Thursday, April 30, 2015

Volunteer of the Month: April

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!

Our volunteers are focused, enthusiastic, and most importantly devoted to protecting the blue planet. Lauren Mack has more than proven herself in each of these areas, which is why she is April’s Volunteer of the Month!

Here’s what her supervisor, Chris Bauernfeind, had to say:
Lauren is one of our Saturday volunteers, and has many talents beyond food prep and scrubbing the GOT reef.  She is a Meet Myrtle host extraordinaire with a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge that regularly wows our guests. She is a musician with a YouTube video that has 18,000 views - a parody of the Frozen song "Let it Go":  filmed mostly within NEAq's walls. 
And lastly, did you know that she recently finished her first and only Boston Marathon?! What started as a casual conversation and me telling her that "anyone can run a marathon if you put the time and effort into it" became a personal challenge for her, and she went from someone who had barely run a few miles to a marathon finisher. That's 26.2 miles, folks. What an amazing achievement, and what's even more amazing is that she trained through this insane Boston winter all while fundraising over $5000 for our Aquarium's outreach programs!

Show your appreciation by taking a look at her Frozen parody and sharing it with your friends!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NY Times coverage of MCAF

The front page of the Science Section of the New York Times is devoted to an extensive story on the important and far-reaching effort of the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF). This lovely piece highlights some of our conservation, research and education efforts around the world. Read the full article.

Tagging manta rays. Read more about this program in this extensive blog post.

As the article details, MCAF is a unique and effective micro-funding program that funds seven to ten projects per year that have proved effective to solve indigenous problems with wide implications for ocean and marine animal health—from saving river dolphins in Pakistan to creating a marine mammal stranding network in Iran to protecting manta rays in Peru and Sri Lanka.

Since its founding in 1999, MCAF has funded more than 120 key projects around the world, administered by conservation leaders who are catalyzing positive change for the ocean. The Aquarium develops enduring relationships with these programs to foster their continued growth.

Here is some more information about projects we've funded:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Now Playing! Secret Ocean 3D

Amazing little animals are on massive display in exquisite detail in our new IMAX film Secret Ocean 3D. Never have so many delicate and diminutive animals looked so huge than on the largest screen in New England! Here's a taste of what you'll experience with Secret Oceans 3D.

Secret Ocean 3D is now playing! Save time and buy your tickets online.

Jean-Michel Cousteau directs his first IMAX film, narrated by renowned marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, exploring the ocean’s intricate secrets on New England’s largest screen thanks to brand new 3D macro photography. Take a closer look at our oceans and you’ll find that the smallest living things can be a powerful inspiration for protecting the blue planet.


With unprecedented macro videography, the hidden beauty of our oceans blossom before your eyes as thousands of colorful fish ripple over vibrant corals and stunning, 400-pound giant clams. Observe the genius of a camouflaged octopus hunting along a reef. Hover next to a basket star as it unfurls its tangled tendrils at nightfall.

That was fun!
In the weeks leading up to the movie's opening, we gave away IMAX tickets on Facebook and Twitter (see? it pays to follow us). In one giveaway, we asked folks to count the number of Christmas tree worms in this picture. Tricky, right?! Anyone who hazarded a guess was entered, but the correct answer is 6.

One giveaway asked folks to count the Christmas tree worms

Here's the explanation: The worms use those brightly colored feather dusters to grab particles of food as well as for respiration. The closely-packed plumes of the same color are from a single worm! So those two yellow feather dusters count as one worm, same for the maroon one and the white one in the background. In the lower left of the picture, you'll notice that there's no feather duster. That's the tube where a Christmas worm lives, and you can see the inklings of color at the mouth of the tube.

Another giveaway simply asked you to fill in the blank. 

In another ticket giveaway, we asked folks to comment on Facebook and tell us their favorite ocean animal. We even have simple like and share a photo contests! There are many ways to engage with us on social media, and sometimes those ways land you free tickets. Congratulations to our recent winners—enjoy Secret Ocean 3D!

Follow us on social to learn about future giveaways, new animals and behind-the-scenes tidbits about the New England Aquarium:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cutest penguin chick you'll see all day

Celebrate penguins every day at the Aquarium! Buy your tickets online.

This Saturday, April 25,  is World Penguin Day. One creature grateful for the recognition is a little blue penguin chick at Boston’s New England Aquarium that is just three and a half weeks old.

Happy World Penguin Day!

The still yet-to-be named chick hatched out March 30 weighing  28 grams, slightly below normal. At its last check-up earlier this week, the chick weighed in at over 600 grams or more than 20 times heavier than its birth weight less than a month ago! Little blue penguins are found in Australia and New Zealand and are the smallest penguins in the world.

This fluffy chick will remain behind-the-scenes in the care of its parents and biologists for a couple of more months and will then join the nearly 90 penguins of three different species on exhibit in the Aquarium’s large penguin colony.

Need to see more penguin chicks? Check out these posts on the Penguin Blog:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 Marathon: Find these shirts!

The runners on the New England Aquarium marathon team are in full taper mode and gearing up for the big run on Monday. There will be pasta dinners and good-night's sleeps in the weekend ahead. And for the spectators, you have some homework to do: Make sure you know who you're cheering for during the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Ta-da! These are the team shirts for the 2015 New England Aquarium Marathon Team! See if you can find these clownfish-inspired technical jerseys from among all the runners on the course Monday.

Aquarium team runners (from left) Danielle Foley, Keegan Willette, Meg Rabinowitz and Chris Bauernfeind (team coach)
model the technical shirts at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank 

Collectively, the team has raised more than $100,000 toward the Aquarium's education outreach programs—and they're not done yet! These programs bring ocean-themed education opportunities to underserved neighborhoods throughout the Boston area. Kids can get their hands wet feeling a sea star or a crab, discover about how giant whales eat teeny-tiny food and learn how all our actions impact our ocean and what we can do as a community do to protect this vast, watery resource.

Help us reach even more kids and share the wonder of our blue planet! Consider sponsoring the team as a whole or look at their thumbnail here to support one of our runners individually.

Team runners with marathon team coordinator Deb Bobek and team founder John Hanzl (right)

We hope you'll join the Aquarium family and support our runners on Monday. When you find these clownfish among the sea of runners, be sure to cheer extra loud—for the runner and for our ocean.

2015 Aquarium marathon team shirt

Monday, April 6, 2015

Commander Meets the Mayor

The Aquarium's newest arrival—a Northern fur seal named Commander—met with Boston's commander in chief Mayor Marty Walsh during a light-hearted event at the Aquarium today.

Captive audience: Are the young visitors more excited to see Mayor Walsh or Commander the fur seal?

Today marine mammal trainer Kim Cummings and Aquarium CEO Nigella Hillgarth welcomed Mayor Walsh into the exhibit to learn about fur seals, feel Commander's thick fur coat and even feed the large male fur seal some of his lunchtime meal.

Mayor Walsh drops a fish into Commander's mouth

Commander made the cross country trip earlier this winter via a donated flight from FedEx. He was brought to Boston as part of a cooperative breeding program that is dedicated to increasing the number of Northern fur seals in American zoos and aquariums. Currently, there are only nine of the unusual-looking seals in the U.S. with five of them at the New England Aquarium, which has had two pups born in the last three years.

Commander and the commander

Commander arrived from the Seattle Aquarium via FedEx back in February. He spend time behind the scenes for routine quarantine, and recently joined the sea lions on exhibit full time—just in time for the region's April school vacations.

Aquarium CEO Nigella Hillgarth introduces Mayor Walsh to Commander

Commander currently tips the scales at nearly 400 pounds but will be a solid 500 pounds by this summer. He's so big that it's hard to miss him. But he often lounges toward the back of exhibit, where you'll find him resting (something these big male fur seals do a lot of) or grooming.

Commander grooms his fur in preparation for the Mayor's visit. (Actually, fur seals really groom all day, every day.)

Northern fur seals are a vulnerable species that are found across the north Pacific but primarily off of Alaska. They are in the same family as California sea lions but also feature the second thickest fur in the world.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Whale it up this weekend!

There are some huge happenings around Central Wharf these days—like, school-bus huge. We’re talking about humpback whales, of course! Plan your own whale-a-palooza this weekend with Humpback Whales 3D at the Simons IMAX Theatre and an unforgettable New England Aquarium Whale Watch.

Start on the big screen with Humpback Whales 3D, where these surprisingly agile behemoths appear life size on the largest movie screen in New England.

Imagine this life-size action splashing down in 3D!

Thunderous breaches and in-your-face feeding frenzies are bowling over landlubbers watching Humpback Whales 3D at the Simons IMAX Theatre. In fact, this is the first time these graceful giants have been filmed with the clarity and enormity afforded by IMAX technology, and it’s simply spectacular.

A sense of scale: Humpback whales can grow to be 60 feet long. 60 feet!

Float peacefully in indigo blue water alongside a lifesize humpback whale, hear enchanting whale song in digital surround sound and whiz along the water in a skiff alongside scientists in the field. This film provides a global perspective of this species and its diverse habitats as humpback whales bounce back from the brink of extinction. Buy your Humpback Whale 3D tickets online.

Then a short stroll across the Aquarium's Front Plaza and you’re poised for an exhilarating dose of sea breezes and wildlife as you observe whales in our coastal backyard on board a New England Aquarium Whale Watch, presented by Boston Harbor Cruises!

Passengers on a New England Aquarium Whale Watch get front row seats to see the whales in person, in their habitat.

Have you ever wondered what whale breath smells like? Want to record your own feeding frenzy videos? Be among the first to welcome the whales back to their summer feeding grounds on Stellwagen Bank, which is one of the world’s richest feeding grounds for marine animals, including whales, seals, sea birds and dolphins.

Whale Watch tickets are available online through our partners at Boston Harbor Cruises.

Feeding frenzy on Stellwagen — for whales and seabirds!

As if that's not enough whales for you, check out the Aquarium's Gift Shop windows adorned with the adorable cetaceans created by illustrator and Aquarium educator Maris Wicks.

Playful whales adorn the Gift Shop's windows

If there's one way to make it a big weekend, it's adding some whales. Make it happen! Check out humpbacks in IMAX, artfully drawn and in real life with the Aquarium.