Monday, October 21, 2013

Celebrate Halloween 2013 this Weekend! Kids in Costume Get in Free!

 On Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27, kids 11-years-old and younger who come to the Aquarium in costume with a full-price paying adult get in FREE.

Don't miss this fun and exciting way to get the most out of your Halloween festivities. Dress up and come explore the New Aquarium Experience, complete with spooky moray eels gliding through the newly transformed Giant Ocean Tank ... and venomous lionfish lurking in the Tropical Gallery on Level 1. Our bustling penguin colony will start your holiday off right. But that's just the beginning!

There will be a ton of exciting Halloween fun throughout the Aquarium, including:

Look for costumed scuba divers in the Giant Ocean Tank!

A Halloween scavenger hunt that's fun for all ages!

Tickets, Hours and Directions
The Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27. Buy your tickets online in advance. Get directions and find the best places to park.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ocean Health Index Data Makes a Difference

As a global leader in ocean conservation, the New England Aquarium carefully watches research indicators that reflect changes in the marine environment. One of those indicators is the Ocean Health Index.

Wayag Lagoon, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Photo: K. Ellenbogen)

The Index is a comprehensive measure, launched last year, that scores ocean health from 0 to 100. It defines a healthy ocean as one that sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people both now and in the future. The Index provides an important tool to policy-makers for making decisions in the future. Resource management decisions can be examined across the suite of goals allowing policy-makers to assess trade-offs.

This scoring methodology recognizes that humans are part of the natural system, and that the benefits we derive from the oceans depend on our ability to manage our impact in a sustainable and thoughtful way.

Exuma Cays Land And Sea Park, Bahamas (Photo: J. Yonover)

To assess the relative state of the world’s oceans, the Index accounts for ten major goals that contribute to the health and quality of a country’s waters. These ten goals represent the key ecological, social, and economic benefits that a healthy ocean provides. Each goal score is averaged to provide an overall score for ocean health (ranging from 0 to 100) on a country-by-country basis.

Tuna fishing boat in Manta, Ecuador. Among other goals, the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape aims to help participating countries regulate their fisheries sustainably. (© CI/photo by Keith Lawrence)

These indicators can promote action. A perfect example of this is Colombia, which scored 62 out of 100 on the overall Index score. The overall score was driven by low scores in both Food Provision and Tourism and Recreation. Colombia regarded this score as a call to make political decisions that would improve the management of natural resources. The Colombian government launched a “Blue Agenda," to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of existing environmental protection systems and supporting jobs, biodiversity, clean water initiatives and sustainable food production. Read more about those efforts and similar work done in Ecuador in response to the Index.

The Index is emerging as an important vehicle for elevating the profile of and promoting discourse on the conservation and management of marine resources. While the final Index score may provide an important benchmark and incentive for some, countries like Colombia are using the evaluation process to take meaningful action. After a year the Index is prompting change.

Heather Tausig
Vice President of Conservation
New England Aquarium

Meghan Jeans
Director of Conservation
New England Aquarium

Kristin Kleisner
Research Scientist
The Nature Conservancy
NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Ocean Stewardship Spotlight: Boston Harbor

To preserve and protect a resource like Boston Harbor, it takes a lot of people. Join us for a free lecture event on Saturday, October 26, from 11 am to 1 pm, featuring a few of the many businesses, non-profits and teens making a difference every day. You'll hear from a diverse group of presenters who will talk about the past, present and future of the Aquarium's back yard—Boston Harbor—and enjoy a special lunch reception afterward.

Sunset over Boston Harbor

  • October 26, 2013 (Saturday)
  • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, Harborside Learning Lab
  • Followed by a lunch reception
Presenters at this special event include businesses, non-profits and teens:

More Information
We’ll start with a look to the past and present state of Boston Harbor with Elisabeth Colby, Education Program Coordinator and Technician of the Boston Harbor Islands. Then participants in the New England Aquarium’s live blue™ Ambassadors program, a service learning program for youth, will present on various projects they have been involved in around Boston Harbor. 

The Aquarium's teen live blue™ Ambassadors planted eelgrass in Boston Harbor

This stellar group of teens will present on their efforts to restore the native species and habitats of the Boston Harbor. During the summer this group of teens took part in clam seeding, eel grass plantings and a water quality cruise to look at the health of the harbor and the human influences affecting this important urban waterway. 

Some of the Aquarium's live blue™ Ambassadors

We’ll finish with Alison Nolan, Principal and General Manager of Boston Harbor Cruises. A family owned business since 1926, BHC sees conservation and stewardship as an important part of their daily mission.

An older view of Boston Harbor from 

Please join us for this great, family-friendly lecture event and learn more about one of the busiest harbors on the east coast.

The lecture is free, but please R.S.V.P. Register here. And join us for future Aquarium Lectures, see this season's complete list of speakers and find links to watch past lectures.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Special Aquarium Lecture: Sea Ice, Climate and Observational Mathematics

The New England Aquarium was pleased to welcome the Lorenz Center’s 3rd Annual John Carlson Lecture to the Simons IMAX Theatre today, Thursday, October 10. Professor John Wettlaufer spoke about sea ice, climate and observational mathematics. Thank you to everyone who joined us. The event was presented live online using Google+ Hangouts on Air. Those embedded videos are below.

Part 1

Part 2

Understanding and predicting global climate change may be one of the most complex scientific challenges we face today. MIT recently launched the Lorenz Center, a new climate think tank devoted to fundamental inquiry. By emphasizing curiosity-driven research, the center fosters creative approaches to learning how climate works. To better understand this intricate system, the center seeks theories that predict observations regionally and globally, from human to geologic time scales. But what are the relevant observations? And how do we construct useful and realistic theories? This year’s lecturer, John Wettlaufer, has grappled with these questions by creating a mathematical observatory and focusing its telescopes on Arctic ice and climate. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the physics of ice and its role in climate.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Whales wow passengers with synchronized display

Apparently inspired by the obscure Olympic sport of synchronized swimming, two 40-ton humpback whales named Nile and Patchwork put on an intermittent display of seemingly choreographed and mirrored movements off the Massachusetts coast on Friday.

Synchronized flipper slapping from Patchwork and Nile
Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises

Nile, in the foreground, and Patchwork demonstrate the difficult three flipper stand as Nile is rolled belly up.Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises

Passengers aboard  New England Aquarium Whale Watch, provided by Boston Harbor Cruises, approached two humpback whales resting at the surface near Thacher Island, just off the coast of Cape Ann. While floating at the surface, both whales in near unison started slapping the surface of the water with their 15-long, white-sided flippers. One of the whales named Nile, who was belly up much of the time, slapped with both flippers but with impeccable timing as three monstrous fins stayed in sync.

Rain couldn't damped the excitement of this beautiful display from Patchwork and Nile, as each present the half tail fluke. Photo: Boston Harbor Cruises
To insure that they weren't dismissed as one trick whales, both 45-foot adults started breaching out of the water with their tails again sometimes in rhythm. After all of that activity, both whales started to “log” at the surface, which is scientific speak for taking a well deserved whale nap.

Visitors returned to Boston awed by the normal excitement of having seen some of  the biggest animals to have ever lived on Earth but also by the remarkable display of synchronized swimming.

With the next summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, nationality might an issue for the talented whale pair as they frequent both American and Canadian waters in their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine. Both countries are consistent Olympic medal contenders in the sport. In any case, the Brazilians are going to need a bigger pool!

See more pictures from New England Aquarium Whale Watches on the Whale Watch Log. Climb aboard a whale watch and you might catch these magnificent animals feeding or playing, too. The season ends October 28! Tickets are available online.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Children's Museum is turning 100, and we're celebrating, too!

The Boston Children's Museum is turning 100 this year. What a delightful opportunity for us to celebrate this fun place for kids and our neighbors here in Boston! On this special occasion, the museum will be docking its inflatable birthday cake here on Central Wharf on Saturday, October 5, from around 1:00 to 3:00 pm. We're going to provide some extra special ocean-themed activities to make this a real party. Best of all, everything is free and open to the public.

Roast Beef the African penguin will make a special appearance during the festivities.

So what do we have up our sleeves? Well, there will be a brief special appearance from the Aquarium's tuxedoed ambassador Roast Beef, the African penguin. Families will also have opportunities to mingle with our costumed characters, stretch and jump with a round of sea star aerobics, play ocean-themed dress-up and  get your picture in our photo station.

The party is happening behind the Aquarium in the outdoor space overlooking Boston Harbor. Don't forget, activities are free and open to the public. Bring your friends! Admission to the Aquarium is not included, but you can buy your tickets in advance so you can pop in to say hi to the rest of the penguins when you're done partying with friends from the Children's Museum.

Come see the inflatable cake, which will be docked on Central Wharf during the festivities.
(The barge will not take passengers here, but as you can see, the cake's plenty big to see from shore!)
Credit: Tim Porter
Learn more about the festivities planned by the Boston Children's Museum around their happy milestone.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Aquarium in the News: Underwater and Offshore

Two newspaper articles out today highlight the depth and breadth of the Aquarium's work—from wide-open expanses off shore where massive whales sigh at the surface of the Atlantic Ocean to the sparkly confines of the Giant Ocean Tank aflutter with tiny tropical fish.

A surface active group of North Atlantic right whales with prominent whale exhalations
Photo: Right Whale Research Blog | Canadian Whale Inst./New England Aquarium

First to exciting research into whale health lead by Aquarium researcher Dr. Kathleen Hunt. The New York Times Science Times section illuminated the potential for harnessing whale exhalations—or blow—to find important data on hormone levels. This is after Dr. Hunt and colleagues published a paper in Conservation Physiology showing that the blow can provide critical information about an animal's sex, maturity, reproductive status and stress levels.  

A screen capture from a vide of whale blow sampling methods at sea. Watch 

And back home to Central Wharf, where diver Chris Bauernfeind took readers of The Boston Globe underwater inside the newly renovated Giant Ocean Tank. The cover story of G profiled Chris and some of the exciting new additions to the tank, including live video streaming to HD screens in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center, the opportunity for diver communication with landlubbers at the top of the tank, bouquets of intricate corals and hundreds of new fish.

Tuesday's Boston Globe

The article also touches on Chris's role as the point person for the Divers Blog. The latest post (complete with video) talks about all some of the new residents!

Photo: Dan Ryan | The Boston Globe

Read the Boston Globe article and see all the pictures.

After these great reads, come visit the Aquarium and explore the diversity and beauty of the New England Aquarium. Learn about the Right Whale Research Program in the Blue Planet Action Center, explore the Giant Ocean Tank through the divers' eyes and get to know a little bit more about our blue planet.