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!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Celebrate World Oceans Day with the Aquarium!

World Oceans Day is a time to celebrate the efforts of our entire community in protecting the blue planet. The New England Aquarium is teaming up with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to invite the public to a family-friendly day that showcases the conservation efforts of community groups, vendors and non-profits.

Sunday, June 7
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Central Wharf, Boston
Enjoy hands-on, family-friendly activities, seafood cooking demos, tastings and more. And learn how you can help protect the oceans, too!

New this year is our ­World Oceans Day Speakers Tent. Learn more from the many different groups that will be participating in this celebratory and educational event. Watch seafood demos and try delicious seafood samples. Thinking of a career in the marine field? The School for Field Studies and World Ocean School will be sharing some great advice for those interested in exciting jobs helping the ocean. The Coast Guard will also be demonstrating ocean safety and survival at sea tactics. And finally, join us for the presentation of the Ocean Stewardship Awards to educators and schools committed to helping the ocean every day.

We hope that our visitors will be inspired by the variety of solutions already at work in our community and find new ways to join in.

Participating partners include:
The Aquarium's ClimaTeens
The Aquarium's live blue™ Service Corps
Ben & Jerry's
Magic 106.7
Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center
Mystic River Watershed Association
Hard Rock Cafe
Alliance for Climate Education
NOAA Fisheries
US Fish & Wildlife Service
NOAA Marine Debris Program
The School for Field Studies
World Ocean School
Boston Harbor Cruises
Salem State University Cat Cove Marine Lab
Polar Beverages
Boston Latin School
Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs
Boston Sea Rovers
Bay State Council of Divers
Charles River Watershed Association
And more!

The best part of World Oceans Day: All activities are free and open to the public! NOTE but this does not include Aquarium admission. There's even more to come about this special event, so keep checking back. We hope to see you here on Central Wharf June 7!

And giveaways!
In the days leading up to our World Oceans Day celebration, we'll be posting details about how you can win tickets to a special Boston Duck Tour excursion. It'll be something engaging through our social media platforms (like Instagram). Here's a hint: Think about ways that you and your community lives blue to help the oceans.

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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The New England Right Whale Festival

Join us!
This Sunday, May 3, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Did you know that there are less than 550 right whales left in the North Atlantic? Did you also know that there are a variety of efforts taking place in our backyard to protect this species? Come to the 2nd Annual New England Right Whale Festival to celebrate the work being done to save North Atlantic right whales from extinction!

The idea for a right whale festival was initiated by the Calvineers--a group of 7th and 8th grade students from the Adams School in Castine, Maine with a mission to educate the public about right whales and promote conservation. Hosted by the New England Aquarium, the public is invited to learn about this endangered species from the people who know them best- scientists, researchers, educators, and the Calvineers! Find out why whale poop is a goldmine, how to match a right whale to a catalogued individual, and what the biggest threats to the population are. There will also be opportunities to take part in family-friendly activities and games!

There are fewer than 550 right whales alive today

Last year’s event was attended by over 1,200 adults and children, with 18 organizations represented*, including:
  • Calvineers
  • NOAA Fisheries 
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum
  • New England Aquarium
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation
The festival will take place at the Aquarium's Harbor View Terrace Tent, located around the back of the main building, rain or shine. The event is free; Aquarium admission is not included. We hope you’ll join us for a whale of a good time!