Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 Marathon: Outreach and the Long Run

While spring has been eking ever closer, the New England Aquarium Marathon team has been plodding closer and closer to the start line for the Boston Marathon. That means running, of course, fundraising and, for some runners, a chance to experience first-hand the Aquarium's outreach programs.

Team runners Lauren and Rachel teach children about whales during a recent Aquarium outreach program  

Aquarium runners are raising money to support these outreach programs, which bring ocean education activities to local schools and community centers. Lauren and Rachel recently accompanied Aquarium educators to a program all about whales. Massive plates of real baleen, hands-on activities and engaging posters were among the cool teaching tools these dedicated runners had to share with the enthusiastic young learners at the event. Donating to the marathon team is one way to ensure that the next generation of ocean protectors learns to love this global resource.

The team's longest run set out along the course for 21+ miles in chilly, wet snow. Because of course it snowed.

Running, running, running is another important component of preparation for April 20. The long training runs have gone off without a hitch despite the never ending stream of snow storms and showers. Some team members even flew in from far-flung places like Texas and Virginia to enjoy our snow during the longest run of the training season (or maybe they just wanted to get a feel for the course before the big day).

Jackie from Austin, Texas, is still smiling even though she's running in the snow

Jenna from Arlington, VA, crabbing for the camera.

Still a spring in his step! Luke (air-born) from Washington, DC,
and Lee (a local still smiling after the winter)

The race is just a few weeks away now. Hopefully the snow banks will melt quickly so the rest of us can get out there and cheer on these runners! We'll be posting one more time about the marathon team with a snapshot of the team's shirts so you'll know to look for them on the course. Stay safe, runners. Enjoy your taper!

Start your Duck Tour at the Aquarium!

Soak in history on the streets of Boston and then plow into the Charles River with the charismatic crew of Boston Duck Tours, now departing daily from the New England Aquarium. Make a day of it! Visit the penguins and other animals at the Aquarium, then climb aboard one of the amphibious DUCKs that go from land to sea and back again.

DUCK boat Annie Aquarium splashes into the Charles River | Photo: Boston Duck Tours

Tours leave from the Aquarium's Front Plaza on Central Wharf (conveniently located just steps from Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall) daily:
  • April – June 15:   Monday–Friday starting at 3:00 pm, weekends starting at 12:00 pm
  • June 16 – September 2:   7 days a week starting at 12:00 pm
  • September 3 – October 31:   7 days a week starting at 9:00 am

Photo: Boston Duck Tours

Aquarium members receive $2 off on DUCK Tour tickets (some restrictions apply). If you're not a member, combine your and save on Aquarium admission! Details here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Volunteer of the Month: March 2015

Every month our Volunteer department 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!

For our Volunteer of the Month in March, we’re bringing it back to our visitors by recognizing an individual who has served as both volunteer and intern in the Visitor Education department. Her commitment to our mission and her communication skills have made this month's winner an incredible asset over the past 4 years, and we’re grateful for the impact she’s made on countless visitors!

Congratulations to Robi Zallen!

Robi, a smiling face in Visitor Education
Here’s what her supervisor, Lisbeth Bornhofft, had to say:
Robi Zallen recently celebrated her 4-year anniversary as a volunteer in Visitor Education, where she has great success both as an Aquarium Guide and as an Intern. She is eager, enthusiastic and very competent. She is willing to do anything that is needed and has dedicated many hours learning outside her regular shift. 
Robi always asks pertinent questions and follows through with visitors. Her natural, intuitive ability to communicate and her background in psychology generate a perfect ambiance for successful interpretation with visitors. Her professionalism, openness, friendly attitude, and depth of knowledge make her an excellent mentor for others. 
I am always impressed by Robi’s motivation to seek feedback and by her commitment to improvement. Robi has demonstrated dedication to learning, teaching and making a positive contribution to the mission of the New England Aquarium.

Stop by on a Wednesday and be sure to learn a few things from this knowledgeable volunteer!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Aquarium CEO honored with a plaza naming in San Diego

Nigella Hillgarth, the New England Aquarium’s President and CEO, was in San Diego last week to receive the honor of having a plaza named for her at the University of California San Diego’s Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Hillgarth was Executive Director at the Birch Aquarium from 2002 to 2014 before coming to Boston last summer.

Nigella addresses crowd at even in California.

Called the Nigella Hillgarth Education Plaza, the outdoor courtyard is part of a $6 million gift from Robert E. and Allison Price of Price Philanthropies, a family foundation connected to PriceSmart, Inc., the largest operator of membership warehouse clubs in Latin America. The gift will help expand the aquarium’s science education efforts for young people and schools in San Diego County.

In the Birch Aquarium newsletter, the Prices said their interest in the environment led to a connection with Hillgarth. “For me personally, the connection really grew out of the relationship with Nigella,” Robert Price said. “We remember Birch Aquarium from the old days when it was down below, and pretty primitive. I think what really changed our attitude and feelings about the aquarium was Nigella … her vision, and also her passion.”

Nigella at New England Aquarium's marine mammal center

Hillgarth, who was born in rural Ireland and educated at Oxford University, was attracted to the position in Boston because of the Aquarium’s important research and conservation efforts in places as remote as the Phoenix Islands in the Pacific Ocean and as close as Boston Harbor.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Meme-tastic Lobster!

Have you seen this lobster? This young fellow is an American lobster (Homarus americanus) who made the rounds on the internet a couple years ago, accompanied by lots of snarky captions. 

Reddit superstar

For example, here's a humorous thread on Reddit. OK, hold the eye rolls.
  • He's the best writer we can get in a pinch!
  • He overseas the whole department
  • He's pretty crabby about deadlines though
  • And I hear he's shellfish about giving out bonuses.
  • Tough crab, they didnt check the special claws in the employment contract.
  • He never takes the elevator with anyone, he's kinda clawstrophobic. 

What you may not know is this guy got his start right here at the New England Aquarium's Lobster Research Lab. Aquarium scientists investigate nutritional requirements and lobster shell disease.  As part of this research, they raise baby lobsters right here on Central Wharf.

Lobsters at lots of different ages call the Aquarium home. This fellow is probably around 2 years old. 

You might have seen some of these babies in our lobster nursery in the Blue Planet Action Center
Others live in our Prescott Laboratory, where scientists examine what factors might predispose lobsters to getting shell disease. Shell disease is caused by bacteria that settle on a lobster’s shell. The bacteria eat away the shell, resulting in thin areas called lesions. Although the disease is not usually lethal, the unattractive appearance of the animal makes it unsuitable to market and thus has an impact on the lobster fishery. Learn more about this research here.

Here's the lobster from a different angle, snapped on the lab's camera.

And if this meme ever resurfaces, you'll know where this wee lobster got its start—the New England Aquarium Lobster Research Laboratory, where it is helping researchers understand threats to lobsters and how we can help them!

There's lots more to learn about lobsters. Check out these awesome crustacean posts:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's St. Patrick's Day! Meet some awesome green animals

We're celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a special look at some of the green animals from our blue planet that you can meet here at the Aquarium. Not only are their colors pretty festive, but they're actually pretty cool animals! Take a click around—you might just learn something, too.

Green moray eel
Green can be pretty fierce with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth and the slinky swimming of the green moray eel in the Giant Ocean Tank.

See how a moray eel—with all those teeth—get check-ups at the Aquarium.

A green moray cruises the Giant Ocean Tank

Green sea anemone
The green sea anemone may not be one of the most charismatic ocean animals. But its vibrant colors and feats of strength make this tidepool resident worthy of a closer look!

Watch the video on the Exhibit Galleries Blog. (Pro tip: Wait for it...)

Find the green sea anemones (and sea star neighbors) in the Northern Waters gallery's Pacific tidepool display

Green anaconda
Anacondas are the largest snakes in the world. Using their powerful bodies to squeeze their prey, they tighten their grip every time the animal exhales, until it cannot take another breath. Then, they swallow their food whole.

Meet the Aquarium's longest residents on the Exhibit Galleries Blog.

Snakes on St. Patrick's Day — the irony is not lost on us

Green sea turtle
While green sea turtles spend most of their time in warmer water, young turtles sometimes spend their summers in New England waters. Myrtle, the undisputed queen of the Giant Ocean Tank, is estimated to be around 90 years old.

See lots of Myrtle on the Divers Blog.

Green Sea Urchin
The green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) comes from the class of animals called  Echinoidea, which means "like a hedgehog." Can you guess why?

Keep reading on the Exhibits Galleries blog.

Green sea urchins can be found in our hands-on tidepool touch area as well as exhibits featuring local species.

Hope you have a Happy St. Patrick's Day! And if you want to add a little more green to your day, come by the New England Aquarium today.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Five Swell Animals with Shells

Spring is near, crusty snow is crumbling, the melt is underway! It's time you come out of your winter shell and visit the Aquarium. And since we're talking about shells there's no better time to (re)introduce some very cool animals with shells.

1. Myrtle the green sea turtle
Myrtle the green sea turtle

Any Aquarium fan can probably guess the largest of our shelled animals. It's Myrtle. The green sea turtle. Of course. She tips the scales at a whopping 550-pounds and her shell measures about four feet long from her neck to her tail. She's just one of three sea turtles in the Giant Ocean Tank.

Many people don't know that Myrtle loves to get back scratches. True! Turtle shells are comprised of bone covered by a keratin layer (a modified type of skin). There are many nerve endings in turtle shells, so in fact a back scratch probably feels pretty good.

2. Soo many turtles, really
Clockwise from upper left: Blandings turtle, red-headed river turtle, red-bellied cooter and diamondback terrapin

Obviously Myrtle steals the show. But don't forget the little guys! There are a lot of other smaller turtles around the Aquarium. Several species are exhibited during our Live Animal Presentations in the Blue Planet Action Center—including Skip the Blandings turtle (upper left above), a common snapping turtle, box turtles and adult red-bellied cooters (you can see baby red-bellied cooters lower left above).

In the Amazon Rainforest exhibits you'll find the red-headed river turtle and the yellow-spotted river turtle. And in the brackish mangrove exhibit in the Thinking Gallery you'll find diamondback terrapins. Funny story: There's a sign on the mangrove exhibit reading "Watch for escaping turtles!" that you can see during our Behind-the-Scenes Tours (just a $20 add-on to your Aquarium admission). They're pretty adept climbers and they can easily crawl out of the exhibit if the lid is removed.

3. Lobsters

Lobster shells come in many patterns and colors including calico, blue, two-tone and orange—and those are just the American lobsters (Homarus americanus). Watch Aquarium scientist Michael Tlusty (who studies lobster shell disease) explain how lobsters shells get these nifty colors. Then come visit to see lobsters in all corners of the building. Baby lobsters in the Blue Planet Action Center, spiny lobsters in the Blue Hole exhibit and dueling lobsters in the Northern Waters gallery (who prevails—orange or blue?!).

4. Hermit crabs
This fuzzy guy was featured on our Instagram page

Hermit crabs are another crustacean you'll find in exhibits throughout the Aquarium—from the Living Corals exhibit to the Edge of the Sea touch tank to the goosefish exhibit to the Garden Eel exhibit. Just look closely at the industrious creature navigating the bottom of the exhibits with its home on its back. Speaking of, Aquarium researcher Randi Rotjan has studied hermit crab shell vacancy chains (think September 1 around Boston)!

5. Scallops
Will just look at all those eyes?

OK, mollusks might not be the sexiest animals at the Aquarium but they are still pretty awesome. Here's why: Scallops have the best developed vision of all bivalves. Along the edge of the mantle up to 100 eyes are set in separate sockets, each with a lens, a retina and an optic nerve. It is doubtful that scallops can discern images; they are, nevertheless, extremely sensitive to the smallest change in light.

Not only can they see, scallops can crawl, climb, turn over and scuttle across the ocean floor clapping their shells. Now don't you think these shelled organisms deserve a closer look? Look for scallops underwater in the Shorebirds exhibit, the goosefish exhibit and other spots in the Northern Waters gallery.

When you're ready to break out of your cold, wintry shell, come visit the Aquarium. These swell shelled creatures are just some of the fascinating animals you can discover during your next trip.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Scientists Ask Obama to Block Sound Blasting for Oil and Gas Exploration

Leading ocean scientists from the U.S. and around the world today urged President Obama to halt a planned oil and gas exploration program off the Atlantic coast involving millions of underwater sound blasts that would have “significant, long-lasting and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival” of threatened whales and commercial fish populations. Read the full text of the letter here.

In a letter to the President, 75 scientists from institutions such as Cornell, Duke, the New England Aquarium, Stanford, and the University of North Carolina say that the seismic blasts, from high-volume airguns that fire every 10–12 seconds, are nearly as loud as conventional explosives and have “an enormous environmental footprint.”  Experts say airgun noise is loud enough to mask whale calls over thousands of miles.

North Atlantic right whale calve in the Southeastern US then migrate north to feed in the summer.

Because whales depend on sound waves to communicate, feed, mate and travel, the blasting can disrupt the reproduction and feeding of the great whale species “over vast ocean areas,” the letter says. “The impact of overwhelming seismic blasting on North Atlantic right whales is of particular concern,” stated Dr. Scott Kraus, Vice President of Research at Boston’s New England Aquarium. “There are only 500 of these critically endangered whales. Their winter calving waters and migration corridor abuts the entire proposed exploration area.  These sounds are likely to displace whales from critical habitats, disrupt mother and calf communication, and increases stress levels in whales, which can lead to chronic health problems for this species that is already highly vulnerable.”

North Atlantic right whales migrate up and down the East Coast

The blasts also “could have potentially massive impacts on fish populations,” according to the letter. In some countries seismic testing has driven away commercial species, resulting in huge drops in catch rates. Studies also show the airguns could kill fish eggs and larvae, interfere with breeding and make some species more vulnerable to predators.

The seismic blasts, used by oil companies to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor, were authorized last year by the Department of the Interior and would result in more than 20 million seismic “shots” over a multi-year period. “The Interior Department itself has estimated that seismic exploration would disrupt vital marine mammal behavior more than 13 million times,” the letter says.

Nine applications for seismic blasting have already been filed, covering most of the Atlantic Ocean continental shelf from Delaware to Florida along with deeper waters further out to sea. The issue assumed new urgency earlier this year when the Obama administration announced plans to allow, for the first time in 30 years, offshore oil and gas drilling in the region.

The Interior Department has scheduled “open houses” next week in Annapolis, Md., and Charleston, S.C. to receive comments from the public; additional hearings will take place in Atlantic City, N.J., and Savannah, Ga., and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina later this month.

The Interior Department is still processing the seismic applications, but the scientists urge President Obama to step in now. “Opening the U.S. east coast to seismic air gun exploration poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life,” they write, asking him to reject Interior’s decision to allow the blasting.

Read the full text of the letter here.

Full Text: Letter Urging the President to Reject Seismic Oil and Gas Surveys in the Atlantic

Today 75 leading ocean scientists from the U.S. and around the world urged President Obama to halt a planned oil and gas exploration program off the Atlantic coast involving millions of underwater sound blasts. This is the full text of that letter with the complete list of signatures.

Dear Mr. President:
We, the undersigned, are marine scientists united in our concern over the introduction of seismic oil and gas exploration along the U.S. mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic coasts. This activity represents a significant threat to marine life throughout the region.

To identify subsea deposits, operators use arrays of high-volume airguns, which fire approximately every 10–12 seconds, often for weeks or months at a time, with sound almost as powerful as that produced by underwater chemical explosives. Already nine survey applications covering the entirety of the region several times over have been submitted within the past six months, including multiple duplicative efforts in the same areas. In all, the activities contemplated by the Interior Department would result in more than 20 million seismic shots.

Airgun surveys have an enormous environmental footprint. For blue and other endangered great whales, for example, such surveys have been shown to disrupt activities essential to foraging and reproduction over vast ocean areas. Additionally, surveys could increase the risk of calves being separated from their mothers, the effects of which can be lethal, and, over time, cause chronic behavioral and physiological stress, suppressing reproduction and increasing mortality and morbidity. The Interior Department itself has estimated that seismic exploration would disrupt vital marine mammal behavior more than 13 million times over the initial six-to-seven years, and there are good reasons to consider this number a significant underestimate.

The impacts of airguns extend beyond marine mammals to all marine life. Many other marine animals respond to sound, and their ability to hear other animals and acoustic cues in their environment are critical to survival. Seismic surveys have been shown to displace commercial species of fish, with the effect in some fisheries of dramatically depressing catch rates. Airguns can also cause mortality in fish eggs and larvae, induce hearing loss and physiological stress, interfere with adult breeding calls, and degrade anti-predator response: raising concerns about potentially massive impacts on fish populations. In some species of invertebrates, such as scallops, airgun shots and other low-frequency noises have been shown to interfere with larval or embryonic development. And threatened and endangered sea turtles, although almost completely unstudied for their vulnerability to noise impacts, have their most sensitive hearing in the same low frequencies in which most airgun energy is concentrated.

The Interior Department’s decision to authorize seismic surveys along the Atlantic coast is based on the premise that these activities would have only a negligible impact on marine species and populations. Our expert assessment is that the Department’s premise is not supported by the best available science. On the contrary, the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which only 500 remain.

Opening the U.S. east coast to seismic airgun exploration poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life at the species and population levels, the full extent of which will not be understood until long after the harm occurs. Mitigating such impacts requires a much better understanding of cumulative effects, which have not properly been assessed, as well as strict, highly precautionary limits on the amounts of annual and concurrent survey activities, which have not been prescribed. To proceed otherwise is simply not sustainable. Accordingly, we respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to reject the Interior Department’s analysis and its decision to introduce seismic oil and gas surveys in the Atlantic.


Christopher Clark, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Bioacoustics Research Program
Cornell University

Scott Kraus, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research
John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory
New England Aquarium

Doug Nowacek, Ph.D.
Repass-Rodgers Chair of Marine Conservation Technology
Nicholas School of the Environment & Pratt School of Engineering
Duke University

Andrew J. Read, Ph.D.
Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology
Division of Marine Science and Conservation
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University

Aaron Rice, Ph.D.
Science Director
Bioacoustics Research Program
Cornell University

Howard C. Rosenbaum, Ph.D.
Director, Ocean Giants Program
Global Conservation Programs
Wildlife Conservation Society

Natacha Aguilar, Ph.D.
Director of Cetacean and Bioacoustics Research
University of La Laguna
Canary Islands, Spain

Simon Allen
Research Fellow
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit

S. Elizabeth Alter, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology
York College, City University of New York

Ricardo Antunes, Ph.D.
Ocean Giants Program
Wildlife Conservation Society

Marta Azzolin, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Life Sciences and Systems, Biology Department
University of Torino

David Bain, Ph.D.
Marine Biologist

Robin Baird, Ph.D.
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective

Kenneth C. Balcomb III
Executive Director and Principal Investigator
Center for Whale Research

Giovanni Bearzi, Ph.D.
Science Director, Dolphin Biology and Conservation
Faculty Member and Research Associate
Texas A&M University

Kerstin Bilgmann, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Cetacean Ecology Behaviour and Evolution Lab
Flinders University, South Australia

Barbara A. Block, Ph.D.
Prothro Professor of Marine Sciences
Department of Biology
Stanford University

John Calambokidis
Senior Research Biologist and Co-Founder
Cascadia Research Collective

Merry Camhi, Ph.D.
New York Seascape Wildlife Conservation Society

Diane Claridge, Ph.D
Executive Director
Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation

Annie B. Douglas
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Founder and Chair
Mission Blue

Erin A. Falcone
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective

Michael L. Fine, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Virginia Commonwealth University

Sylvia Frey, Ph.D.
Director, Science & Education

Edmund Gerstein, Ph.D.
Director Marine Mammal Research
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Florida Atlantic University

Caroline Good, Ph.D.
Adjunct Research Professor
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University

Frances Gulland, Vet M.B., Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
The Marine Mammal Center

Denise Herzing, Ph.D.
Research Director, Wild Dolphin Project
Department of Biological Sciences
Florida Atlantic University

Holger Klinck, Ph.D.
Technology Director
Bioacoustics Research Program
Cornell University

Dipl. Biol. Sven Koschinski
Meereszoologie, Germany

Russell Leaper
Honorary Research Fellow
University of Aberdeen

Susan Lieberman, Ph.D.
Vice President, International Policy
Wildlife Conservation Society

Klaus Lucke, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Centre for Marine Science and Technology
Curtin University, Western Australia

Joseph J. Luczkovich, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Institute for Coastal Science and Policy
East Carolina University

William McClellan
NC State Stranding Coordinator
Large Whale Necropsy Team Leader
Department of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina, Wilmington

David McGuire, M.E.H.
Director, Shark Stewards

Sean McQuilken
Biologist and Endangered Species Observer

David K. Mellinger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Senior Research
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
Oregon State University

Olaf Meynecke, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
Humpbacks & High-Rises

T. Aran Mooney, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Michael Moore, Ph.D.
Director, Marine Mammal Center
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Cynthia F. Moss, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Johns Hopkins University

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D.
Marine Biologist

Sharon Nieukirk
Senior Faculty Research Assistant
Marine Bioacoustics
Oregon State University

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Ph.D.
Tethys Research Institute

D. Ann Pabst, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Susan E. Parks, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Syracuse University

Chris Parsons, Ph.D. FRGS FSB
Department of Environmental Science & Policy
George Mason University

Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Founder and President
Ocean Alliance

Marta Picciulin, Ph.D.
Marine Biologist

Wendy Dow Piniak, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Gettysburg College

Randy R. Reeves, Ph.D.
IUCN/ SSC Cetacean Specialist Group
International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Luke Rendell, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Sea Mammal Research Unit
University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Denise Risch, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
Scottish Marine Institute

Dipl.-Biol. Fabian Ritter
Director of Research
MEER e.V., Berlin, Germany

Mario Rivera-Chavarria
Marine Biologist
University of Costa Rica

Marie A. Roch, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science
San Diego State University

Rosalind M. Rolland, D.V.M.
Senior Scientist
John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory
New England Aquarium

Naomi Rose, Ph.D.
Marine Mammal Scientist
Animal Welfare Institute

Heather Saffert, Ph.D.
Marine Scientist
Strategy Blue

Carl Safina, Ph.D.
Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity
Stony Brook University

Gregory S. Schorr
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective

Eduardo Secchi, Ph.D.
Instituto de Oceanografia
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Brazil

Mark W. Sprague, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
East Carolina University

Richard Steiner
Professor (ret.)
University of Alaska

Jan Stel, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Ocean Space and Human Activity
International Centre for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable Development
Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Michael Stocker
Executive Director
Ocean Conservation Research

Lisa Suatoni, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Natural Resources Defense Council

Sean K. Todd, Ph.D.
Steve K. Katona Chair in Marine Science
Director, Allied Whale
Associate Academic Dean for Graduate Studies
College of the Atlantic

Scott Veirs, Ph.D.
Beam Reach Science & Sustainability School

Val Veirs, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics, Emeritus
Colorado College

Linda Weilgart, Ph.D.
Adjunct, Department of Biology
Dalhousie University

Hal Whitehead, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Dalhousie University

George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.
Founder and Director Emeritus
Woods Hole Research Center

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Humpback Whales: In IMAX 3D and in our Backyard

Break out of those winter doldrums with the excitement and promise of the return of the humpback whales! A very special installment of our free Aquarium Lecture Series will dive into the world of these graceful leviathans with a look at them in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Free lecture! 
Humpback Whales: In IMAX 3D and in our Backyard
A frisky calf breaches during a 2014 New England Aquarium Whale Watch

Attendees will first get to see our spectacular new IMAX movie, which introduces viewers to the whales' complex and fascinating lives beneath the waves through unparalleled, underwater 3D footage. Humpback Whales 3D is produced by MacGillvray Freeman Studios and was shot in Hawaii, Alaska and Tonga.

Despite those exotic movie locales, Boston has some of the world’s best, and possibly most accessible, humpback whale watching, just 25 miles to its east at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. After the immersive experience of being underwater with the whales in the film, discover the whales you know from the surface of Cape Cod Bay Dr. Scott Kraus, Vice President of Research, New England Aquarium, Dr. David Wiley, Research Coordinator, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and Laura Howes, Director of Marine Education and Conservation, Boston Harbor Cruises (operator of New England Aquarium whale watches). You'll learn what draws the humpbacks so close to one of America’s largest cities, the highlights of last year's whale watching season and what challenges face America’s only whale feeding sanctuary.

The lecture is free! We simply ask that you RSVP online.

Passengers on a 2014 New England Aquarium Whale Watch get front-row seats to observe these gentle leviathans up close!

The lecture is timed perfectly to coincide with the start of New England Aquarium Whale Watches, set to resume the last weekend of March! Hardy souls can head out to Stellwagen and be among the first to welcome back the whales. Will we see familiar friends? Any new faces? Who had calves?! As always, we plan to keep landlubbers up to speed on the names and faces on the bank through our popular Whale Watch Log.

If you would rather watch whales from the cushy confines of the Simons IMAX Theatre, pick up tickets to see Humpback Whales 3D. Our newest IMAX film brings you into an underwater world packed with feeding frenzies, magnificent breaches and enchanting whale songs, seen now for the first time in IMAX 3D.

Get in the water with the whales with our newest IMAX film Humpback Whales 3D!

Hope to see you on March 26 for a celebration of these amazing marine animals!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Marathon Team: Fun with the Runners

It's not all training and no fun for the runners on the New England Aquarium Marathon Team. In fact, this weekend the team is injecting some fun into their fundraising efforts with a fĂȘte right here at the Aquarium—and you're invited! Tickets for this fundraising party can be purchased online for $35 per person with the proceeds going toward the team (or the runner you choose in the drop-down menu).

Join us Saturday, March 7, buy tickets today

And later this month, the team will find out what their fundraising supports! Local runners will be participating in a community outreach event at Norwell Public Library educating kids about whale bones, how whales eat, how we study whales, comparing different species and sizes and how we identify whales. If kids in the Boston area cannot get to the ocean, we'll bring the ocean to them!

Meg and Lee are returning runners. Here they at last year's event!

Shaark! with the 2014 Aquarium Marathon Team

Hope we'll see you this weekend as we Party with the Fishes on Saturday. If you live in Norwell, maybe we'll see you at the public library later this month, too! We'll post more updates about our marathon team as the April 20 race day approaches, stay tuned.

Support the New England Aquarium Marathon Team.

New names and faces at the Aquarium

In case you've been buried under a snow pile the past couple weeks (and that's entirely possible), we have some fascinating, beautiful new animals that you just must see! You'll find them in all corners of the Aquarium and in all shapes and sizes. So start planning your visit!

Pharaoh cuttlefish (Sepia pharaonis)
First up, new cuttlefish! This sweet face belongs to a pharaoh cuttlefish, one of two new species we're exhibiting in our cuttlefish exhibit along with dwarf cuttlefish. Right now, both species are pretty tiny—but that won't last long. Come visit the young pharaoh cuttles before the outgrow their neighbors.

Smallmouth grunts in the Giant Ocean Tank

Now spiraling up the Giant Ocean Tank, it's hard to miss some of the newest additions in this 200-thousand gallon exhibit. That's because there are hundreds and hundreds of them! The divers recently added 500 smallmouth grunts to the Giant Ocean Tank. Not only are they beautiful to watch, they also tell an exciting story of sustainability. That's because these fish all started as microscopic eggs in a lab in Rhode Island and grew up in our off-site facility in Quincy before schooling in our four-story Caribbean reef!

Flame jelly (Rhopilema esculentum)

Our new flame jellies came to us from Chicago, despite Mother Nature's frequent attempts to foil their cross-country cargo flight. These animals live only three months, but our aquarists are doing some exciting work behind the scenes to grow new ones.

Two mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) mean twice the pretty!

And while this beauty is a new species for us to exhibit, we have added a second mandarinfish to the Living Corals exhibit, which is new. Normally this species can be territorial but these two seem to be coexisting beautifully! Find out where they usually hang out.

Just when you think you've seen everything, we do our best to introduce new wonders from the aquatic world! So plan a visit this weekend and meet some of the new animals on exhibit.

Other highlights around the Aquarium right now: