Thursday, May 26, 2011

Going the Right Speed for Right Whales

Harriet Corbett/New England Aquarium
Taken under a Scientific Research Permit
issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA
The New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Researchers recently published the vessel compliance rates to right whale protection measures in the calving ground off Florida and Georgia. Prior to the mandatory speed regulations that were implemented in December of 2008, there were voluntary speed and routing protection measures. Researchers were interested in discovering the number of vessels complying prior to 2008 voluntarily versus the number who complied after the rule was made mandatory. Finding this out helps us to determine whether this rule needs to remain mandatory when it expires in 2013. 

The compliance rates were obtained by collecting Automatic Identification System (AIS) data during the winter calving season, which allows researchers to monitor vessels in the area. Researchers report that compliance rates for speed restrictions rose by 59% when the rule was made mandatory! This leads us to believe that this speed rule should remain mandatory, because ship strikes are the leading cause of death for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, it is a rule that is critical to this species survival and recovery.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Live Webcast Aquarium Lecture: Ten Amazing Years of Ocean Exploration - The Census of Marine Life with Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Memorial University

On May 24, 2011, Dr. Paul Snelgrove gave a free lecture as part of the Aquarium Lecture Series. Details are below. Get the full schedule of upcoming lectures and register to attend them online here.

Ten Amazing Years of Ocean Exploration: The Census of Marine Life (book signing)
Dr. Paul Snelgrove, Memorial University, Newfoundland
Harborside Learning Lab at the New England Aquarium.
This lecture was live webcast here.

About the lecture
Over the 10-year course of the recently completed Census of Marine Life, a global network of researchers in more than 80 nations collaborated to improve our understanding of marine biodiversity past, present, and future. This talk will summarize the findings of a new book, Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life: Making Ocean Life Count, that explains the rationale behind the Census and highlights some of its most important and dramatic findings. It explores how new technologies and partnerships have contributed to greater knowledge of marine life, from unknown species and habitats, to migration routes and distribution patterns, and to a better appreciation of how the oceans are changing. Looking to the future, it identifies what needs to be done to close the remaining gaps in our knowledge and provide information that will enable us to better manage resources, conserve diversity, reverse habitat losses, and respond to global climate change.

About the Aquarium Lectures
The Aquarium has been providing free lectures and films by scientists, environmental writers, photographers and others since 1972. The Aquarium Lecture Series is presented free to the public through the generosity of the Lowell Institute, which has been providing funding for free public lectures at universities and museums since 1836. Get the full schedule of upcoming lectures and register to attend them online here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Special World Oceans Day Sustainable Seafood Tasting Featuring Chef Barton Seaver

As part of the New England Aquarium’s World Oceans Day Celebration Barton Seaver, Esquire magazine’s 2009 Chef of the Year and National Geographic Oceans Fellow, offers a tasting of sustainable seafood dishes from his new cookbook For Cod and Country. The event will include a cooking demonstration and the opportunity to hear about Chef Seaver’s conservation efforts and ask him questions about his work in sustainable seafood. Copies of For Cod and Country will be available for purchase and signing.

  • June 5, 2011
  • 4:00 pm
  • The Reef open-air restaurant on the Aquarium Plaza
  • Free to the public

  • 4:00 pm - Enjoy tastings of several sustainable seafood dishes
  • 4:30 pm – Cooking demonstration and comments from Barton Seaver
  • 5:15 pm – Q&A Session and book signing

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aquarium members get discount on Boston Cannons tickets

The Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse are offering New England Aquarium members discounted tickets to their 2011 home opener on Saturday, May 14. Check out professional lacrosse at the historic Harvard Stadium for only $12.50 per person (regular price $20)!

Parking lots open at 3 p.m. and tailgating is allowed. The FREE Fan Zone is open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and don’t miss Autograph Alley after the game where Cannons players sign autographs for all fans in attendance. To order the discounted tickets, call the Cannons at 617-746-9933 or email and mention the New England Aquarium!

Click here for the PDF flyer.

Moms Rock! at the Hard Rock Café and the Aquarium

Spend Mother’s Day with rock legends and rockhopper penguins! Dig in at the Moms Rock! Brunch at the Hard Rock Café between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 8. Kids can meet the lovable Aquarium shark and penguin characters while adults can indulge in the impressive collection of rock memorabilia. Adults eat for $13.95, children for $9.95, and kids 2 years old and younger eat for free. Every mom gets a voucher for free admission to the New England Aquarium on Mother’s Day! Reservations are suggested. Contact Kara at 617-424-7625 or

Aquarium researchers test whale vision

Researchers here at the New England Aquarium under the auspices of the Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction are working on a new project to understand right whale entanglements by conducting eye exams!

Three right whales skim feed together in Cape Cod Bay. Details in this post. (Photo: Amy Knowlton/NEAq)

Essentially, researchers have two objectives
  1. To see whether whales have the visual ability to see the ropes and fishing gear they are becoming entangled in
  2. To figure out if there is a way to make the rope more visible to a right whale to avoid entanglements altogether.
Whale vision is not the same as human eyesight and it is important to determine what colors they see. Using PVC piping instead of rope (to avoid any chance on entangling the whales), they are placing white, red, green, black, and “glow in the dark” rope mimics in the water anchored by buoys near whales currently skim feeding in Cape Cod Bay.

Video still of right whales feeding off the coast of Cape Cod. 
Go to this post to watch the entire video and get details. 
(Courtesy of ASSIST-U.S.)

The experiment is being headed by Vice President of Research Dr. Scott Kraus, who runs the Right Whale Research Project at the Aquarium and is also known for his work co-editing the Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads with Aquarium Senior Scientist Dr. Rosalind Rolland. Also  participating in the experiment are researchers Dr. Amy Knowlton, Marilyn Marx, Marianna Hagbloom and Monica Zani.