Cleaning up the seal habitat after Susie left behind a LOT of fur!

Think your dog sheds a lot? Just take a look how much fur Susie left behind after a morning hauled out on the rocks in her exhibit!

If you see our seals look a bit patchy lately, don’t be alarmed; they’re just molting!

Molting is a process that is import for seals’ thermoregulation — meaning how they maintain a core body temperature during warm and cold weather — once the hot summer months come around.

It isn’t their fur that keeps seals warm, it’s that their bodies secrete oils that protect and insulate their coats. Since they live in a region where they don’t need to keep warm in the winter, they molt to shed their coat in patches.

The harbor seals at The Maritime Aquarium go through the molting process once a year, and it usually occurs after breeding season.  Since our guests can see the physical signs of molting, our animal trainers explain the details and importance of their molt during our daily seal shows.

Molting puts a drain on their energy, so expect the seals to spend a bit more time resting the rocks during while they’re molting. The sun also warms their skins, which aids in the fur falling out. In the wild, seals typically molt  for 1-2 months. At the Aquarium, our seven seals molt from June – September, and it usually only takes a week or two.

Susie hauled out on the rocks showing off some of her bare spots during her molt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Is this what I really look like?"

It’s official: Summer is here! And how do we welcome the season here at The Maritime Aquarium? Watermelons, of course.

Our interns were hard at work last week carving summertime and animal-themed watermelons to place into exhibits around the aquarium. Changing up the animals’ habits (like the time we put pumpkins in the meerkat exhibit) by giving them something new to interact with is a fun way to keep them engaged and active.

Not only are enrichments good for the physical health of the animals, they are critical for their mental well-being, too.

If you missed seeing the watermelons in the exhibits last weekend, check out the gallery of photos from the interns and staff below! Continue reading

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By Dave Sigworth, Maritime Aquarium publicist

So imagine that you just got out of high school and you’re given the opportunity to work with someone who pioneered an absolute global change in the way we forever view –or live – our lives on Earth.  Like … to be a Watson working with Alexander Graham Bell. Or to be on the team perfecting rockets with Wernher von Braun.

Or perhaps to bunk on the research vessel Calypso and be a crew member for Jacques Cousteau, the filmmaker who invented SCUBA – or, as Cousteau called it, the aqualung – and who was giving the world its first amazing (and honest) look at life beneath the waves, and thus opening up the science of marine biology and ocean conservation.

Richard Hyman, speaking at The Maritime Aquarium on June 23.

Richard Hyman got to do the Cousteau thing. He shared his cool story at The Maritime Aquarium on Monday evening, in the final event of our 2013-14 lecture series that included the likes of Jeff Corwin, Fabien Cousteau (the grandson of Jacques Cousteau), Dr. Daniel Botkin, and Jack Hanna.

In 1973, just out of Weston High School, Hyman traveled to Los Angeles with his father, Fred, who had come on as a business partner with Cousteau to steady the explorer’s finances.

“He got things in order … as well as you can manage a budget and a business with a bunch of crazy Frenchmen, and I say that in a loving and respectful way,” Hyman said. Continue reading

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The seals' fish cake before it was devoured!

Susie, the oldest harbor seal here at The Maritime Aquarium, turns 41 this week.  So, what do you get for a seal who has everything? A fish cake!

On Thursday morning, guests helped usher in another year by singing “Happy Birthday” to her and the other six seals, several of whom have birthdays around this time of year.

The seals were treated to a giant fish cake (some frozen herring and capelin) as a special enrichment. Continue reading

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The Dead Reckoners unveiled their dioramas during an opening ceremony in mid-June. They will be displayed around the aquarium through Labor Day.

By Judith Bacal

When I was asked to help out with the Dead Reckoners diorama project – I really didn’t know what I was getting into.  As the Exhibit Director at the Aquarium, I have lots of experience building exhibit habitats and re-creations. Creating dioramas with high school students was just a little different. While it exceeded my expectations on the amount of time I’d need to invest, it also exceeded my expectations on how gratifying and enjoyable it would be.

The idea of the project was to have the students get into groups, choose a science career, do research, design a concept and build a diorama. Many had not ever built a diorama! They also did the research for the content panel, which included finding a scientist – past or present – working in that field. We took a field trip to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History to look at their dioramas, and we looked at the exhibits here at the Aquarium. Continue reading

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Throughout the school year that’s about to end, The Maritime Aquarium has been helping 40 high school teens from Norwalk figure out life after high school.

Aldo Ojeda, a student at Brien McMahon High, accepts his "Dead Reckoners" certificates from Aquarium educators Caitlin Emro and Kerry Johnston.

The 9th- and 10th-grade students came to the Aquarium after school once a week for a program called “Dead Reckoners,” the entry-level component of a larger program called TeMPEST (Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science & Technology). Its goals are to promote the teens’ STEM literacy, to prepare them for college, to make them aware of career opportunities and to develop skills that will help them in any profession. Continue reading

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She really wanted to go Jiggle a Jelly.

On a typical day, if you want to get eye to eye with our Madagascar ground boa, you can find her in the Africa: From the Desert to the Sea exhibit. But on days like today, she has a bit more room to roam.

Ground boas need exercise just like the other animals at The Maritime Aquarium, so every few weeks the staff takes her out of the exhibit to stretch her muscles.  Watch the video below to see her slither around the area between the Jiggle a Jelly exhibit and the entrance to the Africa exhibit.

 

Notice her eyes? They’re two different colors, which is no accident. The top half is yellow and the bottom is brown so they blend in with the markings on their faces and makes for perfect camouflage. If they had a bright yellow eye, they would stand out more to predators, making them an easy target.

The brown bottom half of its eye blends in with the dark stripe across its face.

As their name suggests, they are native to the African island of Madagascar. They’re the largest snake on the island.

Ground boas typically live for about 15-20 years, but our staff believes she’s around 27!  She’s not light either – females are larger than males and she weighs in at around 40 pounds.

Aquarist pro tip: It's best to handle a large snake like this one at two points of contact. It helps to support their spine.

She may seem slow, but she’s powerful. Boas are known for constricting their prey, but not before clamping down on them with a strong jaw full of sharp, non-venomous teeth.

Some cuddling happened, too.

Thanks for sssstopping by!

Want more behind the scenes action? Check back with our blog or sign up for updates straight to your inbox. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with us from every corner of the web. You’ll find us happily posting, pinning and tweeting away on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramGoogle+ and Tumblr.

 

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Have you been seeing more spider crabs than usual lately? Nicole Rosenfeld, an Aquarium educator, reports back from our Research Vessel Oceanic (R/VO) about their most recent hauls and how they’ve seen unusually high catches of spider crabs.

In my three summers here on the RVO, I’ve noticed we normally get five or so spider crabs per cruise, but in the last couple weeks we’ll get buckets full.

Spider crabs have been turning up in record numbers on the R/VO!

 

Literally, piles of them!

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

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Here’s our annual reminder that this is the time of year when Connecticut’s turtles are on the move.

As we noted last spring, you might find one in your yard or garden, or crossing the road in front of you, as they look for places to lay their eggs.

snapping turtle crossing Ridgefield road

A Ridgefield school bus driver makes sure a snapping turtle safely crosses the road. (Credit: Meredith Keating)

This week alone, we’ve seen several mentions on online sites about folks coming across turtles on roads. Like the photo we grabbed showing a Ridgefield school bus driver stopping traffic to let a snapping turtle get across. Continue reading

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This Sunday is World Oceans Day, an annual celebration where communities around the globe act to learn more about our oceans and to take action to help conserve them.

The primary organizer, The Ocean Project, set the 2013-14 two-year theme as “Together we have the power to protect the ocean!”

“Despite the huge challenges facing the world’s ocean, by working together we can achieve a healthy ocean that provides for the billions of humans, plants and animals that depend on it every day,” they say on the World Oceans Day website, worldoceansday.org. Continue reading

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