Friday, May 4, 2012

Study Cruises at Maritime Aquarium Opens May 5- June 20

Share a memorable boat ride with crabs, fish, lobsters and other creatures brought up right out of Long Island Sound right before your eyes in a new season of hands-on study cruises with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The Aquarium’s exciting Marine Life Study Cruises will depart on Saturdays at 1 p.m. May 5-June 30. They’ll push off at 1 p.m. daily in July and August.

The recent ‘FINtastic RefurbFISHment,’at The Maritime Aquarium’s exhibits are devoted to teaching visitors about Long Island Sound. The best exhibits can’t top the immediacy and impact when study-cruise participants see these animals come up onto the boat right in front of them.

During each 21/2-hour Marine Life Study Cruise aboard the research vessel Oceanic, animals are collected from different water levels and bottom habitats of the Sound. A video microscope provides a magnified look at wriggly plankton gathered at the sunlit surface. Tiny crabs and worms emerge from a sampling of the anaerobic muddy bottom. A biodredge reveals a hidden world of sponges, snails and mollusks. And everyone inspects the trawl net’s bounty – varieties of fish and crabs, lobsters, sea stars, squid and always a few surprises.

The outings are much more than a boat ride. Maritime Aquarium educators involve participants in the processes, from sorting through samples to helping to pull in the trawl net and returning animals to the water. These animal encounters have immediate and incredible value in showing participants that the Sound is very much alive and worthy of protection.

Besides being fun and eye-opening, Marine Life Study Cruises also contribute to local scientific research. Water-chemistry and weather readings are taken. And details about the animals brought onboard are entered into the Aquarium’s Long Island Sound Biodiversity Project, a database on the physical and biological features of the Sound. The database, available online for teachers and researchers, will reveal any changes in the Sound over time.

Also during the study cruises, as part of a Horseshoe Crab Census conducted by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, The Maritime Aquarium tags and records data about all horseshoe crabs collected.

Cost of a Marine Life Study Cruise is $20.50 per person ($18.50 for Maritime Aquarium members). All passengers must be at least 42 inches tall.
Reservations are strongly recommended; walk-up tickets will be sold space permitting. The Oceanic can accommodate 29 passengers.

Marine Life Study Cruises also are available for private weekday charters for schools, summer camps, Scouts and other groups at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Cruises depart from the dock near the Aquarium’s IMAX Theater entrance.

To reserve your spot on a Maritime Aquarium Marine Life Study Cruise, or for more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

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