Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Video: Blog Highlight Reel

We've taken a nice long look at the beautiful and arresting still images of 2011. Now it's time to snuggle up and chose your favorite video clip from the past 12 months. We have tiny turtles behind the scenes and giant whales spouting in the wild. Let us know what you think!

Bob the green moray visits the vet.

The pioneering scientists with the Right Whale Research team demonstrate how to capture right whale blow for hormone studies.

The Aquarium helps raise tiny red-bellied cooters behind the scenes so they get a head start on growing up in the wild.

Check out the big guy Baranov getting in a good scratch.

Flowerhat jellies are quite beautiful, and quite the predators. Here's a glimpse at feeding time.

An aquarist was at the right place at the right time for this hermit crab hatching event.

Ever wonder how Myrtle celebrates holidays at the Aquarium? Divers in the Giant Ocean Tank give us a look at life on Central Wharf on Thanksgiving day.

There's always a lot happening here and sometimes a movie is the best way to give folks a taste of life at the Aquarium. How did we do? Do you have a favorite? Let us know with a comment below.

Happy New Year! Looking forward to lots more videos so be sure to keep tabs on the blogs in 2012!

Check out the best of still images from the blogs of 2011 here. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Images: The Best of the Best

It's the time of year when we reflect on the adventures, lessons and special moments of the last twelve months. The New England Aquarium family has experienced all of the above. In no particular order, here are our picks for the top ten photos from 2011's blog posts.

Just click on the images to link to the original posts.

The right whale research team caught Porcia silhouetted against the sunset in the Bay of Fundy this summer.

Aquarium Senior Vice President of Ocean Exploration and Conservation Greg Stone illustrates the plague of plastics in our oceans in this photo from this year's Indonesia Expedition.

This is what the Aquarium's Rescue Team works for: The thrill and satisfaction of releasing healthy sea turtles back into the ocean!

Brian Skerry, the Aquarium's Explorer in Residence, used this photo of a lemon shark pup to illustrate the immeasurable importance of sharks.

Penguin biologist Paul Leonard traveled to South Africa to help study the health of wild African penguin breeding colonies.

Keith Ellenbogen contributed this photo of underwater fluorescence in Fiji to the Explorers Blog. 

The Exhibits Blog brought us behind to scenes to learn how sea jellies grow up at the Aquarium.

Aquarium educator Jo Blasi was volunteering in a seabird rescue facility in South Africa when this abandoned African penguin chick arrived for care.

Explorers Blog contributor Keith Ellenbogen caught this photo of a fisherman hooking a salmon in Alaska. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an ocean-friendly seafood choice.

What is wrong with this picture? The Rescue Team points to this picture as a lesson in what NOT to do if you spot a seal resting on land. Here are other tips to keep in mind if you see see a seal on the beach.

So... which one is your favorite?! Did we miss any? We welcome your comments and suggestions below!

Check out the best videos from the blogs of 2011 here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ice Sculpture Sea Lions

Boston’s first ice sculpture of the holiday season made its debut on Monday at the Aquarium and will be up all week until First Night. Hopefully, this spectacular ice art will weather the slightly warmer temperatures to join the other New Year’s Eve ice sculptures across the city. Thousands of families have been welcomed by the sea lions as they head into the Aquarium to touch sharks and rays during December vacation week.

 Photo posted on tumblr by off-to-new-adventures

The sea lion sculptures get the crowd's attention on the Aquarium Plaza.

This year’s ice sculpture is of the Aquarium’s two new adorable sea lion pups, Zoe and Sierra. They both came to Boston this past summer from California after being rescued. The sea lion ice sculpture weighs several tons, is larger than life but is thankfully motionless.

Zoe and Sierra the California sea lions

In contrast, Zoe and Sierra are in constant motion and each eat 15 pounds of fish per day to fuel their 70 pound bodies. That is eating 20 percent of your body weight every day. You do the math for yourself to see how much food that is! See the ice sculpture on the Aquarium’s front plaza and meet the real girls on the Aquarium’s harbor-side in the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center.

The sculptures were done by Don Chapelle, ice sculptor extraordinaire, who has been one of the principal First Night ice sculptors for many years. Here's a post about his work at the Aquarium from last year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Roast Beef goes shopping

Did you see Roast Beef at the Prudential shops this week?!

The sociable African penguin from the New England Aquarium hit the town to herald the arrival of the newest 3D flick at the Aquarium's IMAX Theatre—Happy Feet 2!

The Academy Award®-winning penguins of Happy Feet have returned with a new film that delights all ages with dancing penguins and a gaggle of new animals. Come by the Simons IMAX Theatre this weekend to follow the fuzzy youngster Erik, who is reluctant to dance like his talented tapping dad. The penguin chick journeys through magnificent frozen landscapes of Antarctica along with some curious sidekicks.

Here's a peek at the film:

Click here for tickets and show times!

Roast is an old hand at visiting the sights in Boston. He was the star of the Penguin Pursuit contest during the summer of 2010. When he's nestled into his climate controlled cart, he's quite happy to watch the world go by. You might even catch him tossing around his enrichment toys. If you missed him at the Prudential, come by the Aquarium to see him and more than 80 of his closest feathered friends!

Curious shoppers, camera phones in hand, paused to visit with Roast Beef and his handlers at the Prudential this week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 Educator Ocean Stewardship Award Winners

An Ocean Steward is passionate about the ocean and works to promote an ethic of ocean conservation in their classroom and school. These educators ignite a sense of wonder towards marine ecosystems and inspire students to care for and take action to protect our ocean.

The Aquarium recognizes these teachers, who have been working to promote an ocean conservation ethic in their classroom. Congratulations to the 2011 winners of the Ocean Stewardship Award!

From left: John Anderson, Director of Education at the New England Aquarium, with 2011 award winners

Judith Hebert , Selser Memorial School School
Nominated by her principal, Mrs. Lemieux

Judy goes above and beyond when providing educational opportunities to her students. She has an enormous amount of energy and is quite a resource for the students and the school itself. Over the years, Judy has worked on projects with the state parks that included creating a Parks Passport Program and has started the Green Team recycling program at the Selser School. Judy likes to involve her 5th grade students with real world experiences by participating in activities like World Water Monitoring Day and collaborating with the Chicopee Water Department and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Judy also participates in the Aquarium’s Free to Learn Free Admission Program and has given her 5th grade water curriculum she created to the Teacher Resource Center so that we may share it with other teachers.

Courtney Jones, Whitman-Hanson Regional High School
Nominated by: Mark Stephansky, Science Curriculum Coordinator

Courtney has been a marine biology teacher at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School for the past 13 years. Since she arrived at Whitman-Hanson she single-handedly developed their Marine Biology curriculum from a one-semester program to three very popular courses, each dealing with a different aspect of Marine Science.

Stemming from the popularity of the marine science program, Courtney has also started the Marine Biology academic club which meets regularly after school to discuss issues surrounding Marine Science such as over fishing, pollution and other conservation measures. One of her largest contribution to the district’s Marine Science program is the creation of Marine Biology Club Student Ambassadors. These groups of students learn about a specific marine science topic and then present it to elementary classes in the district by way of teacher invitation. With Courtney’s direct influence, students at the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School have gone on to seek careers in Marine Science or other technological fields. A number of these students have even come back to speak to the Marine Biology Club to talk about their current work in the field and encourage others to seek out careers in these fields.

Dr. Chuck Fidler,  Wheelock College
Nominated by Heather Bundy, faculty assistant, Department of Mathematics and Science, Wheelock College

As Assistant Professor for Department of Mathematics and Science, Dr. Fidler’s reputation among his undergraduate students at Wheelock College is that of a professor who absolutely loves the ocean. His physical science courses are very popular due to his passion for the ocean and being a good steward, which he has incorporated into his teaching strategy. Dr. Fidler feels it is important to get his students out in the field by planning trips to many of New England’s local coastal areas. These field trips not only provide a break from the classroom they also help students see first-hand the impact that humans have on our coastal and oceanic ecosystems. It could be said that the true measure of success for any college professor is the number of students that want to take their classes. Dr. Fidler consistently finds himself with a sizable list of students each semester waiting to get into his class, even after it is full.

Nominations are open to all teachers, and teachers can even nominate themselves. Nominate someone you know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bob the eel goes to the vet

CENTRAL WHARF, Thursday, Dec. 8 — Bob is elderly and has not been feeling well. His appetite has been waning, and he has been markedly more cranky. His caregivers reluctantly have decided to make a diagnostic medical intervention. You might say he is feeling a little green about the gills, except he really is green about the gills – a bright electric green in fact. Bob is a large green moray eel who is a resident of the New England Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank since the mid-1990’s.

Thursday morning, Dec. 8, Aquarium divers wrangled all five feet of Bob from his favorite hide-out in the coral reef and gently placed him in a nylon bag for transport to the Aquarium Medical Center, where he underwent an endoscopy of his gastrointestinal tract in the hope that it will yield some clues as to the cause of his hunger strike. (Learn more about eel medical exams here.) Aquarium veterinarians inserted a slender scope equipped with a tiny video camera into the eel’s mouth and worked its way into his body cavity. The medical procedure used the same technology and techniques as used in human medicine and can be seen by Aquarium visitors. Medical procedures on moray eels are uncommon even for a major aquarium.

Bob's procedure caught the eye of local media (Channel 5 and The Boston Globe). But this is not his first time in the spotlight, he also swam his way into a Divers Blog post. The veterinarians did not find anything unusual during the medical exam, though several tests are still pending. It could be that Bob is just not that hungry. The divers will continue to keep a close eye on this long-time resident of the GOT.

Bob has an interesting back story. He came to the Aquarium in the mid-1990’s as a refugee from a bar in Maine! Bob is a poster boy as to why exotic animals do not make good pets. Eventually, most such animals become too large, too expensive or too dangerous for non-professionals to keep. When Aquarium divers drove to Maine to get the moray, their vehicle broke down in an unexpected snowstorm. Two kind Mainers named Bob and Bob helped get the Aquarium staff and their unusual cargo back to Boston. In honor of their help, the moray was named Bob.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stressful times for sharks

Continued research into the mortality rates and stress physiology of elasmobranchs, more commonly known as sharks, skates and rays, has recently been published by New England Aquarium researcher Dr. John Mandelman.

Caribbean reef sharks (Charchahinus perezii) swim over a coral reef in the Bahamas. (Photo: Brian Skerry)
Bycatch, loosely defined as the capture of any non-target species in a fishery, is a serious problem facing animals, fisherman and scientists alike. When the wrong species is caught it poses real economic, environmental and safety concerns. For the animals themselves, the stress from capture and handling event can degrade health and lead to immediate or delayed mortality. Mortality can also occur indirectly (e.g., such as in a case where the stress from capture/handling compromises the ability to avoid predators). In this paper, The physiological response of the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) to longline capture, the response of the Caribbean Reef sharks to longline (fishing) capture is investigated.

It has been demonstrated in previous studies that elasmobranchs, such as sharks, can be deterred, to varying degrees, from fishing gear “protected” by certain lanthanide metals and alloys that can perturb the sensitive electrosensory systems in these fishes. In this paper, the effectiveness of one of these metal types is examined in two species under laboratory conditions: Behavioral responses to weak electric fields and a lanthanide metal in two shark species.

In the paper Seasonal variations in the physiological stress response to discrete bouts of aerial exposure in the little skate, Leucoraja erinacea, the physiological response to prolonged air exposure, one inevitable component of fishing capture and release, is examined. Because seasonal effects are important to consider in fisheries, the study also examines how seawater and air temperature (i.e. differences between the two) influence the responses and associated rates of mortality.

Despite a continued need for more research, an increasing number of studies have sought to evaluate the effects of human-induced stressors on sharks, rays and skates in recent years. The work to date is characterized in the newly published review, The physiological response to anthropogenic stressors in marine elasmobranch fishes: A review with a focus on the secondary response. In this review, Dr. Mandelman and co-lead author Dr. Greg Skomal reveal those areas in most dire need of research attention, and conclude that a lot more work is necessary to help maximize the conservation benefits of this area of work.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Party with the Penguins!

Looking to host a holiday party your guests will never forget? Book a private holiday event at the at the New England Aquarium and give them the opportunity to dine privately among penguins, sharks and sea turtles. Our event management team will assist you every step of the way--from finding the ideal space for your event to creating the perfect menu.

Sip cocktails and party with our African penguins. Feast on a delicious selection of catered food while gazing at predators of the deep, or let your guests celebrate the season by touching sharks and rays in our newest exhibit! Come experience the only event space in Boston where you can dine alongside schools of tropical fishes.

Hosting your event at the Aquarium makes your day special in more ways than one, too. You will be supporting our animals, exhibits and our efforts to protect the blue planet. The Aquarium is a certified member of the Green Restaurant Association and is committed to furthering good environmental practices in our food services operations.

For more information about hosting an event with us, contact the Special Events Department at 617-973-5205, by email or by completing our online event inquiry form.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ocean Soul Lecture with Brian Skerry at the New England Aquarium

Brian Skerry shared images and stories from his new book, Ocean Soul at the New England Aquarium on Thursday, November 17. That lecture was live webcast here. Video from the event will be posted here soon.

About Ocean Soul
The book is a love story. It is a story of discovery. It is a story of hope. The story begins when a boy who loves the sea attends an event with underwater photographers and has an epiphany: “I had always wanted to explore the oceans, but I now understood how I would do this. I would do it with a camera.”

 The cover of Brian Skerry's new book, Ocean Soul.

With sheer determination, hard work and a little bit of luck, Brian Skerry realized his dream. A major focus of Brian’s work in recent years has been to produce stories that both celebrate the sea and raise awareness about its problems. Now, with Ocean Soul, he showcases his stunning photography and describes his adventurous life in a gripping portrait of the ocean as a place of beauty and mystery, a place in trouble and, ultimately, a place of hope that will rebound with the proper attention and care.

 Soft corals called sea pens and a blue cod appear in shallow waters in Long Sound Reserve,
New Zealand, in a photo from Brian Skerry's new book, Ocean Soul.

Read more of Brian's expeditions, and see some of his amazing images of sharks, penguins, corals and more in these posts from the Aquarium's Global Explorers Blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giant endangered sea turtle dies of entanglement wounds

Marine Animal Rescue Team biologists examine a stranded leatherback turtle on a Cape Cod beach.

DENNIS AND QUINCY, MA—A 400-pound, endangered leatherback sea turtle died of complications from severe entanglement wounds at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy Sunday. It had been rescued from Crow’s Pasture Beach in Dennis late Saturday afternoon. The sub-adult female was found on  Cape Cod beach minimally responsive. The sea turtle had severe, deep, rotting wounds at the base of each of its front flippers. These are the type of injuries commonly found when sea turtles get one of their large, paddle-like flippers caught around a vertical line in the water.  Such ropes are most commonly from boat mooring lines or fixed fishing gear like lobster pots. This turtle had either freed itself or was cut out of the entanglement by a person. Unfortunately, such entanglements happen every year in the waters around Cape Cod, which abuts a major seasonal migratory route for these black, soft-shelled giants.

The New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Team responded mid-afternoon on Saturday. They were greeted by Dennis Murley of the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay. Mass Audubon provides first responder services for  stranded sea turtles on the Cape. Aquarium rescue biologists and veterinarians found the animal still alive but barely breathing on its own. The animal was thin, not reactive to people and had terrible, large flipper wounds that had dying tissue on them and were probably at least a couple of weeks old. Aquarium staff administered emergency medications and fluids. With the aid of volunteers, the town of Dennis’s natural resources and animal control staff, and biologists from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the 400-pound turtle was carried through the loose sand by 14 people to the Aquarium’s emergency vehicle.

The leatherback is examined at the Aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy.

It was then transported to the Aquarium’s new off-site holding and treatment facility in the Quincy Shipyard. Aquarium staff continued intensive treatment, and chief veterinarian Dr. Charles Innis and senior biologist Kerry McNally attended to the leatherback overnight.

Rescue team members give the leatherback turtle hydrotherapy.

In the early morning, the animal’s already poor vital signs deteriorated, and she passed away relatively quickly.  A necropsy later on Sunday revealed abnormality in her organs. Whether this was a result of the infections in her severe wounds was not known. Tissue samples were taken for further pathology testing.

Leatherback sea turtles are the world’s largest turtle and the largest reptile by weight. This animal at 400 pounds was not yet reproductively active. Adult leatherbacks in Massachusetts waters commonly weigh 600 to 1,000 pounds. They are seasonal visitors here arriving during the summer and early autumn to feed exclusively on sea jellies. They commonly migrate up the East Coast in late June and pass between southern Cape Cod and the Islands. The autumn migration normally begins later in September, although turtles that had traveled deep into Gulf of Maine waters do pass by southward later in the autumn.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eight arms and a lot of smarts

A former Aquarium octopus named Athena is the subject of a new, fascinating and lengthy article in Orion, an international nature magazine. On a cold day last winter, Athena absolutely enthralled Sy Montgomery, a former Boston Globe columnist and prominent nature writer, with a very interactive visit. Aquarist Scott Dowd was filling in for Bill Murphy. The article is a very firsthand look at the remarkable intelligence of these short-lived creatures.

But your octopus-apalooza doesn't have to end there! On November 15 at 7 p.m., Scott will participate in an Orion-sponsored online discussion about the article and octopus intelligence. Be sure to click through and listen for some more information about our clever giant Pacific octopus.

And don't forget to check out this classic blog post about an octopus in a box!

Dancing for Climate Change

UPDATE: The group of singers and dancers from Kiribati came to the Aquarium during their visit to the Boston area. What they had to say stopped the penguins in their tracks. 

"Seeing the penguins swim to the rocks to watch and listen to the singers was one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen--certainly at the Aquarium," says one onlooker. 

Continue reading below to see what brought this special group of artists to New England. 

As one of the leading forces behind the creation of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in partnership with Kiribati, the New England Aquarium has long recognized the tiny atoll nations of the Pacific as bellwethers for global climate change. The remote and far-flung islands of countries like Kiribati, Tokelau and Tuvalu are on the front lines of climate change, experiencing such climate change symptoms as coral bleaching events and rising ocean levels. The people who live on these vulnerable atolls also risk becoming the first cultures on Earth to be submerged by rising sea levels.


For hundreds of years, the islands’ history, spiritual teachings and social values were danced and sung rather than written. Now, as their fragile way of life is threatened, the 36 dancers and musicians of Water is Rising create an elegant, sensual and exuberant performance that expresses their deep connections to nature and the legacy of their traditions as well as their feelings about global climate change. Their shared spirit and intense energy represent the joyful vitality of their collective ethos.


Water is Rising performed on Saturday, November 19, at 8 p.m. at the Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. The performance was a wild success and the singers and dancers from Water is Rising later found time to visit the Aquarium during their stay in the Boston area. During their tour they serenaded the penguins, that were unusually quiet during this impromptu performance. Here's a taste of that beautiful moment right here at the Aquarium.

Ecolabeling for better seafood

While many readers may be familiar with the Marine Stewardship Council seafood ecolabeling program, they may not be aware that there are nearly two dozen such certification programs for seafood worldwide. Are all those programs necessary?

A school of bluefin tuna. Photo: Brian Skerry

The Aquarium's Dr. Michael Tlusty asked the important question of whether improvement in the environmental impact of seafood production is best achieved by adhering to a single one of these programs or multiple certification programs. He recently published his theory in the journal Fish and Fisheries, explaining how multiple certifications can significantly reduce the seafood industries’ negative environmental impacts. That's compared to if only a single certification is followed. The use of multiple standards provides shorter, more reachable steps toward a high-level standard, and also allows a greater proportion of the industry to make improvements, thus increasing overall sustainability.

In our ongoing work on improving the quality and quantity of seafood, Dr Tlusty has also figured out how to increase aquaculture production by 60 percent without adding more farms. His work, published in the open access journal Sustainability, found that instead of growing a species such as rainbow trout to a large 2-pound size, if farmers grew their fish smaller, they would more than double the total biomass of fish produced. Growing smaller fish would also help solve another environmental problem of aquaculture – it would reduce the amount of fish meal (from wild species harvested just for this purpose) needed to make the aquaculture feed. Smaller animals grow more efficiently than larger ones, and thus need less feed. This research was highlighted at the most recent Celebrate Seafood Dinner Series, where we featured small trout (smoked, served with a jerk sauce over jicama salad... mmmm!).

The Aquarium is putting Dr. Tlusty's theories into action by helping many of the leading certification programs to make sure their programs are rigorous in requiring environmental improvements. Our conservation experts also offer Sustainable Seafood Advisory Services to some of the world's largest seafood retailers and suppliers. Learn about some seafood options for your own table that the Aquarium considers to be ocean-friendly, or consider joining us for a Celebrate Seafood Dinner to discover some tasty and elegant ways to enjoy sustainably caught seafood.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Hypothermic Turtle of the Season

QUINCY, Mass. In the middle of Sunday’s historic October N’oreaster, a beach walker on Martha’s Vineyard found a cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the most endangered sea turtle species in the world. The 5-pound juvenile, with a black and green shell and a serrated edge, was found just before noon near a tidal pond in Edgartown.

The turtle had an in-take temperature of 52.5 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The turtle was taken off island immediately and brought to the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay, which late each autumn acts as the frontline center for gathering hypothermic sea turtles from around Cape Cod and the islands. This annual event occurs each November and lasts through December. Last year more than 120 endangered and threatened sea turtles were brought to the New England Aquarium’s new Marine Animal Care Center in Quincy.

Despite the exceptional stormy weather, this turtle was right on time. Aquarium staff often comment that you can set your ancient timepiece within a couple days of November 1 with the arrival of the first cold stunned turtles. This little guy officially stranded October 30 and was brought to the Aquarium’s off-site, state of the art rescue facility on Halloween, October 31. The turtle had an intake temperature of 52.5 degrees Fahrenheit – a true zombie-like state! Sea turtles are reptiles, which makes them cold-blooded and tough. Unlike warm-blooded animals, they do not need to maintain a constant body temperature. Cold-blooded animals will assume the environmental temperature around them, or in this case the ocean temperature. The water off the Vineyard likely took a significant rapid downturn with the storm turning the water over quickly and cooling it.

Volunteer Carrie Thistle is supervising the Kemp’s ridley during a short swim in a baby pool swim that acts as progressive physical therapy. 

This turtle should have begun migrating south in September, but something kept it from doing so. Most often, young cold-stunned sea turtles cannot figure the difficult navigation to get out of Cape Cod Bay, which is bounded on three sides by land. But this turtle was found on the Vineyard, which is on the swim route south. In their initial physical work-up, Aquarium veterinarians and biologists found that the turtle might have had some underlying medical issues. It was moderately thin and had lameness in its right front flipper from an apparent old orthopedic injury in the elbow there.

The turtle will be slowly re-warmed a few degrees each day until its body temperature is in the low 70s. Beyond life-threatening hypothermia, nearly all of the sea turtles that come in also suffer from dehydration, malnutrition and metabolic problems. About half of these cold-stunned creatures will also have pneumonia. Orthopedic problems and infections are also common. Rehab will take anywhere from a few to 10 months. Once a turtle is healthy, it will be transported for release. In late winter, the warm water is in Florida or Georgia. In August, the release site can be in the waters south of Massachusetts.

Over the last 20 years, the New England Aquarium has rehabilitated and released over 800 Kemp’s ridleys. There are only a few tens of thousands of this species alive today. The Aquarium funds the great bulk of this significant expense through its own monies and private donations.

The prognosis for this animal is guarded but optimistic. Once Aquarium staff are confident in its recovery, they will give it a name. Each year, rescue biologists choose a theme from which to choose names. In the recent past, constellations and national parks have been among the themes. This year, it is superheroes and villains.

Follow the rescue effort all month on the Aquarium's Rescue Blog.

See skates in Providence!

See hockey skates, goals, pucks and players thanks to a special deal from our friends at the Providence Bruins! For a limited time, fans in the Aquarium community can buy one ticket and get one ticket free.

This special offer is valid for lower level seats at regular season home games at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Order tickets online or call 401-273-5000. Choose from their many giveaway nights, including T-shirt nights, rally towel nights, poster nights and more.

As valued members of our Aquarium community, we want you to enjoy a fun night out with your family, friends or co-workers. Order as often and as many games as you would like. Go P-Bruins!

NOTE: This offer is not valid at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Box Office. Not valid for tickets already purchased.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween from the Aquarium!

Besides lending an excuse for divers to don fantastic garb, Halloween also feeds a desire for spine tingling scares and ghoulish sights. Get spooked by some of glaring, mysterious and sly creatures from the deep!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Media Release: Pilot Whale in Plymouth Passes Away

Boston, Mass. — The gravely ill pilot whale that had been swimming erratically and very slowly in Plymouth Harbor since Monday has passed away. Late Thursday afternoon, the young adult female entered shallow water in Plymouth Harbor. There, New England Aquarium staff observed the animal’s exceptionally poor condition and  prepared to euthanize it. A staff veterinarian administered a sedative to relax the animal. Before administering any further euthanasia drugs, the whale mercifully died.

Photo via WCVB The Boston Channel

A necropsy by Aquarium staff at their new Marine Animal Care Center in Quincy today (Friday) has revealed that the nearly 11 foot long animal weighed only about 1000 pounds and was very thin. It had no food in its gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. The animal also had a significant parasite problem and had some small barnacles growing in its teeth, which is a likely indicator of prolonged poor health. Extensive tissue samples were taken from most of the animal’s major organs and will be shipped to pathology labs for further diagnosis. Testing normally requires many weeks for results to be returned.

The animal’s skin surface also had heavy abrasions, probably from multiple previous strandings. There was also sand and mud in the GI tract, which is also usually an indicator of past stranding events. This animal, at first sighting on Monday, was suspected of being among three pilot whales that had stranded on Duxbury beach last Monday morning on Columbus Day. Two of those animals were refloated with the incoming high tide and the assistance of a boater. The largest of that group, a 14 foot male, died and was necropsied on the beach by Aquarium staff.

Photo: Boston Herald

The skeleton from the Plymouth pilot whale will be given to the state’s endangered species biologist who has a list of museums and aquariums around the world that have requested various kinds of whale skeletons for exhibits.

This pilot whale was  a very unusual visitor for Massachusetts waters. This animal was a short-finned pilot whale, which is a warm water cousin to the local long-finned pilot whales. The normal habitat for short-fins is along the southeast U.S. coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The furthest north that they usually venture is New Jersey.  Prior to last Monday’s event in Duxbury, there had never been a documented stranding case of this species in Massachusetts ever. Last Tuesday afternoon, another young short-finned female had stranded in Truro. Yesterday’s Plymouth death brought the total of short-finned pilot whale deaths to three over ten days. Several other young pilot whales were seen at the Truro stranding. The good news is that those animals were on the Atlantic side of Cape Cod, which has a clear swim path down the East Coast.

As to why these animals came north is the subject of some conjecture. Theories include the possibility of a pod coming north in the late summer and making an abrupt departure as the water temperature dropped and left some animals behind to the possibility of a small cluster of young adults riding a warm water incursion north from the Gulf Stream. Aquarium officials are interested in hearing of any sightings of pilot whales in Cape Cod Bay during the first two weeks of October.

This whale, which had been prominently swimming near the Plymouth Town Pier and the Mayflower pier, had gained much attention from the public and the media earlier in the week. At that time, Aquarium officials had advised the public that the prognosis for the animal was very poor. It was also not a candidate for rescue given its extremely poor health and that pilot whales, which are always in schools, require two animals for rehabilitation. A single pilot whale in rehab can die of the chronic stress associated with social isolation for that species.

The Aquarium would like to extend its thanks to the Town of Plymouth for its help and particularly the staff of the Plymouth Harbormaster’s office who closely monitored the animal and kept curious boaters away from the dying animal. Their diligence, professionalism and skill were invaluable in this multi-day effort.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Growing up turtle: Freshwater cooters get a head start

The Aquarium recently welcomed a clutch of tiny Northern red-bellied cooters to a cozy seasonal home behind the scenes. They are part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's head start growing program. As our Exhibit Galleries Blog followers know, these young freshwater turtles will spend the winter here so they can get a head start on growing up.

The biologists that care for these turtles say they can tell the turtles are getting bigger every day. Can you tell? Check out the video posted in the recent blog post to see if you notice a difference from last week to today.

The aquarists mark a number on each turtle's bright red belly so that they can track their weight. Number 5 here weighs almost 12 grams.

Scientists initially thought the Northern red-bellied cooter was a separate species from its counterparts in the mid-Atlantic states, but recent studies show they are one and the same species.

When these turtles are released next May they will be at least the size of a 2 or 3 year old turtle,  increasing their chances of surviving in the wild, where predators prey on young, small turtles. In the meantime, you might be able to meet one during a live animal presentation as soon as they grow a little bigger.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The New York Times Features the Aquarium's Bycatch Research

Click the image to link to the The New York Times 
article from August 22, 2011
The Aquarium's seafood bycatch work was recently featured on the front page of the Science Section in the New York Times. Bycatch refers to the collateral mortality of non-target marine animals, such as sea turtles that get caught and drown in fishing nets. Bycatch is one of the principal threats to marine biodiversity worldwide.

Researchers Tim Werner and Scott Kraus are both quoted in the article, which discusses bycatch issues including cooperation among scientists, fisherman and regulators as well as gear modifications to prevent bycatch.

The Boston Globe also tackled the important issue of bycatch in this recent editorial.

These are terrific pieces and invaluable forums to discuss some of our research, conservation and education efforts with an international and national community. Most fishermen have just as much desire to avoid bycatch as conservationists do. The Aquarium researchers are continuing efforts to identify the most practical solutions in collaboration with the fishing industry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Congratulations to the Aquarium’s Walter Flaherty

Walter J. Flaherty, executive vice president,
COO & CFO, New England Aquarium (BBJ)
The Aquarium is proud to announce that the formidable achievements of our Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Walter Flaherty have been recognized by the Boston Business Journal. Last week, Walter was awarded the Journal’s CFO of the Year Award in the non-profit category. Walter was co-winner of this award along with Ann C. Tikannen of the YMCA of Greater Boston Inc. The article announcing the award lists some recent achievements the Aquarium owes to Walter’s steady leadership.

"Over the last four years, Flaherty has presided over $20 million of capital improvements, including the new $10 million New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, opened in 2009. In 2010, it opened a new $5 million Animal Care Center in Quincy, and in April 2011, opened the new $2 million Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank in the west wing of the aquarium. About 1.3 million people visit the aquarium each year."

In addition to listing Walter’s successful financial management of the Aquarium, the article also touches on one of his newfound hobbies since Walter joined the Aquarium’s leadership team nine years ago—scuba diving. Not only does Walter don scuba gear and regularly enter the Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank. He has also joined Aquarium dive expeditions to the Bahamas and Belize.

See expedition posts from the Bahamas here.

And read his reports from a research expedition to Belize here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Day Social Media "Pirates of the Caribbean" Giveaway!

Hold on to your tricorn hats, mateys! We have a raft of ticket giveaways for the newest film at the Aquarium’s Simons IMAX Theatre, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides An IMAX 3D Experience.

It all starts today at 3 p.m. on all our social media sites — Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Watch out for contest posts at these times:
3 p.m. Tuesday
12 p.m. Wednesday
9 a.m. Thursday

It pays to follow our social network feeds because today starts three days of ticket giveaways for Jack Sparrow’s latest adventure! And here's why you’ll want to:

If today's not your lucky day, try again tomorrow and Thursday. Get ready for three days of ticket giveaways for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at the Simons IMAX Theatre. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" now playing!

On New England's largest screen, you'll be captivated by larger-than-life swordfights, zany action sequences, and adrenaline-fueled pursuits. Adventure and over-the-top antics dominate Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides An IMAX 3D Experience, now digitally re-mastered in IMAX 3D.

Travel along with flamboyant seafarer Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as enigmatic siren Angelica (Penélope Cruz) lures him onto Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of legendary pirate Blackbeard. Forced to seek the fabled Fountain of Youth, Sparrow embarks on his wildest journey to date. He must use all his wiles to deal with the barbarous Blackbeard and his crew of zombies, Angelica, the ravishing pirate with whom he shares a dubious past, and the beautiful, enchanting mermaids whose masterful cunning leads even the most accomplished sailors to their doom.

The Pirates set sail on Friday, June 24, get your tickets today! You won't delay after getting a taste of the action that awaits you on New England's largest screen:

Now just imagine Jack Sparrow in 3D! Make your way over to the Aquarium’s Simons IMAX Theatre to start your adventure on the high seas.

Note: Member passes are not accepted at this special presentation.