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Right whale fluke and Delaware II.
Credit: Beth Josephson

Woods Hole Science Aquarium Opens New Exhibits on Sounds of the Sea, and Albatross: A Legacy of Research

Two new exhibits, "Sounds of the Sea" featuring whales and other marine animal sounds in an interactive display, and "Albatross: A Legacy of Research ", are now open at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium (WHSA), operated by NOAA”s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.  Scientists involved with both projects will be at the Aquarium on Saturday, September 17, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. to speak briefly about the exhibits and to answer questions.

Albatross:  A Legacy of Research” features the 46-year career of the 187-foot research vessel Albatross IV, which sailed from Woods Hole from 1963 until its retirement and decommissioning in 2008. The exhibit includes many photographs, a timeline, and the Albatross IV ship’s wheel. Three main panels, each with a video display above, highlight the seafarers – the people who sailed in many capacities aboard the vessel through the years, the ship itself, and the science it accomplished. 

Linda Despres, the last chief scientist to sail on the Albatross IV, will be available to answer questions about the ship and its legacy, the science it conducted during its long career, and what it was like to work aboard the vessel.

Four research vessels have carried the name Albatross since 1882 when the first, the 234-foot steamer Albatross was built, launching the modern era of ocean research and exploration and the birth of the village of Woods Hole, home port to all four ships, as a center for worldwide marine research. 

The Albatross exhibit was supported by the NOAA Preserve America Initiative, part of the federal Preserve America program aimed at preserving, protecting and promoting our nation's rich heritage. Further Information about the Albatross IV and the Albatross legacy can be found on the web at:

The second new exhibit, “Sounds of the Sea”, focuses on ocean noise, marine mammal sounds and human impacts.  Photographs and printed materials, research equipment and specimens of marine animal ears and skulls are on display; multimedia touch screen displays integrate visual images of marine animals with the sounds they produce and information about that species. Visitors will learn how marine animals, including humpbacks and other whales, use and hear sounds and the importance of human-made noise and its impact on protected and or endangered marine animals. Visitors can explore various marine sounds, made by both animals and humans, and record their own voice to compare to other sounds in the exhibit.

Marine mammal researcher Sofie van Parijs from the NEFSC’s Protected Species Branch at the Woods Hole Laboratory will be available to answer questions about her own bioacoustics research programs and this new exhibit, which was funded through the NOAA Fisheries Service educational opportunity program.

The Aquarium collection includes approximately 140 species of marine fish and invertebrates that are native to New England waters. Programs operated at the Aquarium in partnership with the Marine Biological Laboratory include those for marine animal health, summer internships for high school students, and special exhibits. The facility is also home for two harbor seals, LuSeal and Bumper, who cannot be released to the wild.  Seal feedings, held at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. most days, are always a popular and informative event.

The Woods Hole Science Aquarium, the country’s oldest marine aquarium, is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 4 p.m. (closed federal holidays). Admission is free, but donations are accepted.  Public parking in Woods Hole is limited to on-street metered parking.

Visit the Aquarium on the web at  or call 508-495-2001 for further information. Visit the Northeast Fisheries Science Center on the web at or learn more about work of the NEFSC’s Protected Species Branch at

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