- Exhibits & Animals
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- Visit the Aquarium
- Fun & Learning
- Conservation & Research
We've taken a few educational boat trips over the years but yours was by far the best all-around experience. The highlight had to be the breadth of sea life we pulled up and investigated, interacted with and, of course, learn about."
– Rockland County, NY, camp director
The Maritime Aquarium is more than just a place for families to have fun. We’re engaged in ongoing research projects and collaborations with other area organizations to help ensure that the animals you enjoy here thrive in the wild for generations to come.
The Maritime Aquarium began a collaboration with Jefferson Science Magnet School in 2006. Since that time, the Aquarium has functioned as an extension of the classroom for Kindergarten through fifth grade.
Programs are developed according to CT Science Framework Standards and Grade Level Expectations, as well as Norwalk’s own specific goals. There are also interdisciplinary components in the Aquarium developed curriculum including Math, Literacy and Social Studies.
The Aquarium staff meets regularly with the Jefferson staff and administrators to plan programs, the budget and identify funding opportunities.
This partnership is successful, in that Jefferson students benefit from multiple science based programs.
This partnership is truly a model / cornerstone in the foundation of the Aquarium’s capacity to make a difference in the classroom and the community.
Case Study 2011
The partnership combines the Six to Six Science Interdistrict Magnet School with the rich, hands-on, science assets of the Discovery Museum and The Maritime Aquarium. Sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program creates an unprecedented learning opportunity with experiential science embedded throughout. School enrollment includes free Family Memberships to both institutions.
The partnership serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade from Bridgeport, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
This tag-and-release research/education project focuses on the population ecology of the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) in Long Island Sound. Dr. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University's Biology Department is the principle investigator of this long-term, community wide research project. The Maritime Aquarium participates by tagging and collecting data on horseshoe crabs encountered during field studies and research cruises. It has been recently discovered that migratory shorebird survival is linked to the horseshoe crab's breeding season. Migrating shorebirds consume horseshoe crab eggs, helping fuel their long trip north to breed. In addition, the federally protected loggerhead sea turtle also depends on horseshoe crabs for food.
Horseshoe crabs are also important to humans because of a component in their blood that is used to detect bacterial contamination in manufactured drugs and other pharmaceutical products.
By understanding the population dynamics of this species we will be better able to manage their harvest and prevent their extinction.
The horseshoe crab population ecology investigation is currently being supported by a grant from the Long Island Sound License Plate Program, managed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and Sacred Heart University. Other participants include, Project Oceanology, SoundWaters, Bridgeport Aquaculture School, the Peabody Museum and the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center. To participate in this study, contact Dr. Mattei at 203-365-7577 or
To participate, volunteers should attend one of two training sessions at the Aquarium.
They’ll learn about the natural history of horseshoe crabs, what has been learned so far from the census work, and how to safely tag horseshoe crabs. Volunteers should be in 10th grade or older. Younger children can assist if working with a parent, teacher or guardian.
Tagging can usually start 2 hours before and extend to 2 hours after low tide. We usually need to park outside the park and walk in the main entrance. Veer to the right, follow the road and gather at the Shea monument at the Coast Guard Auxillary/sailing school area at the southwest corner of the park.
Each participant should bring the following:
Some find gardening/flooring knee pads a blessing and a sturdy bucket (6 gal. wine or sheet rock compound) great to sit on.
The Maritime Aquarium maintains The Long Island Sound Biodiversity Database.
What is Biodiversity?
It’s the quantity of plant and animal species found in an environment. (The word is contraction of “biological diversity.”) The more diverse a habitat, the better chance it has of surviving a change or threat to it, because it is more likely to be able to make a balancing adjustment. Habitats with little biodiversity (e.g., Arctic tundra) are more vulnerable to change.
The Long Island Sound Biodiversity Database is a searchable web resource to monitor species trends on Long Island Sound. Partners collecting data include The Maritime Aquarium, SoundWaters, SoundKeeper and the Bridgeport Aquaculture School.
Data is collected on 125 species of marine organism and water quality variables including pH, salinity, temperature, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. You can go to the database at the link below and run your own reports. Click on this link: tma.evendata.com. The public user name is Public User and the password is password. They are case sensitive.
For more information on how to use the database or involve your group or class to collect data, please contact Joe Schnierlein at (203) 852-0700, ext. 2304.