June is Orca Month and here at PTMSC we celebrated with two Orca Saturdays. These events were all about sharing our orca knowledge with the public.
Young visitors got creative at the craft table!
Up until recently, the majority of our interactions with the public have focused around the articulation of the orca skeleton, Hope (learn more HERE). Of course Hope's presence and stories were with us for our events, but it was also nice to incorporate other orca-related activities into our celebration. Many of these activities were new to the public and our volunteers because most of them were adapted from orca curriculum developed and taught here at PTMSC.
A family worked together to build an orca family tree!
Visitors learned about hydrophones (underwater microphones) and how they are used to listen to sound underwater.
In our local waters, scientists use hydrophones to listen to orca vocalizations and have learned many of the different calls orcas make. At our Orca Saturday events, we set up a portable hydrophone and let visitors create and listen to how a variety of objects create sound underwater.
At one point, the craft table was filled with kids, orca volunteers were immersed in conversation with visitors, and a father and daughter read an orca storybook in the corner of the room. I stepped back, took in the moment and smiled like a proud parent.
Although our Orca Month festivities have come to an end, June isn't over yet! I encourage you to find your own way to acknowledge, celebrate and learn about these amazing creatures.
Remember our blog from April about the brooding six-rayed stars? Well the babies are hatching and decorating our tank now! They have been very popular with the visitors gaining the nickname 'sea sprinkles.'
A six-rayed sea star under a microscope
Two little 'sea sprinkles'
Baby six-rayed sea stars and the mom decorating the tank
Watch the video below to see their tiny tube feet move!
Observe the 'sea sprinkles' yourself during our summer hours starting Friday June 10th we are open 11-5 Wednesday-Monday.
During the fall, our grunt sculpins lay their eggs in empty giant barnacles. They care for them throughout the fall and into the winter. This year, the first eggs hatched in early December and the eggs continued to hatch until the end of April.
Some days, either no eggs would hatch or just a few would, but occasionally we had almost 200 hatch in one day! In total we had 1,092 grunt sculpin babies hatch!! Since we were not able to successfully raise the baby grunt sculpins last year, we released them off our floating dock and hope they found shelter in the nearby eelgrass bed.
This graph shows how many grunt sculpin babies hatched from December to the end of April. You can see there is no pattern. You can compare this year's graph to last years here: Baby Grunt Sculpins 2009-2010. Be careful, the two graphs have a different scale; for the "Number of babies hatched", it goes up to 200, last year's graph only goes up to 100.
Although the grunt sculpin babies no longer grace our tanks, we still have a lot of other baby (and adult) animals to see.
We're open Friday-Sunday 12-4pm. And starting June 10th, we will be open Wednesday-Monday, 11am-5pm.
Julia Ledbetter Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator