Subject: New England Aquarium Seabits 3.6 (fwd)

mike williamson (
Tue, 8 Jun 1999 13:54:18 -0400 (EDT)

S E A B I T S 
New England Aquarium Monthly email Newsletter 
Volume 3, Issue 6, June 1999 
Copyright, New England Aquarium 1999
It's summertime! Take advantage of the great outdoors on some of the
kayaking expeditions, island trips and tidepool treks we have planned. We
also invite you to join us in celebrating our 30th birthday this June 20th.
There will be FREE festivities, games, activities and cake for all, and we
hope you will help us celebrate 30 wonderful years as part of Boston's
waterfront. We are also introducing a unique theatrical experience that you
won't want to miss -- an interactive odyssey adventure that will, I'm told,
knock your socks off (so wear sandals)!

In this issue:
  Watery Words 
    - SOS: Storm Over Stellwagen
    - Bahamian Fish ... Unwrapped
    - Bonaire: A Caribbean Treasure Rediscovered
  Out on the Net  
  Travel with the Aquarium
  June Calendar
  Contact Us

***** WATERY WORDS ********************************************************

     "As you sit in your boat, lightly borne on the night sea, 
      watching the weather and the stars and the sails, it all 
      seems so simple, regular, ordinary, and you have no thought 
      of how far beneath you the abyss extends. But then you put 
      on headphones, and after a while a whale starts to sing, 
      and the echoes from the abyss come tumbling and roaring back, 
      and suddenly you are aware of the vastness of the mystery 
      that underlies your boat."
                               -- Dr. Roger Payne, Among Whales

***** STORIES *************************************************************
This month's stories
  1) SOS: Storm Over Stellwagen
  2) Bahamian Fish ... Unwrapped
  3) Bonaire: A Caribbean Treasure Rediscovered

----- SOS: STORM OVER STELLWAGEN ------------------------------------------
by Carolyn Levi, Immersive Specialist

For those of you who still think Stellwagen Bank is a financial
institution, we have a surprise. This month we introduce SOS: Storm over
Stellwagen, an action-packed immersive theater experience that delivers the
essential facts about our newest National Marine Sanctuary while
entertaining your socks off. 

The program itself sets you down inside the central control room of
Stellwagen Ocean Services, a futuristic environmental organization, where
you are in charge of the Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
Your mission: to save the beauty and diversity of Stellwagen Bank from the
brink of environmental disaster. Your guides on this adventure will be a
live host aided by the off-screen voice of former Congressman Gerry Studds

The theater's technology is a first. Never before seen in the U.S., it was
designed and put together for us by Immersion Studios of Toronto. It
features a fully multimedia immersive experience coupled with interactive
digital technology that lets the audience interact with the screen from
individual computer consoles. 

The action will take place in our brand new Discovery Immersive Theater, on
the top deck of the Discovery. SOS: Storm Over Stellwagen will open to the
public in late June, with shows starting at 10:30 A.M. daily.

Droplet: Stellwagen Bank is 26 miles off our coast. Because many whales
feed on Stellwagen in the summers, it's a great whale-watching destination.

----- BAHAMIAN FISH ... UNWRAPPED -----------------------------------------
"It's like Christmas!" grinned an gleeful senior aquarist, Sherrie Floyd,
as she brandished a long knife, slashed open a cardboard box, opened a
styrofoam cooler and pulled out a special oxygen-infused plastic bag full
of swimming purple and yellow inch-long royal grammas from a recent Bahamas
collecting trip. Once identified and checked off the master list, the fish
were given a destination -- either the tropical or temperate gallery.
That's where I came in. With the illustrious title of "runner," you can
just guess what I and a couple of other volunteers did for the next few

It was, actually, pretty exciting to be opening up the boxes and greeting
bag after bag of strange-shaped and jewel-colored fish. Sometimes their
identities were a mystery and consultations were required, but for the most
part, the opening and running were pretty routine. It started to get pretty
interesting near the end, though, when it was clear that a few dozen more
fish made the flight than were expected. We runners had to start taking on
negotiation roles:

Runner to Aquarist (holding out four bags containing one black and white
striped harlequin bass each): "They can't take any more in tropical." 

Aquarist to Runner: "Well, we can't take any more here. Tell them to put
them in with the wrasses. They should do fine there."

Runner to Aquarist (holding out same four bags): "They said they can't take
any more and to put them in with the wrasses."

Aquarist to Runner: "We already have some in with the wrasses. If we put
more than one in a tank, they'll fight each other."

Aquarist to Aquarist: "Do you think the barracudas would eat them?"

After a good bit of negotiation and running, everyone had a home (and not
with the barracudas). Once the water temperature inside the bags was within
a degree of the tank water, we started emptying the bags into the rows of
previously empty tanks. It sounds easier than it is ... it was a veritable
fiesta of popping rubberbands, wet plastic bags, splashed clothes and
squirming fish eager to be out. It was pretty cool to watch the blackish,
boring-looking blue chromis turn bright blue again. 

To keep count of the fish we were freeing required a bit of education for
us non-fish folks. We could pretty much tell that these fish weren't sea
lions, penguins or publications (our various Aquarium departments) but
beyond that, we were pretty lost. We had to learn pretty quickly how to
tell the difference between a brown chromis and a cleo, though to hear us
try to explain the distinctions to each other surely must have made the
aquarists laugh. "Those ones have tiny white dots on their top sides, like
that one, no like that one." And, I'm sure over the next days when they
were adding up their populations, they came out a brown chromis or two
ahead ....

Every one of the approximately 350 tropical fish that made the 4 hour plane
flight from Miami to Boston that Saturday night miraculously survived the
trip. The fish are now behind the scenes in the tropical and temperate
galleries for a quarantine period, after which they will be joining their
compatriots in the Giant Ocean Tank and the Temperate Gallery. 

Droplet: The Giant Ocean Tank is home to around 760 animals representing
128 species. The Temperate Gallery (also known as the Thinking Gallery) is
home to roughly 1070 animals representing 96 species.

----- BONAIRE: A CARIBBEAN TREASURE REDISCOVERED --------------------------
by Paul Erickson, Recovering Dive Snob

I admit it. I'm a dive snob. Having done some diving in the Red Sea and
tropical South Pacific, I've experienced the mind-altering astonishment
that comes with observing the dizzying marine diversity of Indo-Pacific
coral reefs. And having traveled far beyond the Caribbean reefs which are
now heavily visited and well-known dive destinations, I've also suffered
from the dreaded more-experienced-diver-than-thou syndrome, too often
blabbing in run on sentences about "this remote Pacific reef which no human
had ever seen before, where I was surrounded by a billion barracuda, when
suddenly this whale shark appeared..."  
Now, as a recovering dive snob, I'll testify that a dive in Caribbean
waters easily can be as rewarding as a visit to a reef in the Solomon
Islands or the Red Sea. What helped me rediscover Caribbean reefs was this:
I got married five years ago and subsequently took on a mortgage. Then, my
wife wanted to go diving, and the most inviting dive destination that we
could afford turned out to be the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands
Antilles near Aruba, Curacao and Venezuela. I'm happy to say that several
adventures in Bonaire have helped to set me on the road (or sand channel)
to recovery from terminal dive snobbery and windbaggery.
Here's why:  One, Bonaire has unusually well developed stands of staghorn
coral (Acropora cervicornis). Located in relatively shallow water, this
fragile staghorn jungle is one of the natural features that makes Bonaire
highly attractive to snorkelers as well. Staghorn is home to parrotfish so
colorful that you'd swear they were created during the psychedelic 60s of
creation week. Two, as with other Caribbean dive sites, Bonaire's reefs
sport spectacular sponges. These varieties, which are unique to this area,
include a striking iridescent species that appears to have a lavender neon
light glowing within it. Even more spectacular are large yellow and purple
tubular sponges. Some of these six-foot-tall animal oddities resemble
bizarre woodwind instruments that might have been invented by Dr. Seuss.
Never seen any of those in the Red Sea. Three, Bonaire has lots of
intriguing little guys -- reef half-pints that can keep you entertained for
hours, if not years. During our last trip these guys included a
surprisingly beefy, pink reef seahorse; green and lavender spotted lettuce
nudibranchs (shell-less mollusks called sea slugs); a black and yellow
striped crab that could have walked out of an X-Files television episode;
and healthy colonies of garden eels. 
While we were enjoying all of these living treasures, however, we also
noticed signs of trouble in paradise. Although most of Bonaire's coral reef
habitat is in very good shape, some of the corals we observed were dead and
covered with algae. In 1998, when I first asked officials at the Bonaire
Marine Park about the cause of this overgrowth, they told me that the algal
growth "is indicative of nutrient enrichment." Read as: human and animal
waste and agricultural fertilizers. Apparently, there was no sewage
treatment plant on the island.
The bad news: overfertilization of Bonaire's coastal marine waters. The
good news: a dynamic conservation organization called the Bonaire Marine
Park (BMP) dedicated to solving such environmental problems. Originally
founded in 1979 and rejuvenated in 1991, BMP protects coastal reef habitat
from the high water mark down to the 200 foot depth contour. Most recently,
the group has been working with hotels and the Bonaire government to
develop tertiary sewage treatment facilities. These facilities are designed
to keep excess nutrients out of coastal waters. Today, the BMP serves as a
model to other island nations interested in protecting reef habitats, while
promoting a healthy economy, based in large part on eco-tourism, snorkeling
and diving. 

These days, as a recovering dive snob, I feel fortunate when I take a trip
to Bonaire or another Caribbean destination. With a new generation of warm
drysuits, more than ever I enjoy diving in New England waters year 'round.
Maybe in one way or another this is the way most of us eventually wind up 
content in our own backyards, tending some of our favorite gardens.

Droplet: Nudibranchs, or sea slugs, are some of the most strikingly
colorful creatures in the ocean. Don't let their dull-looking terrestrial
cousins fool you. They come in bright blues, pinks, oranges and
leopard-type patterns, and sometimes have interesting spiky-looking gill
structures as well. There are over 3000 species worldwide, most that only
grow to 1-2 inches, but some, such as the Spanish dancer, that grow up to
19 inches in length.

***** 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.

Stellwagen Bank & Immersion Studios

Bahamian Fish

Bonaire Marine Park & Nudibranchs

***** ANNOUNCEMENTS *******************************************************
Monday, July 19, Lowell Lecture, 1 P.M. 
Dr. Walter Munk of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will give a
special talk on ATOC (Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate). ATOC is a
controversial program to measure changes in ocean temperature that relies
on measuring sounds broadcast thousands of kilometers in the deep ocean.
Lecture will be held in the New England Aquarium conference center. For
reservations or more information, contact Ken Mallory at (617) 973-5295 or
e-mail <>.

***** TRAVEL WITH THE AQUARIUM - SUMMER OUTINGS **************************
July 9-11, Maine Weekend Kayak and Camping Trip
July 17, Gloucester Harbor, Kayak Day Trip
July 18, Misery Island, Salem Harbor Day Trip
July 24-25, Boston Harbor Island Camping
August 7-8 Boston Harbor Island Camping
August 14, Salem/Marblehead Harbor, Kayak Day Trip
September 11, Duxbury Harbor, Kayak Day Trip

For more information, please call Jeanne Rankin at (617) 973-6562 or e-mail
<>. To sign up for any trip, call (617) 973-5206.

***** JUNE CALENDAR *****************************************************
Saturday, June 12, Bluefish Moon, 11 A.M. - 4 P.M.
Bluefish Moon is the fourth in the "Gifts from the Sacred Waters" series
celebrating Native American traditions. Presented by the New England
Aquarium and the Native Americans of the Northeast, this FREE event will
include ceremonial singing and dancing, storytelling, demonstrations of a
traditional clambake and of seventeenth-century cookery, including outdoor
baking of bluefish, gathering and preparation of fiddleheads and other
activities related to traditional and contemporary Native American fishing
in the late spring and summer. Nations represented will include Wampanoag,
Narragansett, Passamaquoddy and others. Events will be held on the Aquarium
plaza and in and around the Exploration Center. For more information, call
Susan Dowds at (617) 973-0296. Aquarium admission not included.

Saturday, June 12, GOT Walk & Talk Guided Tour, 9:15 A.M. 
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 species change as you delve deeper in the Caribbean
coral reef. With the lead of an Aquarium educator, you'll see animals you
may not have seen before. Fees: $4.00 per person for members, $8.00 per
person plus admission for non-members. Children must be accompanied by an
adult. Tours are approximately 30 minutes long. Meet your guide at the
Information Desk in the Aquarium lobby. Call (617) 973-5206 for
Sunday,  June 13th, Bell Atlantic Mobile/Radio Disney Day, 2-6 P.M. 
Join us for a Disney-themed day as the Radio Disney Party Patrol brings
yards of bouncing fun with its  "Tune Bounce," to the Aquarium plaza from
4-6 P.M. There will be games and contests throughout the afternoon. Free.
On the Aquarium plaza. Aquarium admission not included.

Wednesday, June 16, Dive Club Meeting, 6:30 P.M. 
Dive Club meeting at New England Aquarium. Guests and new members always
welcome. Call (617) 973-0240 for details. Location: Aquarium Cafe.
Saturday, June 19, Tidepool Trek, Marblehead, 10 A.M. - 1 P.M. 
Join Aquarium educators on a tidepool trek. You will collect coastal
animals, observe them and then return them to their habitats. With field
guides and microscopes, learn how to identify marine life and see how
animals have adapted to live in their "rocky" world. In this program,
participants can make and take home a personal tidepool diary. Fees: $8.00
per person for members, $16.00 per person for non-members. Non-member price
does not include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5206 for reservations.

Saturday, June 19, Misery Island Tour, Salem, 10 A.M.
Misery loves company! Come tour Salem's Misery Island, once the playground
for the rich and famous. Explore tidepools and enjoy a walking tour. For
more information, please call Jeanne Rankin in the Travel Office at (617)
973-6562, or e-mail <>. Call (617) 973-5206 for
Sunday, June 20, 30th Birthday Splash!, 10 A.M. - 5 P.M. 
The Aquarium officially turns 30 today. Join us for a FREE public festival
on the Aquarium's plaza, with live music, special performances,
opportunities for kids to dress up as tidepool animals,
pin-the-tentacle-on-the-octopus and other games, special animal talks,
environmental awareness activities, craft activities, a giant 30th birthday
cake for all to share and much more! Presented by BlueCross/BlueShield of
Massachusetts. (BRUCE TO FILL IN)
Sunday, June 20, Happy Father's Day, 9 A.M.- 6 P.M.
In celebration of Father's Day, all dads admitted to the Aquarium FREE when
accompanied by their own children (no borrowing!).

Sunday, June 20, Father's Day Harbor Tour, 11 A.M. 
Treat Dad to a special New England Aquarium "Science at Sea" Harbor Tour.
Become scientists in Boston's backyard while testing the waters of Boston
Harbor. Trip takes an hour and half. Fees: Members: $8.00 per person ages
19 and older; $6.50 per person for seniors or college students; $6.00 per
person for ages 3-18. Non-members: $9.00 per person ages 12 and older;
$7.00 per person for seniors or college students; $6.50 per person for ages
3-11. Call (617) 973-5206 for reservations.
Sunday, June 20, Bumpkin Island Day Trip, 9:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. 
Aquarium educators will provide information and activities for you and your
family on the ferry ride that brings us to our destination. Enjoy the
sights and sounds of Boston Harbor Islands as we head out to Bumpkin Island
and the tidepools that await us. We'll learn about island lore as we spend
the day exploring the rocky shore and sand dunes of the island and observe
the wide variety of birds that nest and breed there. Participants should
bring their own lunches and swimsuits. An afternoon snack and beverages
will be provided. Cost includes round trip fee for ferry. Fees: $35 per
person for members, $50 per person for non-members. Non-member price does
not include Aquarium admission. Call (617) 973-5206 for reservations. 

Saturday, June 26, Invisible Aquarium Guided Tour, 9:15 A.M. 
Many animals in the Aquarium are difficult to see or find. It may be that
you don't even know they are there! Camouflage and hiding help animals
escape hungry predators. Meet the animals that are just about invisible to
most of our visitors. Fees: $4.00 per person for members, $8.00 per person
plus admission for non-members, unless otherwise specified. Children must
be accompanied by an adult. Tours are approximately 30 minutes long. Meet
your guide at the Information Desk in the Aquarium lobby. Call (617)
973-5206 for reservations.

Saturday, June 27, Kayak Hingham Harbor 
Learn to kayak, enjoy beautiful coastline and explore harbor islands. Group
size is limited. For Ages 15 and over. For more information, please call
Jeanne Rankin in the Travel Office at (617) 973-6562, or e-mail
<>. Call (617) 973-5206 for reservations.

***** SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE INFORMATION ***********************************
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***** CONTACT US **********************************************************
Content questions and comments? Contact Jennifer Goebel at

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

***** THAT'S ALL FOLKS ****************************************************
I don't know about you, but I am ready to take off for Bonaire and look for
some nudibranchs! Let me know what you think of SOS: Storm Over Stellwagen
if you get a chance to see it. -- Jen Goebel