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THREE YEARS OF AQUARIUM BLOGGING

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Video | Volunteering | Mammals

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hugh

This month marks the beginning of my fourth year of blogging about the seals, sea lions, sea otters and other Aquarium critters that I have been fortunate enough to work around every Saturday during my volunteer shifts. Back in August of 2007 I started writing a bi-weekly blog about my experiences at the Aquarium of the Pacific since the day it opened in 1998. I’ve also sometimes written about some of my other experiences in the 20 plus years I’ve been involved in volunteering my time in researching, rescuing, and rehabilitating marine mammals in Southern California. Hopefully the readers found the stories interesting, informative and sometimes fun.

From the archives I’ve picked out fifteen blogs from the past three years to highlight my experiences.

Eleven are from my experiences at the Aquarium of the Pacific and four are from my other experiences around marine mammals. They also include a few videos that I shot and edited for my blogs (I hope to include more videos in future blogs).

Click on the story titles below to check them out.

  1. The Seal with Abilities Beyond Her Disabilities
    A blind harbor seal regains her ability to retrieve objects tossed into the exhibit and in doing so teaches her trainer not to underestimate those with a perceived disability. (August 13, 2007)
  2. RADIO FLYER The Wild Western Gull
    A wild Western gull chooses the Aquarium’s seal and sea lion exhibit to raise his young. (September 13, 2007)
  3. THE BIG GUY—MILLER THE SEA LION
    From orphaned pup to aquatic star; The story of Miller the sea lion. (October 11, 2007)
  4. In the Surf Trying to Save a Baby Fin Whale
    Four years ago this week, the Aquarium of the Pacific had a little known part in the attempted rescue of a fin whale calf that stranded on a beach in Orange County back in the fall of 2003. This is the story of that rescue attempt as seen from my perspective in the surf with the whale. (November 22, 2007)
  5. Tracking a Seal by Satellite
    Back in the summer of 1999, a visitor watching our sea lions swim past the pinniped tunnel at the Aquarium of the Pacific mentioned to me that she had taken a vacation up to Hearst Castle recently and while there had seen elephant seals resting on the beach. She noticed that a few had faded orange tags on their flippers and that one of the seals had a tag that read 3709. The number sounded familiar so I looked it up in my records. It was quite a revelation. The seal that the woman saw on the beach was “Mac”, an elephant seal that I helped track by satellite two years before. I thought it might be cool to share with everyone the details of Mac’s voyage that year. (January 31, 2008)
  6. SWIMMING WITH SEA LIONS
    Some of my fondest memories of volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific come from the impromptu enrichment swims that we use to do in the Seal and Sea Lion Exhibit. I remember floating in the water nose to nose with a sea lion only inches away from my mask as we both lazily bobbed just under the surface with the critter looking upon me with a gaze of familiarity that only comes from years of working with an animal. (February 28, 2008)
  7. How to Train a Sea Lion (and a Rabbit)
    Just because you don’t have a handy sea lion around doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun training animals. Any critter can be trained as long as you know what makes it happy! (April 10, 2008)
  8. The Seal that Rescued a Rescuer
    I’ve been asked by visitors to the Aquarium what my favorite pinniped is. Most of them expect my answer to be either the California sea lion (like Miller) or the Harbor seal (like Ellie) because of how much I work and play with these critters. They are surprised when I tell them that the Elephant seal is actually my favorite. This is the story of how a young elephant seal once saved this volunteer from a mauling by a pack of wild animals. (May 8, 2008)
  9. TOPAZ: THE CAT THAT THE AQUARIUM WAS BUILT AROUND
    Which animal at the Aquarium of the Pacific has been there the longest? Is it one of the sea otters? Perhaps it’s one of the seals? Maybe even one of the sharks? Actually the animal with the longest tenure at the Aquarium is Topaz the cat. Now… I know what you’re thinking: What is a cat doing at an aquarium? Well, truth be told, Topaz was here at the site way before the first fish ever swam here. This is his story. (July 3, 2008)
  10. GETTING “THIGGY” WITH MILO THE SEA LION
    Thigmotaxis is the scientific term to describe an animal’s need to be in physical contact with another animal. The mammalogist call positive thigmotaxis “Getting Thiggy”. Milo our young California sea lion definitely likes to get Thiggy with his trainers. (October 9, 2008)
  11. Parker The Sea Lion Gets Airborne
    For an animal in the ocean, the ability to leap out the water for a short period can enhance its survival, navigation and foraging capabilities. Parker the sea lion is learning how to demonstrate this ability as he is being trained by our staff to porpoise out of the water. (December 4, 2008)
  12. RESCUING AN ENTANGLED GRAY WHALE
    In my over 20 years of being involved with marine mammals I’ve had some memorable moments. One of the most memorable was the day back in the early 1990s when a whale research crew that I was part of helped a Bay Watch Lifeguard rescue an entangled gray whale just offshore of the cliffs of Point Vicente. The following story is about that day. (January 5, 2009)
  13. Notes from an Encounter with a Stejneger’s Beaked Whale
    A decade ago this summer, I spent two hours in the water caring for a distressed Stejneger’s Beaked Whale. In this week’s blog I will be sharing some of my observation notes from my encounter with this mysterious, rarely seen alive cetacean. (March 12, 2009)
  14. FROM A SEA LION’S POINT OF VIEW
    Milo the sea lion really seems to enjoy playing with sea lion-cam. With the enthusiasm that he shows when carrying the camera rig he reminds me of a golden retriever with a favorite tennis ball. Check out Milo’s latest video creation “From a Sea Lion’s Point of View” where you’ll see the pinniped exhibit and underwater visitors tunnel from a sea lion’s perspective. (February 25, 2010)
  15. ADVENTURES IN OTTER SPACE PART ONE
    My adventures in “Otter Space” with an orphan baby sea otter including a way too cute video blog of my first week with the little furball. (May 20, 2010)

Eighty blogs later you may wonder how I can find something to write about every two weeks. Well, that’s the wonderful thing about spending my weekends at the Aquarium. There’s always something new to experience and share with the readers.

To see more of my blogs from the archives go to the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Aquarium Blogs page, find one of my recent postings and click on the by Hugh byline.

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