Navigating the Giant Ocean Tank Part 2 (Stingrays)

Here's part 2 of our tour!  Follow around two of our three species of stingrays in the Giant Ocean Tank.

Southern stingrays, Dasyatis americana, are benthic elasmobranchs, spending most (but not all, as seen in the video) of their time on the bottom in sandy areas.  They have 1 or 2 venomous spines on their tails which are used for defense only.  They are common in the Caribbean but also found in the Gulf of Mexico and in Atlantic waters north to New Jersey and south to Brazil.  They are members of Family Dasyatidae (stingrays).

A diver feeds a Southern stingray
Photo: Greg Derr | The Patriot Ledger

Cownose rays, Rhinoptera bonasus, are pelagic elasmobranchs, swimming mainly in the water column but descending to the ocean floor to feed on invertebrates.  They get their name from their cow-like snouts, and although they are in a different family from the southern stingray, they too have venomous spine(s) on their tails.  They formerly were classified in Family Myliobatidae (eagle rays) but now are members of Family Rhinopteridae (cownose rays).

A diver feeds cownose rays

A common question we get is "Aren't you afraid of getting stung by the stingrays?"  Now, like I said, these spines are only used for defense, not for attacking other fish or divers.  But, for diver safety purposes, we trim down these spines by clipping them once or twice per year, to prevent any accidents from occurring... some divers have less buoyancy control than others ;)



The Story of Ellie the Elephant

Like I do almost every day at work, I was swimming around the Giant Ocean Tank yesterday, feeding critters and waving to people through the awesome new windows, when I noticed something fall into the tank.

An accidental dip in the Giant Ocean Tank | Photo: @AlecCouros via

Turns out, it was Ellie the elephant. She was visiting the Aquarium with her family when she accidentally went for a dip. That's when I heard a faint "Diver guy?" come from behind the glass wall at the top.

Chris, scuba diver and stuffed elephant rescuer

I swam over, picked it up, and tossed it to one of our dedicated volunteers on the dive platform. This prompted a round of applause from the onlookers.
A triptych that tells the story of Ellie the elephant: 1) Bea & 'Ellie' the elephant. 2) Ellie falls into NE Aquarium 
3) Bea & Ellie reunited w/ help of the friendly diver
Photo: @AlecCouros via

The story of this dramatic rescue first broke on the Aquarium's Twitter page like this:

It was over in a flash and I'm glad that we were able to keep Ellie (and the animals in the big tank) safe. She definitely looks well loved. I'm sure that's one pink elephant that will be bragging to her stuffed friends that she went for a swim in the GOT. [Unfortunately, this is not the first time an item has fallen into the exhibit. In fact, it happens all too often.]


Navigating the New Exhibit Part 1

It's definitely taking me some time to get used to the new interior of the Giant Ocean Tank.  A new coral head here, some new lettuce corals there, oops I just swam into some tube sponges, you get the picture.  I was wondering how the fish were navigating their new digs.  So I followed some fish around with my camera, including this really cool peacock flounder.

Peacock flounders (Bothus lunatus) are bottom dwellers and are masters of camouflage, having the ability to rapidly lighten or darken their colors to blend with the bottom. They, like all lefteye flounders in the Bothidae family, have both of their eyes on top of their head, which is actually their left side because they lie on their sides, not their stomachs, making their pectoral fin look like a dorsal fin.

Peacock flounder | Photo: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble via Wikimedia Commons

What's really cool is that they have typical bilateral fish-shaped bodies with an eye on each side of their heads when in their pelagic (or open water) larval stage, and when growing into a benthic (or bottom dwelling) juvenile one eye migrates to the other side! That amazes me.

Hope you enjoyed today's tour.


Check out more underwater videos of the big tank!
• Turtles, eels and fish tour their new home
• Myrtle's triumphant return to the Giant Ocean Tank
• Check out some of the cool new features at the top of the tank

Come look for the peacock flounder inside the Giant Ocean Tank! Visiting has never been easier. Choose the day and time you wish to visit with timed ticketing.


The Giant Ocean Tank Returns!

Say hello to the NEW Giant Ocean Tank!  We are very excited about the improvements.  Here are a few quick above-water pics to get you started...

2 platforms - 1 for divers, 1 for educators and presentations/programs

Ramp to top of GOT, accessible by elevator

360 degree glass wall (great for the kiddies) and domed ceiling with embedded lights

Yawkey Coral Reef Center also features seven Caribbean fish tanks in a new annex just steps away from the top of the tank. Note the two large video screens showing pictures from inside the GOT!

More to come soon!

— Chris

Come see these new features for yourself! Visiting the Aquarium has never been easier. Choose the day and time you'd like to visit with timed ticketing.


Big Day: The Official Opening of the Giant Ocean Tank

It's been a long 10 months, and all our efforts have been working toward this day. We have so much to tell you about the new exhibit, but just for today—the official debut of the new tank and all the new exhibits throughout the Aquarium—here's a view from the inside. Sit back and enjoy, this video is chock-full of cool animals.

While our attention and pride is focused on the Giant Ocean Tank (it is our office, after all), today's celebration is about the New England Aquarium as a whole. We're calling it the New Aquarium Experience because visitors will notice changes all throughout the building.

Myrtle the turtle, our most famous resident

We hope you'll come by and check things out this summer. As you can tell from the video, we can definitely see you on the other side of the glass and we're looking forward to waving to a lot of new faces! (Just, please... don't bang on the glass.)

Buy your tickets online in advance for the entry time that right for you