Using cutting-edge technology invented by National Geographic marine biologist Greg Marshall to research animal behavior, this fun, often amazing exhibit lets viewers see how some of nature's fiercest, strangest and most secretive creatures go about their daily business.




Thanks to the paparazzi, celebrity junkies can follow Lindsay Lohan's daily routines, from feeding to socializing and mating, whenever they like.


Now, thanks to Crittercam, we can observe monk seals and grizzly bears, great white sharks and leatherback turtles pursuing those same biological drives without embarrassing themselves in scenic locations around the world.


Want to see guys and gals really going wild? Then skip the next issue of People magazine and visit "National Geographic Crittercam: The World Through Animal Eyes" at the Museum of Science.


Using cutting-edge technology invented by National Geographic marine biologist Greg Marshall to research animal behavior, this fun, often amazing exhibit lets viewers see how some of nature's fiercest, strangest and most secretive creatures go about their daily business.


By mounting compact video cameras onto animals' bodies, he reveals their "secret lives" as rarely seen before.


Monk seals surprise marine biologists by diving into faraway coral reefs to hunt for eels and octopus. Despite reputations as mindless killing machines, great whites prove to be more curious than previously believed. Comically awkward on land, penguins cruise beneath the arctic ice with balletic elegance.


Upon entering the exhibit, visitors move through several sections, each showcasing an animal or its cousins as captured in Crittercam video footage.


Each station generally has several screens showing a particular scientist's project and several newly discovered behaviors, such as green turtles grooming themselves on sponges or narwhales using their natural sonar to guide themselves as they hunt upside down.


Visitors can squeeze their way into an "observation tube" to watch penguins cruising underwater and youngsters can crawl into a pop-up observation "bubble" to get a close-up of a Crittercam-equipped penguin and then see what they look like on video.


After 60 Crittercam deployments off Sable Island, Canada, 120 miles southeast of Nova Scotia, scientists videoed three distinct hunting strategies employed by seals which they described as "split the pack," "cruise and dig" and "scarf and barf." As captured on video, seals use the latter method after scooping sand with their lunches. They then regurgitate everything and, as the sand settles, eat the tasty morsels floating before them.


Rather than "Wild Kingdom" footage of guys in Land Rovers chasing elephants, Crittercam lets viewers observe various marine, arctic and terrestrial habitats from the point-of-view of the creatures that live there.


While fun to watch, Crittercam was developed by Marshall as a research tool for scientists to help preserve animals by learning more about their feeding and breeding habits.


"Today many creatures face daunting challenges. Crittercam's unique point of view can help us understand their needs. This kind of information is crucial as we work to conserve and protect these species. Crittercam helps us understand and care about these magnificent creatures. And it's only through caring, we can, and will, conserve," he said in a recorded introduction to the exhibit.


Reflecting Crittercam's scientific objectives, the exhibit is more like "Real World" chronicling the routines of everyday life than the voyeuristic highjinks of "The Surreal Life."


While developed for marine research, adapted versions of Crittercam were placed for this show on dogs, bears, lions and even eagles.


Rather than focusing on dramatic scenes like lions running down gazelles, it captures complex, little-known and often comical behaviors that add new layers of understanding about citizens of the animal kingdom.


Paul Fontaine, MOS vice-president of education, said "Crittercam technology gives us a chance to observe the lives of over 60 animals from their own point of view.


"Crittercam invites visitors to join the real-life adventures of incredible creatures from lions on the prowl to sea lions on the hunt. By observing how animals behave through their own lens, we can better understand how to protect these living treasures," he said.


In a sequence that still puzzles marine biologists, male adult Hawaiian monk seals zoom in on younger seals learning to forage for food, ramming them violently enough to cause injury or death.


In a lighter vein, viewers watching a family of brown bears prowling about at night foraging for food will see one snack on an unlucky toad as if swallowing a Tootsie Roll. And while brown bears are often considered solitary, viewers will see them clomping about in such a tightly packed group they'll get a Crittercam close-up of a shaggy bear bottom that resembles Donald Trump's hairdo.






Anyone who still thinks of "dumb" animals should see the exhibit's single most stunning sequence: A pod of 20 humpback whales using the "bubble net" method to feast on herring in Alaskan waters.


Displaying remarkable cooperation and submarine grace, one whale dives below the herring and blows out a ring of bubbles while another whale emits a call to alert their podmates. As the rising bubbles drive the herring upward, 20 whales swoop in with open mouths for a fresh herring feast.


With high-energy performers like this, who needs paparazzi?


THE ESSENTIALS:


The Museum of Science is at Science Park, Boston.


"National Geographic Crittercam: The World Through Animal Eyes" runs through Aug. 30.


It is included in regular Exhibit Hall admission: $19 for adults; $17 for seniors (60+); and $16 for children (3-11).


Regular hours (through July 4) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. Summer hours (July 5 through Labor Day) are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday.


For more information or to purchase tickets, call 617-723-2500 or visit www.mos.org.