Crittercam Study at the Mystic Aquarium

One of our favorite research innovations has been the Crittercam, a camera that is attached to animals to record their lives. Now the Crittercam is being tested on beluga whales in Mystic, CT right up the road from Animal Fact Guide headquarters.

The Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is playing host to the Crittercam  exhibit that we reported on two summers ago. The  exhibit at Mystic Aquarium will run through November.

While the exhibit is going on, researchers are practicing attaching a Crittercam to Kela, one of the aquarium’s resident beluga whales. They are sticking the Crittercam on her back using suction cups to observe whether it interferes with her natural behavior. Crittercams are always tried out on captive animals before being used in the wild.

beluga whale

Read our review of Crittercam inventor Greg Marshall’s presentation at Animal Fact Guide.

Visit the Mystic Aquarium & Institute of Exploration website.

Read an additional article on the exhibit at The New London Day.

Inventor of Crittercam Presents “A Wild Point of View”

Greg Marshall: A Wild Point of View

Crittercam inventor Greg Marshall speaks about his invention at the Garde Arts Center in New London, CT.

Greg Marshall, the inventor of Crittercam (a compact camera/data collecting device that attaches to animals), came to New London, CT on March 19th to speak about his invention and the insight it has provided into animal behavior.  Animal Fact Guide editors P.A. Smith and Abi Cushman, who reviewed the Crittercam exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science last summer, had the opportunity to attend this fascinating presentation.

In his talk, entitled “A Wild Point of View,” Marshall described how he first came up with the idea of Crittercam. On one expedition, he noticed a suckerfish attached to the dorsal fin of a shark.  He noted that the shark appeared to behave in a way unaffected by the suckerfish, and from there, he made the connection that it was  possible to attach a camera in an unobtrusive manner as well.

Throughout the presentation, Marshall stressed the importance that the Crittercam not impact the animal.  This was essential not only for the well-being and safety of the animal but also because they wanted to be sure to collect true data about how animals actually behave in the wild. If the animals acted differently in response to having the device attached to them, the data they collected would be compromised.

The Crittercam, which has become more and more streamlined and compact  as years pass, collects more than just video imagery.  The device collects a wealth of data such as temperature, light levels, pressure, and audio.  This supporting information allows scientists to more fully comprehend what they see in the video footage.

Greg MarshallThis unique view into animal behavior has led to many new discoveries.  For example, they learned about the feeding patterns of several marine animals.  In the instance of king penguins, they found that the penguins would dive deep and look up towards the ice to spot the fish silhouetted by the light shining through.  In this way, they acted in a similar way to a hawk circling above land and swooping in to catch their prey, but in reverse.  In the instance of humpback whales, they discovered that the whales would dive deep, drive fish towards the surface,  blow bubbles around the school forming a “net” to herd them, and then use their fins to scare the fish into their open mouths.

Marshall delivered an excellent presentation, providing interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes about his experiences in the field. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak in your area, we recommend you attend.

You can also view the Crittercam exhibition which is currently on display at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago until April 11. From May 22 to January 5, 2011, you can see Crittercam at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, Colorado.

For more information, see National Geographic’s Crittercam website and National Geographic’s Crittercam event page.

Exhibit Review: Crittercam


Last week, we wrote about Crittercam, an exhibit presented by the Museum of Science, Boston and National Geographic.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to visit the exhibit in person.

Crittercam provides a fascinating look into the behavior of several kinds of animals including penguins, seals, sea turtles, sharks, lions, bears, and more.  Using cameras attached to various animals, scientists were able to gather data about hunting techniques, social norms, and daily activity that had previously eluded them.  The exhibit provides video footage captured by the animals along with explanatory text and a few fun facts about the animals discussed.

Lioness wearing CrittercamBut the exhibit also delves into the technology and methodology of Crittercam.  There are models of animals showing how the special cameras were attached and adapted to a particular animal’s lifestyle.

For example, the soft, flexible shells of leatherback sea turtles did not allow the camera to be attached by an adhesive. Instead, a suction cup was applied to the central plate of the turtle’s shell.

Using videos, photos, life-size models, and computer kiosks, the exhibit appeals to an audience of all ages and interests. So if you live in or plan to visit the Boston area, be sure to visit Crittercam at the Museum of Science, which runs through August 30.

For more info: Crittercam.

News of the Harry Potter Exhibition arrives via owl***

During our visit, the museum made an exciting announcement (delivered by an owl) about a very special international exhibition that will open in Boston on October 25, 2009 called Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

Fans of Harry Potter will soon get the chance to immerse themselves in the wizarding world.  Artifacts and costumes from the latest Harry Potter films will be displayed in a 10,000-sq. ft. space.

For more info, see: Harry Potter: The Exhibition.


PenguinWCam-smallNo, that’s not a rocket pack attached to this penguin. This penguin is outfitted with a Crittercam, a durable camera that records the animal’s everyday life from its point of view. Over 60 different animals have worn the Crittercam, which was developed by National Geographic.

The Museum of Science, Boston, has opened an exhibit which showcases the video and data collected by animals wearing the Crittercam.

From their press release:

Through a series of interactive displays and models, Crittercam takes visitors overland and undersea, illustrating everything from the hunting behaviors of sharks to the napping pattern of a young Alaskan bear.

Beyond exploring the personal adventures of some of the world’s most fascinating and powerful animals, the exhibit also focuses on the Crittercam technology. Revealing the technology behind Crittercam, the exhibit allows visitors to touch and examine models. Crittercam also gives them the opportunity to design their own using a Build-a-cam computer interactive.

The exhibit runs through August 30th. Catch it while you can!

For more information visit Crittercam Chronicles or the Museum of Science, Boston.