Have you been to Crittercam at Discovery Place yet? If your answer is “no”, then you are totally missing out! This is the coolest exhibit ever and the best part is, it’s FREE with regular museum admission!
So what’s a Crittercam?
No worries, these cameras are safely worn by wildlife and offer a rare view into the private lives of animals – it’s a wild ride – dive deep with penguins, hunt with lions and lurk with crocodiles…Where else can you experience this with your entire family? Only at Discovery Place, of course!
This multimedia exhibition will introduce you to Crittercam’s sometimes-surprising findings, and allows you to experience the world from an entirely new perspective – an animals’. Throughout your visit, discover how Crittercam continues to revolutionize animal research, and learn how its findings have uncovered ways to protect our planet’s creatures and the environment we share.
What can we do in the Exhibition?
Viewing stations featuring firsthand footage of animals in their habitats put you in the center of the action. Other activities include a Build-a-Cam computer interactive, which lets you explore the nuts and bolts of a Crittercam, and an interactive Expedition Atlas showing Crittercam deployment details from across the globe. By allowing us this animal’s-eye-view, Crittercams help to solve scientific mysteries. And what we learn from Crittercams helps us protect the very animals that wear them.
The 6,000-square-foot exhibition, developed by the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., takes visitors on a journey through interactive displays, firsthand footage and realistic environments that explore the many stories and animals that are part of the science and adventure of Crittercam. With a focus on devices worn by seals and sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, whales, penguins, bears and lions, tracking through Crittercam has uncovered stunning insights into animal life. New discoveries include:
– The habits of emperor penguins to find prey along the bottom of sea ice rather than during deep portions of their dives as previously believed;
– The distinctive hunting patterns of tiger sharks and how those patterns influence behavior of their prey;
– The tendency of male harbor seals to use and defend locations offshore, where they use vocalizations to attract mates and/or repel competitors;
– The underwater dynamics and specialized roles of individuals in groups of humpback whales practicing a complex foraging behavior known as bubble-net feeding.
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors encounter a watery environment devoted to seals and sea lions and a series of viewing and listening stations that show how these animals communicate, hunt, feed, care for their young and attract mates. Museum-goers then move to the sharks section for a close-up view of an 18-foot-long great white shark model and displays that illustrate the hunting and migratory behaviors of several shark species. A shark fin model features the latest way of attaching the Crittercam— via a fin clamp. As visitors feel the rough sandpaper that keeps the clamp in place, they can watch a video depicting daring deployments, from early tether systems to a researcher deploying the fin clamp by hand.
Visitors then take the plunge with sea turtles in an area that reveals how turtles search for mates, different foraging behaviors and how the animals avoid becoming a meal themselves. From atop a life-size model of a leatherback sea turtle, children and adults can watch point-of-view footage from a female leatherback, while other displays show life as seen by loggerhead and hawksbill turtles.
A loud feeding call and bubble columns welcome guests to a chamber of bubbles that demonstrates the cooperative behavior of humpbacks known as bubble net, or lunge feeding. Other highlights of this section featuring whales include an up-close look at the toothed whales of Hawaii and footage of the mysterious “unicorn of the sea,” the narwhal.
In the penguin pod, exhibition-goers enter the world of Penguin Ranch, the main research site of the Crittercam team in Antarctica, to investigate a penguin’s life beneath the ice and learn about research with penguins trained to wear Crittercam. Visitors can squeeze into an observation tube to watch a video of penguins soaring underwater, while little guests can crawl through a tunnel and pop up in a bubble to come face-to-face with a lifelike penguin wearing a working Crittercam. On exiting the tunnel, children can view footage of themselves from the penguin’s perspective.
The terrestrial version of Crittercam is the newest development in the program. In the land animals section of the exhibition, visitors learn about the trial-and-error process of developing the land-based technology, from deployments on domestic dogs and cats to partnering with animal rehabilitation centers. Visitors also learn about the unique challenges of studying land animals, from penetrating the dense forest habitat of the grizzly bear to getting the Crittercam collar to pass the lion cub “chew toy” test. Point-of-view footage shows a young Alaskan bear cub napping, feeding and traveling with its family, as well as a lioness hunting, tending to her cubs and sharing a meal with them.
The final section of the exhibition focuses on Crittercam technology, with information on how it works and the original inspiration that led to its development by National Geographic marine biologist Greg Marshall. Visitors can design their own Crittercams using a Build-a-Cam computer interactive, touch a Crittercam model and examine deployment methods such as an adhesive patch, penguin harness and suction cup. Young visitors can try their hand at a Crittercam puzzle.
For more information on Crittercam, click here.
Discovery Place is a WILD place this summer – don’t miss: To The Arctic, Sex Rex: Journey to the Prehistoric both in IMAX and Dolphins 3D: Tribes of the Ocean in the Discovery 3D Theatre.