Sunday, April 20, 2014

Good luck to the Aquarium marathon team!

Tomorrow, runners with the New England Aquarium marathon team will motor out to Hopkinton and run all the way to Boston. The marathon is a physical feat that's to be respected. But these Boston marathoners are going above and beyond the exhaustion. They're helping to reach, engage and inspire future ocean protecters. That's because they've been fundraising in support of our education outreach programs at schools and community centers in addition to logging hundreds of training miles around Boston—and around the world.

Here we go! Marathon Monday is days away | Photo: BAA Facebook

The efforts of these runners and the significance of the Boston Marathon has not gone unnoticed by the media. We've collected just a few of the news stories about our local runners below. Recognize anyone? Is your hometown represented? Take a click around so you'll get to know who you're cheering for on Monday!

Meg Rabinowitz, the Somerville Patch, Massachusetts

Sean Marden, the Lowell Sun and, Massachusetts

Sarah-Anne Johnson, Taunton Gazeztte and Danvers Patch, Massachusetts

Mark Goodwin, Boston Business Journal and Wilmington Town Crier, Massachusetts

Alex Shopov, the Lynn Daily Item and Swampscott Patch, Massachusetts

Amanda Stonely, Plymouth Patch, Massachusetts

Chris Bauernfeind, Jamaica Plain Patch, Massachusetts

This is less than a third of the runners on our New England Aquarium marathon team. Meet the whole team, and considering sponsoring a runner or the team as a whole.

2014 New England Aquarium marathon team shirts—give a cheer for these folks on Monday!

Good luck New England Aquarium Marathon Team!

High five! Way to go team—we'll be cheering you all along the way.

Look back at the training season with the Aquarium runners:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Volunteer Profile | Liz Burmester

The Aquarium recently celebrated National Volunteer Week. In 2013, our 938 adult Aquarium volunteers and interns donated over 100,000 hours towards our mission of protecting the blue planet. In posts all week, we're highlighting some ways that people donated their time to the Aquarium. Today's post profiles volunteer Liz Burmester.

Coral reefs are one of the world’s most fragile and important ecosystems. However, worldwide, coral reefs are declining at a precipitous rate due to a host of local causes (such as overfishing and pollution) and global impacts (like climate change and ocean acidification).

As a graduate student at Boston University, I work with professors at BU (Drs. John Finnerty and Les Kaufman) and Dr. Randi Rotjan at the New England Aquarium to address questions about the health of corals and their ability to recover from stressors in our changing world.

When most people think about corals, they think of sunny locales and warm tropical breezes. However, many aren’t aware that there are corals in our own local (and temperate) coastal environment! It is this special species—the Northern Star coral—that is the center of my research, and the research of the Rotjan Coral Lab.

The Northern Star coral, or Astrangia poculata, seen here with polyps extended, is a unique cold water coral that occurs in Woods Hole, MA, with (brown) and without (white) symbiotic algae.
Courtesy: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

The Northern Star coral (Astrangia poculata) is an interesting study organism in a number of ways. First, it has an incredible geographic range, extending from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Cape Cod (making it one of the most northern species of coral on earth!).  Second, and most importantly for my work, it has a unique relationship with a species of symbiotic algae that lives inside of its tissue.

In most corals, the relationship between the coral host and their algal symbionts (Symbiodinium sp.) is fragile and obligate, and corals obtain up to 95% of their energy from these algae. Under stressful conditions, these algae can be expelled from their hosts, causing the coral to appear white because you can see the white skeleton under the clear tissue (coral bleaching). This can be fatal to the coral if it is unable to take in new algal symbionts. However, the Northern Star coral has a facultative relationship with its symbiont, so it can live in stable conditions both with this algae (appearing brown) or without this algae (appearing white).  This special relationship gives us the opportunity to study the coral in healthy or stressful conditions (for example, where temperature is higher or lower than normal) and observe how corals can handle these stresses both with and without these important algal symbionts.

The Rotjan Coral lab | from left to right: TOP: Nick, Liz, Randi, Aaron, Tasia 
BOTTOM: Julio, Katrina, Lukas

Interns and volunteers in the Rotjan lab assist with and take on their own projects and experiments to help explore the biology of this fascinating coral. In the end, hopefully what we learn from the Northern Star coral can be applied to aid conservation efforts in the tropics and across the globe.

Volunteer Week 2014 | Service Leader Class

The Aquarium is celebrating National Volunteer Week. In 2013, our 938 adult Aquarium volunteers and interns donated over 100,000 hours towards our mission of protecting the blue planet. In posts all week, we're highlighting some ways that people donated their time to the Aquarium. Today's post is about live blue™ Service Corps leaders. 

The Office of Volunteer Programs and Internships is excited to announce the 2014 Service Leader class! These dedicated individuals will spend the next year and a half learning to design, implement and lead volunteers during field service projects throughout the Greater Boston area on behalf of the New England Aquarium’s live blue ™ Service Corps.

live blue™ Service Leader Sharon Lowe

This year’s service leaders come from a diverse range of backgrounds and history of involvement with the Aquarium. Each one of these leaders has demonstrated a commitment to service, leadership, and protecting the blue planet. The live blue™ Service Leaders will focus on bringing the Aquarium’s mission to the community and a whole new group of volunteers. In preparation for this role, Service Leaders will attend an 8-part workshop series and attend service events with the goal of developing their own service projects and leading volunteers in the field. The 2014 Service Leaders range from full time staff members to individuals who have never before volunteered with the Aquarium! We’re happy to have them on board and can’t wait to get started.

We asked Casey Galante to tell us why she is excited about taking on her new role, and this is what she had to say:
Casey Galante
My name is Casey Galante and I am a new member to the aquarium family, serving in a new position known as a live blue™ Service Leader.  I've lived in Boston for six years now, first as an architecture major at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and now as a full-time professional. Coming from New York, I didn't have the opportunity to explore the Aquarium on school trips like many of my college classmates had. After finally visiting the Aquarium my sophomore year, I realized how important it was to Boston and to the visitors that waited in line to see all the magnificent inhabitants that call the Aquarium home. Once I graduated from college last May, I decided to seek out information on becoming a volunteer. So many opportunities flooded into my email, but I found that the time constraints from working a full-time job made it difficult to be able to commit. I still wanted to get involved, but it wasn't until I received an email about a new initiative called live blue™ Service Corps, did I get excited about a possible position that seemed perfect for me. 
We are extremely lucky to have a resource like the Aquarium right in Boston. It is hard to comprehend how much our local Aquarium is involved in with projects all over the world. I'm excited to begin my adventure with the Aquarium and my new responsibilities as a live blue™ Service Leader. I believe that it is up to us as volunteers and community members to serve as ambassadors for the ocean and take responsibility for our personal imprint upon the environment. I hope that as a service leader I can reach out to people within the large 18–25 age group in and around Boston, involved and interested in the mission of the Aquarium and like-minded organizations. I look forward to learning new things, expanding on my experiences as a leader, meeting as many new people as possible, and inspiring others to make a difference. As a Service Leader I plan to coordinate service opportunities that are fun and exciting and allow volunteers to get a different view on how they can help. I hope to see you all at a future volunteer event!  Please don't hesitate to contact myself or the Aquarium for information or future volunteer opportunities.  

Here is a quick introduction to each of the 14 2014 Service Leaders:

Deanna Celi
Volunteer Programs and Internships Intern, Dive In Episodic Volunteer
Started June 4, 2013
Hours: 259
Deanna is a former intern in the Office of Volunteer Programs and Internships. Her commitment to and passion for service is longstanding and includes spending two of her college breaks volunteering in New Orleans and even led one of the projects in 2013. Currently, she serves as a Foundations Associate at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge.
Laura Donovan

Laura Donovan
Aquarium Guide Volunteer
Started October 10, 2012
Hours: 218
Laura is a current Visitor Education volunteer on Saturdays and works as an attorney for a local law firm during the week.  She grew up in Massachusetts and attended Boston College where she was an active member of Ecopledge, a student organization designed to increase environmental awareness in the student body and administration.

Ken Furuyama

Ken Furuyama
Aquarium Guide Volunteer
Started February 1, 2006
Hours: 1,198
You can see Ken at the Aquarium on Mondays during his shifts on the floor as a Visitor Education volunteer.  Ken works at Trader Joe’s, is a vegan chef and loves to fish.  His commitment to service and volunteerism is something you see the moment you meet him!

Casey Galante
live blue™ Service Leader
Started April 2014
Casey is new to the Aquarium but has a long history of volunteerism and service ranging from volunteering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to leading orientations as a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology. You read about Casey and why she became a service leader above!

Erinn Hasselgren
Rescue and Rehabilitation Volunteer
Started May 4, 2014
Hours: 359
Erinn volunteers on Saturdays in Quincy as part of the Rescue and Rehabilitation team.  Though she is currently based on land as an Individual Giving Assistant at Harvard School of Public Health, she has spent time at sea as an at sea monitor and lead biologist on fishing vessels for National Marine Fisheries Service.

Noel Keady, 
Visitor Experience

Noel Keady
Current Visitor Experience staff member and
Former Marine Mammal volunteer
Started August 18, 2011
Hours: 567
Current Visitor Experience staff member
Noel works at the Aquarium as a Visitor Assistant/Educator and is a former Marine Mammal volunteer. During his time at Emerson College Noel volunteered as an orientation leader and served on the board of the SPEC student screenwriting organization. He has a degree in media production and is an ice breaker extraordinaire!

John Killeen
Aquarium Guide Volunteer
Started December 21, 2013
Hours: 148
John joined the Aquarium in January 2014 as a Visitor Education January term intern.  A current student at Endicott pursuing a degree in environmental science, John has volunteered as a Weymouth Youth Soccer Coach and ran a soccer drive to send soccer equipment to Haiti after the earthquake.
Anna dressed for
Fish, Fun and Fright—the
member Halloween party

Anna Krowczynska
Giant Ocean Tank Diver Volunteer
Started December 17, 2005
Hours: 2,031
Anna spends her Saturdays with Myrtle in the Giant Ocean Tank and in addition to being the Secretary for the New England Aquarium Dive Club.  Originally from Poland, Anna received her Ph.D. in biochemistry and currently works as an application scientist.  She has a passion for beach cleanups, especially ones that happen both in and out of water!

Tony LaCasse, the Aquarium's
Director of Media Relations
Tony LaCasse
Media Relations Director and
Spokesperson for the New England Aquarium
Started 2001
Tony has been in charge of the Aquarium's media relations since 2001. He has developed stories about the Aquarium that have been picked up by thousands of worldwide media outlets and has ensured that the work done at the Aquarium has a regional, national and global impact. In addition, Tony has been the Program Director for Thompson Island Outward Bound and a firefighter for the US Forest Service!

Sharon Lowe
Aquarium Guide volunteer, Episodic Fabrication Volunteer, Episodic Volunteer
Started September 1, 2011
Hours: 647
Sharon is a Monday Visitor Education volunteer, a Boston Cares Volunteer Leader, and holds board positions at a number of different nonprofits.  She’s interested in develop projects targeted towards cleaning the waterways that feed into the Charles River.

Kate McClure
live blue™ Service Leader
Kate is new to the Aquarium family but is no stranger to the Boston area.  She is currently pursuing her PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology with Northeastern University.  In addition to her studies, Kate has volunteered as a science tutor with Girls Incorporated of Lynn, a Teaching Laboratory Volunteer with the Museum of Science, and a Bottom Trawl Survey Volunteer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Survey Branch in Woods Hole, MA.

Paula Meyer
Penguin Colony Volunteers
Started June 28, 2013
Hours: 264
Paula spends her Saturdays in 50-degree water as a Penguin Colony volunteer. When she isn’t feeding the penguins, Paula is an Access Services Specialist with The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston. In addition to being a certified EMT, Paula has volunteered with organizations such as Pets on Wheels, the New England Wildlife Center and the MSPCA.

Donna Paterson
Penguin Colony Volunteer, Rescue & Rehab Volunteer, Field Volunteer, Episodic Marine Mammal Observation Volunteer
Started December 21, 2002
Hours: 2,247
Donna has spent time in a number of volunteer positions during her time at the Aquarium but was most recently a volunteer in the Penguin Colony. She is currently an office administrator but her passion lies with service. Most notably, Donna is a ski instructor/guide for visually impaired adults!

Meaghan Sorce

Meaghan Sorce
Marine Mammal Volunteer
Started November 11, 2013
Hours: 175

Meaghan volunteers with the fur seals, sea lions and harbor seals on Saturdays. In addition to volunteering, Meaghan works as a Dog Playgroup Attendant and Assistant Manager at a dog daycare in addition to attending the Harvard Extension School pursuing a Masters degree in Ecosystems and Sustainability.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Volunteer Week | Interns

One of our goals at the New England Aquarium is to cultivate the next generation of ocean stewards, and our internship program is designed to help build the next generation of experts in this field.
With this important goal in mind, in 2013 we were able to expand our internship program by over 50-percent compared to the previous year.

Summer 2013 intern community

Last year, 129 individuals served over 36,000 hours in our intensive, mentorship based internship program. They came from many different backgrounds—undergraduate students, graduate students, and career changers and brought diverse experience into our institution.

Chris Laudani, Penguin Colony intern

But not only did these individuals bring develop valuable skills for their future careers and perform meaningful work through their internships, they achieved one of the arguably most important functions of an internship program: they formed a network by building a supportive community.

Lauren Ma, Visitor Education intern

With individuals from across the country serving in departments across the Aquarium from behind the scenes in research and galleries, diving in the Giant Ocean Tank and working with visitors, we wondered…how exactly was this community built? We identified one intern in particular who through a magnetic personality was able to bring interns from across the institution together and asked him to give us an idea of how he did it.

Here is the take Sam Mintz (Northern Waters Gallery intern) took on the summer intern community and some strategies he recommends interns use to take advantage of it!
Over the 2013 summer cycle, we had almost 60 interns working in different departments, and people can become isolated. We overcame this and quickly developed a strong sense of community and friendship that became unique to our cycle. From the Galleries, Dive, West Wing, Lobster Lab, Whale Watch and Mammals, we connected and spent the whole summer becoming a close knit group of friends.  
I was big part of establishing this sense of community, and it ended up being the part of my internship I look back on most fondly.
  • First of all, any time the Internship office has an event, those are the best places to meet in a group setting. Face time is key and don't be afraid to talk to your co-interns (I know meeting new people can be scary sometimes);
  • Don't hesitate to trade phone numbers, as this can coordinate lunch at the aquarium or even hanging out after your work day is over;
  • Food prep is another great place to see people and build friendships while you slave lovingly over the food for animals in your care;
  • Another way to build community in your group is to find out which interns are working on your days, and introduce yourself to them. For example, I first met one of the Lobster Lab interns by chance when I ran up to the lab one morning. I introduced myself and invited him to lunch with my friends in the Galleries and West Wing, and we were inseparable for the rest of the summer!

This year we’ll be launching an alumni network to make sure our interns can stay connected and we can keep up with their careers. Interested in joining our community? We will be accepting applications for Fall internships soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Volunteer Week | live blue™ Service Corps

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. – Points of Light

Here at New England Aquarium, we are spending the week highlighting some of our amazing volunteers and opportunities for you to get involved! So, without further delay, we would love to introduce Zara Z. and our most flexible of service opportunities: the live blue™ Service Corps!

live blue™ Service Corps
Lesser known than our traditional volunteer and intern programs is our episodic program. Now known as the live blue™ Service Corps, volunteers within this program take part in service opportunities that occur both at the Aquarium and in the field. While they don’t start out making the one-day-per-week, 6-month commitment, many of these volunteers spend just as much time at the Aquarium and earn just as many hours.

Volunteers seed muscles on coastal habitat

Following is Zara Zsido’s story.  Zara is a live blue™ Service Corps member who started volunteering during an Educator Appreciation Night in October of 2013 and has since become involved with service all over the Aquarium!
Stories about Octavia, the octopus, first brought me to the Aquarium. On my way to her tank I encountered a color, light and grace of movement I (being a creature of the land) hadn’t previously encountered. As a naturalist, walking through the doors of the Aquarium has opened yet another realm of spectacular unknowns.
After that first visit, I wanted to spend more time at NEAQ, and so perused the website for possibilities. A click on “volunteers” led to locating “one-shot”. One-shot led to a variety of volunteer opportunities, from special events to weeks of marine mammal behavior observation – the intelligence and personality of these fur-balls is pure joy to behold. A research project for the Diversity Council and a weekly gig with the crew in Membership allows ongoing encounters with the fine folks at NEAq – and the ability to visit exquisite critters anytime. 
Now, if I could just remember to bring my sketchbook next visit. — Zara

A volunteer pulls invasive weeds from the
Charles River watershed
If you too would like to get involved as a live blue™ Service Corps volunteer all you need to do is attend a one-time, hour-long orientation at the Aquarium! After this orientation, you’ll be able to sign up for service events whenever we send out an e-mail looking for volunteers.

We are hosting orientation on the following dates:

April 8, 6–7 p.m.
April 13, 1–2 p.m.
May 6, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
May 22, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
June 3, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
June 19, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
July 15, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
July 31, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
August 5, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
August 21, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
September 9, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to and put ATTN: LBSI Orientation in your subject line to book your space in as a live blue™ Service Corps participant!