Thursday, June 25, 2009

An afternoon stroll with Ruby

I think Ruby has taken a liking to me; in fact she has been spending a lot of time strolling around her tank recently! While working in the exhibits during the past few weeks Ruby has been coming out of hiding on her own to wow guests with her beauty. Ruby, a red octopus (Octopus rubescens), is a highly intelligent creature. In some aquariums intricately locked boxes or bottles filled with food are placed into tanks for octopuses to open! If one spends hours on end in the Marine Exhibit, like I do, one may notice Ruby studying them through her crystal clear tank. Now that she has grown more accustomed to her new surroundings I must admit that I spend a good amount of time peering right back at her. While my aim is not to anthropomorphize Ruby or make her seem cartoon-like I must say that I am amazed at her curiosity, beauty and intelligence.

Earlier this week Ruby decided to remodel her tank by moving rocks around. Annoyed with her decision to remodel without first consulting me, I began moving the rocks back in place only to find that she had laid eggs! I carefully placed the rock back down sideways. While we are not sure whether these eggs will be fertile, Ruby is displaying innate maternal behavior by keeping watch over her unhatched young.

Hopefully you will catch a glimpse of Ruby while visiting our Marine Exhibit this summer!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Camps

Spend the summer learning science at PTMSC!
This summer PTMSC will be offering 3 different camps for youth:

July 6th-July 10th: Marine Biology Day Camp ages 9-13
Campers will engage in exciting classes, labs and field programs including: sieving through sediments looking for brittle stars, pulling a seine net through eel grass beds to learn about local fish and using microscopes to observe plankton! This day camp that gives youth the opportunity to learn about individual groups of marine plants and animals while learning to connect them to their ecosystem as a whole.

July 19th-July 25th: Marine Biology Residential Camp ages 9-13
In addition to the activities described for day campers, this overnight camp allows youth to explore other marine ecosystems on the Olympic Peninsula! While being immersed in marine themes, hands-on labs and creative projects, campers will enjoy the unique expanded learning environment that only a residential camp can provide! Campers will stay in the dormitories located Fort Worden State Park and will be supervised by their marine instructors.

August 3rd-August 7th: Coastal Explorers Day Camp ages 8-12
This day camp will allow campers to spend the week exploring the varied natural environments from beach and glacial bluffs to the local forest, pond and meadows. Explorers in this camp will assemble skeletons of marine mammals, catch and study bugs, learn about earthquakes, investigate pond life and make connections between fossil animals and their descendants alive today.

Click here to learn more specifics about each camp, to download a registration form and/or to inquire about costs.

We hope you decide to spend the summer learning about marine and coastal science with us!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Kick off Day!!!!

Please join us on Saturday, June 20th to celebrate the beginning of summer! All festivities will be FREE to the public and should prove to be fun for all ages. While exploring both exhibits families can decorate cookies and get their faces painted! At 4pm you can sit back and relax in our Natural History Exhibit while listening to a lecture on Tsunamis presented by Chris Moore from NOAA.

We encourage all of you to join many of you have probably not visited for a few years! Come see what has changed here at the Marine Science Center since you last visited.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June is Orca Awareness Month!

In 2005, Governor Christine Gregoire officially made the orca the marine mammal of Washington State. This year, for the third year in a row, she has made June Orca Awareness Month! (Click here to see the signed declaration as a PDF and here to see Orca Network's calendar for Orca Month events.)

Here are the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, we are celebrating by presenting four orca-themed programs throughout the month of June. These programs cover two main topics, All About Orcas, and Listening for Orcas. See below for the schedule and descriptions.

Sunday, June 7, 2:30 pm: All About Orcas
Saturday, June 13, 2:30 pm: Listening for Orcas
Sunday, June 21, 2:30 pm: All About Orcas
Saturday, June 27, 2:30 pm: Listening for Orcas

All About Orcas: Do orcas have family structures? What do they eat, and how do they find food in the vast ocean? Where do they travel throughout the year? Dive into this topic and discover the differences between transients and residents, and how scientists can tell based on diet, social interaction, and even dialect. This program is in the Natural History Exhibit, which is our building on land.

Listening for Orcas: What do orcas sound like and how do their vocalizations travel underwater? Is the ocean a loud environment? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this Orca Month program. Get a chance to learn about how scientists study orcas by listening to our active hydrophone research station and get more information on how you can listen for orcas from your home computer. This program is in the Marine Exhibit, which is our building on the pier.

Also, have you seen our new events calendar? You can plan your trip in advance by seeing what programs or other events may be happening while you are visiting us this summer. Interested in tsunamis, low tides, or bugs? We've got a program for you! Go to the events calendar to see what's in store for you this summer at PTMSC.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Fish of a Lifetime

Video taken by Cheqa Rogers

In late March a Longnose Lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox) washed ashore in Fort Worden State Park. Cheqa, our high school intern, set about documenting and studying this fish. Above is the video he took of the fish after placing it in one of our holding tanks. We are not sure why this normally deep water fish washed ashore, though at the time it was clear it had already suffered severe skin lacerations and was in poor health. Sadly the Lancetfish did not make it through the night. Cheqa lovingly referred to the Lancetfish as "the fish of a lifetime" and began packing the remains to be frozen until further use.

Lucky for us Cheqa decided to dissect the fish last Friday right in our exhibit while we were open! He found some interesting things inside. Here are a few of the pictures:

All photos taken by volunteer docent Moh

Among the unidentifiable items in the stomach we found: a couple feathers, a piece of kelp, part of a fish skeleton and a couple pieces of plastic. This provides further evidence of the harm plastic is having on our marine environment.