Archive for the 'Lectures' Category



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.

Wild ocean adventures

It was a wild night  last Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History as the National Aquarium in Washington teamed up with the Smithsonian attraction to premiere the latest IMAX phenomenon, Wild Ocean 3D.    The National Aquarium’s Director of Biological Services, Andy Dehart introduced the immersive, underwater 3D voyage to South Africa, as a captivated audience witnessed the journey of beaching whales, feeding sharks, diving gannets and massive bait balls during their annual migration along the Kwa Zulu Natal Wild Coast. 

The 40-minute adventure captures the annual trek that has been vital to the region’s “circle of life” for countless generations, both at sea and on land.  It is also one that has been threatened by climate change and over fishing. feeding aCR 10598 for blog

Andy Dehart added his own personal experiences in witnessing the circle of life first hand, and his many up close and personal experiences with sharks and thousands of other marine life species.

Do you have any stories of upclose encounters with marine life? If so, please share them with us on our blog! At the Aquarium, we get to experience marine life as a part of our every day jobs and many staff members are often out exploring the oceans, but we’d love to hear how other people have experienced the wonders of marine life. So please share!

Great white sharks: magnificent mysteries

By Guest Contributor Richard Theiss, owner of RTSea Productions

Great white sharks: one of the most magnificent and misunderstood of all the ocean’s creations. Perhaps you already appreciate the vital role sharks play in maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem, but when it comes to the great white, that’s where you draw the line. If so, come to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for a screening of Island of the Great White Shark on June 18th at 7 p.m. (For ticketing information, click here or call 410-727-3474.) 

As executive producer and cinematographer of Island of the Great White Shark, the Aquarium has honored me with the opportunity to kick off the Beyond the Boardwalk summer event series. Here is a chance to see an accurate and up-close portrait of these amazing animals and to learn about the vital research of marine scientists dedicated to protecting these sharks from possible extinction. And as we begin our summer fun, perhaps it’s a perfect time to set matters straight.

According to recent news reports, there would seem to be a heightened degree of shark activity from the California/Mexico coast to Martha’s Vineyard. In the end, it might just be one of those unexplained anomalies. But will the media pick up on this and herald a new “Summer of Jaws?”  Will people’s fear and misunderstanding be reinforced by sensationalistic reporting?

Well, as supporters of the National Aquarium and lovers of all things aquatic, that’s where you come in. As I have held screening/lectures for Island of the Great White Shark at major aquariums across the country, I find myself typically “preaching to the choir,” so I often pose this question: “Most of you here have probably never had or ever will have shark fin soup. So you may not be part of the problem, but how do we make you part of the solution?” That gets people scratching their heads.

We must all become disciples to the cause. We need to enlighten those who are still in the dark regarding shark-human interaction and shark conservation. With Island of the Great White Shark, I hope as many people as possible see and hear a different perspective regarding the public’s perceived “Darth Vader” of all sharks.

Whether it’s shark protection, marine conservation, or global warming, we need to make changes in our daily lives and we need to exercise our ability to influence others – our leaders, our nation, governments, and businesses – to move in the right direction. Act by example, vote by choice, influence by action.

 


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