photos: C. Leblanc)

The New England Aquarium is located on Central Wharf in dense, downtown Boston where it dedicates as much space as possible for exhibit and visitor uses. There had been a desire for an off-site holding facility for rescued marine animals, animals in quarantine and for animals that were arriving for later display. After a year long search, the Aquarium came to an agreement with Quincy Shipyard owner Jay Cashman to renovate one of the old fabrication plants in the stories South Shore shipyard. Construction began in September 2009 and is still ongoing, but the new facility is nearly up to full operations with the onset of the cold stunned sea turtle stranding season on Cape Cod.

Here's some video footage of the Animal Care Center from The Boston Globe: