This month at Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium in Newport, the vast, hidden world of the deep sea becomes a backyard of discovery. Visitors will learn about the types of fish that light the way with bioluminescence, as well as other adaptations these animals have to living in darkness. The aquarium, open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and daily throughout school vacation week, April 15 – 24, will hold special activities centered on this strange realm of the ocean.
Far below the visible ocean is a landscape of deep crevices and alcoves where light barely penetrates the water. As a result, many native species that live there have developed a unique trait. Called bioluminescence, a chemical reaction in their bodies allows them to literally light themselves up, as though they are fireflies in the water. This is a crucial adaptation without which very few of the fish would find their way in the dark for food and shelter from larger predators. They also use their light in other ways, such as distracting prey before catching it or navigating through often perilous deep sea canyons . The most commonly found luminescent creature native to Narragansett Bay is the ‘comb jellyfish,’ identified by its glowing ‘veins’ beneath its transparent body.
Visitors will be able to see a fluorescent fish up close, the resident Chain Catshark, which has a scale pattern that lets it blend in with the substrate found in dark waters. Chain Catsharks have been photographed in the ocean glowing a brilliant green color, which is invisible to the human eye. A yellow filter is needed to block out blue hues in order to observe this beautiful coloration. Also, educators will share stories about the importance of sunlight below the ocean surface. Inside the aquarium, visitors are challenged to find a brilliant orange fish with large eyes that calls the deep sea
Children can also go on a scavenger hunt for a prize, take a stroll along the shore if the weather permits, and join in an assortment of other activities throughout the day:
- 11:00 Story Time: “Ocean Sunlight”
- 12:00 Science Experiment
- 01:00 Scavenger Hunt “Can you find all the deep sea creatures?”
- 02:00 Deep Sea Lesson
- 03:00 Beach Walk (weather permitting)
The Exploration Center and Aquarium is located in the Easton’s Beach Rotunda at 175 Memorial Blvd. in Newport, R.I. General admission is $8 with discounts for military and senior citizens. Save The Bay Family Members can enjoy FREE admission for 2 adults and up to 4 children. For more information about the Exploration Center and Aquarium, visit www.savebay.org/aquarium or call 401-324-6020.