Friday, February 28, 2014

Volunteer of the Month: February

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 latest Volunteer of the Month.

This month, we are honoring Allison Cohen, our Gift Shop volunteer for the outstanding experience she provides visitors while they shop for ways to remember their visit and further support the Aquarium.

Here’s what her supervisor had to say:
Allison has been a wonderful addition to the Gift Shop team for the past couple years, and brings an infectious positive attitude with her to work every Wednesday morning. Her organization and attention to detail is a welcome contribution to our team!
Thank you Allison for all of your service to the Gift Shop as well as the great energy you provide to our institution.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brian Skerry swims with ocean giants

The Aquarium's Explorer in Residence Brian Skerry has been near some of our blue planet's most spectacular marine animals—from penguins in Antarctica to sleek sharks off New England to delicate sea fans in Indonesia. So when this experienced diver spent time underwater with what he calls "perfect ocean creatures" you know it was a noteworthy moment. It was an opportunity two decades in the making.

Atlantic bluefin tuna | Photo: Brian Skerry via National Geographic Proof 

Brian's photographs illustrate this month's National Geographic cover story about bluefin tuna. On National Geographic's Proof blog, he shared a bit about the experience of photographing these massive fish.
To be underwater with a bluefin tuna is to witness the divine sense of nature. They are true thoroughbreds of the sea, with few if any equals. This is an animal that swims across entire oceans in the course of each year and is capable of generating heat that allows it to travel practically from the equator to the poles. With a hydrodynamic design that has been studied by naval engineers, they swim faster than a torpedo and possess physical endurance that we can hardly fathom. It is a warm-blooded fish that continues to grow its entire life—a 30-year-old bluefin can weigh more than a ton—though as far as we know, none reach that age these days due to overwhelming fishing pressure.
— Brian Skerry, Proof, National Geographic blog 
Read the full post and see more of Brian's pictures. 

Myrtle the green sea turtle inside the Giant Ocean Tank | Photo: Brian Skerry

Brian was the first photographer to slip amid the swirling schools of fish in the Giant Ocean Tank after top-to-bottom renovations. In addition to photographing the thousands of new corals and fish, his lens also turned the queen of the Giant Ocean Tank—Myrtle the green sea turtle. His work has also been featured in the Aquarium's member magazine blue as well as throughout the Global Explorers blog. Take a stroll through his many expeditions and essays to experience the beauty of our blue planet.

Switching gears, don't miss a discussion about tuna in another part of the world—the Phoenix Island Protected Area—on the PIPA blog.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love is in the water

Love is in the water at the New England Aquarium. And it's not just because it's Valentine's Day. In fact, there are happy couples throughout the exhibits! There's Isaac and Ursula, the parents of fur seal pups Flaherty and Kit. There are the protective sergeant majors and many other species of fish in the Giant Ocean Tank. And there are smitten penguins all over their exhibit.

Since we'll take any excuse to share some sappy moments, may we present a few happy couples: the garden eels and clownfish.

And since red and pink are the banner colors of this saccharine holiday, check out some of the unusual Valentine-colored animals throughout the Aquarium.

Pink anemones native to the Pacific in the Northern waters gallery

Redish bigeye in the Giant Ocean Tank

Pinkish anemones native to our local waters

Spanish flag, native to the Caribbean, found in the Aquarium's Yawkey Coral Reef Center

Sea peaches found in local waters

Giant Pacific octopus 

Shiny perch
The Boston Globe came by to check on some of the sweethearts around the Aquarium. Come see for yourself! We're open and love is truly in the water here at the New England Aquarium.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Eye surgery for harbor seals

Harbor seals in aquarium settings often live far beyond their natural life expectancies in the wild, but like aging people, they can suffer from similar chronic medical conditions like cataracts. The vision of Reggae and Chacoda (Chuck), two adult male harbor seals, had deteriorated in recent years as the milky cloudiness in their lenses increased and reduced their fine vision. Both 200 pounders remain very active and know dozens of behaviors, but they had become more dependent on hearing the verbal commands of their marine mammal trainers rather than seeing their hand signals.

Reggae (bottom) and Chuck are doing very well following cataracts surgeries.

Aquarium veterinarians consulted local veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Ruth Marrion of Bulger Veterinary Hospital in North Andover, who has been donating her services since 2007. She was concerned with the potential for further deterioration and the development of other eye diseases. She recommended the cataract surgery and assembled a surgical team. After Aquarium staff  set up a temporary operating room in a seal holding area, Dr. Marrion and a surgeon from Florida successfully removed both seals’ cataracts.

After two weeks of convalescence in a dry environment, Chuck and Reggae have returned to their exhibit pool and adapted well.

Reggae has been trained to look up and stay still so that trainers can administer the eyedrops.

Local media were also on hand for this photo op!

There's a wealth of information on the blogs about how we take care of Aquarium animals:
Now that you know about the special care and treatment these animals receive to keep them happy and healthy, look for them during your next visit to the Aquarium

Monday, February 3, 2014

February Deal: Aquarium Members and Visitors Get Buy One Get One Discount to Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum!

During the month of February, all Aquarium Members and visitors can receive buy-one-get-one-free admission to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum!

Simply show your New England Aquarium Membership Card or New England Aquarium ticket stub at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum ticket booth prior to purchase.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum are located a short walk from the Aquarium at 306 Congress Street in Boston. See a map and get directions here.

Regular ticket prices to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum are:
Adult: $25
Senior/Student/Military: $22
Child: $15