Thursday, February 9, 2012

Roast Beef Visits Nursing Home

Roast Beef had a most unusual outing in yesterday. The well-traveled African penguin has been specially trained to travel to schools and community-based events in his mobile, air conditioned cubicle. His handlers say he's a natural under the spotlight; he doesn’t get agitated too easily and always seems to enjoy the attention. But yesterday's special trip to a nursing home was a first for him.

Roast beef is no stranger to the camera. Maybe you saw him on billboards around Boston back in 2010.

This outreach event at the Hannah Duston Rehabilitation Center was prompted by the correspondence of a former Miss Massachusetts who is now a resident of the center in Haverhill, MA. Sandra Sterling had painted a poster of several penguins and sent a copy to Aquarium staff along with a letter stating how much she enjoyed the tuxedoed birds. Aquarium staff were  genuinely moved by the correspondence and wondered how to  properly acknowledge her. With a little thinking out of the box, Aquarium staff wondered why just bring Roast Beef mostly to just children—penguins are clearly loved by all ages!

A still from the coverage of Roast Beef's visit on Fox 25

So Wednesday morning, instead of a well-trained therapy dog making the rounds of a rehabilitation center, a five pound penguin entertained the residents of Hannah Duston. Roast Beef met the former Miss Massachusetts and the pair posed for a couple pictures, both pros in front of the camera.

In fact, there were several cameras on hand. The event was attended by several news outlets. Here's a smattering of the coverage of this special event:
Animal Tracks on the Today Show
Fox 25
Boston Herald
CBS Boston

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Media Release: Data Show Noise From Ships Stresses Whales

This is a media release about a study published by Aquarium right whale researchers. Their findings garnered international media attention. Stay on top of right whale news on the Aquarium's Right Whale Research Blog. You can also show your commitment to this critically endangered species by sponsoring a right whale.

In a research paper just published in Proceedings of Royal Society B in London, whale researchers in a team led by the New England Aquarium discovered that large whales like people can show signs of increased chronic stress when exposed to elevated noise levels over prolonged periods of time.

Right whales have been called America’s urban whale. Their primary habitats up and down the East Coast of North America are all in or near major ports and shipping lanes. Here a right whale dives near a large ship in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. Credit: New England Aquarium

The findings were the result of an unplanned experiment in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. At that time, whale researchers in Canada’s Bay of Fundy were routinely collecting feces from North Atlantic right whales to measure various stress hormones found in that excrement. In the immediate hours and days after 9/11, commercial transportation around the world was deliberately brought to a standstill to assess needed security measures. That included stopping shipping traffic into the Bay of Fundy which is both the principal summer feeding waters for right whales and also the home to the busy port of St. John, New Brunswick.

Right whales are the most endangered large whale in the Atlantic. There are only about 450 of these baleen whales left. Their low population is thought to be a product in part of multiple stressors in their environment. Unexpectedly after 9/11, whale researchers at Boston’s New England Aquarium discovered the first evidence of the effects of noise pollution on the chronic stress levels of these whales. Credit: New England Aquarium

That stand down of ship traffic resulted in a significant decrease in underwater noise and unintended experiment. Baleen whales communicate using low-frequency acoustic signals. Underwater noise from large ships overlaps communication sounds used by whales, and these noise levels have significantly increased, leading to concerns about effects on whales. This study shows that reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy after September 11, 2001, resulted in a significant decrease in underwater noise. Reduced noise was associated with decreased levels of faecal stress hormones in right whales. This is the first evidence that exposure to ship noise is associated with chronic stress in whales, and has implications for baleen whales in heavy ship traffic areas. 

Right whale mothers give birth to their calves near the Florida/Georgia border during the winter months near the ports of Jacksonville and Savannah. In the spring, they bring their calves to Cape Cod Bay adjacent to the shipping lanes into Boston, and in the summer, they bring their calves to feed in the Bay of Fundy and the major shipping lanes into St. John, New Brunswick. Credit: Kara Mahoney Robinson

This important research has drawn international media attention. Follow the links to read additional coverage of the study in the UK's BBC, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian, and the Associated Press and MSNBC.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Free popcorn at the Aquarium!

There's a tasty reason to come to the Aquarium's IMAX Theatre to bask in the glow of a super-sized nature film during the upcoming school vacation.

Get a coupon for free popcorn at the Simons IMAX Theatre when you buy IMAX/Aquarium admission combo tickets! This special offer is valid during the school vacation week from Saturday, Feb. 18, through Sunday, Feb. 26.

Buy an Aquarium/IMAX combo ticket at the box office or online and receive a voucher for a free popcorn ($3 value). For tickets purchased online, bring a copy of your receipt to the box office to receive your voucher. Redeem popcorn vouchers at the IMAX Theatre. This offer is valid only for combo tickets purchased February 18 through 26.

February School Vacation week
Saturday, February 18 – Sunday, February 26

Film selection:
Born to Be Wild 3D
Deep Sea 3D  
Under the Sea 3D
Sharks 3D

Let our IMAX films transport your family to another world—from tropical shallows to the mysterious deep sea to the dusty savannah. You'll definitely want snacks for the ride!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Aquarium Renovation is Front Page News!

The front page of this morning's Boston Globe featured a terrific article about the renovations we are planning for this fall here at the New England Aquarium. The article explains that the $15 million renovation will touch all corners of the building, from a new ground-floor exhibit to new lighting to an ambitious refurbishing of the beloved Giant Ocean Tank. Construction on this transformative project does not begin until September. Even then, all construction will happen at night so the Aquarium will remain open to members and visitors until all the animals return to the 200,000-gallon tank in June of 2013.

Read part of the Globe's piece on The story also appeared on local television and radio stations.

This project will be the culmination of a $42 million Mission Blue campaign initiated in 2007 to create a new Aquarium experience. Learn more about the scope and features of this comprehensive renovation on the New Aquarium Experience pages on our website.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A New Class for Toddlers!

Starting on Monday, February 6, young children aged 1 to 2 years old will have their very own class at the Aquarium! It's called Sea Squirts Preview, a special introduction just for toddlers to our popular Sea Squirts series.

This brand new, one-hour class was created for young children based on feedback from the community. Parents and kids will meet to socialize with other young children (and caregivers), explore new materials as well as the Aquarium. These activities involve free play, movement activities, songs, art projects, storytime and exploring exhibits.

Who: Young children ages 1 to 2 years old 
Where: The Aquarium's Ocean Center
Dates: Mondays, 2/6 through 3/5
(no class 2/20 because of school vacation week)
Times: 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.
Cost for series: $50/members, $95/nonmembers + $2 booking fee

To reserve your spot, call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206 or Erin Graichen at  617-226-2123!

For the older Sea Squirts crowd, the next session of this popular series for kids ages 2 to 4 years old will be delving into the topic of Hide and Seek with aquatic animals. Come look for those animals that blend into their surroundings—like the leafy sea dragon!

As always, Sea Squirts focuses on developing motor and language skills while encouraging early science skills.  Classes are an hour long and include free play, circle time with songs, stories and activities art projects and games.  Follow this link to learn more and reserve your spot for the upcoming session that starts next week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Living Social Simons IMAX Theatre Deal

Ocean fans can save money on tickets to the Simons IMAX Theatre with this special Living Social Deal! Pay $5 for one IMAX ticket, regularly $10.

Click through to check out the deal!