Meet the Semipalmated Sandpiper!

In late October we introduced a new bird into our Shorebirds Exhibit—a semipalmated sandpiper.

A new resident: Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpipers are an abundant species of sandpiper. They spend the summer breeding season in the Arctic and winter along the coasts of South America. You can see them locally when they migrate in the spring and fall.

The name semipalmated refers to the short webbing between the bird’s toes which help it walk on mud or wet sand. Our semipalmated sandpiper shares the exhibit with two semipalmated plovers, which can get confusing when we talk about the birds!

A room with a view!

Most of the shorebirds in the exhibit were injured and could not survive on their own in the wild. The semipalmated sandpiper was found on Mayo Beach in Wellfleet, MA, on September 1 and was unable to fly due to a broken wing. She was brought to Wild Care, a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Eastham, MA. It was determined that the bird was would not be able to survive if she was released because she would not be able to fly well enough to complete her migration to South America.

We picked her up from Cape Wild Care and, after spending a month at our quarantine facility to make sure that she didn’t have any parasites or diseases that could spread to our other birds, she was introduced into the exhibit.

Can you tell the difference?

The semipalmated sandpiper has settled right in and can often be seen resting or foraging by probing in the sand alongside our least sandpiper. The least sandpiper looks very similar to the semipalmated sandpiper but can be distinguished by leg color. The semipalmated’s legs are black whereas the least’s are yellowish.

Come check out the shorebirds exhibit the next time you visit the Aquarium and see if you can spot one of our newest residents!


First Day at the New School!

Different types of fish are known for their coordinated movements that make themselves look like one big, shimmering blur. This behavior, known as schooling, is an effective way of avoiding predators! It’s very difficult for predators to pick out one fish, separate it from the group and chase it down. And while visitors can see this behavior in lots of exhibits, it’s on full display in the Schooling exhibit!

Close-up of the school. How many fish do you see?

Blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis, have been a staple of the Schooling exhibit, showcasing the ability of a fish species to act as one collective unit. After a recent group of herring grew too big for the exhibit, they were moved to a larger exhibit at the Montreal Biodome (where some of our young researchers studied wolffish). This made way for a new school!

In October of 2012, Aquarium staff and volunteers headed to Buzzards Bay to collect some new exhibit animals. After being granted a special permit by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries, the crew used seine nets to catch close to 2,500 young fish! Having lived and grown behind the scenes for over a year, it was time for them to make their big splash.

Young herring in the holding exhibit

How do you move approximately 2,500 fish from one tank to another? With lots of help! Fortunately, the holding tank and exhibit are only a few short steps away from each other, making the process a little easier. Two aquarists would gather small batches of fish inside the holding tank. Once a batch was collected, the fish were transferred in bags to a waiting group of helpful staff and volunteers. With some quick, careful steps the fish were at their final destination.

Lots of helpful hands make moving easy!

Ready to move!

Once the humans, and the fish, reached the exhibit, the bags of fish were gently lowered into the water. In position, the bags were opened and the new inhabitants would be off—the fish quickly swimming to join the rest of the school. It was then back to the holding tank to repeat the process many times over!

A new batch of herring are added to the exhibit!

And they are off!

It was amazing to see the new school come together! The herring seamlessly swam together, acting as a united group. And as they are still growing, Aquarium visitors will have lots of time to see this new shimmering blur of herring, swimming past the window in the newly stocked Schooling exhibit!

The new herring getting used to their new home!


Behold, the immortal jellies

There are some incredibly fascinating animals behind the scenes at the Aquarium right now. We're talking mind-bending amazing. An animal that defies the natural order of life and death, packaged in an animal the size of your pinky nail. Meet...the immortal jelly.

The immortal jelly: An impressive name for an animal the size of a pinky nail 

Now you won't be able to see these animals when you visit. They are staying behind the scenes under the watchful eyes of our sea jelly aquarists. Right now our jellies exhibits are chock-full of other interesting animals—like the moon jellies, flowerhat jellies and comb jellies. But we think these jellies are so cool that we just had to tell you all about them.

The immortal jellies actually spend most of their time laying about at the bottom of their tank

These guys eat a diet of brine shrimp (note their pinkish-orange insides, that was lunch). They send out their tiny tentacles to snatch a shrimp then pull it toward their mouths. While they're active during feeding time, these specimens actually spend a lot of time just lazing about on the bottom of their tank.

The jellies extend their tiny tentacles around feeding time, when they snack on brine shrimp

But before we answer the question "How did these jellies get their name?" let's quickly review jelly reproduction. "True jellies" from the class Scyphozoa can reproduce asexually by budding, or sexually through a process called strobilation. That's when the fertilized egg becomes a planula larva and lands on a surface and becomes a polyp. The polyp becomes a strobila—almost looking like a stack of coffee filters. Each of these detaches and becomes an ephyra which then transitions into either a male or female medusa to begin the process all over again. (Check out the fancy diagram here for more help understanding this process.)

What makes an immortal jelly (Turritopsis dohrnii) so amazing is that as soon as a sexually mature jelly encounters hardship—environmental threats, old age and the like—it can revert back to its polyp stage and start all over. From what we now know, there's no other animal in the animal kingdom that can similarly age in reverse. Call it the Benjamin Button effect.

Senior Aquarist Chris Doller feeds and cares for the immortal jellies 

There's a lot we don't know about immortal jellies. They may have originated in Mediterranean, maybe the Caribbean, but they are now distributed in tropical oceans throughout the world. No single specimen has been observed long-term so scientists don't know how old an individual can be. Also, it's important to note that most of these animals probably succumb to predation or disease before they revert to the polyp stage. That means no jelly invasion, just yet.

These jellies are not on exhibit, but amazing enough that we just had to tell you about 'em!

So. Call them creepy, call them fascinating, you've just met one of our blue planet's more mysterious creatures. Even though you can't see these guys, you can come visit its relatives at the Aquarium.


This is real: Halloween lobster

Just in time for Halloween last year we introduced the rarest of specimens—a two-toned lobster with coloration just perfect for the holiday. The lobster was new to the Aquarium and was behind the scenes for routine quarantine. But this year, she is on prominent display through this Sunday, November 3!

The rare two-toned lobster that arrived at the Aquarium last year, always ready to celebrate Halloween

Salem fisherman Dana Duhaime caught the lobster last year and knew right away she was special. He arranged to donate her to the Aquarium and sent her on with the name Pinchy, in honor of a giant lobster that appeared in a Simpsons TV episode. Pinchy has grown over the past year, and the molt of her discarded but amazing, two-toned old shell will also be shown by Aquarium educators.

Perfectly split-colored lobsters are extremely rare occurring in about 1 in very 100 million lobsters. Among those rare two-toned lobster, orange and black is the most common combination. While these rare creatures sometimes show the sexual characteristics of both genders, but this lobster is a female. Learn how these splits happen on a cellular level.

Here's video from the lobster's debut last year:

This animal will be on exhibit until this Sunday. Then she'll head behind the scenes again, where she'll make periodic appearances during the Live Animal Presentations. Plan your visit to see this remarkable animal in the Northern Waters Gallery at the New England Aquarium.

Curious about lobsters? 


A fish that goes bump in the night

It lurks in the darkness…hiding within the coral crevices. Known as the black widow, this mysterious creature slithers out of its watery home at night, searching for unsuspecting prey. Divers search the inky blackness to find this elusive animal, only to be disappointed and turned away by the black beauty…

 The brotula in its natural habitat
Credit: Fishbase. Uploaded by Cláudio L. S. Sampaio

Just in time for Halloween, the Aquarium has a special guest on exhibit in the fourth floor’s Yawkey Coral Reef Center. Known as a black widow, or the less frightening name of “black brotula”, the new Stygnobrotula latebricola is only a few inches long and is native to tropical waters from the Bahamas to Brazil.

This new resident is rare to see in aquariums and is the first of its kind here at Central Wharf. However, they are also hard to see in the wild. They are known as cryptic animals, using their shallow reefs and rocky ledge homes to hide during the day. This helps this slow moving creature to avoid predators.

Lots of good places to hide!

Though it does hide from time to time, our current resident can be seen out and about looking for food. They eat small crustaceans, even parasites on other animals, and you can sometimes see small prey items floating in the exhibit with the brotula.

Out and about, looking for a mid-day snack

There’s no telling how long this creature will haunt the halls of the Aquarium. Make sure to come visit this special guest…if you dare!


Lionfish: Slow-motion Video

Just steps away from the bottom of the Giant Ocean Tank, filled with its vibrant species from the Caribbean, you'll find the Armed and Venomous exhibit. This exhibit is filled with interesting fish including the rockfish, pufferfish, and the lionfish—with its dramatic fins and destructive spines.

These days, lionfish can also be found in Caribbean reefs, but that's not a good thing. This invasive species has no natural predators in these reefs, and divers are finding them in increasing numbers. And yet... Even though they are an unwelcome sight on Caribbean reefs, they are quite beautiful. Their graceful fins and and bold stripes are captivating, and that's all the more evident in this stunning slow-motion video. Take a look.

Learn more about lionfish!
This video was also used in our first television ad campaign in decades! Watch the videos and check out last summer's full ad campaign.

A visitor's picture of the lionfish in the Armed and Venomous exhibit (Photo: Mimi Bo)

And don't forget about the other residents of the Tropical Gallery:


Goosefish Egg Veil: Three for the year!

We've discussed the beauty of the goosefish egg veil before—three times this year, in fact! This uniquely beautiful fish has wowed everyone at the Aquarium by laying her third egg veil this year. And it never ceases to be beautiful.

Just a few pictures of this graceful, gauzy, temporary addition to the goosefish exhibit.

Educators describe the bubble net as similar to bubble wrap. This image illustrates this idea quite well, no?

The gauzy egg veil enshrouds the exhibit's sea weed

The goosefish, a bit smaller and probably tired after laying the egg veil  

There are several hundred thousand eggs in this sheet, which can be as long as 60 feet. 

Here's a look back at some of the other egg veils that have graced this exhibit over the years:
And here are a couple posts about the goosefish and other residents of the Northern Waters Gallery:

There is no male in this exhibit, so don't expect baby goosefish. But this is still a really special occasion; the goosefish has never laid three egg veils in one year before. The eggs will remain in the exhibit for only a couple days, so if you want to see this amazing sight in person you should hurry to Central Wharf. Buy your tickets online and print at home, you'll be visiting this special lady and her egg veil in no time.


How does your garden (eel colony) grow?

You usually find them bobbing and swaying in their central exhibit, searching for a passing nugget of food. But in one blink of an eye, they can quickly disappear into their sandy burrows en masse—zooop! Meet the garden eels, slender and sometimes shy seafloor dwellers in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center.

Garden eels sway in the currents | Photo: visitor picture

In this exhibit you'll find mostly brown and yellow garden eels. They are found in Caribbean coral reef ecosystems—like the one in the Giant Ocean Tank. They cluster their borrows together in a colony, and you'll rarely find one swimming around. Instead you can see them pop their heads and bodies out looking for detritus or plankton to eat. With a mass of swaying garden eels rooted to the sandy floor, it almost looks like grasses—thus the name, garden eel.

Each animal fits so snugly in its burrows, you might wonder how it managed to make that home. Well take a look at this video. It was taken moments after the eels were introduced to their new exhibit this summer. Watch one of them make its new home, the start of our garden eel colony!

While garden eels are found on Caribbean coral reefs just like the ecosystem inside the Giant Ocean Tank, we think these special animals deserve a closer look. Their special exhibit at the top of the tank lets you get close to these graceful and fascinating animals. Just be sure not to spook them, because they can hide in a flash!

Come by and take a look sometime. Buy your tickets in advance on our website, then you can print them at home. Just be sure to bring your camera.


Goosefish Feeding Time…in Slow Motion!


When people first approach the goosefish exhibit, many visitors have a hard time finding her in the tank. The goosefish is perfect at blending into the seafloor with her gray color and a flattened body shape. And when it’s time to find food, this appearance has a lot of advantages!

Can you find the goosefish?

Goosefish are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything that comes near their oversized mouths, including fish, birds, shrimp…even soda cans! By blending in, the chances of a food item swimming close to the fish increase. The goosefish will lie on the seafloor, wait for something to get close and then, with a quick burst of speed, engulf the whole item with its mouth. Check out this slow motion video of our goosefish eating!

To help draw prey closer, goosefish have what looks like a fishing pole with a lure on the top of their head. They use this modified fin to ‘fish’ for their food. By waving it up in the water, the small lure resembles a small fish or a worm and attracts larger fish, such as silversides, closer to the goosefish. Once that happens, it’s lunchtime for the goosefish!

The goosefish's modified dorsal fin acts as a fishing lure.

The shiny fish in the exhibit, called silversides, are not her food (the aquarists provide her with healthy meals on a special feeding tool) but provide the goosefish with behavioral enrichment. By having the silversides near her, the goosefish gets a chance to practice her fishing skills.

In addition to her ravishing beauty and impressive fishing skills, the goosefish has another noteworthy accomplishment: Each year she wows visitors with her egg veil. This year our aquarist caught video of her laying the egg veil! See more pictures and video of the egg veil.

So the next time you visit our Gulf of Maine exhibits, stop by and check out the goosefish. If you are lucky, you might be able to see her fishing! And while you're in these chilly Northern Waters galleries, don't miss the octopus and green anemone tidepool exhibits.


Special Video: Goosefish Laying an Egg Veil!

For a couple years now, we have been sharing the story of the goosefish egg veil.  It's almost become a right of spring. This pretty lady produces a mass of eggs that gracefully billow and sway in the currents of the exhibit. It's a fleeting addition to the goosefish display, remaining on exhibit for only a couple days.

The goosefish

But we have never recorded the goosefish in the act of laying her gossamer egg veil. That changed when senior aquarist Bill Murphy was in the right place at the right time with his camera phone. Take a look at this video shot yesterday in the Aquarium's Northern Waters gallery.

As you can see in this video of last year's egg veil, the egg veil is composed of a thin sheet of as many as 2 million eggs. Here are some more pictures of this year's egg veil.

The egg veil usually contains between 1 and 2 million eggs!

Visitors can watch the egg veil gracefully drift throughout the exhibit for the next couple days. 

These eggs are not fertilized because there is no male in the exhibit.

If you were thinking of visiting the Aquarium "one of these days," well, it's time. Plan your visit today. You won't be able to see the egg veil for very long and you won't want to miss this.  


New Kids on the Freshwater Block

Until recently, the Aquarium has been using one particularly flashy and popular fish as the spokesman for Project Piaba—the cardinal tetra.

Cardinal tetra | Photo by Lerdsuwa via Wikimedia Commons

The lifecycle of these fish fluctuates on population booms and busts according to the wet season/dry season in the Amazon. Locals around the town of Barcelos harvest these fish for the aquarium trade in a low-impact sustainable way. This trade provides valuable income to the region, which in turn provides incentive to the residents to preserve the rainforest that supports these fisheries.

Besides the massive anaconda in the exhibit, you'll also find fish
of many different sizes in the anaconda exhibit.

Did you know that many other Amazonian fish are also harvested in the same way? Learn more about this counter-intuitive conservation effort in this piece from Discover Magazine, which features senior aquarist Scott Dowd.

Now let's meet a couple other species currently on exhibit in the anaconda display of the Amazon Rainforest exhibits. This exhibit is now teeming with beautiful fish and an important conservation message: Responsible fisheries are an important way to help protect our blue planet.

Discus get their common name from their flat, round body shape which resembles the heavy disc thrown in track and field. Like most cichlids, they exhibit parental care, with both parents assisting with the young. The male and female adult discus both produce a secretion through their skin which the larvae live off- almost like nursing their young!

A discus, with those flashy neon tetras in the background. Photo via Instagram

Twig catfish (Farlowella)
These fish get their name from their elongated twig-like appearance. We have several in the Anaconda exhibit that can usually be found right upfront sticking against the glass. Like otocinclus, which you'll learn about below, they are algae eaters to earn their keep.

You'll often find the twig catfish stuck to the smooth glass surface of the tank.

Now see if you can recognize some of the fish in this video:

Marbled hatchetfish
These fish get their name because their body resembles the head of a hatchet. Their family name Gasteropelecus actually means hatchet-shaped belly. The hatchetfish’s claim to fame is that they can leap from the water and seem to fly through the air, pumping their large pectoral fins to catch flying insects. They are generally accepted as being the only true flying fish. There are a number of fish that can leap out of the water, but only these freshwater hatchetfish actually use their pectoral fins to aid in their flight. Hatchets usually occupy the top portion of the tank, and because they will not swim to the bottom to eat, all of their food must float.

Otocinclus are a type of armored catfishes, and are commonly called "dwarf suckers" or "otos". They are popular aquarium fish, and are often used as algae eaters. Unlike most catfish, otos like company and live in schools. Their claim to fame is that they have a special adaptation at the junction of their esophagus and stomach that allows them to breathe air!

Splash tetra
Splash tetras are unique among fishes in that they lay their eggs out of water. The male positions himself beneath overhanging vegetation growing beside the river and puts on displays for passing females. When a female sees something she likes, she positions herself next to the male and the two leap out of the water together, attaching themselves to the bottom of a leaf by their fins. The pair then lay and fertilize their eggs before falling back into the river. Once the egg mass is complete, the male positions himself in the water under the leaves, watching the egg and occasionally splashing the eggs with his tail to keep them moist, which is how they get the name splashing tetra. Once the eggs hatch, the fry fall into the water and swim for cover.

Three Spot Earth Eater
Found near the bottom of the anaconda exhibit, these cichlids are bottom feeders who suck up gravel to sift for food, and then spit it back out. Their Latin name, however, is much more sinister—Satanoperca acuticeps—which compares them to Satan! Earthmover cichlids are mouth brooders, with the fathers sheltering the fry in their mouths (just like the Banggai cardinalfish). People in the Amazon noticed this unusual behavior and immediately compared it with a local mythological demon that slurps up her own children and then vomits them out.

So now that you know these fishes' amazing stories, head over to the anaconda or flooded Amazon exhibits. , tell these fishes’ amazing stories, and most importantly, how they are harvested and where they come from.

Buy a fish, save a tree!

This information was prepared by Aquarium educator Lindsay Jordan. Look for Lindsay and other Aquarium educators near the exhibits and come armed with lots of questions. They'll be able to answer those questions and share information about many other exhibits throughout the building!


Playtime for the Octopus!

A new octopus has taken up residence at Central Wharf, entertaining visitors for the past few weeks. Not even a year old yet, our newest eight-armed member is quite the handful!

The trainers presented Karma with this green ball—and she immediately took to it!

At a moment’s notice, Karma will change the color and texture of her skin, move quickly around her exhibit and check out the view through her exhibit window.

Karma can change color from a deep red to a dusky tan color.

With the keen intellect that demands constant mental stimulation, the husbandry staff is always working to find new ways to enrich Karma’s experience. A good back scratch or puzzle boxes have been the favorite playtimes of past octopuses. However, our new octopus had a new toy to play with, thanks to the Marine Mammal trainers!

Karma is very active and our aquarists are always looking for ways to keep her engaged.

Our Marine Mammal team provides enrichment for our seals and sea lions every day. Training sessions and playtime with toys allows these animals to be physically active, keep their brains active by learning new behaviors or manipulating objects and to have fun. Lots of toys can be seen in our two marine mammal exhibits…and one of these toys was shared with Karma!

A favorite toy of the marine mammals is a large, green plastic ball…and now it’s the octopus’s new favorite! Our aquarist smeared the outside of the ball with fish, added some fish inside the ball and then gave it to Karma. She loved it! She used her arms to pull the fish out of the small holes, manipulated the ball around the exhibit and then just hung out with it. Karma liked it so much she didn’t want to give it back, keeping the ball well secured in her arms for the next day.

To make sure that our animals are healthy at the Aquarium, our staff makes sure that the needs of each animal is met. That often requires going above feedings and tank cleanings. For some animals, mental stimulation is a must. And sometimes that enrichment is in the form of simple, green ball.

Even in a dim corner of her exhibit, you can sometimes catch Karma watching you.

See some Vine videos of Karma in action here, learn more about octopus intelligence, camouflaging abilities and their incredible ability to solve puzzles.

– Jo


There's something about the octopus

There's just something about octopuses that really let your imagination swim wild. Whether our octopus is testing her noggin on a food puzzle or showing off her camouflaging abilities, she is an amazing creature to behold. Here's a collection of our most recent Vine videos (they're short little snippets, really) featuring the octopus.

If these don't make you want to grab a camera and meet this cephalopod, how about this small and mighty cephalopod?

There is so much beauty and wonder at the Aquarium. Come on by—with or without  your camera—and soak in the sights and sounds of our blue planet. We are open for visitors in Boston today.


Seahorses wrestle for position [Videos]

Seahorses are a visitor favorite at the Aquarium. This unique exhibit provides a variety of angles for viewing seahorse behavior.

A couple months ago, I was feeding the seahorse exhibit and noticed some very intense behavior among the seahorses. One female was resting among the algae in the exhibit while her pair bonded male hovered around her. If other males came near her he would chase them away by bumping heads with them and even using his tail to drag them away. Check out this video showing some of that territorial behavior.

Months later the seahorses are still at it. This footage shows one seahorse dragging another around the exhibit.

Info Alert! Do you know male seahorses have a pouch on their belly? The male gets the eggs from the female and carries the "fry" much like a female kangaroo carries a joey. Yep! The males get pregnant. If you look closely in the video, you’ll notice that the male seahorses have puffed up pouches. When they are being territorial, a male seahorse will fill his pouch with seawater to look big and impressive to his mate.
-Dave (With some help from Jeff)

Want more stories from this exhibit?
Check out this video of a stickleback making a nest. And don't miss this classic story of a rescued juvenile cowfish who spent some time in the seahorse exhibit, more background on that little guy here. Finally, you have to see this video captured by Dave of a hermit crab hatching eggs on exhibit. It's not in the seahorse exhibit, but right nearby in the Edge of the Sea Touch Tank, which is being completely renovated right now.


Hidden Gem: Live Mangrove Exhibit

The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank is an Aquarium favorite. When you walk into the Aquarium's West Wing, it's easy to bee-line right to this beautiful, interactive exhibit filled with gregarious cownose rays and fascinating sharks. But you'd be missing a gem of a tank at the entrance to the exhibit. So stop for second, get quiet and belly up to the live mangrove display on your right.

Here's a quick peek at the tank—Vine-video-style. (If you have the Vine app, look for us @NEAQ!)

This tank is bursting with life—from speedy fish, to colorful anemones to hermit crabs to the upside-down jellies to live plants! Let's get to know a couple of the stars of this tank so you can impress your fellow visitors with your knowledge.

An upside-down jelly

First up, the upside-down jelly, (Cassiopea xamachana). These jellies lie on the sandy bottom with their four branching tentacles left to sway in the water. The bluish fringe contains symbiotic zooxanthallae, which are tiny plants that make food for the jelly. Those tentacles also filter nutrients and plankton out of the water. Scientists studying mangrove ponds in Belize know these tentacles also pack a bit of a sting, too.

By Aquaimages [CC-BY-SA-2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

Don't forget the copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus). You may have noticed this guy zoom past the camera during the jelly clip. These fast, flat fish have a long snout that helps them eat small crustaceans, worms and coral polyps. It is an asset to this exhibit, too, because it likes to snack on parasites that might hitch a ride into the exhibit!

A speedy fusilier

The double-lined fusilier (Pterocaesio digramma) are easy to spot with two bright yellow stripes against their sleek bluish-silver bodies. While they are related to snapper, they are well adapted to eating smaller prey such as crustaceans that live in the silty layer on the bottom of a mangrove stand.

Photo: Nick Hobgood [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Tube anemones look quite graceful dotting the tank. Take a close look and you'll notice two distinct rings of tentacles and a tube-like body. The outer ring of tentacles is for defense and capturing prey. The inner ring is used to manipulate their food. If disturbed, they can completely retract into their tube! These anemones are different from other anemones, like the green anemones, and attach to the substrate by secreting a hard mucus tube.

via Wikimedia Commons

And what would a mangrove exhibit be without mangrove plants! We have some young plants that have started to put down roots, along with some sculptural mangrove roots. Mangroves are incredibly important marine habitats. They provide a cozy nursery for sharks and other fish to grow up, they are essential for healthy coral reefs, they protect coasts from storm damage and they are a carbon sink! But there has been a 17 percent decline in mangrove forests since 1980, according to the IUCN.

With all the animals that call this tiny tank home, just imagine all the marine animals in the wild that are threatened by the loss of mangrove habitats. The best way to save mangroves is to prevent them from being destroyed in the first place. Conservation organizations around the world are working to protect mangrove forests from deforestation and pollution.

-Dave Allen contributed information for this entry


Jaw-Dropping Cuttlefish Video

Ask some serious fish nerds what their favorite animal is and there is a good chance that they will mention cuttlefish, which are both freaky and very cool. Take a minute to watch this stunning slow-motion video (with their real-time counterpart clips) of the cuttlefish feeding and changing color and you'll know what we're talking about.

This super-crisp, slow-motion video was a collaboration between New England Aquarium, an underwater photographer, a physicist and a local tech company. At 500 frames per second, the footage appears about 17 times slower than it occurs to the naked eye. The result: a spectacular new window on cuttlefish in action. Did you see how this cunning cephalopod captured its food with two shotgun-like tentacles? Once it snagged the fish, it pulled it into the grasp of eight waiting suction-cupped arms. Learn more about this stunning video.

Cuttlefish are related to squid and octopus. When they feel threatened, they can change color and skin pattern in just a few seconds. The lighting-fast color change is quite subtle in the slow-motion video.

Cuttlefish change colors and patterns to blend into their surroundings.

The Aquarium’s cuttlefish tank currently houses nine cuttlefish patrolling the water column, wary of some of their pesky neighbors—rays and guitarfish. Come by to see these amazing creatures in action. With special construction pricing in effect, you'll save when you come belly up to this exhibit to marvel at their tentacles and color changing expertise.

Cuttlefish are fascinating for any age!

Can't get enough of these cephalopods? Check out these fun facts, and meet some former Aquarium residents—dwarf cuttlefish.