Adventure Aquarium sponsors ocean trawl to research plastic polluton

Content and images courtesy of 5 Gyres

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The 5 Gyres Team from their Viking Gyre Expedition, a 2,500 nautical mile journey from Bermuda to Iceland. Adventure Aquarium sponsored Trawl #17.

We love our oceans! Unfortunately, modern times have led to negative repercussions on the health of our oceans, in part due to an overabundance of trash that has found its way into waterways.  Did you know that – in fact – in the world’s oceans, there are massive currents carrying floating debris in what are called the five (5) subtropical gyres: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean Gyre.

The 5 ocean gyres

The 5 ocean gyres – illustrated

And while we can all agree that it’s a major issue, little is known about ocean pollution – specifically what role plastic pollution plays.  One organization leading the charge to change this is the team at 5 Gyres, an institute whose mission is to conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres.

The manta trawl

The manta trawl

5 Gyres conducts the majority of their research via ocean trawls in which a data-collection device called a Manta Trawl is lowered into the water and towed behind their vessel to skim the surface. The goal is to collect samples of the ocean’s surface to quantify and research the mass, size, color and type of pollution floating in these massive gyres.  Fish caught during the expedition are examined for plastic ingestion.  Stomach contents are sorted and weighed with tissue samples being preserved for future analysis of persistent organic pollutants.  This research provides valuable data for scientists and others desperate to know the impact plastic pollution has on our environment.

Debris is separated and sent back to the United States for research.

Debris is separated and sent back to the United States for research.

Recently, Adventure Aquarium and our Fins for the Future Committee had the privilege of supporting the team at 5 Gyres during their Viking Gyre Expedition, a 2,500 nautical mile journey from Bermuda to Iceland.  We sponsored Trawl #17 that was taken more than 500 miles east of Nova Scotia, with whales and sargassum seaweed nearby.  An hour after the trawl was dropped into the water, the 5 Gyres team pulled out a sample containing multiple fragments of plastic pollution typical of ocean samples around the world. Each sample is then taken back to the US to be analyzed for plastic particle count and weight per square kilometer.

Check out this exclusive video from the trawl:

We’re honored to be part of the effort to increase research about and spread awareness of plastic pollution! Learn more about the expedition, and what you can do by visiting www.5gyres.org.

Adventure Aquarium’s three-banded Armadillo gets into World Cup fever – and for good reason!

By: Brandon Deane – Biologist, Birds & Mammals

GGGGGOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!! You’ll be hearing this a lot during the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup being played in Brazil. The World Cup is played every 4years in different locations around the world and for the last 48years they have had a mascot representing not only the World Cup but also the Country in which the games are played. Well, say hello to Fuleco the Brazilian mascot.

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Fuleco is a fusion name for Futbol and Ecologia which means soccer and ecology, two things that are of great importance to not only Brazil but the world. Now what makes Fuleco so cool to us here at Adventure Aquarium is that he is a three-banded armadillo…just like our very own Tank.

Tank2The three-banded armadillo, unfortunately, is a species on the decline because of deforestation and hunting by humans so having Tank…I mean Fuleco as the FIFA World Cup mascot will be great for education and awareness for this species. Not to mention he is just so stinkin cute. Brazil kicks off the World Cup on June 12 against Croatia and Fuleco will be there rooting for his country. Root all you want Fuleco, we have a Tank that says team U.S.A. is going to make some noise.

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U.S.A. plays June 16th vs. Ghana @ 6pm, June 22nd vs. Portugal @ 6pm, and June 26th vs. Germany @ Noon.

So lets Kick It!!!! The soccer ball of course, not Tank.

Adventure Aquarium releases more than 50 Horseshoe crabs into the Delaware Bay off Cape May

Exciting news in the conservation of a dwindling species! Yesterday, researchers from Adventure Aquarium and Richard Stockton College of New Jersey released 50 juvenile horseshoe crabs back into the Delaware Bay in Cape May County. The juveniles, which were 2 and 3 years old, were part of our Horseshoe Crab Head-Start Program.

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Starting in July 2011 and led by Adventure Aquarium biologist Matt Ferroni, the program gives horseshoe crabs a better chance of survival and reproduction in the wild (learn more here). Because as far as misunderstood creatures go, horseshoe crabs certainly get a bad rap. They look scary and menacing, but are in reality perfectly harmless creatures that inhabit the same shoreline that you and I visit every summer.  In fact, the Delaware Bay is home to one of the largest populations of horseshoe crabs in the world!  However, few people would even guess that this number is dwindling.  The horseshoe crab which has existed on earth since the time of the dinosaurs is facing a population decline, which has a ripple effect in the ecosystem.   The many endangered migratory birds that feed on their eggs each year along the Bay (i.e. the Red Knot) and sea turtles depend on horseshoe crabs for food.

The crabs were ready to be released!

Each crab was tagged with a coded wire tag that allows Adventure Aquarium biologists to identify the crabs in the future. 

Matt carries a couple horseshoe crabs out to the release area.

Matt carries a couple horseshoe crabs out to the release area.

Over 50 horseshoe crabs were released into the Delaware Bay

Over 50 horseshoe crabs were released into the Delaware Bay

Survival rates for horseshoe crabs in the wild are very low. For example, a single female horseshoe crab can lay up to 80,000 eggs on the Delaware Bay, but it’s estimated that only 10 of those 80,000 reach adulthood.  Thanks to the Aquariums biologists, the survival rate of the juveniles has improved to 35%. Each crab that is collected gets tagged with a coded wire tag that allows Adventure Aquarium biologists to identify the crabs in the future.  The hope is that the tags will be retained through the horseshoe crab molts to allow for future studies.

Our team anticipates a release each year going forward, as more eggs are collected and raised to juvenile crabs each year. So the story continues! Be sure to stay tuned for ongoing updates on Adventure Aquarium’s horseshoe crab conservation efforts.

Adventure Aquarium welcomes a juvenile Giant Pacific Octopus

By: Kari Milroy, Biologist – Fish & Invertebrates

I would like to introduce you to my new buddy Randolph.  Randolph has 8 arms equipped with suction cups, enjoys living alone, squirts ink, and can taste with his arms. Sort of sounds like a superhero right? Although you’re unlikely to see Randolph fighting crime, you can see this Giant Pacific octopus, along with a host of other unique creatures, in the Jules Verne Gallery at Adventure Aquarium.

Randolph - 1Octopuses come with an assortment of personality types. Some can be mischievous, relaxed, irritable, gentle, and silly. As one of our newest additions to the Aquarium, Randolph is still getting used to his surroundings and is still a bit shy.

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However, when food is involved, he becomes very excited, changing a vast array of different colors. Octopuses are considered to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. Because of this, Randolph needs a constant source of enrichment to keep his day interesting.

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As an octopus caretaker, I take pleasure in coming up with new and interesting ways to keep my boy happy, healthy, and entertained. Examples of octopus enrichment include introduction of various foods, meeting new people, and presenting his food in different ways. Randolph gets an assortment of goodies three times a week, including capelin, shrimp, herring, squid, and mackerel. However, he gets especially giddy for blue crab. When presenting enrichment, food is typically placed inside a container in which Randolph must open to grab his dinner. Examples of this are clear PVC pipes, water cooler bottles, screw-top jars, puzzles, and even large blocks of ice.

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Some of the more fun and rewarding forms of enrichment come from my daily tactile interactions with this special creature.  Check Randolph out in action, below:

Conservation partners join Adventure Aquarium for World Oceans Day celebration – June 7 & 8

We’ve joined forces with leaders in local and national conservation initiatives for our World Oceans Day celebration – June 7 & 8. Through hands-on, interactive activities, fun crafts and more, families will have fun, while also learning more of what that they can do to positively impact the environment and marine life worldwide.

Below is a sampling of the conservation partners we’re excited to welcome this weekend:

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New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences

Did you know that sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for their natural prey: jellyfish? Adventure Aquarium’s educational partner, the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences will be on hand to talk about sea turtles and sea turtle conservation, and what you can do to protect them in the wild. Turtle artifacts, crafts, interactives and more!

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Marine Mammal Stranding Center

Since its founding in 1978, staff at New Jersey’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center have responded to over 4,000 calls for whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles that washed ashore on New Jersey beaches. Learn about their invaluable work, and take a behind-the-scenes tour to the top of our Ocean Realm Exhibit ($5/person) to help the Center. 100% of the proceeds will go to the center in their efforts to protect local wildlife!

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Surfrider Foundation

Learn more about the efforts of California-based Surfrider Foundation – an organization whose mission is simple: the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide. Representatives will be on hand to talk about their work and what you can do to protect the oceans we all know and love.

downloadWhole Foods Market

A commitment to sustainable seafood is essential for the health and future of our oceans. During your World Ocean Weekend visit, hear from representatives of Whole Foods Market in Marlton and learn more about what sustainable seafood is, and how you can help make a difference with your food choices. Whole Foods Market works hard to set the bar high for responsible aquaculture and fishery practices and are committed to supporting the supplier partners who are on the water helping to maintain abundant fish populations and ecosystems for future generations. Recently, Greenpeace ranked them #1 again in their annual ranking of seafood sustainability at US supermarkets!

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the festivities. LEARN MORE about what’s happening during our World Oceans Day weekend celebration.

Ocean Advocate Brucker Chase to speak during World Oceans Weekend at Adventure Aquarium

Exciting news! During this weekend’s World Oceans Day festivities, we’re excited to welcome ocean advocate and endurance waterman Bruckner Chase, a fascinating individual whose extreme pursuits in waters around the world are matched by his passion for inspiring people to discover their own connection to the oceans we share.

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During FREE live chats this weekend, Bruckner will speak about this passion, as well as his exciting experiences in waters from around the world. In 2010, his solo, twenty-eight mile swim across Monterey Bay launched both the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and his own full-time career, dedicated to moving others from awareness to personal, sustainable action that benefits our oceans and our communities.

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Check him out in action in this Extreme Swim Clip around Aunu’u in American Samoa:


Show Schedule:

Live Chats are included in general admission during World Oceans Day Weekend.

June 7 & 8 in our Ocean Realm Dive Theater

  • 12:45 pm
  • 1:45 pm
  • 3:15 pm

How our biologists use everyday items to strengthen the bonds of our penguin pairs

By: Jenn Hutchins, Biologist – Birds & Mammals

Hi everyone this is Cliff, one of our 24 resident African black-footed penguins.  Cliff is 26 years old and he lives at Adventure Aquarium with his mate Mouse.

Clif Penguin Enrichment

Throughout the week the keepers like giving the penguin colony different types of enrichment.  One of the main things we like to give the penguins are items of different shapes and sizes to bring back to their nests and to help show off for their mates.

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Here at the aquarium we give the penguins a variety of items to carry around such as whiffle balls, plastic chains, small children toys, and small dog toys.  In this picture Cliff has one of his favorite “toys” -a yellow plastic chain that he takes back to his nest and shows off for Mouse.

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When a penguin brings an item back to the nest both mates get really excited and put on a visual and vocal display.  They can also be seen sitting on different toys as if it is an egg.  Giving these items to the penguins is very important to stimulate breeding behavior and create a stronger bond between mates.

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