The Seattle Aquarium’s new northern fur seal, Chewbacca has officially met his tank-mate Commander! Chewbacca, or Chewy for short, arrived at the Aquarium in February. He spent his first weeks in quarantine and becoming acclimated to his new home in our Northern Fur Seal exhibit while Commander was relocated to another exhibit in our marine mammal complex.
Early this week, Aquarium staff determined that Chewy was ready to meet Commander. Says Curator of Mammals and Birds Traci Belting, “After all the bustling crowds were gone and everything was calm and quiet, we voluntarily shifted Commander to the Northern Fur Seal exhibit, where he and Chewy immediately began to investigate each other.” She continues, “The introduction went as predicted, with a range of behaviors from loud vocals and aggressive postures to total calm grooming and nuzzling together in the water.”
Aquarium staff members will continue to monitor Chewy and Commander’s behavior during the lengthy socialization process as both males try to establish their dominance. Says Traci, “We expect that we’ll continue to observe some very impressive interactions between the two males, which could include growls, wickers*, superficial bites, head bows and routine sparring while they get to know each other.”
*Hoping to hear a wicker for yourself, or just want to know what it is? Come to the Seattle Aquarium to see Chewy and Commander! In the meantime, click here to learn more about northern fur seals.
The Seattle Aquarium was recently featured on the “Marine Science Today” website for its efforts to find its “conservation voice.” The article is part of a series that examines various aquariums and marine life parks around the world to “find out what kinds of places are out there and if they strive to promote education and conservation of the marine world.”
The Seattle Aquarium was praised for its efforts to fulfill its mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment through a variety of programs—both inside the facility and within the community at large—as well as helping to create awareness of/provide education about ocean acidification and climate change. Our partnerships with organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) were also highlighted.
Several times, the article’s author commented on one of the distinguishing features of the Aquarium experience: the presence of staff members and trained volunteers at every exhibit, ready to answer visitor questions and further knowledge about marine animals, conservation and more. As Director of Conservation & Education Jim Wharton noted in the article, the approach of less signage and more people is intentional. “You can’t put passion in a sign,” he said. “We would rather connect people with people.”
We invite you to visit the Seattle Aquarium soon and discover something new with one of our “people in blue!”
Seattle Aquarium staff members recently traveled to Hawaii to complete their sixth year of monitoring reef fish abundance at seven sites off the northwest coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The non-invasive monitoring is performed via video sampling done in cooperation with the Washington State University and the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. “We’re searching for shifting baselines, an ecological indicator of changes in fish abundance and diversity that may correlate with local environmental changes or other factors such as changes in human use activities,” notes Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson. Data has already been used for educational and management purposes in Hawaii.
Why is the Seattle Aquarium doing research in Hawaii? “For 30 years, we’ve exhibited animals from Hawaii in our Pacific Coral Reef gallery to inspire and educate the public about that area’s coral reefs and the unique animals that live there,” says Shawn. “Through our work over the past nine years, conducting shifting baseline studies of Washington State bottom fish, we’ve developed a methodology for accurately counting reef fish that works well in Hawaii. We also conduct research in-house on coral growth and reproduction, and our studies of fish and coral cover in Hawaii complement that,” she concludes.
With this year’s research complete, we can now share a key result with you: we’ve documented an upward trend in fish abundance within all the surveyed sites from 2009 through 2013, and we also found a significantly higher percentage of increase in sites that are protected versus those that are open for fishing and collecting.
We look forward to continuing our active conservation role via this research and contributing to the body of knowledge about, and long-term conservation of, tropical reef systems.
Through its membership with the innovative Carbon Capturing Companies (or C3) program, the Aquarium recently offset its 2013 carbon footprint via the planting of trees at Soaring Eagle Park in Sammamish.
The Seattle Aquarium is a founding member of the C3 program, which was launched in 2012 by Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy) and recruits businesses to commit to calculate, reduce and mitigate their carbon output. Additional founding members include Pearl Jam, Nordstrom, the Seattle Sounders FC, the Seattle Seahawks, the Seattle Mariners and Woodland Park Zoo.
Through the program, conifer trees native to the Pacific Northwest are planted and maintained in parks, rights of way, transportation corridors and other natural areas to offset the partners’ carbon output. This is the second year that trees have been planted on the Aquarium’s behalf—last year’s trees were planted along the West Duwamish Greenbelt. All trees planted via the program will sequester thousands of tons of CO2 over their lifetimes, and contribute to the health of our region’s waterways and marine environment overall.
The Aquarium’s membership with C3 helps sequester our annual carbon footprint of approximately 400 metric tons per year. Of the 500 trees planted at Soaring Eagle Park, over 80 were in mitigation of the Aquarium’s 2013 carbon output. We also contribute staff and/or volunteer to help plant the trees we purchase.
Posted in Conservation, Seattle Aquarium
Tagged C3 program, carbon footprint, Nordstrom, Pearl Jam, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, tree planting, West Duwamish Greenbelt, Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle Aquarium staff members recently traveled to Hawaii to complete their sixth year of monitoring reef fish abundance off the northwest coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The non-invasive monitoring is performed via video sampling done in cooperation with the Washington State University and the Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources. “We’re searching for shifting baselines, an ecological indicator of changes in fish abundance and diversity that may correlate with local environmental changes or other factors such as changes in human use activities,” notes Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson. Data has already been used for educational and management purposes in Hawaii.
Below are Shawn’s notes from the fifth day of the trip.
Research team Shawn, Joel, Alan and Tim at new site.
Day 5: February 8, 2014
With our core research done and one more day to dive, we had time to explore a new site that our research partner Bill Walsh asked us to check out and survey. It was an area that had a newly discovered species of coral not usually found in the main Hawaiian islands, Acropora gemmifera.
This area is accessible only by boat and Captain Pete took us down there on the Hopena. We dove this beautiful site and found the corals in a small area surrounded by dense schools of fish. It was spectacular! We spent most of our dive trying to figure out the best transect area that would incorporate most of the corals. It was challenging because many were in shallow water, right up next to a wall were the surf pounded and would be too dangerous to dive. We finally found an acceptable 100-meter transect line that included at least eight of the Acropora colonies and lots of fish. We switched out our tanks and completed two more dives and four surveys on our new research site number 8.
We are the first group outside of the Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources to survey this site. Along with fish transects we will be monitoring the growth and spread of these unique corals. What a fantastic day.