Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer on the Waterfront

The Aquarium is delighted to be part of an exciting movement in our stretch of the city. Summer on the Waterfront highlights the vibrant, culinary and interactive aspects of several harborside neighborhoods—from the Charlestown Navy Yard to the South Boston waterfront. Guess what, the Aquarium is smack, dab in the middle!

So the next time you visit your aquatic friends on Central Wharf, take in some of the action. You'll find outdoor restaurants, cultural institutions, music, galleries and more. An interactive SCVNGR trek is a great way to explore.

We're really looking forward to Summer on the Waterfront, hope you are, too!

Menus at the New England Aquarium

There are several tasty dining options at the New England Aquarium and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Take a moment to explore the options! We think you'll find something for every palate in your party.

The grilled Margherita pizza available on The Reef's seasonal menu

The Harbor View Café features a variety of burgers, pizzas, deli sandwiches, soups, salads, beverages and snacks, as well as sustainable seafood. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Prices are reasonable, with several options for a healthy lunch for a family of four under $35.

The Harbor View Café offers dining options for families.

Situated on the Aquarium Plaza during summer months with views of the harbor and the city, The Reef has some of the best outdoor seating in town and serves a delicious seasonal menu, beers and signature cocktails. You'll find a tempting variety of regional favorites, including luscious, meaty lobster roll sliders from Consulting Chef Barbara Lynch; New England-style Reef clam chowder made from sustainable clams; Margherita flatbread; and a steamer bar with sustainable clams, shrimp and mussels.

Open seasonally, The Reef is situated on Boston Harbor

Our in-house caterers also offer world-class dishes for guests attending private events at the Aquarium. And food options nearby range from sit-down restaurants just across the street to the food court at Faneuil Hall to harbor dinner cruises. There's a tremendous amount of variety, so eat up! You'll need your energy to explore all the New England Aquarium has to offer—bon appetit.

Aquarium research: A closer look at the tropical fish trade

When it comes to the aquarium marine trade there is a fine balance between the stress it puts on the environment and the educational and economical benefits it brings. Aquarium keeping is one of the world’s most popular hobbies, with millions of enthusiasts across the globe. However, for all of its popularity, it is very difficult to determine the types and numbers of each species that are imported to the US.

The lionfish (Pterois volitans) was the 29th most popular species imported in 2005 with 63,284 individuals.  

Current rules state that all live fish for the aquarium trade can be declared MATF (Marine Aquarium Tropical Fish) on the import paperwork. Thus these declaration forms will list both lionfish and clownfish as MATF. To get a better picture of the number of species and individual fish being imported, researchers Dr. Michael Tlusty and Dr. Andy Rhyne, with the help of students at the Roger Williams University and funding from National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration's (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program, analyzed 8,000 invoices from marine fish shipments in 2005 to determine how many fish of each species were being imported and from what countries they originated.

The clownfish (either Amphiprion ocellaris or A. percula), was the 5th most popular species imported in 2005 with 425,279 individuals. 

Results of this unprecedented study have just been published, and Drs. Rhyne and Tlusty found a higher degree of biodiversity in the trade than previously thought. They catalogued 1,802 species entering the US, and these species came from 39 different countries. In all, 11 million individual fish were brought into the country in this single year. They also determined that the current reporting system for marine tropical fish was correct only 52 percent of the time, but overestimated the number of fish imports by 27 percent.

Drs. Rhyne and Tlusty are funded to collect five years of data. Ideally their research will develop a system to monitor the trade in aquatic wildlife in real time to a species level. This work will also help assess the true value of biodiversity in coral reef ecosystems, and can help the trade work toward responsible management of these small scale fisheries which can provide a sustainable income source for small island economies. 

Read Roger Williams University's write-up about this important paper here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Calling all BPS teachers!

The Aquarium is offering some special professional development opportunities especially for Boston Public School Teachers! Join Aquarium educators for a morning workshop in the field, followed by an opportunity to practice hands-on activities for use in the classroom. Let Aquarium educators give you the tools, the confidence and support to plan your own field experience.

Salt Marsh Exploration
For: Priority to teachers in Grades 3 – 5,
but others are welcome to attend
Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: New England Aquarium and Belle Isle Salt Marsh, East Boston (transportation provided between site and Aquarium)
Cost: FREE, stipend of $50
Register by June 8, 2012
Space is limited!

Sandy Beach Tidepool Investigation
For: Priority to teachers in Grades 3 – 5,
but others are welcome to attend
Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: New England Aquarium and Constitution Beach, East Boston (transportation provided between site and Aquarium)
Cost: FREE, stipend of $50
Register by June 8, 2012
Space is limited!
During the workshops teachers will:
• Learn about the salt marsh or sandy beach ecosystem
• Identify local and invasive species
• Understand the interactions between the species, including food chains and food webs
• Practice observational skills, collect and analyze data, and use scientific tools
• Connect the field experience back to the classroom through materials handed out at the workshop

Materials created through school partnerships with other BPS schools over the last two years. Activities link to the BPS science curriculum. By attending the workshop, teachers will be eligible to have support from Aquarium education staff for a field experience in Fall of 2012. 12 PDP’s available for attending both sessions.

For questions or to register, call the Teachers Resource Center at 617-973-6590 or contact us by e-mail at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new arrival at the Marine Mammal Center!

The New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is buzzing with hushed oohs and aahs these days. Behind the scenes, the marine mammal trainers are getting to know a tiny new arrival — a 10-month old Northern fur seal pup!

The young seal is already eating fish out of Jenny's hands

Just a few months ago he was found in a tangle of seaweed on a beach in California, severely underweight and blind in one eye. His coat is in poor shape, mottled with orange under fur showing where his dark brown guard hairs should be. This means it would be hard for him to stay warm in chilly ocean waters.

 Fur seals are usually uniformly dark brown. This little guy has patches of his undercoat showing through.

A marine mammal rescue program in Santa Barbara brought him in right away. After careful examination, it was determined that he could not survive in the wild so a call went out to find him a new home.

Like a good fur seal, he spends a lot time grooming his thick fur coat. Fur seals are the second furriest animals on the planet with 300,000 hairs per square inch!

With five other other fur seals for companions, the Aquarium stepped up to welcome this seal in need. The pup arrived at the Aquarium via FedEx on May 19, weighing about 20 pounds. He will remain behind the scenes so trainers can make sure he’s eating well and comfortable — standard quarantine procedure. He’ll join the rest of the colony on exhibit this summer! The addition of the young pup makes the New England Aquarium’s Northern fur seal colony the largest of any zoo or aquarium in North America.

The little seal is already starting to play with his trainer

The little guy arrived without a proper name, so we held a naming contest. The contest is over now. Check back here to find out the winning moniker!

Here's what some folks used as inspiration for our naming challenge: Fur seals can be found in the wild on Farallon, Channel, Pribilof and Aleutian islands. Delve in our trainers' fantastic blog posts for even more information about fur seals, their behaviors and more!
Did you see our little friend on the news! Check out this story on Channel 4's website.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Aquarium researches dolphin rescue successes

New England Aquarium marine animal rescuers and researchers, along with other collaborators, have recently published some very promising results in the journal Marine Mammal Science. The paper reports on the believed successful release of dolphins that were reintroduced into the wild after surviving a mass stranding event.

File: Atlantic white-sided dolphin seen during an Aquarium Whale Watch (Photo: M. Rocha)

The two dolphin species in the study are found locally in Cape Cod, Massachusetts: the Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) and the short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis).

The specific rescue events examined in study range over the course of seven different mass stranding events occurring between 2005 and 2010. Using blood samples and the data results of tracking the satellite tags fixed to the dolphins during the stranding, it is believed that at least 10 of the 11 dolphins were likely successfully reintroduced into the wild!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Celebrate seafood with our seasonal guide

Spring is well underway, and it’s time to enjoy some delicious, ocean-friendly seafood! Our seasonal seafood guide highlights three choices: Dungeness crab, farm raised striped bass and long-fin squid. These selections are delicious, sustainable and available right now. Look for your guide on the Celebrate Seafood page.

If you’re wondering how to prepare squid, be sure to check out the fabulous recipe included with the guide from Armand Toutaint, chef de cuisine at Turner Fisheries. As the chef at one of Boston’s leading restaurants, Armand knows a thing or two about squid. His calamari fried rice recipe is quick, delicious and ocean-friendly.

By choosing ocean-friendly seafood you can have an impact on ocean health and ensure that we will have plenty of seafood for years to come. So take a look, and then head to the store for some seasonal, ocean-friendly seafood – it’s the most delicious way to live blue™!

Click on the image to be linked directly to our Celebrate Seafood page, where you'll find this helpful and delicious seasonal seafood guide.

If you'd rather leave the cooking to experts, join the New England Aquarium and Turner Fisheries for a Celebrate Seafood Dinner!

June 7, 2012 
6:30 pm
Turner Fisheries restaurant
located at 10 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

In addition to a reception, dinner and wine pairing, guests will enjoy informative cooking demonstrations on how to cook and serve ocean-friendly meals.

Featured Chefs: Christopher Masco, Executive Chef, The Westin Copley Place and Armand Toutaint, Chef de Cuisine, Turner Fisheries

Species: US Farm raised bay scallops, Wild Alaska salmon and Pacific halibut

Price: $99 for New England Aquarium members and $109 for non-members�

Please RSVP to Bridget Luddy at or 617-424-7409.

See the Celebrate Seafood write-up in Boston magazine!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dramatic perks for Aquarium members

We're excited to let our members in on a special offer to save 20 percent on tickets to Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM! Beginning June 10 under the big top at Boston Marine Industrial Park on the waterfront,  TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly.

Click here to save 20 percent on select performances! Use promo code: LP20*

 The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations. Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.

*Some restrictions may apply. Discount is valid on select seating locations and dates only. Not to be combined with other offers. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tough Mudder: Tough Turtles and Elasmo Mutters

This is a post from a team of Aquarium staff and supporters who are participating in an extreme obstacle course event called the Tough Mudder this spring. They have been posting about their training methods, animals that inspire them to work hard and they will be raising funds to support the Aquarium. You can help them out by donating to support their efforts.

Today's post comes from Deb Bobek, Director of Visitor Experience for the Aquarium. You may remember her by her Team Tiburon alter ego Flame.

Anyone who is a regular follower of Aquarium blogs knows that we have an active Rescue and Rehabilitation program for sea turtles and other marine animals. (Check out the Rescue Blog here.) Each late fall and early winter, anywhere between 20 to more than 100 sea turtles strand along Cape Cod beaches, found suffering from hypothermia, and often dehydration and pneumonia. 

Four Kemp’s ridley sea turtles rescued by the New England Aquarium in a rehabilitation tank

Now, Team Tiburon was willing to risk hypothermia to take on the Tough Mudder challenge, but we didn’t expect to have something else in common with these sea turtles. Sadly, many of the stranded sea turtles come in with various injuries – and injuries have plagued our team as well. Chrys has been suffering a sore tentacle (okay fine, knee) and like the invasive species he is, Lion has faced a multitude of aches and strains.

Some of the most serious injuries that the sea turtles arrive with are broken bones or broken shells. And one of Team Tiburon’s members has experienced something similar. That’s right, Elasmo, our fearless originator of Team Tiburon, has suffered a stress fracture of his left tibia leaving him unable to compete in this Saturday’s Tough Mudder challenge.

(L) Photos of a rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtle named Route showing both a broken flipper and shell at a follow-up exam in 2009 (R) X-ray of Elasmo’s tibia

But fear not Team Tiburon followers!  Just as our rescued sea turtles can be treated and rehabilitated, so too will Elasmo follow a treatment and rehabilitation program and then Team Tiburon will reunite to do a second Tough Mudder challenge in July with Elasmo leading the charge!

Top: Route with a metal bar holding his bone in place and wires holding his shell together 
Bottom: Elasmo’s air cast

We hope to keep you updated as Elasmo completes his rehabilitation and we get ready for a second Tough Mudder challenge, but in the meantime the rest of Team Tiburon: Cuddle, Lion, Flame, Chrys, Mudskipper, and Hawk will participate in this weekend’s Tough Mudder challenge with Elasmo cheering us on. So wish us luck and remember – your support can help fund our new Giant Ocean Tank where many rescued sea turtles (like our loggerhead turtles Carolina and Retread) make their home.  So make your donation today!

A happy ending for Route as he is released back into the ocean in May of 2009. We expect a full recovery from Elasmo as well!

~ Flame

Please contribute to their fundraising efforts for the New England Aquarium and share this post to spread the word. Catch up on previous posts here.