HighTechScience.org Installs
Fish & Gator Cams

at the South Florida Science Museum

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The following appeared June 5 and also on June 10, 2007 in the

Webcams are putting creatures at
West Palm aquarium on display 24/7

By Ivette M. Yee
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 5 2007

 West Palm Beachˇ Fish make faces, too.

    Just ask Rick Newman, a South Florida Science Museum board member who recently installed Web cameras in the museum's McGinty Aquarium.

    The spacious aquarium features 25 tanks with 470 fish and coral, representing 130 species. The webcams allow anyone to see the fish in action any time, day or night, by logging on to www.sfsm.org.

    In one tank, the live "Gator Cam" spies on two baby alligators with their heads floating above water. In another, the "Shark Cam" captures the goings-on in the museum's Pacific Ocean tank, which has yellow tangs, panther grouper, sharks and more.

    "I've always wanted to put a camera in these tanks," Newman said. "It will allow people who are homebound or handicapped the opportunity to see them. The museum comes to them."

    Newman spent $1,000 on the cameras, for which he constructed waterproof casings. The museum recently expanded its aquarium area with more tanks and added signs to teach visitors about sea life.

    The Pacific tank's camera catches a big Honeycomb moray eel peeking out of coral and a plump puffer fish swimming from one side to another. Sometimes, Web visitors may have to wait to see the fish in action. But many of them are fond of the camera; they linger and stare right into the lens, Newman said. A number of the fish are nocturnal and tend to move about when the sun sets.

    Museum officials said the cameras are educational tools. Aquatic researchers can log on to the museum's Web site and study fish behavior. The cameras' infrared capabilities let anyone see the fish at night. The technology has also helped catch after-hours mischief in the aquarium.

    "Once in a while we have a bully in our tank," said Lee Dashiell, aquarium curator. "We had this horn shark and he wouldn't come out until night, but when he did, he would pick on [another] shark. Because of the cameras, we were able to catch him red-handed on tape."

    Dashiell said the museum will be adding more webcams. By next month, fish feeding times will be shared on the Internet for those who log on. The Palm Beach Zoo has also contacted Newman to install a webcam in its tiger display, he said.

    Already, visitors are enjoying the new feature.

    "I like this," said Adam Ketchum, 10, of Boynton Beach, who recently visited the museum. "I can see the fish even when the museum's closed."


  The South Florida Science Museum is located at:
4801 Dreher Trail N., West Palm Beach.

   For more info, call 561-832-01988 or visit www.SFSM.org


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