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The Creative Sea
by erickson on 
 by Paul Erickson, Sea Life Science Reporter

 We are now booking our new multimedia lecture / conversation
for public and private groups, clubs, and educational institutions
—ages 12-adult—

The Creative Sea:
How Sea Life Is Inspiring New Hi-Tech
Materials and Medicines

     In this lively 45-minute show for indoor venues, discover how colorful sea creatures from our local waters and distant seas are helping engineers and scientists develop advanced fiber optics, powerful adhesives, non-addictive painkillers, and more.

     A blend of science and art, The Creative Sea features a kaleidoscope of underwater images set to the music of Debussy and Tchaikovsky. The presenters are Sea Shuttle naturalists, photographers, and divers Captain Mike and Paul Erickson.




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Sea Shuttle & Salem Inn Summer Adventure
by seashuttlecom on 


For a limited time, the whole family can touch the sea during a 90-minute cruise aboard our catamaran Endeavour, complete with an onboard aquarium and touch tank, plus a pizza-palooza at Salem's out-of-this-world Flying Saucer Pizza Company. Then, spend the two nights at the historic Salem Inn, home to seafarers for centuries. Your Seaside Adventure package includes:

  • A two-night stay in a deluxe Salem Inn Family Suite complete with complimentary continental breakfast and access to the local YMCA amenities
  • $20 gift card to the Flying Saucer Pizza Company in downtown Salem
  • Tickets for 2 adults and 2 children for a 90 minute cruise aboard our catamaran Endeavour

Package price is $575, plus tax

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Sea Shuttle & Salem Inn Summer Soiree
by Salem Inn on 

For a limited time, enjoy a romantic evening with cooling libations on board our new Sunset Cocktail Cruise and relax on Salem's waterfront over a fresh seafood dinner like only New England can deliver. Then, spend two nights at the historic Salem Inn, home to seafarers for centuries. Your Summer Soirée package includes:

  • A two-night stay in a deluxe Salem Inn Suite complete with whirlpool, wine & cheese reception and complimentary continental breakfast
  • $50 gift card at either Sea Level or Finz, two seaside Salem traditions
  • A 90-minute cruise for two on board one of our catamarans. Your choice of: a sunset 'Toast of the Sound' Cocktail Cruise, or an afternoon cruising tour of the Salem Harbor.

Package price is $590, plus tax

Book Your Trip Today!


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Sea Shuttle Aquarium News
by erickson on 

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick update regarding the Sea Shuttle, onboard, catch-and-release aquarium.

Aquarium hobbyists might find this interesting.

Regarding feeding…we’ve been putting in 5 different kinds of frozen plankton cubes I bought at PetSmart into the tank. I did this mainly for the anemones, who definitely catch the thawing plankton, but I also noticed hermit crabs reaching out and grabbing the tiny mysid shrimp. The hermits seem to be opportunistic omnivores.

The anemones are blooming well (usually not all at once). I’m thinking the store-bought plankton might be helping them thrive, now that we are not going out for fresh, plankton-containing seawater everyday. This is just a wild guess.

Lefty II (our second lobster of the season successfully regenerating a claw) has been rejecting fresh mussel meat lately. But that’s really all we’ve been feeding him, although he apparently did a pretty good job devouring Rocky the rock crab. And I suspect he eats a little sea lettuce. Maybe too many mussel dinners is like us having to eat mac and cheese for dinner every day. It’s good, but we’d get tired of it after a while.

Anyway, the Leftmeister acts perturbed when he gets too much mussel. He quickly carries it out of his lair, then tosses it away like an arrogant diner rudely returning an imperfectly cooked steak.

Could this be a behavioral adaptation to keep sharks and other predators from sensing leftovers in his den and putting him at risk?

And so, I bought some herring at the bait store in Salem. As soon as I offered it to Lefty II, he ate about a quarter of a herring in one session. He was devouring it like it was the last herring in the sea.

Having observed that, we’ll be mixing up his menu a bit.

Mrs. Crabtree, the spider crab, also likes herring, and now a piece of herring has attached to those little hooks on her carapace. Maybe she will have that for a midnight snack, if the hermit crab that climbed on her shell doesn’t finish it off first. I wouldn’t put it past a hermit to raid the fridge.

Well, that’s all for now . . . until the next aquarium update,


Paul Erickson

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Sea Shuttle at Beverly Harborfest 2016
by erickson on 

Beverly Harborfest, Saturday, September 10, 3PM to 6PM.

During Harborfest, bring the kids aboard the Sea Shuttle Endeavour while she is docked at Beverly's Glover Wharf Municipal Marina, by, you guessed it, the old MacDonald's.  Check out live ocean animals on the loose in our onboard Sea Shuttle Aquarium and Touch Tank...all for FREE.

Then at 6:15PM, join us for an excursion around Salem Sound on the Sea Shuttle's Harborfest Water Tour. Guests ($20) Children ($15) Infants (FREE) Seniors ($15). Drinks and snacks available onboard.
To get advance tickets for the 6:15PM Harborfest Tour, please return to the Home page and click on Calendar & Purchase Tickets.

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On-board Endeavour Aquarium
by erickson on 

Thanks everyone on the Sea Shuttle crew for taking such great care of the Aquarium!

The animals have been thriving and eating throughout the season.

People have been asking what we feed the animals we catch and later on release back to their Salem Sound habitats. So here's a rundown of what's on the menu:

Sea stars who either eat raw mussel meat or open the mussels themselves—nothing fancy, no garlic, wine or tartar sauce, or wasabi, just pure sashimi!

Our lobster, Lefty II, gobbles down one to three mussels a day and will apparently indicate he’s hungry by tromping through the tank on the prowl for some fast food.

Mrs. Crabtree, the spider crab, who eats roughly a mussel a day, complements her seafood with the salad items she picks off the garden atop her shell. So far she hasn’t demanded Italian bread to go with that combination. But if she wants it, we'll get it :)

Our 20 or so hermit crabs pick up the leftovers and scrub mussel shells clean of any food traces. They also eat algae, which is one reason we’ve been letting green algae (Enteromorpha sp.) grow on some of the larger rocks. Oh yeah, they also climb on Mrs. Crabtree’s back and steal from her mobile shell garden.

We feed the anemones frozen and thawed plankon (a little expensive, but fortunately small quantities) from the Petsmart freezer. But I suspect they are mostly thriving on tiny to microscopic plankton items that comes in with the seawater from the Sound.

And last but not least, our little sculpin fish has come out of hiding more frequently. Yesterday we watched him nibble on mussel meat. So, happily, our first experimental aquarium fish is doing well.

Other than that, we try to keep the tank clean, but not too clean. Here's why: because the decaying detritus from seagrass and algae is covered with nutrient-rich bacteria and fungi, which many of the animals will eat—just like sea creatures do up and down the New England coast.

So, that's the latest from the Endeavour Aquarium. We hope you enjoy today's photo looking down from the top of the tank in the morning sun.

Thanks for reading our blog today! Hope to see you onboard the Sea Shuttle Endeavour.

ps. You may have noticed from the photo that Lefty II has only one claw. That's the way we found him in our educational lobster trap. Now we're protecting him as he regenerates the lost claw.

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New Endeavour Aquarium visitor
by erickson on 

by erickson on 2016/08/15 12:54 PM

The latest crowd-pleasing addition to the Sea Shuttle Endeavour's on-board, catch-and-release, 250 gallon, saltwater aquarium is a Portly Spider Crab Libinia emarginata, aka Common Spider Crab or Nine-spined Spider Crab.

From time to time, along the shores of southeastern New England, molted spider crab shells wash ashore by the hundreds after thousands of these harmless crustaceans gather and cluster offshore to molt and mate.

As ferocious as it may look, the spider crab's claws are relatively weak, say, compared with the mighty claws of the American lobster—something I can report from recent, direct experience.

The only injury I have ever received involving a spider crab occurred while I was avoiding one in the shallow waters of Cape Cod. As I moved out of the crab's way, I stepped on the sharp edge of a broken beer bottle buried in the sand.

While getting stitched up in a local hospital, it occurred to me that I would have been better off allowing the harmless crab to simply crawl over my feet.
The portly spider crab is a type of "decorator" crab.

Seaweeds, sponges and other organisms attach to the spines and hairs on its back. The decorations create near-perfect camouflage, letting the crab hide in plain sight. As with many other sea creatures, the crab is essentially a mobile habitat where other species live or just hang around.

For example, today, one of our hermit crabs climbed up on the spider crab's back. There it nibbled on Spidey's decorative seaweed garden.

Today, our new crabby resident quickly devoured the tasty flesh of two mussels we served to it. We'll need to keep it well-fed to keep it from nibbling on our sea stars.

Thanks for reading our blog today; please tune in from time to time for more dispatches the Sea Shuttle.
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by erickson on 

Salem Sound

Not Salem Sound

This past Saturday, a sunrise cruise on the Sea Shuttle Endeavour let guests say "Goodbye" and "Fair winds" to the Hōkūleʻa—a highly-accurate full-scale, sailing replica of a wa'a kaulua, or double-hulled voyaging canoe.

Since 1973, the Honolulu-based Polynesian Voyaging Society has promoted international public awareness of the astonishing navigational abilities and virtuoso sailing heritage of Polynesian mariners. Polynesian double-hulled sailboats date back to at least 3,500 years before the present (BP). (Please sail over to:

The ship, visiting Salem as part of a 4-year circumnavigation of the world, is devoted to conserving the ocean—a mission very much in line with that of Endeavour.

Then there's this: Both Hōkūleʻa and the Sea Shuttle Endeavour have double hulls. And a double hulled vessel is often called a catamaran. Okay, that's no big secret. But DID YOU KNOW? One likely origin of the term "catamaran" comes from the Tamil Indian (as in the country of India) word "kattu-maram," or "tied-wood," referring to two wooden hulls tied together.

Fair winds, sailing friends. Maybe see you in Honolulu.

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Sea Shuttle On-Board Aquarium Update
by erickson on 

Endeavour Aquarium Renovations for 2016

By Paul Erickson, Sea Shuttle Naturalist

How many boats have you been on that have a built-in saltwater aquarium? I had not heard of a floating aquarium until I met the folks on the 45' Sea Shuttle catamaran Endeavour.

I thought the idea was brilliant: display creatures borrowed from the same ocean that surrounds you with all its sights, sounds and smells.
I knew I had to be part of this development in "playful learning" at sea, as Captain Mike Medlock puts it.

Today's photo shows our newly plumbed aquarium, which is now attached to a chiller unit that will allow us to maintain the same constant, chilly temps as those in Salem Sound, overnight, when Endeavour is in port.

With some clever construction by Captain Lou and the expert oversight of professional aquarist Dave Winchester, we are taking the Aquarium's ecology to a new level of biodiversity.

Since we took this photo, we've already added a number of animals to this onboard ecosystem (not easily visible in the photo is our recently molted, soft-shelled lobster, which is hiding in a safe rocky sanctuary we built for it at the back of the aquarium).

During the day, we pump in cold seawater from the open Sound. And based on the success we've had with the animals so far, these esteemed tank resident are benefiting from the inflow of unfiltered plankton, beneficial marine bacteria and who-knows-what kinds of other microscopic life forms that are part of their nearby natural habitat.

Come join us and check out our live animals. We emphasize hands-on experiences with our sea creatures, and that is something that kids never forget.

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Sea Shuttle Mission
by erickson on 

By Paul Erickson, Sea Shuttle Life-Science Reporter

The Sea Shuttle 45' motor catamaran Endeavour team is always thrilled to see our guests enjoying trips out to Salem Sound.

Passengers enjoy listening to the captain's live, historical narration spotlighting hundreds of years of Gold Coast stories (and scandles) while sipping a cold libation.

In turn, as the only commercial vessel permitted to shuttle people to Great Misery Island, we love to hear our guests' stories about their island explorations and discoveries along 2.5 miles of the island's hiking trails.

But the Sea Shuttle Mission is much more than that.

"The Sea Shuttle mission is to bring people out here into the waters of Salem Sound to teach them about the enormous quantity and diversity of life out here underneath the water," says Captain Mike Medlock.

Specifically, during the past several years, Endeavour has served as a multipurpose learning platform for thousands of children studying marine biology and basic oceanography.

Among the groups studying our local coastal waters is the Salem Sound Coastwatch / School to Sea Program and the Northeastern University Coastal Ocean Science Academy (COSA).

Both students, teachers, and the many families that cruise with us across the 14 square-mile Salem Sound, enjoy observing Endeavour's centerpiece: a 250-gallon acrylic saltwater, catch-and-release aquarium.

What's more, the Shuttle crew brings out some of the aquarium's live animals, including hermit crabs and sea stars, so that kids of every age and cultural background can have a direct, hands-on experience with the nature of the Sound.

"I think the onboard aquarium is a unique opportunity to be close to the natural habitat of the sea life and to see it close to its natural state," says Captain Mike.

"People can experience and even touch live sea life we're bringing onboard temporarily, a short distance from its natural environment. Then we return the animals to the specific coastal habitats where we collected them. This entertaining teaching process allows us to be more marine life observers than manipulators."

It is especially exciting and surprising when adults with little prior interest in science find themselves captivated by say a strange sea squirt or a beautiful brittle starfish they've never seen before.

Yet there is nothing like the magical moments when kids encounter and even hold, say, a one-clawed lobster with a regenerating second claw. (We temporarily band lobster claws to avoid any accidental pinches).

"We treasure those moments when kids encounter something on the boat that gives them a sense of awe," says Mike.

 "You can see something imprinting on their minds, they have really had a special kind of experience."

Now that you have found the Sea Shuttle website, also check out our Facebook page with colorful pictures of the beautiful and often strange sea life. (24) Sea Shuttle

Then surf over to our mission video to see some cool critters on Sea Shuttle Mission Video - YouTube

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