Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 Eye-catching animals at the Aquarium

There are literally thousands of animals at the Aquarium, and we think they're all pretty eye-catching in their own way. But some species tend to tug on those eyeballs more than others. So when you're planning your visit to the Aquarium (ooh, ooh! here are some handy visiting tips), be sure to add these animals to your must-see list.

1. Seadragons
Weedy seadragons and their cousins, the leafy seadragons, are Australia natives and masters of camouflage.

2. Sea turtles
There are three species in the Giant Ocean Tank: Kemp's ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles.
Loggerhead (foreground) and green (Myrtle in the background) here, bonus if you get all three in one picture!

 3. Giant Pacific octopus
Her name is Elvira and she's the most marveled-at resident of the Northern Waters gallery.
Especially when she does stuff like this.

4. Harbor seals
These blubbery athletes are the first animals you'll see on the Aquarium's Front Plaza.
Don't miss a training session for a chance to see their smarts on display.

5. Penguins
More than 80 birds, three species and a whole lot of squawking happening in the Penguin Exhibit

6. Sea lions
These two. So much spunk.

7. Moon jellies
Brainless blobs that happen to be incredibly photogenic

8. Cownose rays
So many smiles in The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank

9. Mandarinfish
Even as tropical fish go, this guy is a show stopper.

 10. Poison Dart Frogs
Teensy animals can be eye-catching, too—if you know where to look. Look for these vibrant
amphibians in the Amazon Rainforest exhibits.

And there you have it, 10 of the most eye-catching animals you'll find at the Aquarium. Did your favorite animal make the list? Go ahead and comment if you have another suggestion! We'd love to hear which animals tickle your fancy. Need a refresher? Plan a visit! Here are some tips for planning your trip during the upcoming holiday school vacation period.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Visiting tips, so you can enjoy more time with Myrtle!

Holiday vacations are right around the corner, which means you'll have time away from school and work to explore the Aquarium top to bottom. In fact, school vacations are a popular time to visit for many people. Here are a couple tips for maximum enjoyment of all your Myrtle moments.

Get to your Myrtle moment sooner. Buy your timed ticket online before you visit and
print at home so you can avoid the ticket lines.

1. Buy your timed tickets online
Buying your timed tickets online and printing them at home means you can skip the line and head right into the Main Lobby! Timed tickets allow you the freedom to plan your day around your visit. Simply choose the day and time you wish to come, print out your tickets and get ready to see some amazing things. Don't worry if you miss your time, though. We'll get you in. Here are other Frequently Asked Question about timed tickets.
Members with valid membership cards can head straight into the Main Lobby! Expedite your entry by having your bar-coded membership card and a photo ID in hand. Unless you need to purchase additional tickets at the Member Services desk, you can proceed directly to an entry scanner in the lobby. Need to renew or buy a membership?  You can do it online and then bring your confirmation email with you during your visit. (Note, there is a delay in receiving some benefits when purchased online.)

2. Avoid peak times
The middle of the day is our busiest time. If you want plenty of face time with Myrtle the green sea turtle or Sierra the sea lion, plan to arrive before 10 a.m. or later in the afternoon after 3:00 p.m. We are open until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays! Be sure to check the website for any last minute changes.

3. Take public transportation
It's the blue thing to do! Taking public transportation is one way you can reduce your carbon footprint, which can work to slow climate change. The Aquarium stop on the MBTA's Blue Line is just a few steps away from our Front Plaza. If you're driving, check out nearby parking options, prices vary. Here's some more information about accessibility at the Aquarium.
Only members get validated parking at the Harbor Garage next to the Aquarium!

4. Get even closer with our Animal Encounter programs
Perch on top of the four-story Giant Ocean Tank to feed the animals. Smooch a seal. Go behind the scenes of your favorite exhibits. The New England Aquarium's immersive Animal Encounter programs take your visit to a whole new level. Whether you have an unquenchable curiosity about marine animals or you want a brand new perspective on popular exhibits, these unique opportunities are designed for the Aquarium superfan. Be sure to bring your curiosity and questions!
Members enjoy special discounts to this program—plus at the Gift Shop and Harbor View Café!

Take a Dip with a Seal is one of the Animal Encounter programs. Book ahead to reserve your spot
by calling Central Reservations at 617-973-5206.

5. See the world in incredible IMAX 
The Simons IMAX Theatre's six-story movie screen is the largest in New England. So you can imagine the splash with Great White Shark 3D, where the whole family can learn about these incredibly well-adapted hunters. Journey to the South Pacific 3D transports you to sunny, tropical reefs. And Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D is delighting audiences with charming, springy lemurs and important lessons in protecting all animals on our blue planet.
Members, don't forget to use your member IMAX e-passes when ordering by phone, online or in person.

Still have questions, like can I leave and return to the Aquarium during my visit? Is photography allowed? What about food options in and around Central Wharf? Poke through our FAQs for answers to these questions and more. We look forward to seeing you here at the New England Aquarium! Don't forget, buying your timed ticket in advance will help you save time when you arrive. Want to become a member? You can purchase a membership online!

After you visit, don't be strangers! When you get home, there are plenty of ways that you can connect with the Aquarium online. Follow our blogs for more about the Giant Ocean TankMarine Mammal TrainersRescue Department and more. Share your pictures with us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Volunteer of the Month: November

Every month our Volunteer office 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.

At the New England Aquarium, we have a lot of popular, charismatic animals that visitors flock to. We also have many incredible and understated animals that often go unnoticed. This month we’re awarding a Visitor Education volunteer who increases the impact of all of the animals in our exhibits by bringing attention to animals that otherwise might be overlooked by visitors!

Congratulations to Christine Van Gemert!

Here’s what her supervisor, Sam Herman had to say:

 Christine has been a volunteer for Visitor Education for 2 years. During that time she’s really made her mark on Fridays. She is a positive force both on and off the floor. I look forward to working with her as well as chatting with her behind the scenes. She knows her areas of growth and actively steps up to work on them. Beyond just the normal job duties, she also adds to floor interpretation. She’s brought in multiple models for use both at the Edge of the Sea touch tank and at gallery carts. She loves to interpret less-popular animals (ask her about parrotfish!) and really engages well with our visitors. Her calm demeanor works well in peaking our visitors’ curiosity and inspiring them to become ocean stewards once they leave the Aquarium. Fridays are lucky to have her!

So next time you’re at the Aquarium on A Friday, seek her out to learn something new!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

193 Sea Turtles Airlifted from Cape Cod to Florida

Cape Cod is in the midst of an unprecedented sea turtle stranding season. This media release pertains to the transport of turtles by the US Coast Guard.  See more pictures of sea turtle rescue season in our Animal Care Facility on the Rescue Blog.

To disperse a seeming tidal wave of stranded sea turtles washing up on Cape Cod, the New England Aquarium arranged for 243 re-warmed Kemp’s Ridley and green sea turtles to be flown  to Florida and North Carolina Tuesday.

A rescued Kemp's ridley sea turtle in treatment at the Aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy, Mass.

Before dawn, 193 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were netted from the pools of the Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, MA, loaded into padded boxes and transported to Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod where a Coast Guard plane transported the 3-10 pound, black shelled turtles to Orlando where they were distributed to seven marine animal rehab facilities in north and central Florida. At mid-morning, 50 Kemp’s and green sea turtles were also pulled and driven to suburban Norwood Airport where a private pilot flew them to North Carolina for distribution to the aquariums there. These turtles will spend at least a couple of months in the various rehab settings before being released back into  the ocean.

The flights temporarily freed up critical tank space at the Aquarium’s hospital for more turtles that have been rescued and have been waiting at the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay. Within two hours of the second flight departing Massachusetts, 50 more sea turtles were transferred to the sea turtle hospital from the Outer Cape nature center. The turtles remaining at the Audubon sanctuary have been under the care of an Aquarium veterinarian on site. After a week of nearly a hundred turtles washing up daily, Tuesday’s mild weather gave rescuers a break as just a few live animals were found.

Here's a quick look at a rescued sea turtle's journey to the Aquarium's Animal Care Center.

Only three weeks into the eight week long sea turtle stranding season, 2014 has already smashed  prior records into oblivion. Since November 3, Mass Audubon had recovered 976 live and dead sea turtles. Just over 600 of those turtles arrived alive. Including today’s flights, 328 turtles have been re-warmed, stabilized and  transported to rehab facilities in Georgia, North and South Carolina,  Florida, Pennsylvania and  Massachusetts. 180 turtles are in residence at the Quincy sea turtle hospital as of Tuesday night and about 100 turtles remain in Wellfleet. The previous record for live turtles treated during a season was 242, and the average over the past decade was about 90! There are 4-5 weeks remaining in the stranding season, and regional sea turtle biologists are in disbelief and amazement at the number of cold-stunned juvenile sea turtles that have been recovered and possibly remain in Cape Cod Bay.

The operational challenges have been immense for both the Aquarium and Mass Audubon, but the outpouring of support and help from trained volunteers to other marine rehab organizations to NOAA has been tremendous.

A rescued sea turtle is prepared for its intake exam at the Aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy, MA

This historic and daunting stranding event has a possible silver lining. If these endangered turtles did not strand, they would die, but also the unprecedented number is a probable indicator that high percentages of the hatchling classes over the last two to five years have survived, and that should aid in the slow recovery of the most endangered sea turtle population in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

45 Lucky and Endangered Sea Turtles Rescued on Cape Cod

The weather recipe for a mass stranding of sea turtles on Cape Cod starts with chilling water temperatures to 50 degrees, add steady northwest winds over a couple of days and then whisk in wind speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour, creating wave heights that can carry the largely inert, endangered marine reptiles ashore. This past weekend, the weather chef got carried away as forty-five live sea turtles were rescued on the beaches of six Cape Cod Bay towns from Dennis to Truro.

A recent arrival to the Aquarium's sea turtle rescue hospital

On Saturday, seventeen critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were rescued by the dedicated staff and volunteers of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and were then transported to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy, MA, for life saving re-warming and treatment of other medical problems. On Sunday, twenty-eight more live and lucky sea turtles were rescued on the Cape. That number was the highest for a single day since 1999.

When the turtles first arrive they are given subcutaneous fluid depending on what their bloodwork shows.

Instinctively, we know that marine animal strandings are an undesirable and life threatening event, particularly for dolphins, pilot whales and large whales. Ironically, on Cape Cod in November, stranding for a sea turtle is its only life saving option. Sea turtles do not intentionally strand, but with body temperatures in the low 50’s and high 40’s, these sea turtles no longer have the ability to migrate south. If they fail to wash up, they will eventually die from hypothermia as water temperatures drop into the 30’s and low 40’s in late November and December.

A picture from Mass Audubon's Facebook page documenting their record day of intake

Strangely enough, the cutting, northwest winds of late autumn that cruelly remind New Englanders of the oncoming winter are potentially life-saving for sea turtles. Monday’s warming weather with the wind switching from the southwest with heavy gusts in excess of 40 miles per hour is dangerous for the remaining, floating sea turtles as it could blow many of them out of Cape Cod Bay into the open ocean. Tuesday and Wednesday are more favorable for the sea turtles as northwest winds are predicted to resume as we cool down again.

Volunteers with Mass Audubon walk blustery Cape Cod beaches like this one looking for stranded sea turtles

Over 20 years, the New England Aquarium and Mass Audubon have rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 1000 endangered and threatened sea turtles.

Head over to the Rescue Blog for more about sea turtle stranding: