Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 09:50:39 -0400 From: email@example.com To: Seabits <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 2.6 S E A B I T S New England Aquarium Monthly e-mail Newsletter <http://www.neaq.org/> Volume 2, Issue 6, June, 1998 Copyright, New England Aquarium, 1998. ========================================================================== June brings news of happenings along the coast of Delaware Bay along the New Jersey coast, detailing the arrival of horseshoe crabs and red knots. Locally, we bring news of Myrtle, our own learning turtle. - Susan Gedutis, <email@example.com>. In this issue: Watery Words Stories - Horseshoe Crabs: A Decline of the Old Timers? - The 10,000-Mile Flight of the Red Knot - Aquarium Turtle Recruited for Research Venture Kayak with the Aquarium Radio Rocks the Fish in June June Calendar Corrections... No, Virginia, Turtles are Not Mammals. Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information Contact Us =-=-= WATERY WORDS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- "So, the fact is that no serious inventory of marine life has ever been made... In total, biological surveys have scannded perhaps 5% (and maybe much less) of the world's oceans." -- Alfred H. Ausubel Alfred P. Sloan Foundation =-=-= STORIES =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= This month's stories: 1) Horseshoe Crabs: A Decline of the Old Timers? 2) The 10,000-Mile Flight of the Red Knot 3) Aquarium Turtle Recruited for Research Venture ------ HORSESHOE CRABS: DECLINE OF THE OLD TIMERS? ------------------------ Special to Seabits by Stefanie Jeruss Spring is here and the beach beckons. But watch your step because you're not alone! The beach is also the home of many horseshoe crabs. The warm spring months bring horseshoe crabs from the deep ocean water to sandy beaches to reproduce. Some say that because of overfishing, we're seeing fewer horseshoe crabs these days. During breeding season, the female horseshoe crab crawls up to the sand and deposits up to 30 thousand eggs in her nest so they can be fertilized by the male and covered with sand. When the moon is full and the tide is calm, larvae (babies) hatch and return to the water to learn the ropes. The horseshoe crab, or Limulus polyphemus, is not really a crab at all; it is a distant relative of the spider. Horseshoe crabs live for about 19 years in shallow parts of the Atlantic Ocean between Nova Scotia, Canada and Yucatan, Mexico. Its body looks like an upside down bowl in the shape of a horseshoe, with a sharp tail trailing behind. Horseshoe crabs feed on clams, worms, and other invertebrates and use their legs to grind and crush their food. As a species, they are 400 million years old, and now scientists are discovering that horseshoe crabs may help save lives. The blood of horseshoe crabs can be used to detect poisons that may be present in both human patients and medical drugs. "The horseshoe crab enjoys a rather unusual place in nature," wrote Patty Sturtevant, Ph.D., of the Sarasota Marine Lab, "...in that, if one discounts man, it has no known natural enemies." However, man is creating problems for the horseshoe crab. "The number of horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay beach has declined from an estimated 1 million at the beginning of the decade to about 300,000 last year (1996)," according to Delaware zoologist Kathy Clark. Many scientists believe this to be a result of overfishing. In 1996, some 2 million pounds of horseshoe crabs were caught along the Atlantic coast and used as bait for eels, whelks and catfish. Worse, female crabs are caught most frequently, and often before they have a chance to lay their eggs. These events have devastating effects further up the food chain; migratory birds rely on horseshoe crab eggs as a main food staple during stopovers on their yearly flight north. Luckily, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is currently at work on developing a fisheries management plan for the horseshoe crab, with public hearings in June and July, and final plan approval slated for October 1998. So, the next time you stroll on the beach and admire the water, please look out for the shelled, spiderlike creature who may be lurking beside you. Leave it be, and don't disturb its nest, which is filled with green, pinhead sized eggs. You can also visit the horseshoe crabs at New England Aquarium's "Edge of the Sea" tide pool exhibit. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Droplet: The horseshoe crab has blue blood. Its blood contains copper rather than hemoglobin, the ingredient that gives human blood its red color. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ------ THE 10,000-MILE FLIGHT OF THE RED KNOT ----------------------------- To the red knot, Delaware Bay is a highway rest stop--an important place to refuel for its annual 10,000 mile journey from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic. This shorebird's fuel is not burgers and fries, however. The red knot is looking for a seafood delicacy: horseshoe crab eggs. In order to make the flight, the red knot must eat, and eat heartily. At the end of May, enough horseshoe crab eggs cover the beaches of the bay that in two weeks, a bird can eat enough to double its weight. One knot may eat up to 135,000 eggs during its Delaware stopover. The red knot's journey begins in early March on the shores of Patagonia. There, red knots prepare for their flight by putting on weight at an astonishing rate. The first stop on the north-bound journey is the Peninsula Valdez, along the central Argentinean coast. Then they fly to the coasts of southern Brazil, where they fuel up again. Knots laying over in southern Brazil may increase their weight by as much as 80 percent when preparing to fly the eight-day, 7,000 mile stretch to the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. "In human terms, this would be equivalent to a weight increase from 140 to 270 pounds in a month, roughly a rate of four pounds a day!" writes Brian Harrington in his book, "The Flight of the Red Knot." Evolution has scheduled that red knot arrives in Delaware Bay, in the extreme southwestern areas of New Jersey, just in time for the horseshoe crab invasion. So many horseshoe crabs come ashore at that time to lay eggs that they inadvertently dig up each other's nests, leaving millions of eggs floating in the lapping waves. These eggs become fodder for the red knot in an annual banquet that attracts one of the most immense concentrations of shorebirds--red knots, sanderlings, ruddy turnstones and sandpipers--known in North America. By early June, once red knots have had their fill, they begin the final leg of their journey to the breeding grounds of the low Canadian Arctic. There, they breed, nest and bear young. Within a couple of months, they begin the journey back south. No one knows how many red knots exist, but estimates range from about 100,000-200,000 birds. Although their population is relatively healthy, it is important to protect them to prevent declines. Limiting the horseshoe crab harvest is a perfect example. There has been a decline in the number of horseshoe crabs, and thus horseshoe crab eggs, in Delaware Bay. If the red knots don't have enough to eat, they may not reach their breeding grounds in the tundra. In response, mid-Atlantic states have put limits on harvesting horseshoe crabs. The most important way to protect the red knot and many other migratory shorebirds is to protect habitats at all of its stopping points from South America to Canada. On local beaches, that means we should heed signs and stay out of nesting and resting areas. Shorebirds need this time to rest, preen their feathers, digest their food and sleep. Ever notice that after an active, busy day it seems to take more energy than it's worth to even get up to change the station on the television? Imagine how it might feel after having flown thousands of miles. Brian Harrington of the Manomet Bird Observatory suggests that red knots may use up two thirds of their total energy just to avoid numerous daily disturbances from passing beach vehicles, wandering pets and well-meaning picnickers and boaters. To learn more, we highly recommend Brian Harrington's book, "The Flight of the Red Knot," published by W.W. Norton and Company. Brian weaves a story of the life history of the red knot that reads like a novel. Even non-birders will find the writing graceful and captivating, the science solid and the photos dramatic. You can see shorebirds at the New England Aquarium's new Coastal Rhythms: Creatures on the Edge exhibit. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Droplet: Although the red knot is not closely related to red-breasted robins, it is sometimes called the beach robin. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ------ AQUARIUM TURTLE RECRUITED FOR RESEARCH VENTURE --------------------- By Sue Knapp Myrtle, a 550-pound, 50ish green sea turtle and long-time New England Aquarium resident, is playing an instrumental role in an exciting hearing study. All species of sea turtle are either endangered or threatened, and little is known about sea turtle hearing. Data gathered in this study will be used in the ongoing effort to learn more about sea turtles and determine if human-made sounds in the ocean are detrimental to sea turtles. Oceans are busier and noisier than ever before. Large ships, for example, contribute to the din with rumblings that can travel underwater for hundreds of miles and sound louder than jet planes. Myrtle's project is the first to test and record hearing capabilities in sea turtles using "operant conditioning." Operant conditioning, a type of learning exhibited by all animals, including humans, reinforces behavioral responses through positive reinforcement--like food. Data obtained through operant conditioning tends to be more consistent than data gathered through other methods, such as recording changes in heart rate. Plus, Myrtle is very responsive and interested in what goes on around her, making her a perfect candidate to help with this study. Myrtle appears not to be bothered by all the attention. To date, Myrtle has learned: -- to come to the dive platform when she hears two small pipes tapping together underwater, -- to swim to and touch an underwater speaker when it emits a tone, and finally, -- to return to the dive platform and receive her fish or squid reward (if she touches the correct speaker). In order to fully study her hearing capability, researchers will progress to presenting Myrtle with a choice of two to four underwater speakers, only one of which will emit a sound. When she touches the correct speaker, the sound will stop and Myrtle will return to the platform for a reward. Tones of various frequencies will be played, and the position of the correct speaker will change. Funding for this two-year project comes from an Office of Naval Research grant totaling $120,000. New England Aquarium collaborators are Dr. Arthur Popper and Dr. Robert Dooling, both professors at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. Dr. Popper has extensive experience studying hearing in fish and dolphins, and the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system. Dr. Dooling is an authority in behavioral studies of hearing in animals and has conducted definitive studies of hearing by birds, and he has also developed several techniques that are now widely used in animal hearing studies. At the New England Aquarium, Kathy Streeter, a marine mammal expert with 24 years of training experience, is the principal investigator. "It's been an education working with Myrtle," says Streeter, "and the project is challenging. Myrtle is not as agile as a marine mammal, and she moves quite slowly. I have learned to be patient and to watch carefully for Myrtle's reactions, which are quite clear.n Based on her work with sea lions and dolphins, Kathy worked to develop an effective training protocol. Not only did she have to adapt the training methods to be used with a large sea turtle, the equipment also needed to be tailored to accommodate the Giant Ocean Tank exhibit and all the other animals living there." In the future researchers hope to determine if sounds can be used to help free-ranging sea turtles avoid fishing nets, a serious threat to turtles in the wild. The use of sound as an entanglement deterrent has proven successful with marine mammals (see Nature, August 7, 1997). This project also complements current work to develop a "Sounds of the Sea" exhibit which will open at the Aquarium in the spring of 1999. The exhibit will not only describes the naturally noisy underwater realm, but it will also allow visitors to experience some of those sounds. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Droplet: Unlike freshwater turtles, sea turtles cannot pull their heads and legs into their shells. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ =-=-= 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. Horseshoe Crabs <http://www.virtualbirder.com/vbirder/realbirds/dbhsc/HSCSurvey.html> <http://www.envirolink.org/orgs/njsierra/njs_conserv5.htm> <http://www.virtualbirder.com/vbirder/realbirds/dbhsc/ASMFC971120.txt> Red Knot and Shorebirds <http://www.utm.edu/~phertzel/shimages.htm> <http://www.web2010.com/birds-of-ohio/birdknot.htm> <http://pw1.netcom.com/~djhoff/shorebrd.html> Green Sea Turtle <http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/~et/wlcurric/turtles.html> <http://www.turtles.org/hawgrnd.htm> <http://www.turtle.ky/turtle.html> =-=-= KAYAK WITH THE AQUARIUM =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= On June 27, kayak Hingham Harbor with the New England Aquarium. Enjoy the summer; join a small group led by the New England Aquarium and Maine Island Kayak Company to experience kayak, the world's fastest growing water activity. Our kayak trips provide excceptional recreational and educational expereince. You will leave refreshed and invigorated with a strong sense of your abilities on the water. Athletic beginners welcome. A great introductory paddle. We venture past World's end, planned by Frederick Law Olmsted. It's one fo the most spectacular landscaped areas of open space with views of the Boston skyline across the harbor. Includes kayaks, safety equipment, expert instruction and an Aquarium naturalist. Future trips: July 26 - Charles River, and Aug. 22 - Plum Island, Ipswich Advanced registration required. $95. 10 a.m. - appx. 4 p.m. Reccommended for ages 16+. Register by calling (617) 973-6562, or sending email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Looking Ahead... Boston Harbor Island Camping Enjoy the exciting historic sights, sounds and landmarks of Boston Harbor including panoramic views of the city skyline. Overnight camping, round-trip water transportation, and guided natural history walks by Aquarium naturalists. July 18-19 or Aug. 15-16 (Rain date for both trips: Aug. 22). Camping only: $50 Adults, $45 Children. Camping + optional food: $75 Adults, $70 Children Call (617) 973-6562 for more information on trips to the Galapagos, South Africa, Manitoba, British Columbia and more. (All trips are subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control.) =-=-= RADIO ROCKS THE AQUARIUM IN JUNE =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Eagle 93.7 will land on the Aquarium plaza on June 11 from 12-2. Stop by to hear some of your favorite music from the 70's and 80's and to win some great prizes. The fun continues on June 18 when the Kiss 108 Traveling Beach Party takes place at the Aquarium from 12-2. Don't miss your chance to meet Kiss 108 DJ Skip Kelly who'll be giving away frisbees, t-shirts, cd's, concert tickets and other prizes. =-=-= JUNE CALENDAR =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Saturday, June 6, 12:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. Freshwater Fair, Leverett Pond, Jamaica Plain. Celebrate the importance and beauty of ponds and rivers at the 3rd annual Freshwater Fair. Peer into a microscope to see some of Leverett Pond's tiniest animal and plant life. Take a trip back in time to learn of the history of Frederick Law Olmsted's famous Emerald Necklace. Pitch in to help clean up the pond. Listen to frog sounds, investigate animal tracks, get your face painted, or try your hand-- literally--at thumbprint art. Leverett Pond is located on the Brookline/Bosotn border at the intersection of Route 9 and the Jamaica Way. Sponsored by the Aquarium, Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Brookline Conservation Commission and local school groups. For more information, call (617) 973-0274 or send e-mail to Heather Tausig at <email@example.com>. Sunday, June 7 Breakfast with the Trainers: Catch the training session and enjoy a private breakfast with the trainers aboard the Discovery. Training session begins at 9:15 A.M.; continental breakfast follows the session. Recommended for all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Doors to the Discovery open at 9:00 A.M. $10.00 per person for members; $15.00 plus admission fee per person for nonmembers. Call (617) 973-5206 to register. Saturday, June 13, 10:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. Canoeing the Sudbury River in Concord, MA: Join Aquarium educators to investigate the sights and sounds of the Sudbury River. With an onshore safety and boating lesson to start, experience this important freshwater highway with binoculars, field guides and water testing kits. Participants should bring their own lunches. Personal canoes may be used. For ages 8 and older. $20.00 per person for members; $30.00 per person for nonmembers. Nonmember price does not include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5206 to register. Directions will be mailed to all registrants. Saturday, June 20, 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. For ages 6 and older. Tour fees are $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, June 20, 10:00 A.M. - Noon Tidepool Trek: at Chandler Hovey State Park, Marblehead, MA: With field guides, microscopes, and magnifying boxes, find out what lives in tidepools, learn how to identify marine life, and see how these animals have adapted to live in their turbulent tidal world. For ages 6 and older. $6.00 per person for members; $12.00 per person for nonmembers. Nonmember price does not include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5206 to register. Directions will be mailed to all registrants. Sunday, June 21 Fathers' Day Harbor Tour: Treat Dad to a special "Science at Sea" excursion on Boston Harbor. The 90-minute trip departs Central Wharf at 11:00 A.M. Call (617) 973-5206 for more information. =-=-= CORRECTIONS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Yes. You are right! We made an embarassing proofing error. Leatherback turtles are definitely not mammals, they are big reptiles. Interestingly, they *are* actually warm-bodied, which helps them survive cold North Atlantic waters. Everything else about them is reptilian, however. =-=-= SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE INFORMATION =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= To subscribe to Seabits, either visit <http://www.neaq.org/beyond/seabits/> OR send e-mail to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. In the body of your email message write "subscribe seabits" (without the quotes). To unsubscribe to Seabits, send email to <email@example.com>. In the body of your email message write "unsubscribe seabits" (without the quotes). =-=-= CONTACT US =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Content questions and comments? Contact Susan Gedutis at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Technical questions and comments? Contact Bruce Wyman at <email@example.com>. =-=-= THAT'S ALL FOLKS =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- It's a lovely warm spring in Boston... hope it's pleasant for you, too, wherever you are!