Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Celebrating Moms: Above and Below the Water

Did you know there are lots of moms at the New England Aquarium? What better place to celebrate Mother's Day than with some of the amazing moms from our blue planet! Let's introduce just a few of them.

Maternal Mammals
First up, fur seal mom extraordinaire: Ursula. She's the mother of two young Northern fur seals: Flaherty (who now lives in Seattle) and Kitovi. Kitovi and Ursula share the marine mammal center with many other fur seals, including Ursula's mom Roxie! Kitovi is an independent little squirt these days, but it's still fascinating to watch these three interact. The seals definitely share a special bond with their mothers!

Ursula and her daughter Kitovi last year

Three generations of fur seals! Roxie (top right) is Ursula's mom and Ursula (top left) is Kitovi's mom (foreground)

Penguin Parenting
Also, behind the scenes, there's a little blue penguin mom working very hard with her mate to raise a chick! And while you can't see the mom now (those chicks are demanding!), there are plenty of moms in the exhibit. Look for Goanna in the little blue area near the Gift Shop with the green and black arm band on her right wing, and consider the hard (and dirty) work she and Lion did to incubate their egg last year.

World Penguin Day was April 25, and this little one arrive right in time for the festivities!

Marine Animal Mothers (and Fathers)
Gemini the epaulette shark has mothered to many young sharks that you'll see in our shark nursery and the shark and ray touch tank. Sharks are independent from birth. But she has laid many eggs that are hatched right here at the Aquarium. She and her mate split their time between the shark and ray touch tank and another tank behind the scenes (all parents need a little peace and quiet now and then).

Dads get all the attention in the seahorse world, because they are the ones who give birth to the miniature seahorses. That happened not too long ago, in fact. But when you look into our dwarf seahorse exhibit and look for any newborn dwarf seahorses in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center, don't forget about the moms!

In the Flooded Amazon exhibit, you can sometimes see mother and father fish protecting a nearly-invisible clutch of fry (baby fish) swarming near the bottom or side of the tank. It's a lot of work to protect those little guys from their hungry neighbors!

Whale-sized Love
In our aquatic back yard there are even more mother and youngster pairs, which you can see during a New England Aquarium Whale Watch. Now is the time that humpback whale mothers bring their younguns to Stellwagen Bank to teach the ins and outs of bubble feeding, kick feeding and logging (check out our Whale Watch Log if you need a primer on whale behaviors).

Humpback regular Nile with her calf from 2014

Those critically endangered behemoths—North Atlantic right whales—are also passing through the area with their calves. They spend the winter off the coast of the Southeastern U.S. and head north to the Bay of Fundy to feed in late summer. Passengers on recent whale watches had the unique opportunity to see these whales during their migration north!

A right whale mom supports her calf in the water off the southeastern U.S.

There is ample opportunity to be with moms here at the New England Aquarium—and even off shore. Indulge your mom, celebrate your mom, remember your mom with a visit to Central Wharf this Sunday!

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