Sunday, August 31, 2014

Volunteer of the Month: August

Every month our Volunteer office sorts through piles of nominations from supervisors (and sometimes entire departments!) and honors one of our volunteers for their truly stupendous efforts. Meet our latest Volunteer of the Month.

This month, we are excited to award Giant Ocean Tank volunteer, Luigi DiSisto!

In just less than three years, August’s Volunteer of the Month has served nearly 1,500 hours with the Giant Ocean Tank team. He constantly takes on new responsibilities, both glamorous ones (volunteering for one of the members-only ‘Dive In’ events!) and less glamorous ones (cleaning sand for the renovated GOT…see the picture below J).

Luigi capably handling one of the less glamorous jobs —
cleaning gravel destined for the bottom of the Giant Ocean Tank. 

Luigi is a Bruins player showing off his Stanley Cup with Maggie the sailor. 

Here’s what his supervisor, Sean Marden, had to say…
Luigi has been a consistent powerhouse for the GOT team for many years. He has helped us collect fish, come in early for shark transports and put in countless hours of scrubbing all without complaint. He has helped with the training of numerous volunteers, interns and coops and has done an exemplary job when asked to take on new responsibilities with water quality and the Diver Communication system. Luigi is a prime example of a volunteer who goes the extra mile to help make our exhibit and team the best that it can be. The entire Sunday crew really appreciates everything that Luigi brings to the team and we believe that he should be the volunteer of the month!

We can’t thank you enough for the many areas of support you provided since you started volunteering at NEAq, Luigi!

You'll find Luigi all over the New England Aquarium's Divers Blog. In addition to volunteering to dive in costume, this Bruins fan has participated in the popular collecting expeditions to the Bahamas and has written blogs about his experience. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Orange Lobster Debuts at the Aquarium

You may have heard news recently about a colorful lobster that was just donated to an aquarium in Maine. We have another bright and beautiful lobster to introduce! 

Ready for her close-up

This orange lobster was recently caught off the tip of Cape Cod. She joined resident lobsters sporting other surprising colors. They include a cobalt blue lobster, the Aquarium’s famous Halloween lobster, which is orange on one side and black on the other, and as well as several regular colored lobsters. 

A trio of colorful Aquarium lobsters

Not your average lobster tails 

Billy and Cheryl Souza of North Truro, Mass., found the 1 ½ pound lobster earlier in August in one of their traps, but they put it back in the water in a secure trap for a few days so that a clutch of eggs on her abdomen would disperse. Billy, who is a third generation lobsterman, chuckled that he hopes that there are many more orange lobsters locally in about seven years when those eggs would normally mature into market size lobsters. 

The beautiful blue lobster already living at the Aquarium

The Souzas have caught blue and very large lobsters before, but this was their first orange one. Orange lobsters have been estimated to have an incidence of about 1 in 30 million in the wild. See the new lobster with her colorful neighbors here:

Come see the lobsters in the Northern Water's gallery this weekend. That's where we keep the big guys. Watch them crawl and scrabble around their regular exhibit. And if you want to see cute, check out the juveniles in the Blue Planet Action Center.  Plan a visit to the Aquarium.

Curious about lobsters? 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Andre the seal's story comes to silver screen

The story of Andre the seal is well known in New England. Now a new PBS program about this harbor seal—and his connection to the New England Aquarium—is airing on Boston's public television station Channel 2 this Wednesday, August 27, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 30, at 2:30 p.m. Current Marine Mammals Curator Kathy Streeter, current trainer Paul Bradley and retired trainer Annie Potts appear in the program.  

Tune in to WGBH Channel 2 in Boston during Wednesday evening's broadcast for a special Aquarium perspective from the Director of Media Relations Tony LaCasse! 

Relationships between wild animals and people have always fascinated us. In the 1970’s and 80’s, the New England Aquarium was home to an amazingly charismatic animal that seemingly bridged the gap between two different species. Andre the seal was a male harbor seal that was raised as a pup in the home of an irascible Mainer named Harry Goodridge. Their relationship over 25 years, including nearly 15 years of winters at the New England Aquarium, is the subject of a well-crafted, new PBS program called "The Seal Who Came Home" that will run on WGBH 2 this Wednesday (8/27) at 7:30 p.m. and will re-air  Saturday (8/30) at 2:30 p.m..

Harry looking down at Andre in the water | Credit: Courtesy of Goodridge family

Andre was taken in as a pup by Harry, which would be illegal now. Since seals in the wild spend prolonged periods of time out of the water, Andre was quite comfortable ambling around the Goodridge home. Home movies shows Andre climbing stairs, playing with Harry’s four daughters and hanging out in the kitchen like the family pet. Instead of walking the dog, the Goodridge household daily routine included time to drive Andre in the family car  to the harbor for a swim.

Just one of the family | Via Google Images

As Andre grew into adulthood, Harry was faced with many problems keeping Andre happy and safe. The cold, Maine winters always posed a challenge. Eventually, Harry struck an unusual bargain with the New England Aquarium where Andre spent the winters in the harbor seal exhibit.

Andre's head in water | Credit: Courtesy of Goodridge family

Come April, Andre was driven to Marblehead, MA and  released. He would then spend a few days to a couple of weeks harbor-hopping his way up the coast until he arrived in Rockport, Maine, his home. This annual migration became a regional ritual and received national media coverage as a harbinger of spring. With his outgoing personality, Andre approached people on the water, interacted with them and then continued on his way.

Andre and Harry | Via Google Images

The bond between Andre and Harry was lifelong. Their story reminds us that our relationships with other creatures often makes us better people.

If you can't tune in on Wednesday, you can watch the program here. And if you're looking for more about harbor seals and other marine mammals at the Aquarium, click over to the Aquarium's Trainers Blog to learn more about these animals. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sea Squirts: For the littlest ocean explorers

The Aquarium offers learning opportunities for curious minds of all ages—from a free lecture series to teen workshops to fun, hands-on programming for school groups. There are even programs for the 2- to 4-year old set with our popular Sea Squirts classes! 

Each class includes a visit to the Aquarium

Sea Squirts introduces your child to the underwater world while focusing on their developing motor and language skills and encouraging the development of early science skills, such as observation and exploration. Parents attend with their child for these one-hour programs, which include free play, circle time with songs, stories and activities, art projects and a visit to the Aquarium exhibits. Classes often incorporate a live animal encounter when appropriate to the topic!

Little hands and sea stars

While the big kids head back to school, bring the little ones to the Aquarium for their own learning adventure once a week! Registration is underway for these fun, hands-on programs for youngsters. Classes take place once a week and the topic changes each session.

One of the program's teachers, Miss Ashley, surrounded by squirts

Topics for this fall include:
  • Ocean Motion—Can you float like a jelly or swim like a fish? Register
  • Ocean Adventurers—Discover ways we explore by boat, submarine and scuba gear. Register
  • Polar Animals—Meet animals from the poles, from penguins to polar bears! Register
Squirts not only learn about the ocean, they can interact with new faces
and make new friends

Even parents and caregivers have fun! Here's what they have to say about the program:
  • My daughter and I both learned new facts every week, and she loved sharing with the rest of the family at dinner. Thank you!
  • My daughter loved the physicality of the class. Touching clams, jellies, even walking on the large mural are things she continues to speak about.
  • These classes are wonderful across the board. Miss Ashley is a true professional... she can grip the attention of 10+ toddlers with enthusiasm and kindness and expertise (both of aquatic life AND child development!)
  • It is a GREAT introduction to preparing for pre-school and setting that foundation of education, learning and listening combined with "play time."
  • Every single class is wonderful.. the projects are so much fun, the activities are so enjoyable and the kids love the stories and touching the animals. Also the trips to the aquarium afterwards are really great.
Contact Family Programs at or 617-226-2123 for additional information about these programs.