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SEA Days: Kelp Kornucopia

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 1:29pm
Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientist or other local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft. Name: Jonathan Lavan Hometown: Harpswell, Maine Schooling Background or field experience: Naturalist, Wildlife Expert, Citizen Scientist and Lecturer, Nature Photographer, Scuba Diver, Trip Leader One word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Passion What is your process in getting the perfect shot in a kelp forest? It’s really a question of patience and knowing as much about the world of the kelp forest as you can. The rest is luck and opportunity. What made you want to pursue photography and diving in this environment? It is one of the truly most unique environments on the planet and most people are barely aware of it. I wanted to share its drama and beauty. How do you predict kelp forests will change in the future? Kelp forests, like many ocean (and land) wilderness, is having a genuine struggle right now due to overpopulation […]

Haunted Aquarium returns with Spooky Science

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 4:10pm
Looking for family-friendly Halloween fun? Interested in oceanography? Join us for the 16th annual Haunted Aquarium: Spooky Science! on Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22, from 6-9 p.m. This not-too-spooky opportunity is for the entire family to explore marine science and discover creatures not normally seen at Birch Aquarium. It is the perfect opportunity to explore the haunted galleries and interact with Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists who study amazing, and sometimes spooky, oceans and beyond. Get inspired by their research and learn about exciting oceanographic careers while having Halloween themed fun throughout the aquarium. Through hands-on activities, guests will learn about slippery sea creatures, make their own slime, and explore a room of bioluminescence to discover why creatures glow in the deep. See spooky stars and mini monsters, dissect a Kraken (Humboldt squid), and boogey down to live music from Billy Lee and the Swamp Critters! Birch Aquarium at Scripps encourages guests to dress for the season. Those in a costume will receive a prize! Don’t miss out on this monstrously magnificent evening for the entire family! Purchase tickets: 858-534- 7336 or aquarium.ucsd.edu

SEA Days: Small Animal, Big Appetite

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 2:30pm

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientist or other local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft. Name: Maya deVries Hometown: Berkeley, CA Schooling Background: B.S. UC Davis, Evolution and Ecology Major, English Minor. Ph.D. UC Berkeley, Integrative Biology 1 word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Excitement Why are mantis shrimp so important?  Mantis shrimp are important because they are “the best” at so many things. They strike with one of the fastest, most powerful movements ever reported in the animal kingdom. They also have the most complex visual system in the animal kingdom. By studying these impressive animals we can learn a lot about the biomechanics of movement, and we can also learn about the evolution of vision in animals. Not to mention, these animals are vicious predators, and learning about them can also reveal much about the food webs in which they live. How did you decide to work with this particular organism?  In college, I became fascinated by all of […]

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Scripps Research Cruise Wow’s Birch Aquarium Guests

Tue, 09/27/2016 - 4:05pm

A few weeks ago, a student-led research cruise onboard Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s R/V Robert Godon Sproul was visible from Birch Aquarium. Naturally, guests, staff, and volunteers were all curious about the big blue ship zig zagging off of La Jolla Shores. It turns out, these students were conducting exciting research in the waters over La Jolla Underwater Canyon. Check out the above photo gallery from the ship! Madeleine Harmann, a Scripps Oceanography student onboard, let us know what the science team onboard the Sproul was up to: Over the last week, our team has been studying mixing patterns and internal waves in the La Jolla Canyon. Internal waves are waves that occur in the interior of the ocean where there are layers of water with increasing density——on the surface there is warm, fresh water from the sun and the rain and beneath that there is cold, salty water that was formed at the poles. Just like surface waves, internal waves can be generated very far away and travel across entire ocean basins until they reach the coast. And, just like surface wave, they can roll up and break when they do! This breaking creates lots of turbulence and mixing, and […]

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“Sharks are Rad Not Bad!” Summer Internship Successes Stories

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 9:23am

This summer #ILoveSharks was the central theme for our high school Youth Summer Interns (YSI) at Birch Aquarium.  Throughout the summer, intern interpreters hosted tables in the Galleria and gave talks to improve the public’s view of sharks. They advocated that “Sharks are Rad Not Bad” and are important members of the marine ecosystem. Wednesdays were dedicated to expanding horizons. Interns often had “snacks with a scientist” – an informal meet-up with a Scripps Oceanography researcher where interns could ask questions about cutting edge science and STEM Careers. Wednesdays could also mean tours of the UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography campuses, snorkeling excursions to meet sharks in the wild, or engaging with experts in an array of marine science fields. This summer, 31,956 guests visited the interpretive activity stations, and our interns were happy to impact so many people’s opinions of sharks. Here’s what our 2016 interns had to say about the program: “This internship has strengthened my love for the ocean, and our weekly Wednesday snacks with scientists has further inspired to me to pursue my dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Going on a private tour of Scripps Oceanography was absolutely amazing and UC San Diego is now on the top […]

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Coastal Cleanup Day Makes A Difference

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 2:08pm

All along the California coast, people of all ages picked up trash during the largest volunteering event in the state, California Coastal Cleanup Day. Run by the California Coastal Commission and with locations along over 2,000 miles of shoreline, this day is devoted to preserving and enhancing the coasts of California for future generations to come. During the 2016 cleanup at La Jolla Shores, Birch Aquarium staff worked with over 100 volunteers, who gathered nearly 70 pounds of trash and 13 pounds of recyclables. That’s over 80 pounds of waste collected from the beach! Thanks to the efforts of these devoted volunteers, our Pacific coastline is a safer and cleaner environment for people and wildlife. Take a look at this year’s photos, and we’ll see you next year!

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SEA Days: Mollusk Madness

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 3:06pm

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientist or other local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft. Name: Jenny Hofmeister Hometown: Pleasant Hill, CA Schooling Background: I received my Bachelors in Marine Biology from UCLA (Go Bruins!) and my Ph.D in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). One word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Perseverance Why are Octopuses so important to the Southern California ecosystem? Imagine a raccoon with 8 arms, the ability to turn invisible, and an insatiable appetite, and you will begin to understand the Octopus. Octopuses are great problem solvers, can get into and out of anything, manipulate their environment with impressive dexterity, eat pretty much anything they can catch, and have an unparalleled ability to camouflage. All these characteristics mean they are formidable predators and can respond to changes in their environment very quickly and learn how to cope with these changes. Their uniqueness as predators, not only in Southern California but globally, allow scientists to […]

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Minke Whales make a splash on the last weekend of whale watching season

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 5:03pm

Ahoy! This weekend wrapped up our Summertime Blue Whale Watching Adventure season. A rare spotting of a Minke Whale breaching, or jumping, this Labor Day was the highlight of our last seasonal tour. Scroll through our photos of this stunning animal. See you in December for Gray Whale Watching Season! The population of the Minke Whale is stable, and they are the most common whale in the rorqual, or great whales, family worldwide. Other members of the rorqual family are Fin Whales and Blue Whales.   Minke Whales are often described as “shy” in San Diego’s waters, meaning that whale watchers usually only have a quick glimpse of their back and dorsal fin. This is the first time we’ve seen a Minke Whale breaching from the Marietta so we were all incredibly excited. This Minke Whale breached more than 10 times!   The diet of Minke Whales consists of crustaceans, plankton, and small fish. They filter feed these animals out of the water using baleen plates hanging from their upper jaw.   Minke Whales can reach up to 35 feet in length and weigh about 200,000 pounds. This is a lot compared to a human, but they are actually the smallest baleen whale to be found […]

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Summer Camp Wrap-up: Our Favorite Moments of 2016

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 12:47pm

It’s time to bid farewell to our Summer Learning Adventure Campers. From hanging ten on the surf, to unearthing artistic inspiration, to taking in panoramic views from Scripps Pier; our campers leave with lasting memories and new friendships. Check out the photo gallery above for some of our favorite moments from the 2016 Summer Learning Adventure Camp season.

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Scripps Research: Background Music in Shark Documentaries

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 1:00pm

Accompanied by uplifting music, this footage of sharks influenced viewers to have positive attitudes about these animals. Excerpt from “The Blue Planet”, BBC. Dr. Andrew P. Nosal, Postdoc Researcher, Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and et al.’s research on human attitudes toward sharks found that those who watch shark videos accompanied by menacing background music, compared to inspirational music or silence, walk away with negative perceptions of sharks. Not only does this show that background music paired with shark footage affects viewer’s attitude toward sharks, but it also suggests to filmmakers and viewers that understanding how music plays a role in shark films is of utmost importance. Recognizing how attitudes toward sharks in film are swayed by music is perhaps the first step to managing the negative stigma against sharks, which will hopefully lead to a safer environment for these animals. Here at Birch Aquarium, we work hard to show the true nature of sharks, not as stereotyped “bad guys”, but as essential members of the marine community. Learn more about this issue by reading Dr. Nosal, et al.’s research on The Effect of Background Music in Shark Documentaries on Viewers’ Perceptions of Sharks.

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SEA Days: Century Celebrations

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 1:20pm

SEA Days: Century Celebrations Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego or local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft. Name: Melissa Carter Hometown: Claremore, OK Schooling Background: Undergraduate: B.S. in Oceanography, Minor in Fisheries from Humboldt State University Graduate: M.S in Marine Science from University of San Diego 1 word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Curiosity How did you get involved in marine science? As a kid I loved the water and spent every moment I could either in a pool, river, or lake. Every summer, my mom and grandmother would take my brother, my cousins, and me on a canoe trip down the Illinois River. It was a beautiful river that had clear, blue water. It was a wonderful experience, but as I got older we stopped going because the water wasn’t clear and had lots of algae growing in it from the nearby chicken farms. Losing this natural treasure made me want […]

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Whale Watching: Soaring into the Summer Season

Tue, 08/16/2016 - 8:58am

Summer Whale Watching has started, and so far calm seas and warm weather have prevailed. The kickoff began July 30, as we set out from the coast of San Diego in search for this season’s more commonly seen whales, including Blue Whales. The first weekend included several spectacular sightings of Common Dolphins, with one pod estimated to be eight hundred strong! The Common Dolphin, as its name suggests, is frequently spotted off the coast of California. Dolphins often “bow ride,” where they take advantage of pressure waves created by boats as they travel through water. “Porpoising” is a common way that dolphins swim and can be described as leaping in and out of the water. It is more efficient to spend swimming time out of the water, as there is less resistance compared to traveling through water. Through these clever methods, dolphins are able to travel with greater speed and efficiency. Day one of Whale Watching included a sighting of a juvenile Humpback Whale, which snorkeled close to the side of the boat for over twenty minutes. Days two and three included three separate sightings of Minke Whales, which are the smallest of the great whales. Our second weekend was […]

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