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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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Summer Learning Adventure Camp

Fri, 08/05/2016 - 3:09pm

Its hard to believe we are more than halfway through our Summer Learning Adventure Camps! Campers have been making memories in the camp classrooms, though the Hall of Fishes, and at the beach. Our younger campers in Sea Squirts and Sea Slugs camps have been exploring the ocean world and making adorable ocean themed crafts. Adventurous campers are diving into the Pacific each week at Snorkel Camp and Ocean Adventures Camp. Campers of all ages have been exploring the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, meeting Scripps oceanographers, and exploring laboratories and the Scripps Pier (both normally closed to the public!). Parents have had a lot to say about camp: My daughter came home every day and taught us new facts about the ocean.  The (Birch Aquarium) staff was beyond fantastic about safety and fun.  Her knowledge and depth of understanding of the ocean grows every year with this camp. It is nice to have that part, as well as the many fun activities.  The final week of camp is August 22nd and space is still available (but limited). To learn more, visit our website or call (858) 534-7336.  

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New! Summertime Blue Whale Watching Adventure

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 3:02pm

Starting Saturday, July 30, Birch Aquarium at Scripps teams up with Flagship Cruises & Events to present Summertime Blue Whale Watching Adventure! Learn about the largest animal in the world from Scripps naturalists, and experience the grandeur of Blue Whales up close! Check out our photo gallery for cool whale facts, and follow @Birch_Aquarium for the latest on our Whale Watching Programs! To purchase tickets, call Flagship Cruises & Events at 619-234-4111 or at flagshipsd.com.

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SEA Days: Shark and Ray Day

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 12:30pm

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 or local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft. Name:  Andy Nosal Hometown:  Bridgewater, New Jersey Schooling Background:   B.S. in Biology from University of Virginia Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography One word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have:  Patience 1.) How does leopard shark research affect a person’s everyday life? The leopard shark is a wonderful model species for studying general aspects of behavior, ecology, and physiology of sharks.  They are abundant, hardy, and relatively easy to catch and handle.  What we learn about them can tell us how to protect them and how we can best enjoy their company in the ocean (for example, when they hang out in La Jolla).  I think of leopard sharks as friendly ambassadors for sharks generally.  When people have the chance to swim or snorkel with them, they can see that sharks are not necessarily scary […]

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SEA Days: Surfin’ into Summer

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 4:25pm

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: Tyler Cyronak Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia) Schooling Background: Undergraduate from University of Miami M.S. from University of North Carolina Wilmington PhD from Southern Cross University 1 word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Curiosity 1.) How does Smartfin research affect a person’s everyday life? Our goal is that Smartfin will help bring awareness to the human induced global changes taking place in the ocean.  It will directly affect people who use it by letting them actively take place in scientific research.  My biggest hope is that it will make people more excited about science! 2.) How did you decide to work on this particular issue?  It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!  I love to surf and I thought it was a great idea to combine my passion for science with one of my favorite activities.  […]

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