Saturday, May 30, 2015

Oceans Day Contest: Win DUCK Tour Tickets!

This contest is now closed. We loved seeing so many people living blue for the health of our ocean. Thanks to everyone who submitted entries. Winners have been contacted via Instagram (so check your posts to see if you're a winner) and must check in with Aquarium or DUCK Tour staff at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time for check in. Congratulations!

Remember, DUCK Tours leave from the Aquarium plaza regularly during summer months. Check the schedule and purchase tickets online for a fun family outing this summer.

Boston DUCK Tours are once again helping us celebrate World Oceans Day with a fantastic splash! We gave away tickets for three tours, each of which will roll out on Sunday, June 7. Winners showed us how they live blue™ through our Instagram contest!

We chose our favorite inspirational ocean photos to win seats on these one-of-a-kind tours on Boston!

Of course, Annie Aquarium is our favorite vehicle in the DUCK boat fleet!

Here are some important details about the tours:
  • The contest runs through Thursday, June 4
  • These special tours are happening on one day only, June 7
  • You could win seats on a DUCK leaving at 10:40, 11:00 or 11:20 a.m.
  • All DUCKs depart from and return to the Aquarium plaza
  • Tours are approximately 65 minutes
  • We ask that winners arrive 30 minutes before their departure to check in for their tour
  • The Aquarium's free World Ocean's Day festivities continue until 4 p.m. so you'll have plenty of time to check our activities when you return!

An example of a successful contest post: Includes #liveblue and @newenglandaquarium
and shows how one family is helping our oceans in their every day actions!

What does living blue look like? It could be a fun beach trip or a bike ride. It could be a memorable interaction with a favorite Aquarium animal. It could be your spiffy garden or compost pile. What do you do to help the blue planet? We can't wait to see! We'll choose our favorites and contact the winners via Instagram by Thursday afternoon. Be sure to check back to see if you're a winner!

Examples of #liveblue Instagram pictures.

So start sharing your pictures and you could be among the lucky families that will be touring the city on a one-of-a-kind Boston DUCK Tour!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Volunteer of the Month: May 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!

Kim Podesta
This month, we are awarding Kim Podesta, a volunteer with the Marine Mammal Department, the recognition of Volunteer of the Month! Her calm and respectful personality, along with her unbeatable work ethic makes her the best choice.

Here’s what her supervisor, Kim Cummings, had to say:
This summer will mark Kim’s three year anniversary with the department. Kim is everything you could ask for in a volunteer and colleague. She is hard working, a good leader and role model, has excellent attendance, and is kind and generous. Kim never shies away from a new challenge and she continues to volunteer to take on more responsibility. Kim will come in and work extra hours when the team is in need. She will stay late and recently stayed late learning a new educational talk that she is now presenting every Tuesday morning. She is the only volunteer that has mastered this talk and is presenting at the Marine Mammal Center weekly. There is never a doubt that tasks will be done to their completion and exceed expectations when Kim is at work. 
Beautiful Burger
Because Kim has shown so much growth and development in the last three years she was recently given her own training project. She was taught how to feed and train Burger, the aquarium’s rococo toad. Years ago prior to being trained, Burger would be very stressed getting taken out of her habitat to go on educational rounds. Through training this situation was made positive for her and has been maintained by mammal’s staff. When deciding who to pass Burger’s training off to, Kim was a front runner in the staff’s minds. She has excelled at this project and has built a comfortable relationship with Burger and is moving forward with her training. 
Kim is essential in the team’s enrichment program. She is always coming up with creative and novel ideas to enrich the animals.  She will bring in items from home and spend time assembling new toys and testing them out.  She will take on repairs for broken or older toys making them new and functional again. 

Please join us in congratulating Kim!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's World Turtle Day!

We love celebrating the animals at the Aquarium—any excuse we can get. So when it's World Turtle Day, of course we're going to shine a spotlight on our big (and little) beautiful turtles! Plan a visit and come celebrate with us!

Let's start with our largest turtles, the sea turtles lumbering through the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank. Myrtle the green sea turtle is the largest of them all, creaking the scales at more than 550 pounds. There are also two loggerhead sea turtles in the exhibit, Carolina and Retread. They came to the Aquarium through our Marine Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation program when it was determined that they would not be able to survive in the wild. Finally, the most petite of the sea turtles is Ari, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world. She was rescued from the Gulf of Mexico after a boat strike.

Myrtle, green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Carolina, loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Retread, loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Ari, Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), takes a breath

Go behind the scenes and learn more about our sea turtles and all the residents of the Giant Ocean Tank with our Meet Myrtle program! You might even get to feed the ol' lady at the top of the tank.

Moving over to the freshwater turtles, you'll find several in our Amazon Rainforest exhibits. The yellow-headed and red-headed river turtles often get overlooked, what with the 13-foot anacondas and whiskered catfish drawing the eye in these dynamic exhibits. 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. They're pretty adept climbers and they can easily crawl out of the exhibit if the lid is removed.

Red-headed river turtle

Yellow-headed river turtle (Photo: Chrisine A. via flickr)

Diamondback terrapin

Live Animal Presentations
Visitors may also have an opportunity to meet a turtle during our Live Animal Presentations. Skip is a mustachioed Blandings turtle, and when he's behind the scenes he is often offered enrichment. Check out this video of Skip enjoying some peas! We also have Eastern box turtles, snapping turtles and red-bellied cooters as part of our Live Animal Presentations.

Skip, the Blandings turtle

Behind the Scenes
The Aquarium participates in Head Start programs for several local species of turtle, including the red-bellied cooter. These little guys spend the winter behind the scenes with us. Then when the weather turns warmer and the baby turtles have grown, we release them back into their natural habitats bigger and stronger with a greater chance for survival!

Red-bellied cooter

And speaking of behind the scenes, you can add a Behind-the-Scenes Tour to your visit for just $20!

Rescued Turtles
Off in our Animal Care Center in Quincy, our rescuers care for hundreds of stranded sea turtles each fall. This year's cold-stun sea turtle stranding season was mind-blowingly busy, but most of the turtles have been released back into the wild. Learn more about our rescue program in the Blue Planet Action Center at the Aquarium.

A rescued green turtle getting treatment off-site at our Animal Care Center

We can't think of a better spot to celebrate World Turtle Day than at the New England Aquarium, where you can see giant sea turtles, wily freshwater turtles and learn about our turtle rescue efforts. Plan a visit for World Turtle Day!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Aquarium Teens Honored with White House Award

Thanks and congratulations to all the teens who have been involved in the live blue™ Ambassadors program that’s working along with our live blue™ Service Initiative to facilitate conservation projects in coastal habitats around greater Boston.

Teens clear invasive weeds from local waterways

Teens also pitched in to clear brush
on the harbor islands
In 2014, the Ambassadors facilitated 44 days of field work. 95 teens participated, and many of them participated several times.  The program is building a cadre of young people who are learning and working side-by-side and encouraging each other in developing as “ocean stewards.”

Staff from the Boston Harbor Islands National Park service have appreciated the effort.  They presented a Presidential Silver Service Award to a group of teens on Earth Day. That award recognizes more than 600 hours of effort to support healthy habitats in and around Boston Harbor.

The Patriot Ledger wrote a nice article about the program and the award.

Congratulations and thanks to the staff who have been coordinating and leading these efforts, too.

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!

Monday, May 4, 2015

So you want to rock Mother's Day

The Aquarium is teaming up with the Hard Rock Cafe near Faneuil Hall to offer mothers a special day the whole family won't soon forget.

A classic image from last year when Kitovi, our youngest fur seal, was nuzzling with mom, Ursula 

Enjoy a hot, yummy breakfast on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, surrounded by music memorabilia that will rock your mom's world. For the kids, costumed characters will make the rounds, and Aquarium educators will be there serve up ocean information to interest the whole family. Adults dine for $13.95, children for $9.95, and kids 2 years old and younger eat for free. Reservations are suggested; please call 617-424-7625.

Reservations are suggested. Call the Hard Rock at 617-424-7625.

The best part of this special brunch is that every mom gets a voucher for free admission to the New England Aquarium on Mother's Day! So take your new ocean knowledge and see the mom and daughter pair of Ursula and Kitovi in the marine mammal center and watch the penguins bound, preen and splash in their watery exhibit at the New England Aquarium (lots of moms in this exhibit, too).

Help sea turtles, too! Tell them Myrtle sent you.

And even though Mother's Day is all about Mom, there is one way you can give back to help sea turtles. Just tell your server that Myrtle sent you and a portion of your meal will go to support sea turtle conservation at the New England Aquarium. So whether mom is a rock fin-atic or an ocean-lover or both, make this a special Mother's Day that the whole family won't soon forget.