My name is Paul and I am a senior penguin keeper here at the aquarium. I am also a back up diver for the Giant Ocean Tank dive team. Working with this group over the years has given me the opportunity to participate in many animal exams, transports, and several diving collection expeditions. It has also connected me to the many different elements of the diving industry and community.
About 5 years ago I was introduced to the oldest dive club in the country, The Boston Sea Rovers. Since 1954, this group (made up of mainly volunteers) has gotten together with the mission of holding a clinic with the hopes of "Raising the Level of Knowledge of the Underwater World." Some of the world's greatest oceanographers and explorers like Jacque Cousteau, Dr. Robert Ballard, and Dr. Sylvia Earle, have participated in these events. This collection of avid divers is known internationally for having the "Longest Running Underwater Show on Earth."
A quote from their website states "The history of the Sea Rovers is, in many ways, the history of scuba diving." The funds generated from the clinics help support various internships and non-profits like SeaMark Vision Clinic (pdf) and the Cotting School for children with special needs. This March 7th & 8th will mark the 55th time that the clinic will be held. They will have workshops, seminars, and a world renowned film festival. Below are some pictures of the clinic. I will be volunteering with them that weekend and invite you to join us.
2008 Eastport, Maine Coldwater Collection Trip
Film Festival Presenters
Video of the event:
During these tough economic times, donations are even more important for non-profit organizations like us. We can't thank Keen Footwear enough for their generosity! Meet some Aquarium staff members and volunteers as they show off their Keen shoes.
This is Kate doing food prep in her new shoes:
One penguin comes in for a closer look at the new Keens:
And Rochelle with Myrtle, our 550lb green sea turtle, during a training session:
Thank you Keen Footwear for giving us a reason to smile!
DJ won the Aquarium's "See Turtle" photo contest, and his prize was to feed the Aquarium's biggest turtle. The feeding was covered on Channel 7 News, and here's a slideshow of what happened:
Unlike some fish species that can change sexes, porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix) are dioecious, which means having the sexes in two different individuals. Because of the behavior of Spike and Fugu, we believe them to be male and female, although it's not possible to determine their sex simply by their appearance because they are not dimorphic (males and females visibly different).
Porcupinefish belong to the Diodontidae family, which also includes balloonfish and striped burrfish, both of which we have in the Giant Ocean Tank. Their most obvious characteristic is the presence of long spines that become erect when the fish inflates itself after feeling threatened, an ability that all pufferfishes possess. Their diet consists of hard shelled invertebrates such as sea urchins and crabs. Spike and Fugu are trained to come to the platform for their food, live crabs being their favorite. Here's a video of them swimming off into the sunset together:
Maybe they will get each other chocolate covered crabs for Valentine's Day!
One of the coolest parts of my job is feeding the loggerhead sea turtles. They are very aggressive eaters, and making sure they both get their fair share can be quite a challenge.
They have been trained to come to a specific feeding station when they hear a rattling sound. The "rattle" was created by filling a piece of PVC pipe with nuts and bolts, and sealing both ends.
Using audio and visual cues is a great way to train sea turtles, but sometimes you get more then you bargained for. Check out the green moray eel in this film trying to get in on the action.
Both of the loggerhead sea turtles in these films came to us through our rescue and rehab department. Loggerheads are considered a threatened species in U.S. waters. To learn more about loggerheads and other sea turtles, come visit the Aquarium and experience our "Turtles Uncovered" theme program. You can also check on the current rescued turtle patients on the Turtle Rescue Blog.
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Aquarium divers go on several daily dives to care for the animals in the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) as well as lead expeditions to the Bahamas.