Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Aquarium News

Something new and exciting is always happening!

February 2022

Turtle Time

Have you ever wondered what happens at the Museum during our Winter Hiatus? While each year brings many new projects, this year brought the need to upgrade the base of our Aquarium Grande Dame, Myrtle’s tank. Myrtle enjoyed some “spa time” in a special heated holding area while her tank was emptied and moved so the base could be replaced. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers and aquarium staff, Myrtle is now sitting pretty in her home at the end of Turtle Bay.

January 2022

Cold Stunned

As temperatures begin to fall below 50ᶱF on Cape Cod, you may find a cold stunned turtle along the shore. However, there are many species that get cold stunned. One is a pufferfish call the Striped Burr Fish which is found from Nova Scotia to Brazil. This little puffer, who now lives at the Museum is proving it can do well at a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It eats every day and swims sweetly around the tide pool.

December 2021

Welcome Pinky!

Welcome to our newest resident Pinky! This Albino Snapping Turtle was delivered to us by a local Cape Cod couple. Their granddaughter named it Pinky. His skin is pink, his shell is white, and he has red eyes. Albino snapping turtles are thought to be 1 in 30,000. He weighed 9 grams when he arrived here in September. Today he weighs 15 grams. Pinky will continue to be monitored and cared for behind the scenes, but we plan to have him make his debut in the aquarium this spring!

September 2021


One of the Chain Dogfish egg cases from the NOAA Fisheries Wood Hole Science Aquarium (Scyliorhinus retifer) egg cases has hatched! Be sure to stop by and say hello to our newest resident!

May 2021

A Head Start

We have been headstarting Northern Red Bellied Cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris bangsi) in cooperation with Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife since 2017! In the wild these Federally Endangered turtles eat plants such as water lilies, arrowhead and other aquatic plants. Here at the Museum they enjoy a diet of lettuce. They come to us in early fall the size of a quarter and grow to be about a foot long by the time they are released in late spring.

April 2021

Chain Dogfish from Woods Hole Aquarium!

These Chain Dogfish egg cases were graciously donated to our aquarium from the NOAA Fisheries Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Georges Bank off the coast of Massachusetts is currently the northern most range for Chain Dogfish( Scyliorhinus retifer). Chain Dogfish are deep water members of the catshark family. Visitors to CCMNH can see the baby dogfish wiggling inside and developing at different rates. We are unsure when or if they all will hatch! The yolk sacs are still present in all, except one. The egg case on the furthest right is the most developed.

March 2021

Berried no more...

Remember Oriole the "pregnant" (berried) orange lobster? She produced thousands of eggs back in August. We were wondering if we were going to have thousands of lobster larvae in our aquarium this spring or summer... However, over the course of 5 months, Oriole gradually dropped all of her eggs. This could mean a variety of things. Most likely the eggs were unfertilized.  Lobster egg development has been studied to help protect lobsters as a valuable resource.  Research done on fertilized eggs shows they will become green over 4 months. After 9 months, turning brownish orange with a visible eyespot. Orioles eggs never developed, which is why, it is most likely they were not fertilized.  After she dropped all her eggs, she molted! Did you know many people enjoy eating lobster eggs? The roe is considered a delicacy. When the eggs are fully cooked they are red just like a cooked lobster!

February 2021

Scallops from Ward Aquafarms!

Thanks to Dr. Dan at Ward Aquafarms LLC, in Falmouth, MA for donating Bay Scallops for our aquarium tanks! Ward Aquafarms grows scallops for food and for Bay Scallop restoration projects.

These animals, like other bivalves, are important to the ecosystem as both a food source and for cleaning the water. In the wild, Bay Scallops need eel grass to attach to and also to hide from predators. When they are farmed, they are protected and do not require eel grass. In the aquarium it is fun to watch them filter feeding. When their shells are open, we can watch the tiny plankton entering their gills.

January 2021

Molted Bi-colored Lobster

It's a New Year and new "me" for this male bi-colored lobster! A healthy crustacean molting is always good news in the aquarium! (When lobsters molt, they shed their shells.) Lobster exoskeletons/shells are hard. They must break free of them to grow. We did not see the lobster molting, because it molted overnight. The fun thing about molting in an aquarium is the lobster is safe. Even though its body is like rubber, it doesn't have to hide. He is walking all around the tank and looking full of energy. His new orange and black shell is about 15% larger than before. Lobsters will eat their molts about a week after molting. It gives them the nutrients they need to help them to harden their new shells. This male has been at CCMNH since 2019. It was donated by Kurt Martin, a Chatham fisherman. Bi-colored lobsters are rare, about 1 in 50 million. Since most molts are buried and consumed little by little, just imagine how rare the full molt of a bi-colored lobster is to see!

January 2021

Moon Jellies

Jellyfish are graceful creatures and they are wonderful to watch...

The moon jellyfish above are glowing purple under a purple UV light. Without the purple UV light, they are a translucent white.

Moon jellyfish are carnivores, eating tiny fish, eggs, and larvae. The babies and adults at CCMNH are being raised on two-day old brine shrimp. We hatch the brine shrimp from cysts (eggs that can survive extreme conditions). The planktonic orange brine shrimp are poured into the tank. The jellyfish sting and eat them as they drift by. When they are fed orange brine shrimp their translucent stomachs turn orange. The moon jellyfish is also edible. It is eaten by many fish, birds, sea turtles, and even humans.

We have begun to raise moon jellyfish from polyps. Our first aquarium bred moon jellyfish entered the exhibit tank on January 1, 2021. The moon jelly is four weeks old. It is smaller than an inch, measuring about 2cm. The body is made up of 95% water, 3% protein, and 1% mineral.

Check out some of its earlier stages!

One Week Old Moon Jelly Ephrya in a petri dish

Two Week Old Moon Jelly in a petri dish

September 2020

Red bellied Cooter Head Starts

The baby cooters are back and they couldn't be cuter. Weighing about 11g and the diameter of a ping pong ball, they will be released in May 2021. Over the next 9 months they will grow 4x as long and 40x heavier, on a diet of romain lettuce! They will be released in Plymouth County as "head starts" through Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife

September 2020

Berried Pumpkin Lobster Update

Oriole's eggs are nearly 1 month old (29 days) She is a protective mother and tucks them tightly under her tail. She cares for them daily by adjusting them with her back legs and gently beating her swimmerets.

We have decided not stress her out by picking her up or removing any eggs for microscopy. Early stage eggs are featureless and if they are fertilized or not, remains to bee seen. She is active and stays busy eating fish, squid, shellfish, and crab.


August 2020

We have berry exciting news!

Our resident pumpkin lobster that was recently donated by Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar, was vigorously cleaning her tail the other day. She then laid prone (on her back) for a number of minutes before she stood up and began laying eggs! We are now waiting to see if the eggs are fertilized, if they aren't they will fall off within a few weeks. When a lobster is carrying eggs, it is called "berried".

Most adult females will spawn (lay eggs) every two years. They also have the capability to store sperm for up to three years! If the eggs are fertilized, it will take approximately nine months for them to hatch.

Stop by our aquarium to see for yourself and check back for up updates!


July 2020

Did you know.... Horseshoe Crabs glow? They do under UV light! Come check out our Horseshoe Crab hatchery and see if you can spot an egg hatching or maybe one molting!



July 2020

We are celebrating the arrival of our new Moon Jellyfish! The New England Aquarium in Boston was so generous with their moon jellies and their time! A big thank you to Steve Spina for all the time he invested in this donation. Another thank you to our volunteers who drove to Boston on a summer changeover Sunday! The Moon Jellies are now eating while circulating in the own private kreisel tank. This unusual tank design is an especially good home for delicate creatures!


July 2020

Many thanks to the Collins family! Our new blue lobster is about 2lbs and is a female. She is settling in to her new home and has a good appetite - she has already enjoyed mackerel and squid!

Read all about how our newest resident found her way here in the Hingham Anchor!


June 2020

We would like to thank Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar. They donated a rare pumpkin lobster to our Aquarium. After a very busy day of take out dining the owner, Nathan "Nate" Nickerson had a five minute pause. He explained his wife named the lobster Oriole after the bird because of her pretty yellow/orange shell. He told the staff she was going to a local aquarium. The entire staff sang out "Goodbye Oriole" in chorus. Now she's happily eating some squid in her new home!