Teaching Stories of Sandy Shores to Second Graders

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student who recently participated in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The internship program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego assisted the aquarium’s education programs and blogged about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

There are a wide variety of educational programs offered at Birch Aquarium. My personal favorite is Sandy Shores. Children in second grade learn how sand is made—from larger rocks into smaller and smaller pieces until it is sand. This program offers children a chance to learn and appreciate life in our sands. There are many creatures that call sand their home.

In Sandy Shores, there are three stations. At one station, students view different kinds of sand under a microscope and draw what they see on their paper. At another station, the group makes a creature of their own with an adaptation that would help them survive in the sandy shores. The third station is my favorite to lead. It’s the one where kids draw sandy shore animals and then get to touch them. “Only touch with two fingers, though. We want to be gentle with these little guys,” I remind them. One little girl asks, “Will the sea urchin hurt me?” “It doesn’t want to hurt you. It has those spikes to make sure other animals don’t eat it,” I reply as I show her they’re fine to touch.

White Urchin

When teacher Art Smart shows the second graders some sand littered with bits of plastics and other trash, there is a unanimous cry of “ewww.” After seeing white and coral sands, sand with trash is far less mesmerizing. Art explains to the students that all of the animals they see here—sand crabs, sea snails, sand dollars, and sea urchins—have adapted to living in the sand.

Learning to appreciate marine habitats such as the sandy shore is an important lesson for second graders. In fact, it’s important for everyone to learn about!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scripps Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

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 researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

February’s SEA Days, Listen Closely, is all about whales and whale acoustics. Did you know sound travels faster in water than on land? Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography use acoustics to learn more about whales—their population abundances, seasonality, and behavior.

One such researcher is Liz Vu, a fourth year Scripps Ph.D. candidate from the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab, who will discuss her research at this month’s SEA Days on Saturday, February 15. To get ready for the weekend, I sat down with Liz to “dive deeper” into her interests and area of expertise.

Where did you go to college?

I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad, and now I’m at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, working on my Ph.D.

What is your area of research?
I research habitat modeling using marine mammal acoustics in the context of their reproductive, social and foraging behaviors.

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
I did not grow up dreaming to be a marine biologist. I managed to get an amazing internship opportunity when I was at UC Berkeley that introduced me to the interdisciplinary field of oceanography. The life of fieldwork, working on boats, and doing real-world science got me hooked!

Liz in the field in Antactica.

Liz in the field in Antarctica.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
First and foremost, do not be afraid of science!  I am a big fan of advocating science to younger versions of myself (read: woman and Asian-American) who may not necessarily want to pursue research science due to the illusion that it is boring or hard. Also, I believe in interdisciplinary education. In order to solve complex global problems, you need rigorous interdisciplinary training. Considering I love science, social sciences, economics, and political affairs, oceanography was a way I could mesh everything together.

Why is your research topic important?
I want to be able to inform the public and policymakers how endangered species may be affected by a change in their environment (brought about by a change in climate). Since our ocean environment is changing rapidly, it is important to understand where and why whales may go to a different type of habitat.


Liz at a previous SEA Days event.

What will visitors to SEA Days: Listen Closely see?
I am bringing some acoustic equipment I use for my research. I also will bring some dolphin skulls, some samples of what dolphins eat, and some demonstrations of how I study whales in the ocean.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
It is very important to get a basic science education (whether or not it is called “marine”).  The basic principles of science and biology don’t change on a fundamental level whether you study whales, or plants, or microorganisms.  Therefore, if you get a good education studying any one ecosystem, you can still become a marine biologist!

What is your favorite ocean organism?
I will always love the right whale, one of the most vulnerable whale species right now.  However, I can’t leave out invertebrates, especially copepods (what some whales eat).  Invertebrates are so diverse and really cool!

Are you interested in a career in marine science? Do you want to learn what whale researches study? Or maybe you just love whale watching and want to learn more about these incredible mammals. Join us on Saturday, February 15 for SEA Days: Listen Closely—there’s something for everyone.

SEA Days are 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free for aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

Kelp Forest Tank Reopens With a Fresh Look

From January 6 through February 7, 2014, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit was off display while minor repairs were made to the tank’s concrete structure. This is the last of three articles about the construction project and its developments. This important project was generously sponsored by the Moore Family Foundation.

 Post #1: Getting Ready

Post # 2: Repairs Underway

Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit was abuzz with activity as final preparations were made to reopen on Saturday, February 8. After repairs to corrosion leaks were completed, the 70,000-gallon tank was refilled with ocean water pumped from Scripps Pier. In the next few months, this nutrient-rich water will bring in seaweed spores that will settle and eventually grow into mature seaweed, complementing the giant, palm, and feather boa kelp already returned to the exhibit.


Visitors will be pleased to see many of their favorite fishes—such as giant sea bass, rockfish, and sheephead—back from a five-week “staycation” behind-the-scenes. But that’s not all! To highlight the diversity of local kelp forests, aquarists added schools of fish that are often seen in southern California, including Pacific sardines and ocean whitefish. Also, look for zebra perch, opal eye, and half moon, too. Adding more grazing fish like these opens space for a greater variety of seaweeds to grow.


Along with updated exhibit graphics, everyone at Birch Aquarium was thrilled to reveal the kelp forest community’s fresh look last weekend. Over the next few months, we’ll add more animals to the exhibit and the algae will start to grow on the rocks to give the tank the iconic look our visitors have loved for 20+ years. We invite you to visit and share your kelp-forest experience with us. For a special treat, check out a Kelp Tank Dive Show—every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday—or the Kelp Cam on the web.

- Kate Jirik

Beaked Whales: Listening Through the Noise

Nearly halfway through this whale-watching season, Birch Aquarium naturalists continue to enjoy their time aboard Flagship Cruises & Events’ 100-foot boat, the Marietta. Birch Aquarium’s 14-year partnership with Flagship brings together aquarium naturalists and a skilled crew to bring passengers memorable whale encounters. On Monday, February 10, Birch Aquarium will also host an evening lecture to describe how whales experience the ocean through sound. Read on to find out more.

A sailboat lurched out of the fog towards the Marietta’s port side. The two whale-watching boats seesawed in unison as waves broke and rolled under their hulls. Captain Will throttled the Marietta into idle. As the boat slowed, passengers waited quietly, hoping that the three gray whales we were following would surface nearby.

Captain Will navigated the boat skillfully. Fog from the west had blown in swiftly, and within 10 minutes, visibility plunged to 150 feet. We were in good hands, though—this was an experienced crew. As we continued onward, my thoughts wandered to Birch Aquarium’s recent Perspectives on Ocean Science lecture and how whales would have no difficulty traveling in such fog.

Whereas humans predominantly navigate using vision, whales rely on hearing. This is particularly relevant for beaked whales, which have poor vision but exceptional hearing. These whales are among the deepest diving mammals. A beaked whale recently set a new record by diving to 9,800 feet for more than two hours! On deep dives, beaked whales use echolocation to hunt deep-sea squid.

Baird's Beaked Whale. Image from:

Baird’s Beaked Whale. Image from:

Still, many other aspects of their biology remain a mystery. As deep divers living in the open ocean, beaked whales are elusive and challenging to study. Basic information is lacking for many of the 21 known species. With so little chance of visually sighting these animals, biologists have turned to the sounds beaked whales make for answers.


Simone Baumann-Pickering presenting her findings at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Simone Baumann-Pickering, a research scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studies the distribution of beaked whales and how human activities may influence their behavior. Her laboratory uses stationary sound-recording devices and computer algorithms to distinguish the sounds of beaked whales echolocating from a background of other ocean noise. So far, Baumann-Pickering and her team have identified 10 species-specific echolocation signals—10 unique sound patterns to monitor each species’ presence in the Pacific Ocean. Some of these species had previously only been known from stranded individuals. Her discoveries of novel echolocation signals, which do not match known species, may also be evidence of beaked whales new to science.

“The deep is anything but silent,” Baumann-Pickering says, and the baseline data her lab is collecting will be invaluable in decades to come. With increasing human activity at sea, the planet’s ocean soundscapes are changing. During February’s Perspectives on Ocean Science lecture (see below), whale biologist Ana Širović will discuss whales’ sensitivity to sound exposure and how human use of the ocean may be influencing their communication. Scientists and whales alike are busy sifting through the noise.

- Kate Jirik


Birch Aquarium whale watching tours depart twice daily at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Flagship Cruises & Events at 990 North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego.


Monday, February 10

Can You Hear Me Now? Animals Coping with an Increasingly Noisy Ocean

Ana Širović, marine bioacoustician

Many marine animals produce a variety of audible as well as infra- and ultra-sonic sounds for navigating, finding food, mating, and many other vital behaviors. With human use of the world’s oceans on the rise, background noise levels in the marine realm are increasing. Join Ana Sirovic as she discusses how ocean noise varies across the Pacific Ocean and what this may mean for whales, fishes, and other animals that rely on sounds for their survival.

7 – 8 p.m., Doors open at 6:30

Location: Birch Aquarium

Kelp Forest Tank Under Construction: Repairs Underway

From January 6 through February 7, 2014, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit will be off display while minor repairs are made to the tank’s concrete structure. Our aquarists will also use this opportunity to freshen the exhibit’s look with new animals. We are grateful for your support so that when the exhibit reopens on February 8 [subject to change], visitors will enjoy an even better representation of Southern California’s kelp forests. Our popular kelp tank dive shows and web cam feeds will also resume at this time.

This is the second of three articles describing the construction project and its developments. Post #1: Getting Ready

In early January, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest tank was drained to begin repairing areas of rusted rebar in the tank’s back wall. With a two inch-diameter drain hole regularly used to clean the tank, aquarists drained the 70,000-gallon tank. The water level inched down the tank’s 12-foot high acrylic window, taking a day to completely drain.

Kelp Tank Repair 2014

The window’s manufacturers were also onsite to monitor and learn from the draining process. Brad McKee, a structural engineer from Reynolds Polymer Technology, traveled from Colorado to La Jolla to study how the tank’s 10-inch thick acrylic responded to the release of water pressure. In aquariums, acrylic is valued for its clarity, strength, and elasticity. Because acrylic is plastic (not glass), a large aquarium window such as the one in the kelp tank will flex as the weight of water is removed. This deflection, as engineers call it, is predictable and not permanent. Measuring with carefully positioned dial instruments every 15 to 30 minutes, Brad found that many areas of the kelp forest window experienced deflection of one quarter to half an inch—very close to what was predicted.

In order to reach the draining stage of the project, aquarium staff planned for months to get everything ready. An important final step in this preparation was the removing of the tank’s seaweed collection and its 200 animals (30 species) to other display tanks and/or off-exhibit temporary housing. For example, some seaweeds were moved to Tide Pool Plaza and a few fishes (such as the guitarfish, yellowfin croaker, and others) were moved to ElasmoBeach. In January 2014, Birch Aquarium’s husbandry staff moved the remaining giant kelp and animals. First, aquarists moved seaweeds and smaller fishes using hand-held nets. Then, the large fishes, including leopard sharks and a 200-pound giant sea bass, were moved. Having worked with these fishes for years during feedings, dive shows, and while performing tank maintenance, our aquarists have an in-depth understanding of the animals’ behavior that ensured the entire process would run smoothly.


Outside the tank, contractors from Hamilton Pacific, Inc. are repairing corrosion in the kelp forest tank’s rear wall. The process began by drilling into the concrete six inches and injecting a high-pressure epoxy to fill the tank’s cracks. Zinc anodes, which prevent corrosion by drawing stray electrical current away from wall-supporting rebar, are inserted into holes near the epoxy (see photo). Anodes and rebar are then connected by external wires. Handfuls of concrete slurry are massaged into the holes to cover the zinc anodes.


In early February, the kelp forest tank will be refilled with seawater pumped to Birch Aquarium via Scripps Pier. Birch Aquarium’s husbandry staff will again be on hand to watch the seawater crawl back up the glass, a few inches at a time. Once the tank is refilled and the animals are returned, the kelp forest exhibit will reopen to the public, representing the diversity found in the kelp forest off La Jolla’s coast even better than before.

In our next blog post, we wrap up the construction project and get ready to reopen the exhibit.

- Kate Jirik

High Tech High Intern Diego’s Aquarium Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student currently participating in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego is assisting with the aquarium’s education programs and blogging about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

My high school, High Tech High Media Arts, has given all of the junior students opportunities to be an intern at a location of their choosing. This benefits not only the organizations but also the students, getting a feel for the day-to-day tasks of a job or career. It also opens up doors for us in the future if we choose to return to the organization. I have been interning at Birch Aquarium for two weeks in the education department.  My wonderful mentor Audrey Evans has shown me the “ins and outs” of the building.

For me, being amongst people who love their jobs gives this place the best work environment I have experienced thus far. The education staff is passionately dedicated to teaching classes at their utmost performance level. The volunteers and employees help to keep Birch Aquarium a well-oiled machine.

I have observed and participated in classroom programs Earth Rocks, Sandy Shores, Tide-Pool Treasures, and several Explore Its/Think Tanks. Sandy Shores is a lesson on how sand is made. Kids see how sand looks under a microscope and touch a handful of animals in tubs. Earth Rocks is a lesson on tectonic plates. Tide-Pool Treasures is a class on the habitat and life of tide-pool animals. In this one the children touch sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and wavy top snails. Though they have main objectives and goals, the activities I have observed don’t have set scripts that the instructors need to follow, which means the audience gets more of a personal touch.DSC_0111

The children love hearing information on the residential sea life. The adults as well have more meaningful conversations about the aquatic life with the Birch Aquarium staff. The personal highlights of my days here are when I get to be around the various sea creatures. Getting the chance to have a hands-on experience that most others don’t get with these animals is one of a kind.

In my time here so far I have gotten to observe several classroom activities, get a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium, meet the faces that work for this amazing institution, and most of all take in the beauty of this wonderful place I call home. High Tech High has set me up with this wonderful opportunity and for that I am very grateful. My time here has been fantastic to say the least.


San Diego Whale Watching Off to a Great Start

By Birch Aquarium naturalist Bekah Logan

Photo by Carol Rager visiting from Maupin, Oregon.

This is shaping up to be another fabulous San Diego whale watching season with Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises & Events. Calm seas and sunny days have been consistent, and wildlife sightings have been abundant. In the two weeks since the start of whale watching season in San Diego, cruises aboard Flagship’s Marietta have already seen over 100 gray whales!

From late December to mid-April, approximately 20,000 gray whales pass by San Diego each year en route their breeding spot in Baja California. While the whales are traveling slowly but steadily southward, daily whale watching cruises have witnessed some spectacular behaviors, from whales swimming right next to our boat to spectacular breaches! A breach is when a whale jumps almost completely up and out of the water and then flops back down, landing usually on their side or back.

Photo by Carol Rager visiting from Maupin, Oregon.

Typically, gray whales do not breach as often as other species of whales, so it is always such a pleasure when we get to it happen. Why do whales breach? Well, scientists are still figuring this out – it could be due to an itch from the barnacles or lice that live on the whales’ bodies, or maybe just for fun. Whatever the reason, it’s always a joy to witness a whale breach.

Not only have there been abundant whale sightings, we have also spotted many dolphins. Large pods of common dolphins have been seen feeding and riding the Marietta’s bow and wake. One trip also saw a large pod of Risso’s dolphins. A local favorite, we see Risso’s dolphins less often because they tend to be found in deeper waters farther offshore.

What will you see when you set foot aboard the boat? You never know what the ocean has in store for you, and now is truly a great time to venture out with us. Cruises depart twice daily at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Flagship Cruises & Events at 990 North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego.

Kelp Forest Tank Under Construction: Getting Ready

From January 6 through February 7, 2014, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit will be off display while minor repairs are made to the tank’s concrete structure. Our aquarists will also use this opportunity to freshen the exhibit’s look with new animals. We are grateful for your support so that when the exhibit reopens on February 8 [subject to change], visitors will enjoy an even better representation of Southern California’s kelp forests. Our popular kelp tank dive shows and web cam feeds will also resume at this time.

This is the first of three articles describing the construction project and its developments.


The largest tank at Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the 70,000-gallon kelp forest, located in the Hall of Fishes. Locals and visitors alike enjoy watching leopard sharks, garibaldi, moray eels, and much more swim among the swaying kelp.

In spring 2013, a small, slow-leaking crack developed in the tank’s back wall (read on to find out why). Structural engineers confirmed the tank was still safe, but that work was needed to repair the crack to prevent further problems. Staff at Birch Aquarium consulted construction experts who felt comfortable that affixing a temporary concrete patch would allow time to plan a high-quality repair. So,eight months of preparation began. A company specializing in the repair of concrete aquarium tanks was consulted to assess the leak’s source.

At 280 tons, the seawater in the kelp forest display exerts incredible pressure on the tank’s window and walls. The walls are constructed of sealed, 16-inch-thick concrete reinforced by epoxy-coated steel rebar underneath. But breaches in the rebar’s protective film allow seawater to reach the metal. Seawater—carrying oxygen, carbon dioxide, and salt—reacts with steel and gradually causes it to break down. The resulting rust expands to occupy more space than the initial steel (up to eight times the original volume), generating pressure that pushes outwards on the concrete. And voila, a crack forms.

In January, construction efforts will fix the leak and halt further corrosion. Cracks will be dried and sealed using a high-pressure epoxy adhesive. In addition, zinc anodes will be installed to divert corrosion away from the rebar. Because zinc rusts more readily than steel, rebar will be protected from further corrosion. Maritime and transportation industries widely use this method (known as “cathodic protection“) to protect boats and bridges. For more information on zinc anodes:

Sacrificial anodes (light colored rectangular handle-shaped objects) mounted "on the fly" for corrosion protection of a metal jacket structure. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.5

Sacrificial anodes (light colored rectangular handle-shaped objects) mounted “on the fly” for corrosion protection of a metal jacket structure. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.5

To be effective, anodes must have direct contact with rusting rebar, so drilling holes into specific areas of the tank’s walls is required. The kelp forest tank must be drained to do this work properly. Draining the tank, of course, requires that the animals and seaweeds be removed. Since June, our aquarists have been gradually moving select fish to different tanks with appropriate habitat in the aquarium. For example, California halibut and shovelnose guitarfish were moved to ElasmoBeach, where they now have more sand to bury themselves in.

The rest of the animals currently on display in the kelp forest tank will be moved to temporary tanks onsite but off exhibit. After a month of behind-the-scenes pampering, most of the fishes, including the giant sea bass, will be returned to the kelp forest exhibit. A few may be relocated to other Birch Aquarium tanks or transferred to partner aquariums.

In our next post in this series, it’s “moving day” for our fishes!

- Kate Jirik

Whale Watching Season is Here!

By Audrey Evans, Whale Watching Coordinator

How many miles have you traveled in 2013? 100? 1000? 5000? How about 10,000? That’s how far an Eastern Gray Whale travels each year on average. Without the aid of planes, trains, or cars – just whale tail power – these travelers make their annual round-trip trek from feeding grounds in the Arctic to overwintering breeding grounds off Baja California, Mexico. gray

While December is certainly a popular month to visit family and friends, San Diegans can skip the airport and get a glimpse of these marine giants practically right in their own backyards. As many locals know, winter is the best time for whale watching and now is the time we begin to see these coastal migrators on the southbound leg of their journey. As always, Birch Aquarium is in on the action as we collaborate with Flagship Cruises and Events on our 14th season of whale watching together to get you out on the open ocean and looking for whales.

gray whale tail

Last season, our program guests aboard Flagship’s Marietta observed a total of 570 gray whales, 40 fin whales, 19 minke whales, 18 humpbacks and 5 blue whales. Statistically speaking therefore, we averaged nearly six whales a day and that doesn’t even count the tens of thousands of dolphins darting around the boat and flaunting their acrobatic skills throughout the season!

Common dolphin spotted during last season's Whale Watching Expeditions

Join Birch Aquarium naturalists and Flagship Cruises & Events December 26 through April 13. Cruises are twice daily and leave from Flagship Cruises & Events (990 North Harbor Drive). You can download a coupon for $5 off at Birch Aquarium’s website. Whether you are visiting San Diego or you’re a local, you don’t need to travel far from the city to witness one of the largest mammal migrations on our planet!

gray whale rostrum


Happy Whale Watching!

Q&A: Former Birch Aquarium Intern Turned Scientist and Professor

The Upward Bound program at Harvey Mudd College has been helping low-income high school students who are considered “potential first-generation college students” in the East San Gabriel Valley to “generate the skill and motivation necessary for success in college” for more than 30 years. Every summer, two high school students from the program spend six weeks at Birch Aquarium under our aquarists’ supervision. They learn about biology, how to care for the fish, and other skills associated with aquatic husbandry.

We blogged about this program earlier this year, when our head aquarists Fernando Nosratpour and Leslee Matsushige were honored as recipients of a 2013 UC San Diego Diversity Award. Leslee and Fernando have been working with Upward Bound and its students for more than 20 years.

Earlier this summer, we received an email from Raul Diaz, a former participant in Upward Bound at Birch Aquarium. Since finishing the program, Raul not only went on to college, but completed his masters and doctoral degrees and is now a researcher and college professor. We asked him to tell us about his experience at Birch Aquarium, and here’s what he had to say:

Raul Diaz (middle) with Birch Aquarium aquarist Fernando Nosratpour in 1997

Raul Diaz (middle) with Birch Aquarium aquarist Fernando Nosratpour in 1997.


In what year did you participate in Upward Bound?

I graduated from Baldwin Park High School in 1999, so my internship at Birch Aquarium must have been the summer of 1997! Wow, that was a while ago.

What did you do during your internship?

I was excited that Birch Aquarium at Scripps allowed me to help set up a display for that summer’s Shark Week. I developed skills doing literature searches and setting up displays for the aquarium. I was also trained by several of the staff on how to feed a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate species. I made a lot of “Krill Shakes!”

What was your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part of the program was that the staff at Birch Aquarium trusted me to do my job independently. I gained a lot of self-esteem and it motivated me to learn more on my own. It was really nice to learn about the biodiversity in the marine realm and interact with the public.

How did your time at Birch Aquarium inspire you for a future career in science and/or education?

My internship prepared me for working at the interface between science and the public. I later had another internship at the Smithsonian Institution, which was comparable to Birch, and I am currently a faculty member at a university as well as being associated with a museum. Doing research, publishing, maintaining live animals in captivity, and reaching out to the public continue to be the mainstay of my own professional program.

What have you done since that summer?

I went on to get my Bachelors from UC Berkeley, my Masters from the University of Kansas and my Ph.D. from the University of Kansas Medical Center (with my research from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, MO). I am currently an Assistant Professor at La Sierra University, adjunct faculty at Loma Linda University Medical School, and Research Associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in the Division of Herpetology.  I explore reptile/amphibian biodiversity and the evolution of vertebrate body plans. I have a lot of fun in my career and continue to be excited about all organisms (including marine organisms, although I don’t work with them at the moment).

XXX and  head Birch Aquarium aquarist Fernando Nosratpour in 2013.

Raul Diaz and head aquarist Fernando Nosratpour in 2013.

Part of our mission at Birch Aquarium is to provide ocean sicence education to the public. We love hearing stories from visitors who have been insipred by thier visit to the aquarium to pursue careers in science or participate in citizen science. How have your experiences at aquariums or museums inspired you?