Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Free Lecture: The Invisible Ocean - Extreme Time

Join us for a special lecture telling the amazing story behind the Aquarium's TV ad campaign!

The Invisible Ocean - Extreme Time
Monday, August 12, 7:00 p.m.
New England Aquarium Simons IMAX Theatre  
Who: Keith Ellenbogen, photographer/videographer and Assistant Professor of Photography, Fashion Institute of Technology; Allan Adams, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Physics, MIT Department of Physics
Register: Click here to register for this free lecture.

The ocean is full of invisible art, balletic behaviors and magical dynamics that are too fast, or too rare, to be seen. In an extraordinary collaboration, underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen and MIT theoretical physicist Allan Adams teamed up with the New England Aquarium and Tech Imaging Services, Inc. to capture and reveal these extreme moments in exquisite, luxuriant detail as never seen before. Created using the latest in high-speed technology, Ellenbogen and Adams's footage reveals stunning moments of intense, wild dynamics from an oceanic world that few of us ever get to see. It's a world that is, in a very real sense, invisible. (See example footage of a goosefish and cuttlefish feeding.)

Theoretical physicist Allan Adams (left) and underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen during filming

This lecture will showcase their work on the Aquarium's Simons IMAX screen, showing the creatures and behaviors they captured in breathtaking slow motion at 1,200 frames per second. The footage is being used in the Aquarium’s 2013 summer ad campaign—the Aquarium’s first television commercials since the 1970s. Along the way, Ellenbogen and Adams will explain how an unlikely dinner conversation and a passion for waves led to some of the most charming animal ads to ever hit the airwaves. Here's the final products!


Blacknose shark

Speaker Bios:

Allan Adams, Ph.D, Associate Professor, MIT Department of Physics
Allan Adams is a theoretical physicist working at the intersection of fluid dynamics, particle physics and quantum gravity. An avid scuba diver and glider pilot, Adams is obsessed with waves of all forms and with the infinitely complicated dynamics of objects moving through liquids—and has spent more time than he cares to admit trying to capture them on film. His latest work, published recently in Science magazine, uses the physics of black holes to study turbulence in superfluids—movies available online

Adams earned his AB from Harvard, his MA from Berkeley and his PhD from Stanford before spending three years at Harvard as a Junior Fellow. In 2006, Adams moved to MIT, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Center for Theoretical Physics.

Keith Ellenbogen, Underwater Photographer/Videographer; Assistant Professor, Photography Department, Fashion Institute of Technology
Keith Ellenbogen is an award-winning photographer specializing in marine conservation and underwater environments. A selection of his professional photographic assignments include expeditions with the New England Aquarium to Fiji as well as to the remote Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. Additionally, Conservation International commissioned Keith on a three-month assignment to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia for the launch of the Ocean Health Index. He joined Philippe Cousteau on an assignment to Sitka, Alaska, to capture images of wildlife within Tongass National Parks. Keith also photographed the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna with Oceana on a three-month expedition to the Mediterranean Sea.

Keith was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Malaysia to showcase the magnificent beauty and diversity of the marine environment. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times and National Geographic News Watch and in a book of environmental photography entitled Oceans, Heart of the Blue Planet. Keith recently completed the fieldwork in French Polynesia for his first book assignment with Houghton Mifflin. Additionally, Keith was also commissioned by the New England Aquarium to capture images for its 2012 and 2013 summer advertising campaigns.

Keith is an Assistant Professor within the Photography Department at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and holds an MFA from Parsons The New School for Design.  He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This project is the result of an improbable collaboration embracing art, technology and science to showcase the dramatic beauty of marine animals using ultra-high-speed video cameras. Many of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring behaviors of the ocean's creatures are simply too fast and too rare for the human eye to directly observe.

Keith Ellenbogen, an accomplished marine photographer/videographer, and Allan Adams, a theoretical physicist studying hydrodynamics, realized that these awe-inspiring but nearly-invisible moments could be revealed through the lens of an ultra-high-speed camera. Their initial experiments earned crucial support from the New England Aquarium and from Jim Bales, Assistant Director of the MIT Edgerton Center for High-Speed Imaging and guru of the high speed photography community, who introduced Ellenbogen and Adams to Jason O’Connell at Tech Imaging Services, Inc.

O'Connell and Tech Imaging Services, Inc. contributed invaluable technical mastery and high-speed equipment. With all the collaborators excited about capturing never-before-seen images, they descended upon the New England Aquarium with two truckloads of lighting and camera equipment and began their first filming session with a palpable sense of adventure. Each shot was an experiment, with the lighting and camerawork deployed to capture specific behaviors that Ellenbogen and Adams had scouted, studied and imagined. The results dramatically exceeded expectations, capturing the imagination of the advertising team at Connelly Partners, who teamed up with Engine Room Edit in Boston to produce an irresistible television campaign that is now running on cable stations throughout New England.

The images were photographed using Phantom V12 at 500 to 1,200 frames per second, approximately 50 times faster than typical film speeds.

Ad Credits:
Footage produced in collaboration with
New England Aquarium
Boston, Massachusetts

Keith A. Ellenbogen
underwater photographer

Allan Adams
Assistant Professor of Physics, MIT Department of Physics

Jason O'Connell
Tech Imaging Services, Inc.

Conceptualized and produced by
Connelly Partners

Video edited by
Engine Room Edit

Volunteer of the Month: July

Every month our Volunteer Office sorts through piles of nominations from supervisors and honors one of our volunteers for their truly stupendous efforts. Meet our Volunteer of the Month!

July’s Volunteer of the Month comes as no surprise. This individual has been a stalwart volunteer ever since his start back in November of last year. With over 300 hours served, it is our pleasure to announce that Will Ye has been awarded as Volunteer of the Month.

Congratulations, and big thanks, to Will Ye! 

Please read below for his nomination from Aquarist Bill Murphy:
I would like to nominate Will Ye for volunteer of the month. Will has been an outstanding vol and without a doubt it makes my day knowing that I have him working with me on Wednesdays. Right from the start Will was prompt, attentive and extremely motivated that once I showed him what it is I wanted him to do, he completed it and continued to do it without me telling him and just blew my expectations right out of the water.   
Will’s personality is outstanding and has made working with him all the more enjoyable. I cannot say it enough about how good it is to have Will volunteering with me because it allows me to focus on other projects and know that that my gallery is in good hands! He deserves this award and has deserved it for some time, I’ve just been the one slacking on my duties to nominate him.

Clearly, a very deserving individual! Volunteer of the Month is high praise as we have nearly 1000 active service members each year. If you are interested in joining this vibrant community, consider reading through a list of positions and applying here!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Members celebrate the return of the Giant Ocean Tank!

Everyone is buzzing about the New Aquarium Experience, especially our members! They enjoyed one of four special evenings, where they were able to get up close and personal with the many new features of the big tank, and reunite with some old friends.

Some lucky members also took home a one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia—a beautifully framed section of the fiberglass coral from the old reef inside the Giant Ocean Tank. At each event, a member's name was randomly selected and we were able to catch up with the winners. 

Left to right: Lilly O'Mahony, Ashley Brother, Amy Brother, Ryan Brother, Liam O'Mahony and Katrina O'Mahony 
Best-friend families—the Brothers and the O’Mahonys from Arlington, MA—were all excited when the Brother crew, who first became Aquarium members in 2006, won a coveted piece of brain coral during our first “Welcome back, Giant Ocean Tank!” member event.

Left to right: Daniel Shearholdt and Rachel Perkins 
This is Rachel and Daniel's first year being Aquarium members and the Somerville, MA, pair are certainly off to a great start!

Left to right: (back) Micaela, Rebecca, John Klanchesser, Gail Klanchesser, (front) Sophia, Jacob
This is the second year of Aquarium membership for the Klanchessers, from Newington, NH.  Micaela and Rebecca were especially excited as they say they “never win prize drawings.” Well, they sure saved up their luck for a good one!

Left to right: Alex Kerivan, Anne Blake

Anne Blake, from Hudson, MA, and her granddaughter, Alex, were the lucky winners at our fourth and last "Welcome back, Giant Ocean Tank" member night. This is their first year as members of the Aquarium and were extremely excited to hear their membership number called out during the drawing. Anne told us, “We never win anything! We’re so honored to have this!” At last word, they’re still trying to decide where to put their beautiful piece of Aquarium history.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all the members who joined us during these special events for the New Aquarium Experience. What a great way to celebrate the sparkly, beautiful new tank and remember the history of this special exhibit!

Special member open-house events like these are just some of the perks that come with your Aquarium membership, including discounts in the Gift Shop and Harbor View CafĂ© plus express entry every time you visit! Become a member today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Undersea: A Floating Underwater Photography Exhibit

A Floating Photographic Exhibition of Underwater Marine Life by Keith Ellenbogen

Experience the underwater artistry of photographer, videographer, environmental conservationist and Aquarium blog contributor, Keith Ellenbogen. This beautiful and unique exhibit is being put on by Boston Harbor Cruises aboard the vessel Regency, docked at Long Wharf. Ellenbogen’s unique photos focus on the elaborate hues, patterns, shapes, and textures found beneath the water line of our blue planet. He hopes the natural beauty that he has captured in these works will inspire positive change and action toward protecting the environment.

There will be a special presentation by the artist at 2:00 p.m. when Ellenbogen will bring out some of his equipment to demonstrate what is unique about this kind of photography and how he gets these images.

An abstracted view of the 
mantle tissue within a bivalve mollusk
Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

WHAT: A floating photography exhibit
WHO: Boston Harbor Cruises
WHERE: Dockside at Long Wharf
on the vessel Regency (docked), Boston
WHEN: Sunday, July 28,
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The elaborate texture of a hard coral Fungia sp. | Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

A close-up view of the vibrant colors within a Thorny Oyster | Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

About Keith Ellenbogen

Keith Ellenbogen is an award-winning photographer specializing in marine conservation and underwater environments. A selection of his professional photographic assignments include expeditions with the New England Aquarium to Fiji as well as to the remote Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. Additionally, Conservation International commissioned Keith on a three-month assignment to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia for the launch of the Ocean Health Index. He also joined Philippe Cousteau on an assignment to Sitka, Alaska to capture images of wildlife within Tongass National Parks. With Oceana on a three-month expedition to the Mediterranean Sea, Keith photographed the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna.  

Pink Anemonefish within the tentacles of an anemone | Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

Keith was awarded U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Malaysia to showcase the magnificent beauty and diversity of the marine environment. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, National Geographic News Watch and an award-winning book of environmental photography entitled Oceans, Heart of the Blue Planet. Additionally, Keith was also commissioned by the New England Aquarium to capture images for the 2012 and 2013 summer advertising campaigns.

A cluster of thousands of tiny Orange-Fin Clownfish larvae  | Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

Keith is an Assistant Professor within the Photography Department at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and holds an MFA from Parsons The New School For Design. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Pygmy Seahorse camouflaged within gorgonian soft coral | Photo: Keith Ellenbogen

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Flaherty!

Today is Flaherty the Northern fur seal's first birthday! On this special occasion, Aquarium CFO Walter Flaherty fed his namesake a birthday feast while visitors surprised the little seal with a round of happy birthday. Watch and listen to this special moment.

You can tell that Flaherty the seal is very comfortable around Walter. That's because they have a date every month! Walter visits the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center to help feed the little (but growing quickly!) seal. Flaherty usually eats a yummy assortment of herring and silver sides. It just doesn't usually come out of a festive birthday gift bag.

Happy birthday, Flaherty!

Let's take a walk down memory lane to see how little Flaherty has grown up.

Visiting the fur seals, sea lions and harbor seals at the Aquarium has never been easier! Choose the day and time you wish to visit with timed ticketing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tidepool out at the ball game...

The New England Aquarium is excited to be bringing our tidepool animals to the Futures at Fenway game on July 27! This is an old fashioned family outing at the ballpark with some of tomorrow's Major League Baseball stars, plus a special concert by KIDZ BOP Kids.

Tickets to this event, presented by XFINITY, start as low as $5. Buy your tickets online, or call 877-REDSOX9 if you want order tickets for a group of 10 or more.

Come by to meet some of our neighbors from Boston Harbor, including sea stars, hermit and horseshoe crabs and mussels. On the ball field, you'll watch the Portland Sea Dogs face off with the Harrisburg Senators.

There’s truly fun for the whole family.

  • For the real baseball finatics, get a firsthand glimpse at some of the Red Sox’ most promising prospects when the Red Sox Double-A affiliate Portland Sea Dogs take on the Harrisburg Senators.
  • For the future ocean protectors, meet tidepool animals at the Aquarium's table, learn about other animals at the Zoo New England exhibit and enjoy a post-game performance by chart-topping artist, the KIDZ BOP Kids
  • For the pups, it’s Dog Day at Fenway! For the first time ever, fans can bring their dogs to the ballpark (free of charge) and participate in canine-themed activities, including a pre-game parade around the warning track.
  • For moms and dads, you can't lose with these family-friendly ticket and concession prices.

Hope to see you out at the ball game!

Boston is Buzzing about the New Aquarium Experience!

The New Aquarium Experience is here and we've been sharing our excitement with some of the media around these parts. Local newspapers and television and radio stations have been featuring some lovely pictures, video and information about our Giant Ocean Tank. Here's a quick round-up, including some of the lovely pictures that have been featured in these news stories!

A diver feeds a Southern stingray
Photo: Greg Derr / The Patriot Ledger

A diver swims with Myrte the sea turtle at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank
Photo: David Ryan | The Boston Globe

L to R: Aquarium CFO Walter Flaherty,
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino,
Aquarium President Bud Ris
The grand reopening marked the first time visitors got to see the Yawkey Coral Reef Center, which includes the top of the Giant Ocean Tank with its glass railing and several new exhibits with smaller Caribbean fish.

Now, as exciting as it is to see the Aquarium and its new exhibits in the limelight, it doesn't compare to seeing the Giant Ocean Tank and its 2,000 residents in person. Come on by! It's easier than ever to visit  with timed ticketing these days. Choose the day and time that you'd like to visit and buy your tickets in advance.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The New Aquarium Experience is here!

The New Aquarium Experience Centered Around Spectacular Caribbean Coral Reef Exhibit
$17 Million, 10 Month Renovation of Giant Ocean Tank & New Exhibits Completed

Strangely enough, a spectacular tropical coral reef can now be found on Boston’s waterfront! Known for its complex and diverse exhibits, the New England Aquarium will officially re-open its Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) on July 1 after a ten month, $17.3 million re-design and renovation of its signature Caribbean coral reef and the development of two new complementary exhibits.

Here's a look at that 10-month renovation condensed into a matter of seconds! 

The new, four story reef is home to more than 2000 aquatic animals, which is more than double the number of animals that the exhibit ever held. Boston’s new reef boasts a very robust 140 different species making it among the most bio-diverse in the world. These aquatic residents have found the thousands of newly installed, colorful new corals to their liking. Romance is bursting all about the reef, which speaks to the new reef’s biological accuracy and beauty. [Meet some of these vibrant residents in this underwater video on the Divers Blog.]

A blacknose shark swims among the thousands of fish in the Giant Ocean Tank | Photo: W. Chappell

The artistry in re-making the giant coral reef came from Peter Brady, the Aquarium’s renowned designer who has created many of its habitats and sculptures. For months, he and his team  worked in a warehouse studio in nearby Charlestown, Mass. They made 1,500 smaller pieces of vibrant fire, brain, lettuce and star corals where the schooling fish will stream by and others will hide inside. Many pieces were cast from molds of real corals, which were then filled with colored acrylic matching the astounding colors of a vibrant, healthy Caribbean coral reef. [See a couple pictures of the reef's installation.]

Aquarium visitors can see what a pristine coral reef looks like up close and how it functions. The GOT’s famously intimate windows  have been replaced with a super clear acrylic that varies in thickness from 2 to 3 inches. The bottoms of many windows, which were formerly hip high, have been lowered to shin height to allow toddlers to walk up and stare in wonder as the sharks, eels and sea turtles swim by.

A glass railing at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank lets kids enjoy all the dynamic facets of the top | Photo: W. Chappell

The entire top of the Giant Ocean Tank has been transformed with many new features and is now called the Yawkey Coral Reef Center. It includes a new, seven tank exhibit gallery that has been added and offers a close-up look at animals that might not be easily seen or understood on the reef. The entire circumference of the tank top is enclosed by a glass railing that maximizes everyone’s view of many of the predators swimming high in the water column. Visitors can now easily recognize creatures resting on the tank’s bottom more than 24 feet below. That exceptional viewing is enhanced by a theatrical quality lighting system that is built into a beautiful, blue, reflective ceiling dome that helps to create a  greater underwater ambience throughout the space.

A second divers platform has been built over the GOT to allow Aquarium staff a better perch to interpret the exhibit to visitors. The platform will also be a limited access spot where some visitors may feed or interact with Myrtle, the Aquarium's 560 pound green sea turtle or other animals. The top of the Giant Ocean Tank is now fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers with the construction of a new ramp and elevator stop.

Myrtle the green sea turtle has lived in the Giant Ocean Tank since 1970.

An additional exhibit has been opened on the Aquarium’s first floor called the Blue Planet Action Center. This gallery tells the stories of the Aquarium’s extensive marine conservation and research efforts around the world. Seven foot-high touch screens allow visitors to touch the image of an endangered species and have that image open up to tell about the challenges that it faces. The space also includes a lobster lab and a shark nursery with live shark egg cases where the embryos can be seen moving.

The new Giant Ocean Tank exhibit will be among the most dense and diverse tanks anywhere and will allow the Aquarium’s more than 1.3 million visitors  to experience the Caribbean as it was before the arrival of Columbus. The re-opening of the Giant Ocean Tank in the summer of 2013 is the culmination of six years of near continuous building.“It is such an auspicious time in the Aquarium’s history to see so many new aspects of the visitor experience open up,” said Bud Ris, the Aquarium’s President and CEO. “As we approach a half century of being a top tourist attraction in New England, it is very exciting to know we have so much more to offer  in an ever-changing world where we can actively instruct the public on how to do their part to help the oceans survive. ”

The general contractor for the re-build was Turner Construction, and the architectural firm was specialty aquarium designer Cambridge Seven Associates, which designed the Aquarium when it first opened in 1969.

Most importantly, visitors will be awed by the beauty of a coral reef city and come to understand what is at stake over the next century as climate change and ocean acidification threaten the very existence of these rainforests of the sea.