10/20/12 2:12pm
10/20/2012 2:12 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Jerry Dicceco of Jerry and the Mermaid restaurant makes 10 gallons of clam chowder that he hands out for free each year at the Run for the Ridley.

Riverhead Foundation executive director Robert DiGiovanni explains how the Run for the Ridley 5K, which celebrated its 15th anniversary Saturday, benefits his organization.

More than 400 runners participated in the race this year.

10/20/12 12:50pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Even kids in strollers took part in Saturday’s Run for the Ridley to benefit the Riverhead Foundation’s sea turtle program.

Below is a list of the top 10 Finishers in Saturday’s Run for the Ridley 5K in downtown Riverhead.

1. Rick Trojanowski, 38, M, Calverton, 16:38

2. Michael Wenke, 18, M, Woodbridge, 17:14

3. Travis Wooten, 16, M, Riverhead, 17:28

4. Patrick McCabe, 23, M, Garden City, 18:22

5. Tara Farrell, 33, F, East Quogue, 18:41

6. Jonathan Bratisax, 30, M, Brooklyn, 19:32

7. Anthony Ceberek, 34, M, East Quogue, 19:44

8. Greg Messina, 34, M, Mattituck 19:54

9. Brian Manghan, 59, M, Wading River, 20:10

10. Shannen Fuertes, 21, F, Levittown, 20:13

Click here for complete race results when they become available

PHOTOS

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10/20/12 12:29pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Tara Farrell of East Quogue was the top female finisher Saturday.

Tara Farrell is no stranger to the Long Island Aquarium.

The mother of two young sons ages 2 and 3, the East Quogue resident goes to see the sharks, seals, dolphins and sea turtles quite often.

So it held a more special place in her heart to finish top among female runners in the Riverhead Foundation’s 15th annual Run for the Ridley 5k than it might for some of the other races she’s run.

“We’re big supporters of the aquarium,” Ms. Farrell, 33, said. “We were here yesterday.”

The race benefits the Riverhead Foundation’s sea turtle rescue and research program, based at the aquarium.

Ms. Farrell was a blur to many of the other runners in Saturday’s race. She finished in 18:41, just over two minutes behind the top male finisher, Rick Trojanowski of Calverton.

SEE MORE TOP FINISHERS

A past runner of 10ks and marathons, the young mom said she’s finally been able to get back into peak running condition this year. While she kept up with her training the past couple years, she says it’s been tough to run as many races as she’d like to.

“But the kids have been sleeping a little better and I’ve gotten into a better routine this year,” she said.

So how will she celebrate victory in her first Run for the Ridley?

“We’ll probably come back [to the aquarium] later today,” she said. “It’s a great place for kids, families or anyone, really. I recommend the membership.”

MORE PHOTOS

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Ms. Farrell was far from the only young parent to run Saturday.

Ms. Farrell was far from the only young parent to run Saturday.

Kelly and Jason Rudish of Medford ran the 5K with daughter Lyla, 2, in a runners’ stroller.

“We try to do this every year,” she said. “It is a beautiful course and beautifully run by the RFMP staff and volunteers.”

They finished in 27:33.

Barbaraellen Koch contributed reporting for this story.

10/15/12 10:36am
10/15/2012 10:36 AM

AQUARIUM COURTESY PHOTO | A harbor seal at the aquarium before the 2011 AFC championship.

Throughout November, the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center is offering free admission on Fridays for all Riverhead Town residents.

Thanksgiving Day will also be free for town residents

There are five Fridays in November.

“We want to acknowledge and express gratitude to our hometown,” said aquarium owner Joe Petrocelli. “Offering free admission is just a small way of saying ‘thank you’ for the past 12 years.”

The special no-cost aquarium admission rate applies to Town of Riverhead residents only, aquarium officials said.

Visitors must show proof of residency upon entry, and must reside in one of the following hamlets: Riverhead, Jamesport, Aquebogue, Baiting Hallow, Northville, and parts of Laurel, Manorville, Calverton and Wading River.

For more information, please call 631.208.9200, ext. 426).

10/04/12 5:20pm
10/04/2012 5:20 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Held here by aquarist Julian Ansell, “Golf Course” became the first alligator found in the wild in Riverhead when he was found in Wading River Monday. Officials believe he was an illegal pet that was released into the wild.

Riverhead Town animal control officer Jessica Eibs-Stankaitis got the call Monday from police about a wild animal lurking in a pond at a Wading River golf course.

But when she arrived at the scene, Ms. Eibs-Stankaitis was surprised by what she was going have to catch.

“I was a little shocked to see it was an alligator,” she joked. “It was actually kind of a cute alligator.”

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Though only 30 inches long and three years old, a gator of Golf Course’s size could still bite off a person’s finger in the right circumstances.

The 24- to 30-inch-long reptile was found in a foot-deep shallow runoff pond at the Great Rock Golf Club.

The animal, later determined to be a young American alligator about three years old, was the first of three gators found on Long Island in three days, with the other two being found Tuesday and Wednesday in Nassau County.

It’s illegal for residents to own an alligator in New York State.

Both Ms. Eibs-Stankaitis and Long Island Aquarium officials warned that owning exotics pets like an alligator poses dangers not just to the owners and their families, but also the community.

“It’s a wild animal, it cannot be domesticated,” Ms. Eibs-Stankaitis said. “It’s an animal of opportunity when it needs to eat.”

Ms. Eibs-Stankaitis said it was the first time she’d ever seen a gator in these parts.

Alligators can grow to be up to 14 feet long in the Everglades, Ms. Eibs-Stankaitis said, though she added the reptiles would not be able to survive the winters in the Northeast.

After the alligator was caught with a catch pole and had its snout taped shut, the live animal was brought to the Long Island Aquarium to be held and cared for by specialists.

“I can only assume it was someone’s pet, and they probably thought releasing it was the humane thing to do,” she said.

Long Island Aquarium aquarist Julian Ansell agreed, noting that the gator – dubbed “Golf Course” by workers at the aquarium until they could come up with a better name – was surprisingly tolerant when being handled.

Aquarium officials have not yet determined whether Golf Course, an protected species known as the American alligator, is a male or female.

Mr. Ansell said Golf Course seemed to be in good health, unlike another gator that was seized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“He’s a little underweight but otherwise he seems pretty healthy,” Mr. Ansell said.

Golf Course was the first gator discovered in the wild near Riverhead, he added. For the next three or so years, Golf Course will be kept at the aquarium with the other two gators and a fourth alligator rescued by a television show.

He will be used to teach children about reptiles and will eventually be sent to a zoo, aquarium or alligator farm in the South when he becomes too large to be reliably handled.

Mr. Ansell said alligators are sometimes taken as pets because they appear cute when they are smaller. But they can quickly grow to be strong and, even at Golf Course’s age, can take off a person’s finger.

“They’re always going to be dangerous,” Mr. Ansell said, adding that even pets like iguanas and snakes can be dangerous if not properly cared for.

He advised that families looking to purchase a pet, be it a dog, cat, fish or lizard, make sure they do they do their research first.

“People don’t realize what they’re getting into until it’s too late,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

01/04/12 5:45pm
01/04/2012 5:45 PM

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM COURTESY PHOTO | Three of Long Island Aquarium’s North American river otters get ready to move west to Utah’s The Living Planet Aquarium.

Three of the North American River Otters born to parents PB&J at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead are leaving their birth home today.

Cinnamon, Pepper, and Cocoa will be transferred to The Living Planet Aquarium in Utah where they will be part of a larger exhibit.

“We will definitely miss their energy and playfulness, but we know that all three brothers will be staying together and entertaining guests at another facility,” said senior mammal trainer Candyce Paparo. “We are sad to see them go, but know that our current exhibit is regulated for a certain number of animals. We also want to prevent breeding with relatives and to help maintain a healthy captive gene pool in aquarium facilities.”

Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, where the otters were born, is home to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, New York’s only authorized marine mammal and sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center.

The Living Planet Aquarium, where the brothers are moving, is one of Utah’s most popular and unique attractions. They have, among their exhibits, a plethora of wildlife including sharks, octopus, eels, sea horses, and amphibians. Because Utah is a land-locked state, the aquarium proves a unique venue for people to interact with marine creatures.

Atlantis GM Bryan DeLuca said he wished “to commend our husbandry staff that worked countless hours and showed outstanding dedication in caring for these otters.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

07/01/11 10:55am
07/01/2011 10:55 AM

For those who have never seen an emerald swallowtail or blue morpho butterfly in person, the brand new Long Island Exhibition Center provides an opportunity to get up close with these exotic creatures.

The exhibition space, located in downtown Riverhead next to the Long Island Aquarium, opens Friday with its first year-round exhibit, Butterflies.

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The 5,000-square-foot exhibition space will be kept about 80 degrees for the comfort of the butterflies which are shipped in from all over the world.  The insects will be brought over in the pupal or chrysalis stage and complete their metamorphosis on premises. Guests can view the pre-adult butterflies at the exhibit and if they are lucky, view one emerge from its cocoon.

The exhibit will host about 1,000 butterflies though it will continually receive new shipments of pupa as the insects only live about two weeks.

There they feed on plant nectar and on trays of rotting fruit and orange Gatorade placed around the room,

To make one of the winged insects to land on your skin, you might one to go running first — they love sweat.

“If you’re sweaty, they will take the salts from your sweat,” said curator Charles Cappa, who previously oversaw a butterfly exhibit at the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.

But stay still if one lands on your arm. Their wings are coated in tiny scales that are easily destroyed if touched.

One thing the butterflies in the exhibit will not be doing is making baby caterpillars. The DEC doesn’t allow the center to hold the plants that the different species use to lay eggs.

“Each female is very specific on what plant she will lay eggs on,” Mr. Cappa said.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A blue morpho butterfly from Costa Rica.

07/01/11 9:59am

Riverhead’s brand new Hyatt Place East End is all set for its grand opening tonight.

The new hotel is part of 97,498-square-foot, $24 million expansion to the adjacent Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center (formerly Atlantis Marine World.) Each of the East Main Street hotel’s 100 rooms and suites feature a 42 inch flat screen television and 350 thread count sheets.

Executive Director Bryan DeLuca said the hotel will appeal to families visiting North Fork attractions, as well as corporate customers and the wedding market.

“We offer a wide scope for customers,” he said. “You can park your car for the weekend and not have to get back into it until you have to go back home.”

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The reception desk at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Riverhead.