Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 1.5 (fwd)

mike williamson (
Thu, 30 Oct 1997 08:42:45 -0500 (EST)

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Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 16:24:44 -0500
To: Seabits <>
Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 1.5

New England Aquarium Monthly e-mail Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 5, November, 1997
Copyright, New England Aquarium, 1997.
Greetings from the waterfront. This month, there's news from Down Under,
including an intriguing story of a giant squid's version of romance, and a
portrait of a rather flamboyant critter you may never have heard tell of.
There's also food for thought in a teaser on fishermen and their
contributions to science. Finally, don't miss the previews of two upcoming
events at the Aquarium, Planet of the Penguins and a Boston Harbor Nature

In this issue:
   Watery Words
      Sex and the Single Squid
      Dragons Lurk on Central Wharf
      Fishermen Help Net Scientific Knowledge
   Out On The Net
   Cast of Coastal Rhythms Primps Backstage
   For Nature and Bird Lovers
   November Calendar
   Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

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

   "It doesn't take a marine biologist to know that tropical waters
    aren't supposed to look like bean soup, or smell like rotted mulch."

                                        - Carl Hiaasen, author

=-=-= STORIES =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
This month's stories:
 1) Sex and the Single Squid
 2) Dragons Lurk on Central Wharf
 3) Fishermen Help Net Scientific Knowledge

----- SEX AND THE SINGLE SQUID  ------------------------------------------
Deep sea tattoos pack more than ink. According to the October 16, 1997
issue of "Nature," Australian scientist Mark D. Norman has made a discovery
that may give the low-down on down-under deep sea sex of the mysterious
giant squid. While humans may choose to tatoo our loved one's name on our
biceps, giant squid seem to take a more direct approach. Norman found sperm
packages embedded in the arms of a female giant squid, recently captured
live during a commercial fishing trawl. It appears that male giant squids
may inject sperm directly into the arms of their intended mate.

Scientists can only make educated guesses at how females access the sperm
to fertilize the eggs. It is possible that they may use their suckers or
beak to break open the skin covering the stored sperm. The sperm may
migrate to the eggs, stored in the ovaries, on hormonal or chemical cues.
Or, the female's skin may degrade on spawning, releasing the embedded sperm

The captured female giant squid was not quite at breeding size, suggesting
that she may be saving the sperm for later, when her ovaries would be fully
developed. If so, this would corroborate what scientists in search of the
giant squid have found: a good squid is hard to find.

Giant squid, believed to grow to lengths of up to 80 feet, have never been
seen alive in the wild, though they have been found dead, either washed
ashore or in commercial fishing nets. Last February, Greg Stone of the New
England Aquarium joined National Geographic Society explorer Emory Kristoff
on a six-week, deep sea expedition to obtain rare images of the elusive
creatures off the coast of New Zealand. While Greg and his colleagues had
little luck, we can only hope that pickings aren't so slim for the single

Droplet: The giant squid lives in the deep sea in almost complete darkness.
A male squid found in Norway in the 1950s was found to have sperm in its
arm. This may have been a case of mistaken identity -- a stab in the dark
by another male -- or this male may have literally shot himself in the

----- DRAGONS LURK ON CENTRAL WHARF ---------------------------------------
Dragons. They're big mythical lizards with wings, claws, attitude, and
breath that's hot enough to melt steel. But the leafy sea dragons prowling
around behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium on Boston's Central
Wharf are real. Waiting to go on display in January, 1998 in the new
Coastal Rhythms: Creatures on the Edge exhibit, they are among the most
stunningly strange and beautiful animals we've ever displayed.

Wild sea dragons live along Australia's southern coast. Singularly elegant
associations of skin and bones, these fish are members of the seahorse and
pipefish family. Looking a bit like a seahorse dressed for a gala ball,
they very closely resemble the reddish-orange algae in the coastal seaweed
jungle they frequent. This natural camouflage helps them to avoid predators
while stalking small fishes, shrimp and, sea worms. "Leafies" grow to a
length of about 18 inches (.5 m) and inhabit coastal waters to depths of 60
feet (18 m) or more.

Like seahorses, male sea dragons give birth. After an underwater lambada of
sorts, the female deposits some 200 eggs on a spongy "brood" patch under
the male's tail. Unlike male seahorses which keep their eggs in a
protective pouch, sea dragon fathers keep their eggs exposed. If all goes
well, the eggs hatch into baby sea dragons in about about four to six weeks.

Because the leafy sea dragon is so unusual, Australian fisheries officials
legally protect this species. Those on exhibit here are on loan from
another aquarium that collected them under the strict Australian permitting
process. The sea dragons will be on display for one year, beginning in
January, 1998. Treat yourself to a glimpse of evolution at its most baroque.

Droplet: Leafy seadragons are slow swimmers, and often wash ashore during
heavy storms.

----- FISHERMEN HELP NET SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE -----------------------------
Dolphin, porpoise, and whales become entangled and drown in fishing gear.
Our favorite food fishes like cod, haddock, and flounder are being fished
more quickly than they can be replaced. Fishermen very often get called the
culprit. In the past five years, pressure on fishermen to think responsibly
has been increasing from many directions, "from those who want to keep you
in business to those who want to put you out of business," says Mick
Kronman of National Fishermen, a fishing industry trade newspaper. Thinking
responsibly has become a matter of economic survival.

It is often environmental extremists who first bring issues to the public
eye, choosing dramatic and sometimes exaggerated facts to illuminate their
point. It is then the responsibility of regulators to act on the issues,
but in an ideal situation, it's the scientists who ultimately provide the
facts to inform regulatory decisions. What makes the problem particularly
difficult is that with marine animals, it's a big ocean. Facts can be hard
to find, and every bit of help counts. Scientists are finding it helpful to
rely on fishermen to help collect facts.

Molly Lutcavage, a researcher at the New England Aquarium, conducts her
population biology studies of bluefin tuna in New England waters using
fish-tagging techniques developed by commercial fishermen. And, for the
last four years, much of her population counts have been based on
photographs taken by commercial "spotter pilots," who work with tuna
fishing boats to find schools of tuna. These pilots volunteer their time to
help conduct aerial surveys. Scott Kraus, principal scientist at the
Aquarium, has worked closely with fishermen to test the use of acoustic
alarms called "pingers" to scare away harbor porpoise from entanglement in
fishing nets. Marianne Farrington, another Aquarium researcher, has worked
with fishermen to determine whether bycatch -- or, nontarget fish --
survive after being caught and thrown back.

Because of their professional experience, fishermen can be requisite
partners in finding solutions to some of the most pressing marine
environmental issues.

Droplet:  According to "National Fisherman," Bill Amaru, a fisherman from
Chatham, Massachusetts, has spearheaded the creation of a Code of Conduct
for New England fishermen, based on the United Nations Code for Responsible

=-=-= 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.


Leafy Seadragons:

Fishermen as stewards:

=-=-= CAST OF COASTAL RHYTHMS PRIMPS BACKSTAGE =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Shaking with pre-exhibit jitters, the cast of the coming "Coastal Rhythms:
Creatures on the Edge" wait eagerly backstage at the Aquarium for the gala
celebrating the opning of the Aquarium's brand new West Wing. The Coastal
Rhythms exhibit, which stars animals and habitats from around the globe,
will premiere in a brand new, two-level exhibit on January 10, 1998. From
our priviliged backstage view, here's what we see. A line of graceful
garden eels wait in the dressing room for their cue, burrowing in
garden-like groups on the sandy ocean floor. Nearby are ornate weedy and
leafy seadragons, looking like seahorses dressed as glamorous Las Vegas
showgirls. Exotic jellies from Palau catch some rays in the tanning booths,
allegedly to feed their inner algae gardens, though word on the street says
they've got a George Hamilton complex. Saltwater crocodiles check their
watches and their smiles. Agents pace feverishly backstage, waiting for
arriving flights of the puffins and shorebirds. Fiddler crabs tune in the
orchestra pit, while large and lanky Japanese spider crabs warm up and
stretch their slender gams. Lobster larvae swim peacefully in the nursery,
cared for by our own dedicated researchers. The scene here is positively
electric. Stay tuned for opening day, January 10!

=-=-= FOR NATURE AND BIRD LOVERS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Winter's the perfect time to get a good look at Boston Harbor wildlife, so
let the New England Aquarium be your guide during our December 13, 1997
Nature Cruise. During the five-hour excursion aboard our heated Discovery
II, naturalists recount the rich natural and cultural history of the
harbor. We will look for a variety of winter seabirds, as well as harbor
seals, harbor porpoise, and other marine animals. Nature cruise is $20 for
adults and $15 for children, ages 3-15. Advanced registration is required.
We will depart at 10:00 AM. Check-in is at 9:30 AM. To register, or for
more information, call Jeanne Rankin at (617) 973-6562 or send e-mail to
<> before December 5, 1997 to reserve your space.

=-=-= NOVEMBER CALENDAR =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Setting up a Saltwater Aquarium, Sunday, November 1, 10 A.M.-12:30 P.M.
Learn from the experts about maintaining your own saltwater habitat at
home, from growing plants to buying animals. Recommended for ages 12 and
older. $12.00 per person for members and $17.00 per person for nonmembers.
Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Fee does not include
Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5232 for registration information.

Fish Explorers, Saturday, November 8, 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

Family Sleep-Over, Friday-Saturday, November 14-15, 7 P.M.-10 A.M.
Children ages 6 and older spend an evening full of fishy activities,
midnight snacks, T-shirt art, and marine exploration. Participants must
bring sleeping bags or blankets and pillows. Breakfast is included. $30.00
per person for members, $35.00 per person for nonmembers. Children must be
accompanied by an adult. Call (617) 973-5232 for registration information.

Penguins rule the planet on December 6-7, 1997.
Join us at the New England Aquarium for Planet of the Penguins, a
weekend-long celebration of all that is positively penguin. This includes
live animal "interviews," the Rockhopper Hop and a host of interactive
children's activities, face painting, arts, and crafts, and lots of
interaction with penguin experts. Waddlers of the world, unite!

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

=-=-= THAT'S ALL FOLKS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Thanks for checking in on this month's happenings. Next month, as we
prepare our for Planet of the Penguins event, we bring you plenty of
positively pleasant penguin prose. Pye-pye for now.

Bruce Wyman | <> |             Webmaster, New England Aquarium
"for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)                |
 it's always ourselves we find in the sea" -e.e. cummings |