Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits Volume 1 Issue 1 (fwd)

mike williamson (
Tue, 8 Jul 1997 11:22:20 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 00:14:56 -0400
From: Bruce Wyman <>
To: Multiple recipients of Seabits - Sent by <>
Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits Volume 1 Issue 1

New England Aquarium e-mail Newsletter
Issue 1, Volume 1
Copyright, New England Aquarium, 1997.

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Seabits, the New England Aquarium's
e-mail newsletter.  About once a month, we'll send you news of what's
happening at the Aquarium, what's hot in the aquatic world and what our
scientists are learning in their field projects from Boston Harbor to
Lake Victoria, Africa.

In this Issue:
  Watery Words
    Tracking Stephanie, the Hooded Seal
    Right Whales and Lobstermen: What's the Catch?
    New England Aquarium Come-Sea...
  Out On The Net
  Expansion Update
  July Calendar
  An Invitation to Membership
  Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

=-=-=-= WATERY WORDS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
  "The sea, washing the equator and the poles, offers its  perilous aid,
   and the power and empire that follow it....  'Beware of me,' it says,
   'but if you can hold me, I am the key to all the lands.'"
                                  - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)
                                    U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher

=-=-=-= STORIES =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
This month's good stuff:
  1) The Travels of Stephanie, a big grumpy seal
  2) Lobstermen and Right Whales Fluke it Out
  3) A new exhibit on the fisheries crisis.

--- TRACKING STEPHANIE, THE HOODED SEAL---------------------------------
As hooded seals go, Stephanie was grumpy.  She was huge.  She ate like a
horse.  And, she's still alive and kickin' her flippers, according to
New England Aquarium researcher Greg Early, who's been tracking her
movements via satellite since she was released from a beach near Boston
last September.  Thanks to a satellite transmitter, we're finding the
missing pieces to the puzzle of how and where this sea-going species
spends its winter.

Stephanie was originally found on a Nahant, MA beach on February 20,
1996, about thirty miles north of Boston.  She was sickly then, and
about 150 pounds underweight.  Staff at the New England Aquarium rescued
her and brought her to the Animal Care Center, the Aquarium's own
aquatic wildlife hospital.  After nine months, she had fully recovered.
She was released back into the ocean, equipped with a satellite
transmitter.  Satellite data tells us she's traveled thousands of miles
from Boston to the Arctic Circle, stopping off to lounge on ice chunks
off Newfoundland and Greenland.  We think we've got her last
transmission, as of June 10.  The tag, firmly glued to her fur, probably
fell off in her annual molt, when hooded seals shed and regrow all of
their hair.

What have we learned?  Well, according to Greg Early, who's been working
with stranded animals at the New England Aquarium since 1974, "Until
about five years ago we knew almost nothing about hooded seals, other
than that they could be made into fur coats.  Scientists have been able
to study the movements of hooded seals recently, but only between the
time they breed and moult.  This left about nine months out of the year
that we knew nothing about.  For the first time ever, Stephanie has just
let us see what she does during those lost months."

"We also found out that a rehabilitated seal will return to her home
range if she can.  We now know she spends almost no time on land or ice
and most of her time deep under water.  We also have some good clues to
answering the question of why hooded seals have begun to appear along
this coast for the past ten years."

Greg says she's travelled more than 14,000 miles in the nine months she
was tracked, "going up and down the Davis Strait like some people do
laps in the YMCA pool."

Droplet:  Weighing in at up to 900 pounds, hooded seals are the largest
seals on the East Coast.

The debate is raging on the docks, in the research labs and government
offices from Maine to Cape Cod.  Which needs the most protection:  the
lobsterman or the right whale, the world's most endangered large whale?
If a pending federal whale protection plan comes through on July 15 as
it was originally proposed, the lobsterman's tough life is going to get
a lot tougher.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed a
plan that intends to prevent right whales and other large whales from
becoming entangled in fishing lines and nets.  The ruling would require
lobstermen to use lighter lines that would enable right whales to become
free, should they become entangled.  The problem is, the lighter gear
might also leave miles and miles of ropes and gear floating free after
the next big storm. And, right whale experts say, fishing gear
entanglement is not the biggest problem.

According to Scott Kraus, associate director for research at the New
England Aquarium, the rules, while well-intentioned, not only have not
been thoroughly field-tested, they do not get at the greatest cause of
right whale deaths:  collisions with large ships.  Kraus and his team of
researchers at the Aquarium report that, since 1970, only two of a total
of 40 documented right whale deaths have been a result of fishing gear
entanglement.  In contrast, in the same period, collisions with ships
have caused 14 deaths.  However, some 60% of right whales bear scars
that indicate that they have been entangled in fishing gear at some
point in their lives.

How to save the remaining 300 or so right whales left in the world,
then? "Although some alteration of fishing gear may be necessary and
helpful, the best approach is to deal with the greatest threats most
aggressively first: ship collisions," says Kraus.

In April 1997, the New England Aquarium's right whale research team
hosted a highly successful workshop that convened shipping industry
representatives, U.S. and Canadian government agencies and researchers
to discuss ways to prevent ship collisions. With Canadian collaborators,
work on reducing ship collisions in Canadian waters has been progressing
rapidly.  In the U.S., NEAq has been instrumental in providing the
scientific data that led to national designation of three critical right
whale habitats.  In at least two of these habitats, NEAq conducts early
warning aerial surveys to encourage ships to steer clear of whales.  In
addition, NEAq researchers have been working with fishermen to reduce
the danger of fishery entanglements to right whales.

Droplet:  Right whales are so named because, in whaling days, they were
the "right" whale to hunt.  They swam slowly at the surface, floated
when dead and their blubber provided up to 70 barrels of oil that could
be used for lamplight or lubricating oil.

--- NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM COME-SEA... -----------------------------------
One hundred miles off the New England coast, there's an underwater
Serengeti called Georges Bank.  It's a 12,000-square-mile plateau that
supports abundant sea life of all sizes, from schools of fish to herds
of dolphins and whales.  Fishermen have captured its bounty for hundreds
of years, bringing cod, haddock, and other fishes to people around the
world. By the late 1980s, government fisheries regulators were beginning
to say that key species of fish were in trouble.  In the 1990s, strict
limits on fishing touched off an economic crisis for people who had made
their livings on Georges Bank for generations.  The fisheries shutdown
has raised an important question:  how can we continue to use resources
responsibly without putting an entire industry to pasture?

On Wednesday, July 16, 1997, the New England Aquarium tackles the
fisheries crisis head-on when it opens a brand new exhibit, Georges
Bank: The Fight For Survival. The exhibit uses this historic fishing
ground as a case study for depleted fisheries worldwide.  The first of
many issue-oriented exhibits in the Education Center, the exhibit paints
a balanced picture of Georges Bank, from the points of view of
conservationists and regulators, to the scientists who've informed their
decisions and the fishermen who've been affected by them.

Droplet:  The first recorded fishing expedition to Georges Bank set sail
from Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1747.

=-=-=-= OUT ON THE NET =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
For additional information, you might want to check out the following
websites. Some of these links represent partners in aquatic conservation
and animal husbandry; others are simply resources we think may help you
enrich your perspective on our watery world.  By listing these websites,
the New England Aquarium is not automatically endorsing or verifying the
accuracy of their content unless explicitly stated.

Stephanie and Hooded Seals:

Right Whales:

Georges Bank:

=-=-=-= EXPANSION UPDATE =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
If you've been anywhere near the Aquarium since September 12, 1997, the
construction barriers and cranes that grace our former plaza have no
doubt clued you in:  we're expanding.   The $100 million expansion is
occuring in phases between now and 2002.  Right now, we're working on
the first phase - a new West Wing and its inaugural exhibit, Coastal
Rhythms.  The West Wing grand opening will occur in January of 1998.
We'll start building a large format theater and auditorium shortly
thereafter.  Then, we'll get to work on the grand finale, the East Wing,
which will triple the size of the Aquarium. Feature exhibits include a
giant seal and sea lion exhibit with panoramic windows onto Boston
Harbor, and a million-gallon, deep-ocean exhibit.

Our website contains more information on the expansion, and the New
England Aquarium's goals in research, conservation and education.

More on the West Wing in coming issues!

=-=-=-= JULY CALENDAR =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
July - August: "Science at Sea" Harbor Cruise. Discover the mysterious
underwater world of Boston Harbor on a guided harbor cruise designed
especially for the curious mind.  Budding scientists can pull in lobster
traps, tow for plankton and use on-board research equipment to analyze
the health of the harbor.  Call (617) 973-5207 for more information.

Behind-The-Scenes Tours, Sunday, July 13, offered at 2 P.M. and 3 P.M.
Come backstage and learn how our exhibits are made and the animals are
cared for. $4.00 per person for members and $14.00 per child for
non-members.  Recommended for ages 6 and older.  Children under 18 must
be accompanied by an adult.  Fee includes Aquarium admission.  Call
(617) 973-5232 for registration information.

"Georges Bank: The Fight for Survival" Opens Wednesday, July 16. In this
new exhibit, learn all about Georges Bank, an historic fishing ground
off the coast of New England roughly the size of Vermont that has fallen
victim to over-fishing.  Explore the rich maritime heritage of
Massachusetts and follow the route of seafood from the ocean to your
table. Also learn about fisheries management and alternative options for
saving this important habitat.  Admission fee is $1.00 for adults age 12
and older.  Children under 12 are free.

Summer Splash Family Members' Night, Friday, July 25 Exclusive
invitations with ticket information will be mailed to all member
households.  For more information, call (617) 973-6555.

=-=-=-= AN INVITATION TO MEMBERSHIP =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Consider becoming a member of the New England Aquarium.  As a member,
you'll enjoy a full year of free admission, special events, discounts,
and programs.  You'll also help support important work, such as our
field research on endangered habitats worldwide and our New
England-based marine animal rescue and rehabilitation program.  Members
receive a subscription to Aqualog, the New England Aquarium's member
magazine, discounts on educational programs, whale watches, the gift
shop, parking, function rental, and special invitations to exclusive
members-only events.

Call (617) 973-6555 or send e-mail to <>

=-=-=-= SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE INFORMATION =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
While our mailserver is undergoing renovations, we are unable to
automate the subscription process. If you want to change your
subscription status, please contact Bruce Wyman at <>
with the subject <Seabits Subscription>.

Content questions and comments? Contact Susan Gedutis at
<>. Technical questions and comments? Contact Bruce
Wyman at <>.

=-=-=-= THAT'S ALL FOLKS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
And that's the news for now from the New England Aquarium.  Stay tuned
for next month's issue.  In the meantime, let me know what you're
interested in... more information on Aquarium exhibits?  conservation
projects? educational offerings?  You name it. Mail us at