Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 2.2 (fwd)

mike williamson (
Fri, 30 Jan 1998 20:22:08 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 14:20:16 -0500
To: Seabits <>
Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 2.2

New England Aquarium Monthly e-mail Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 2, February, 1998
Copyright, New England Aquarium, 1998.
Aaaaah... the long, grey month is past now. Time for the short, cold one.
On Central Wharf, grey was the last thing on our mind, though, as we
celebrated the opening of the new West Wing in January. More than 8,500
friends and members of the Aquarium joined us for four events to celebrate
the opening of this wing and the Coastal Rhythms exhibit. And now, our
educators are gearing up for a host of special school vacation activities
for families. You'll find them in the calendar below.

In this issue:
    Watery Words
       The Truth About Sharks
       A Truth or Two About Lobsters
       Band of Ruffian Seals Invades Boston Harbor
    Out On The Net
    Dolphin Stranding
    Dr. James McCarthy, Walter Cronkite, Senator Kerry honored by Aquarium.
    Admission Price Change
    Last Call: Ireland
    Pssst...Wanna Buy a Submarine?
    February Calendar (Lowell Lecture Series Announced)
    Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information
    Contact Us

=-=-= WATERY WORDS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911: CRAYFISH, n. A
small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but less indigestible.
In this small fish I take it that human wisdom is admirably figured and
symbolized; for whereas the crayfish doth move only backward, and can have
only retrospection, seeing naught but the perils already passed, so the
wisdom of man doth not enable him to avoid the follies that beset his
course, but only to apprehend their nature afterward.

                                              --Sir James Merivale

=-=-= STORIES =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
This month's stories:
  1) The Truth About Sharks
  2) A Truth or Two About Lobsters
  3) Band of Ruffian Seals Invades Boston Harbor

------ THE TRUTH ABOUT GREAT WHITE SHARKS ---------------------------------
A few weeks ago, some macabre news arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of
Reuters and a few "forward" thinking friends. The subject line read:
SWIMMERS BEAT SHARK TO DEATH. In Cape Town, South Africa, bathers attacked
and killed a great white shark floundering off a South African beach over
the New Year holiday, conservation officials reported.  Researchers believe
the shark, measuring 14 feet, had been struggling in the shallows off a
Cape Town beach because it was weakened by disease or injury.  Bathers
apparently killed it in the water, pulled it up onto the beach, then
butchered it so badly that there was not enough left for necropsy. It
brings to the forefront our own fear and misunderstanding of the role of
sharks in the ecosystem.

The great white, the species responsible for most shark attacks on humans,
is protected in South African waters because its numbers are dwindling. Nan
Rice, a leading South African marine conservationist who initiated legal
protection for the great white, told Reuters she was shocked by the killing
of the shark. "We need them just as much as we need whales and dolphins,"
she said.  "They do so much good in the marine environment by keeping the
numbers of seals in check. You need your predators."

Shark experts believe that great white attacks on humans are just a case of
mistaken identity.  From below, surfboards look remarkably like the belly
of a seal or sea lion.  Statistics show that white sharks have been
implicated in some 50 to 100 attacks per year worldwide, most of which are
nonfatal.  And, usually white sharks release humans after the first bite,
and don't come back to finish the job.

The reality is, when humans spend time on the beach and in the water,
they're invading the natural habitat of these animals. Off California,
where most great white attacks occur, humans do more damage to white sharks
than the other way around. Ten to twenty sharks are killed each year
accidentally in nets meant for other fish, while only one human is killed
by a great white shark about every ten years.

"Due to its rarity, it has been difficult for scientists to ascertain the
species' population size worldwide," says Maggie Mooney-Seus, who manages
the New England Aquarium's conservation department. "It is known, however,
that white sharks usually travel alone. Around the Farallon Islands, off
Northern California, white sharks gather to feed on sea lion populations,
but even in this prey-rich environment, the population of white sharks only
numbers about 50 animals. Since our understanding of this species'
population size is limited, but we do know that it is rare, we have to
continue to take appropriate measures to ensure its continued survival
along with the countless numbers of other sharks species which appear to be
experiencing populations declines throughout the world."

Great white shark populations are considered Severely Reduced by the Ocean
Wildlife Campaign. They are considered a prize game fish for recreational
fishermen, but they as of just a few years ago, they're legally protected
in three of their main habitats: United States, Australia and South Africa.
It's too early to tell what effect U.S. and Australian laws are having. And
some believe that enforcement is still inadequate in South Africa, where
some South African researchers say the continued lobbying of sport fishing
promoters have minimized the effectiveness of South African policies.

Droplet: Humans have roamed the Earth for about 200,000 years; sharks have
been around for more than 400 million years. Mammals evolved about 200
million years ago; dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago.

---- THE TRUTH ABOUT LOBSTERS ---------------------------------------------
Jason Goldstein, of the New England Aquarium Edgerton Research Lab,
probably loves lobsters more than anyone you know. At least it appears that
way, since he raises thousands and thousands of them each year from
babbling, rattle-clutching larvae to fully developed adults who want their
own driver's licences and charge cards. But if you look beyond the "Live
Lobster Terrorizes Bank Teller" postcard on his door, you'll see that
lobsters are serious business to Jason.

When I first walked into the lobster room, Jason directed me to a 2000 ml
glass beaker. "These guys hatched yesterday," he said. In a beaker amid a
cloud of pink brine shrimp swirled hundreds of tiny lobsters. Those who had
feasted heartily sported brine-filled pink bellies, visible through their
translucent shells. If they were in the wild at this age, they'd be
floating free near the surface of the ocean, grabbing food from the water,
and trying not to be lunch to nearly everything that swims, pulses or flies

On any day at the Aquarium, Jason can be found in the chilled, two-room
Lobster Rearing Facility high up on the Aquarium's fifth floor. There,
backstage, he feeds and manages the needs of more than 550 juvenile
lobsters. The walls of these 12x12 rooms are lined with fiberglass trays on
shelves, each tray containing fifty-odd small plastic containers. Inside
each container is a tiny lobster that could be as small as a pinhead or as
large as a jumbo shrimp. There are mottled brown lobsters, bright blue
lobsters, and even the extremely rare white lobster. Along the bottom
shelves sit six ten-gallon fiberglass drums full of slowly swirling water,
in which hundreds of larval lobsters, each the size of a pencil tip, grow.
They're awaiting the move to the Big Shelves.

In the wild, young lobsters float freely at the surface for about the first
month of their life.  By this time, they've shed and regrown their hard
exoskeletons several times. Then, they slowly swim to the bottom, where
they begin their benthic, or bottom-dwelling, adventure. Meanwhile back at
the lab, Jason recreates this atmosphere for the hand-reared cousins,
moving each juvenile lobster to its own little compartment. Each
compartment is furnished lavishly with bits of gravel and shell fragments.
There, the lobsters pump up their claw muscles by pushing things around and
generally pretending they are adults, in behaviors known as burrowing and
bulldozing. All the while, fresh, cold sea water continually flows through
their homes.

Female lobsters can carry up to 20,000 eggs and only about one tenth of one
percent hatch. Of those that hatch, about one in 1000 larval lobsters make
it to adulthood. In the lobster lab, nearly all the eggs hatch, and about
20-30 percent make it to adulthood.

The facility provides a year-round supply of healthy lobster embryos,
larvae, juveniles and young adults to a variety of institutions for
research and display. Some are sent to aquariums, including the one at
Epcot Center in Florida. Others are sent to research institutions.
Scientists at Harvard University Medical School, for example, research
lobster neurobiology in an effort to understand the genetic roots of human
aggression. Other young lobsters sent to the Lobster Institute in Maine,
where scientists are trying to understand lobster nutritional needs.

To see growing lobsters for yourself, visit the New England Aquarium's
brand new Coastal Rhythms: Creatures on the Edge exhibit. Jason's got his
little crustaceans on display downstairs in the exhibit. You'll see
lobsters that are anywhere from two days to two years old. And there's a
magnifying glass with which you can get a better gander at these clawed
crawling critters.

Droplet: At the end a lobster's first year, it will be just over an inch
long. By the end of two years, it will have grown to about two inches
long--still smaller than a jumbo shrimp.

------ SEAL ARMADA INVADES BOSTON -----------------------------------------
(January 23) This is a true story. Terry called me this morning from the
Aquarium information booth to let the Public Relations department know that
he'd received a report of a group of 150 seals travelling into the harbor.
Terry was unable to confirm how the caller knew where the seals were
headed, but we think the "Boston or Bust" sign carried by the last seal in
the group tipped him off. Seals are commonly seen in Boston Harbor, and
there is a colony that lives on one of the outer harbor islands. But since
seals don't travel in groups, it is possible that this group is actually a
small band of badly-disguised terrorists, who, lacking the innate knowledge
of North Atlantic mammals, have misjudged sorely on their plan of attack.
Or, these seals may have mercenaries for the last ditch effort of the
Redcoats. (It is said that our former motherland has never gotten over the
loss of the profitable American colonies.) In the meantime, we have secured
our own harbor seals, in case this band of ruffian mammals is on a secret
reconnaissance mission.

But seriously... a hundred or so harbor seals winter each year in Boston's
inner harbor. At least half of them haul out regularly -- rest, that is --
on rocks in Broad Sound, which runs between Revere Beach and Nahant. They
can generally be seen from the Nahant side, across Lynn Harbor towards
Revere Beach, near the shallows marked by a green light marker. Most of the
others are around the outer harbor islands, and on rocks along the North
Shore. Oh, by the way, it turns out that the "seals" were ducks.

Droplet: Seals are often seen in Boston's inner harbor feeding on fish
stunned by the change of salinity at the mouth of the Charles River (near
the Charlestown bridge). One year a large ring seal spent nearly the
entire winter feeding regularly at this spot.

=-=-= 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.




=-=- DOLPHINS ON CAPE COD =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Even as I write, the New England Aquarium/Fleet Bank Marine Animal Rescue
Team is on its way to Wellfleet, MA, where numerous white-sided dolphins
have washed ashore over the last two days.   More than 30 dolphins have
washed ashore on various beaches in and near Wellfleet, a small town on the
outer arm of Cape Cod.

On Thursday morning, January 29, four white-sided dolphins stranded on a
beach in Wellfleet Harbor.  They were fitted with identifying tags and
pushed back out to sea.  In the meantime, the New England Aquarium/Fleet
Bank Marine Animal Rescue Team was dispatched, and they departed Boston for
the site.   Throughout the morning, more dolphin sightings were reported.
None had stranded or beached; they were all in the water, albeit close to
shore.  As the tide was unusually high, Aquarium staff had to wait until
the tide receded before attempting to approach the animals to assess their

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, a total of 28 dolphins had come ashore.  Several
of these died, and others were in such bad health, they had to be
euthanized.  A number of them were pushed off shore, and the status of many
of the remaining is unsure.

Today, Aquarium staff will tend to live animal strandings, and ake tissue
and blood samples from animals that have died, to determine why these
animals stranded.  It is likely that they were driven ashore by unusually
high tides caused by a full moon and offshore storms.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins range in size from 6 to 9 feet.  They are
found between southern Greenland and northern Virginia.  They are known to
travel in pods or herd of up to 1000 individuals.  This species is not
endangered or threatened.  White-sided dolphins usually strand in pairs but
are also known to strand in groups of up to 100 animals.  Historically,
these highly social, deep-water dwellers do not survive strandings.

Fleet Bank is the proud sponsor of the New England Aquarium/Fleet Bank
Marine Animal Rescue Team.

We're proud to announce the 1997 recipients of the prestigious David B.
Stone Medal for distinguished service to the environment and the community.
At a January 9, 1998 ceremony, the New England Aquarium honored journalist
and author Walter Cronkite and scientist Dr. James Mc Carthy of Harvard
University. Although unable to attend the ceremony, Senator John Forbes
Kerry was also honored.

The David B. Stone award was founded in 1970 and named in honor of the
Aquarium's chairman and principal founder. Among its 16 recipients have
been Jacques Yves Cousteau (1973), Sir David Attenborough (1986), Dr.
Sylvia Earle (1989) and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry's.

=-=-= ADMISSION PRICE CHANGE =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
As of February 14, admission prices at the New England Aquarium are as
follows: General, $11.00; Junior (ages 3-11), $5.50; Senior Citizens
$10.00. As always, members and children younger than three are admitted
free. Find out how you can become a member and get a year's free admission
by calling (617) 973-6555.

=-=-= LAST CALL: IRELAND =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Don't just dream about it, go to Ireland this spring. The New England
Aquarium's travel program offers a unique tour of the breathtaking Emerald
Isle from May 17-24, 1998. See Bunratty Castle, Tralee, Killarney, the Ring
of Kerry, the Blarney Castle, the Burren and more. Also, get a special tour
and VIP reception at the Dingle Aquarium. Travel is by private motor coach
and the tour is accompanied by a professional tour director. Trip costs
$1,850 per person, including airfare from Boston, breakfast and dinner
daily, and accommodation. Tour deposit is due by February 28, 1997.

=-=-= PSSSST... WANNA BUY A SUBMARINE? =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
One of our members has an overseas client with four 50-passenger submarines
to sell. Each submarine is capable of diving to a depth of 400 feet. He's
looking for $1M each. If you know of anyone who might be in the market for
such a submarine, or think it's time to replace your current undersea
exploration vehicle, send email to me at <>. Yellow
spray-paint not included.

=-=-= FEBRUARY CALENDAR =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Saturday, February 7, 9:30 A.M. Our Watery World Preschool Explorers Class:
This program combines a story about the sea and the creatures living there
with an art project, a related activity or a close look at a live animal.
Recommended for ages 3-5. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $4.00
per child for members; $8.00 plus admission fee per child for nonmembers.
Additional admission fees required for nonmember adults. Call (617)
973-5206 to register.

Tuesday, February 17, 9:15 A.M. Fierce Fishes Tour: Piranhas and eels and
sharks, oh my! There are many ferocious fish living at the New England
Aquarium. Or are there? Tour the galleries and get the real scoop.
Recommended for ages 6 and older. $4.00 per person for members. $8.00 per
person plus admission fee for nonmembers. Children must be accompanied by
an adult. Call (617) 973-5206 to register.

Wednesday, February 18, 9:15 A.M. Giant Ocean Tank Walk & Talk: Dip into
the lives of the inhabitants of the Aquarium centerpiece, the Giant Ocean
Tank. Walk down the helix ramp, from the surface to the depths. See how the
habitat and representative species change as you delve deeper in the
Caribbean coral reef. Recommended for ages 6 and older. $4.00 per person
for members. $8.00 per person plus admission fee for nonmembers. Children
must be accompanied by an adult. Call (617) 973-5206 to register.

Thursday, February 19, 9:15 A.M. The Invisible Aquarium Tour: A few of the
animals in the Aquarium are difficult to see or find. It may be that you
don't even know they're there! Camouflage and hiding help animals escape
predators. Find out the secret hiding places of a few "invisible"
creatures. Recommended for ages 6 and older. $4.00 per person for members.
$8.00 per person plus admission fee for nonmembers. Children must be
accompanied by an adult. Call (617) 973-5206 to register.

Saturday, February 28, 9:30 A.M. Hermit Crabs and Their Homes Preschool
Explorers Class: This program combines a story about the sea and the
creatures living there with an art project, a related activity or a close
look at a live animal. Recommended for ages 3-5. Children must be
accompanied by an adult. $4.00 per child for members; $8.00 plus admission
fee per child for nonmembers. Additional admission fees required for
nonmember adults. Call (617) 973-5206 to register.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR. New England Aquarium's 1998 Spring Lowell Lecture
Series, "Coastal Rhythms: The Earth's Coasts Imperiled" begins on March 26.
Our coasts are the most economically, socially and ecologically important
environment on the planet. But with exploding population, they are under
siege. The spring 1998 Lowell Lecture series is devoted to this theme and
the Coastal Rhythms: Creatures on the Edge exhibit. Lectures are Wednesday
or Thursday evenings at 7:45 in the Aquarium's conference center, which is
part of the Education Center at the foot of the Boston Harbor garage. Each
presentation is free to the general public, thanks to the support of the
Lowell Institute. Seating is limited and available on a first-come,
first-served basis. For more information, send a FAX to Lowell Lectures at
617-367-6615, or an e-mail to <>.

=-=-= SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE INFORMATION =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
To subscribe to Seabits, either visit <>
OR send e-mail to <>. In the body of your email message
write "subscribe seabits" (without the quotes).

To unsubscribe to Seabits, send email to <>. In the body
of your email message write "unsubscribe seabits" (without the quotes).

=-=-= CONTACT US =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Content questions and comments? Contact Susan Gedutis at

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

=-=-= THAT'S ALL FOLKS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
So you see, there's never a dull moment in the world of water.  Keep in
touch and let us know what you think. How are we doing? Send notes, bad
jokes, and weird little news bits to me, Susan Gedutis, at