Posts Tagged 'john seyjagat'

Three New Species Discovered in Australia’s “Lost World”

Blog-Header-AnimalExpertUpd

The first-ever biological expedition of Australia’s “lost world” – the small patch of rain forest in Cape York – has resulted in the discovery of three new species!

Cape York is a large peninsula located on at the tip of Australia’s state of Queensland. This secluded piece of the continent is largely regarded as one of the largest, unspoiled wilderness areas on Earth.

cape melville australia

Cape Melville. Photo via National Geographic.

This past March, an expert team of scientists and filmmakers ventured to the small range of mountain plateaus on Cape Melville (located on the northeastern part of the peninsula). During their four-day expedition, the group discovered and identified three new species of animals: a leaf-tail gecko, a blotched-boulder frog and a shade skink.

These species are especially exciting and interesting for our community as they’re representative of the unique ways animals adapt to the harsh environment of Australia. For example, the blotched-boulder frog has evolved to minimize the need for water in its reproduction – an adaption to suit its dry rocky environment!

It’s thought that primitive versions of the leaf-tail gecko once flourished in the Australian rain forest. Now we know that they have survived over the years by using their flat, uniquely-shaped body to camouflage itself into the rocky terrain, avoiding predators and waiting patiently for prey!

leaf-tail gecko

Leaf-tail gecko perfectly camouflaged. Photo via National Geographic.

It’s exciting to see these discoveries make headlines because many outside of the continent are unaware that a lot of Australia, a country almost the size of the continental United States, has yet to be discovered. Unlike the South American rain forest, which has been well-traveled and documented by scientists for decades, Australia’s land is rough and oftentimes difficult to navigate. It’s climate range can also make extended trips a challenge.

To learn more about these recent discoveries, click here. I’ll be sure to share more information as the team continues their expedition!

Blog-Header-JohnSeyjagat

Arbor Day: Doing Our Part Right in the Inner Harbor

Did you know? National Aquarium’s Waterfront Park is populated entirely with plants native to Maryland!

waterfront plaza

Our goal in maintaining the park, the organization of which follows the principles of conservation landscaping (also known as Bayscaping), is to reduce the impact of pollution felt downtown and improve the health of our local ecosystem.

Here in the city, the trees and other plants of the Waterfront Park provide habitat and refuge for local and migratory birds, insects and other animals that either live in Baltimore permanently or are just passing through. In our Appalachian Highlands planter, we have a variety of trees and shrubs: Red Cedar, Redbud, White Pine, Sassafrass, White Oak, Chestnut Oak, Witch Hazel, Fragrant Sumac, Flowering Dogwood and Red-Panicled Dogwood that provide critical food and shelter for wildlife.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

The Piedmont planter is dominated by Red Maple, but also includes such trees and shrubs such as Sweetbay Magnolia, Southern and Maple-Leaved Arrowwood, and Serviceberry. Our Coastal Forest planter is home to Loblolly Pine, Marsh Elder, and Inkberry, and in our Salt Marsh planters can be found more Marsh Elder, Groundsel Bush, Swamp Hibiscus and Winterberry. Many of the trees and shrubs on the Plaza produce fruit and berries that are enjoyed throughout the year by birds, including the Serviceberry, Red Chokecherry, Fragrant Sumac, Inkberry and Winterberry. The foliage of these trees provides an environment in which native birds can nest and rear their young.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Many of the flowering trees and plants also provide pollen and nectar through the growing seasons for various pollinating birds and insects, and the foliage of many trees is a valuable food source for the larvae of various butterflies and moths. The “leaf litter” underneath the trees generated by years of deciduous accumulation also supports a vast array of insects, spiders and other arthropods. The insects supported here are also a useful food source for the birds and bats that live in and pass through our city!

This thriving environment of native plants has evolved immensely in recent years to support a growing number of native animal wildlife. We hope the community here in Baltimore city can continue to enjoy it for many years to come!

John Seyjagat, the Curator of our Animal Planet Australia exhibit, also manages the development and maintenance of our exterior parks. To learn more about John, click below: 

Blog-Header-JohnSeyjagat

Q&A With Aquarium Curator John Seyjagat!

marjorie lynn banks lecture series

Tomorrow night (March 5) kicks off our annual Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series! The first lecture features John Seyjagat, curator of our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit! To give you a sneak preview of tomorrow night’s talk, we sat down with John to get an inside look at his day-to-day work at the Aquarium:

  1. How long have you been at the Aquarium? About 10 years.
  2. How did you get your current position? I started as a consultant to the Exhibit and Design team back in 2002, and when the curator position became available in 2003, I applied and got the position.
  3. Describe a typical day at work for you… I like getting in to enjoy a period of undisturbed work, so I get in at 6 am. I do prep work and get ready to meet my staff at 7:30 am. By 8 am, it is time to work with staff and assist with any animal matters. By 9 am, the exhibit is open and ready to receive the public. At 10 am, our volunteer staff arrives. I give them their daily update and the tools necessary to wow our visitors. In the early afternoon, I again meet with staff for updates and firm up the afternoon routine. Most of my afternoons are dedicated to Biological Programs staff meetings or bigger projects related to the Australia exhibit. By 3 pm, I’ve met with my late shift staff for updates and briefings and planned their night. Even when I leave the Aquarium for the night, I am on my pager 24/7 just in case. That’s a non-hectic, good day!
  4. What’s your favorite spot within the Australia exhibit? The area in front of the Barramundi.

    The barramundis in the exhibit are all in the range of 9–10 years of age. When they arrived at the Aquarium, they were less than 12 inches long!

    The barramundi in our Australia exhibit!

  5. If you could trade places professionally with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? Sir David Attenborough. I worked with him on two films and was able to talk extensively with him during both projects. I learned so much about zoo-geography. The guy is as brilliant as he sounds!
  6. What is your favorite animal and why? Edentates (mammals that have little to no teeth, such as the sloth) and the silky anteater. This is the animal that dragged me into the zoo world. I was one of two people in the world who kept silky anteaters and wanted to learn more about them.

    Sloths are part of the edante mammal order!

    Sloths are part of the edentate mammal order.

  7. What’s one thing very few people know about the Australia exhibit? Its state of the art mechanics can be controlled from a computer or cell phone from anywhere in the world!
  8. Any exciting upcoming projects or research you can tell us about? The mouth almighty is the only freshwater cardinalfish in the world and is found in northern Australia and New Guinea. This fish may be the origin of all cardinalfish species, including the endangered Banggai cardinalfish. We are currently partnering with the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences to research the evolutionary biology of this species group to hopefully make a linkage to the origin of all cardinalfish.

Want to know more about our Australia exhibit and John’s exciting work? Join us tomorrow for his lecture in Baltimore!

All lectures are free for Aquarium donors; $5 for members; and $10 for non-members. Reservations required: 410-659-4230. A light reception will be held at 6:45 pm, followed by the curator’s talk in the Lyn P. Meyerhoff Auditorium.


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers