Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 1.4 (fwd)

mike williamson (
Sat, 4 Oct 1997 09:45:09 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Fri, 3 Oct 1997 16:22:13 -0400
To: Seabits <>
Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 1.4

New England Aquarium Monthly e-mail Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 4, October, 1997
Copyright, New England Aquarium, 1997.
Greetings. This October, we bring you notes from the field and the bogs.
Our faithful readers may remember we mentioned in the last issue that Fall
is "field season" for our scientists. It's also cranberry season in New
England. In this issue, we bring you Africa, whales and a bitter little

In this issue:
  Watery Words
     Field Notes: Web Guy Goes to Africa
     Field Notes: Right Whale Research
     Cranberry Harvest!
  Out On The Net
  Travel with the Aquarium
  October Calendar
  Aquarium Gets Art-Sea
  Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

=-=-= WATERY WORDS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

"Go out with that crazy Captain Ahab? Never! He flatly refused to take
cranberries aboard. A man could get scurvy, or worse, whaling with the
likes of 'im."
                                 - Herman Melville, Moby Dick

=-=-= STORIES =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
This month's stories:
  1) Field Notes: Web Guy Goes to Africa
  2) Field Notes: Right Whale Research
  3) Cranberry Harvest!

----- FIELD NOTES: WEB GUY GOES TO AFRICA ---------------------------------
As part of the Lake Victoria exhibit development team, I recently had the
opportunity to step back from the cool glow of my monitor to experience the
bright, warm, East African sun. Travelling together were Aquarium President
Jerry Schubel, Dr. (Daktari in Swahili) Mark Chandler, prinicipal
investigator (PI) for the project, Peter Johnson, Director of Design, and
Alexander Goldowsky, Co-PI. Our goals were to work with our African
colleagues, gather as much material as possible for the exhibit, and take
in as much as we could.

The Lake Victoria exhibit will open at the New England Aquarium in early
1999 with a counterpart exhibit in the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The
exhibit is something of a new direction for the Aquarium, since it presents
the aquatic life and issues of the region, and goes beyond them to take an
in-depth look at the history, culture, and people.

With our colleagues from NMK, we traveled to the lakeside city of Kisumu,
the third largest city in Kenya. We flew over the lake and got our first
glimpse of the water hyacinth, which has recently become a huge problem for
the fishing industry. An introduced species, it has adapted so well to the
region that when the wind blows the huge, floating mats of hyacinth into
harbors, they are completely blocked and impassable. This has had a
devastating effect on many small beaches and villages.

Bouncing over dusty red dirt roads in our Landrover, we visited many of the
fishing villages around Kisumu. The Lake Victoria fishery, which has a
global reach, exists entirely through these small villages. In a lifestyle
virtually unchanged for generations, men go out to fish in colorfully
painted, 30-foot, handmade wooden plank canoes. While the technique has
remained the same, the fish have not. Since the introduction of the huge,
meaty nile perch in the 1950s, many other tastier species of fish have
almost disappeared from the lake. The hundreds of species of cichlids, an
amazing evolutionary story by themselves, have been particularly hard hit
with an almost 90 percent extinction rate.

While traveling about, we also met with scientists and local activists.
Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), is playing a dominant
role in Kenya in trying to modernize some of the industry and find
alternate uses and markets for fish products. Eventually, we made our way
to Uganda and spent another week in Jinja with the Fisheries Research
Institute (FIRI) staff. The scientists at FIRI are a dominant contributor
to the scientific research of Lake Victoria. FIRI is responsible for the
fish surveys that first documented the dramatic changes in the lake.
They're at the forefront of understanding how land use has affected the
lake over time. They also have introduced beetles as one of the newest
strategies to control water hyacinth.

>From night fishing for omena (the local equivalent of minnows) to visiting
the source of the Nile to walking through small village homesteads, there
was never a lack of new and exciting experiences. As we each recover from
jet lag and some lingering illnesses, we'll be in a position to lay the
foundations of a rich, exciting and engaging exhibit.

-Bruce Wyman, Webmaster

Droplet: Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the
second largest in the world. It covers an area of about 43,181 square miles
or 69,490 kilometers.

----- FIELD NOTES: RIGHT WHALE RESEARCH -----------------------------------
The New England Aquarium's Right Whale Research Project is wrapping up our
18th field season studying right whales in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. It has
been a busy season so far. We have seen close to a hundred whales in a day
and have been reporting their distribution to the Bay of Fundy Vessel
Tracking System in Saint John, New Brunswick. They in turn relay whale
sightings to all approaching and departing vessels.

We have experienced a number of sad reminders of the threats that these
animals face -- particularly ship strikes and entanglements in fishing
gear. (Refer to the September issue of Seabits for more details.)
Collisions with large ships are the number one killer to the right whale,
the world's most endangered large whale. Aquarium researchers estimate that
no more than three hundred right whales survive today.

One whale, #2027 or Orphan Andy, was trailing over 800 feet of line. We
were able to remove over 400' of line and attach transmitters to the
trailing line. We alerted the disentanglement team at the Center for
Coastal Studies (CCS) in Provincetown, MA. We hoped that the transmitters
would allow us to relocate the whale when the weather was manageable.
However, the tag stopped broadcasting two days later as Andy swam over 120
miles out of the Bay and into the Gulf of Maine.

We have also discovered a five-year-old male with line around his flukes,
and just recently, a two-year-old female with line wrapped around her
flippers and crossing over her back. We were able to attach a radio
transmitter to the latter, and are currently waiting for better weather to
relocate it. This whale appears to be in poor shape--seemingly thin, with
unhealthy skin. Of all the entanglemements this season, this appears to be
the most life-threatening.

There is some brighter news. We have sighted three whales that had last
been sighted entangled in lines, but now are free of them. One of these was
#1971, the whale that the Center for Coastal Studies partially
disentangled off Cape Cod in June. His wounds seem to be healing and the
last bit of line that was coming through his mouth is now gone. We have
also sighted 11 of the 18 mothers with calves that we photographed on the
calving ground off the southeastern U.S. last winter. It is always
heartening to see that the little ones have successfully made the long
migration north with their mothers.

Our season will end by the beginning of October and our researchers will
begin their own migration back to their homes. This year, our team consists
of five to six full time Aquarium staffers, four part time employees, and
volunteers from Hungary, Germany, and Canada.

-Philip Hamilton, scientist, Right Whale Research Project

Droplet: More than half of all right whales bear scars that indicate they
were entangled in fishing gear at some point in their lives.

----- WETLANDS WITH GLOBAL REACH: WHAT'S IN A BOG? ------------------------
In 1677, 98 years before the Revolutionary War, New Englanders sent a
letter to the British Crown with two barrels of corn mush, 10 barrels of
cranberries, and 1,000 codfish. The accompanying letter politely asked King
Charles to reconsider the Trade and Navigation Acts so that New England
could trade its cod in markets outside of Great Britain.

But long before the first European settlers arrived, cranberries were an
important staple in North America. They were an important source of food
and nutrition for Native Americans. Later, cranberries became a vital
source of vitamin C for whalers and a valuable resource to New England
residents. Today, there are more than 14,500 acres of cranberry bogs
nestled among the villages and towns of southeastern Massachusetts.

Cranberries grow wildly from the Carolinas to the maritime provinces of
Canada, but prefer areas that have sandy soil, an abundant fresh water
supply, and a growing season that lasts from April to November. Suited for
these conditions, growers from southeastern Massachusetts have developed a
vitally economic crop from the region's most famous indigenous fruit.

Cranberry bogs rely on a unique growing system that includes wetlands,
uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bodies. The entire
cranberry wetland system provides diverse habitats for many uncommon animal
and plant species. These include the red-bellied turtle, osprey, Plymouth
gentian, slender arrowfoot, and red root.

October is pickin' time in Massachusetts, and a time to see how our natural
wetland system, kept healthy, can contribute to a vast resource with global
reaches. See harvesting first-hand at the Massachusetts Cranberry Harvest
Festival in Carver, Massachusetts on October 11-13. For more information
call (508) 295-5799.

Droplet:  The cranberry industry provides more than 5,500 jobs and more
than $200 million to the Massachusetts economy.

=-=-= 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.

Right whales:

Lake Victoria: <>


=-=-= TRAVEL WITH THE AQUARIUM =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
The New England Aquarium now offers affordable trips to exciting local,
domestic and international destinations. Learn, relax and meet others who
love to explore while supporting conservation, research and education.

Boston Harbor Nature Cruise Day-Trip, December 13, 1997 Embark with
Aquarium naturalists to see winter seabirds, seals and other marine life in
Boston Harbor.

Experience Ireland, May 17-24, 1998 See the sights and sounds of the
Emerald Isle, including a VIP visit and dinner with the Dingle Aquarium in
County Kerry.

Also coming: trips to Alaska, Belize, Costa Rica and others. Call Jeanne
Rankin at (617) 973-6562 for more information. Her e-mail address is

=-=-= OCTOBER CALENDAR =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Saturday, October 4, Tidepool Explorers Class, 11 A.M.
Children ages 6-9 are invited to investigate animals and habitats with
hands-on aquatic activities. $4.00 per child for members and $8.00 per
child for nonmembers. Children must be accompanied by an adult and there is
no fee for the adult participant. Fee does not include Aquarium admission.
Call (617) 973-5232 for registration information.

Sunday, October 5, Breakfast with the Trainers, 9-10:30 A.M.
Enjoy this opportunity to watch a training session with our colony of
California sea lions. And after, meet our staff of trainers over
continental breakfast. $10.00 per person for members and $20.00 per child
for nonmembers. 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.

Sunday, October 5, FREE Harbor Walk, 1-2 P.M.
Families are invited to take a walk along Boston's historic waterfront to
learn about the wildlife, history, and future of Boston's wharves.
Participants meet at the Education Center's entrance, near the World of
Water Gift and Book Shop. Class is FREE and does not include Aquarium
admission. Registration is required.

Saturday, October 11, Hermit Crabs, 9:30-10:30 A.M.
Story and activity hour for preschoolers ages 3-5. $4.00 per child for
members and $8.00 per child for nonmembers. Children must be accompanied by
an adult and there is no fee for the adult participant. Fee does not
include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5232 for registration

Wednesday, October 15, New England Aquarium Dive Club Meets, 6:30 P.M.
Learn about exciting dive sites, plan trips, meet friends who love to dive,
and more. For more information, call (617) 973-5248 or check out

Saturday, October 18, Rocky & Sandy Shores Story Hour, 9:30-10:30 A.M.
Story and activity hour for preschoolers ages 3-5. $4.00 per child for
members and $8.00 per child for nonmembers. Children must be accompanied by
an adult and there is no fee for the adult participant. Fee does not
include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5232 for registration

Friday, October 24, Fish, Fun & Fright Halloween Family Members' Night
Exclusive invitations with ticket information will be mailed to all member
households. For more information, call (617) 973-6555.

Saturday, October 25, Is the Sea Scary? ages 5-8 at 10:30 A.M. / ages 9-12
at 1 P.M.
Why are people so curious about what lurks beneath the ocean's surface?
Learn about octopus, sharks, eels, and other mysterious sea creatures.
$4.00 per child for members and $8.00 per child for nonmembers. Children
must be accompanied by an adult and there is no fee for the adult
participant. Fee does not include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5232
for registration information.

Tuesday, November 4 and 11. How to Set Up Your Own Home Aquarium.
Learn from the experts how to set up and maintain a freshwater or saltwater
aquarium. Class is $17.00 per person. Sponsored by Tetra. Call (617)
973-5232 to register.

=-=-= NEW ARTWORK ADORNS THE WALLS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Thanks to the hard work of the Teen Program Summer Interns, kids from the
South Boston Boys and Girls Club, and artists at the Revolving Museum, the
Aquarium now has four large murals to decorate its walls. The Teen Interns
worked in teams and used their experiences as Aquarium Guides to depict
both real and imagined "Seavisions" in four 8' x 20' ocean "tanks." The
bright colors and fanciful images add cheer to our spaces. Please join us
on Sunday, October 5th at 1 P.M. for our official unveiling, where we'll
recognize these talented artists!

=-=-= BLOOPERS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Oops... an error in the September issue. West Wing Update:  The West Wing,
including the brand new exhibit "Coastal Rhythms," will open January  10th.
However, the new West Wing restaurant and gift shop are slated to open
Thanksgiving weekend.

=-=-= SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE INFORMATION =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
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Content questions and comments? Contact Susan Gedutis at
<>. Technical questions and comments? Contact Bruce Wyman
at <>.

=-=-= THAT'S ALL FOLKS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Signing off for the October issue of Seabits. Hope you've had as much fun
reading it as we've had doing the things you read about. Remember daylight
saving begins on Sunday, October 26.