By Richie Boylan (COM’22)
As I waited by the ocean-themed Ben and Jerry’s stand outside the Aquarium I grew a little nervous. I’d never led or even gone on one of Kilachand’s Walking Tours. For that matter, I’d never even been to the New England Aquarium before. How could I lead a group of nine freshmen expecting an exciting excursion and ensure that they weren’t giving up their Friday night for nothing? Of course seeing sealions, penguins, and water dragons up close is always breathtaking, but would COVID dampen the fun?
Easily, one of the best aspects of Kilachand is all the events the Honors College hosts throughout the year. From the Back-to-School BBQ, to Study Breaks, to screenings in the Common Room there’s always a chance at KHC to connect with friends (or make new ones) and enjoy some of the best food Boston has to offer. With the introduction of walking tours, KHC found a way to keep students connected with one another with the added benefit of getting to explore the city. Usually led by upperclassmen in the mentor program or KHC faculty, these tours offer a great way to escape the BU bubble and meet new people outside of your classes. Walks along the Esplanade, trips to J.P. Lick’s, and even tours of the New England Aquarium are only a sampling of the walking tours KHC students embarked on over the course of the last year.
As I mentioned, I’d never been to the Aquarium before, but I figured for my first walking tour I might as well go big. The Friday we went, the New England Aquarium hosted a special events night in which divers interacted with the 900+ species of animals held in the 200,000 gallon salt water tank that serves as the building’s centerpiece. Any worries I had dissipated with our stop at the first exhibit: The Manta rays. From there the entire event became an intoxicating blur of amazing sea-life, laughter, and pure awe. There really is nothing quite like meeting the eye of a 90 year old 550lb green sea turtle as it emerges from the water only feet away from you. Or looking down through the skeleton of a 35ft-long right whale to see penguins playing below. Of course no trip to the Aquarium is complete without a stop at the gift shop. Between stuffed penguins, whales, sea lions, octopi, and flamingos, with a few more walking tours KHC will likely be able to open its own faux-Aquarium. Even though walking tours were created as a solution to the limit the pandemic placed on in-person events, there’s hope that they will continue well into the future.
Fun Fish Facts
A collection of the most interesting facts we learned at the Aquarium.
1. Octopi have nine brains: a central brain and one in each arm. They also have three hearts: one heart circulates blood around the body while the other two pump blood specifically to the gills.
2. As reptiles, sea turtles breath air, but they are able to hold their breath for 4-7 hours if necessary.
3. Penguins’ tuxedo-like look is attributed to a camouflage technique known as countershading. When hunting for food in the water other animals looking up will have a hard time discerning a penguin’s white stomach from the sun. Meanwhile potential predators from the land and air will miss a penguin’s black backside in the dark ocean.
Photos credit Richie B.