Displaying items by tag: marine life


Florida Blue grant to support healthy marine ecosystems
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Tampa, FL – The Florida Aquarium will be able to expand its animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts thanks to a grant from Florida Blue. The grant will support The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team, which focuses on protecting and restoring endangered marine life to create a healthier, natural environment and healthy planet.

“Our mission is to help people and communities achieve better health, and a healthy environment and ecosystem are essential to the overall health of our Florida communities,” said David Pizzo, Florida Blue market president for west Florida. “The health of key ocean species has a substantial impact on the overall health of our environment, which is why Florida Blue is proud to support the important work of The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team.”

“The generous support of companies like Florida Blue is crucial to The Florida Aquarium’s efforts to protect and restore our blue planet,” said Roger Germann, The Florida Aquarium President and CEO. “We are grateful to have a wonderful partner in Florida Blue that believes in the importance of the health of our local environment and ecosystem and understands how it can impact human health and therefore is willing to invest in conservation programs like those here at the Aquarium.” 

Florida Blue is providing a two-year, $250,000 grant to the Aquarium to support the expansion of its marine rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Paul Watson – Sea Shepherd

Captain-Paul-WatsonCaptain Paul Watson is the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – an organization dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.

Watson was one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace. In 1977, he left Greenpeace and founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. A renowned speaker, accomplished author, master mariner, and lifelong environmentalist, Captain Watson has been awarded many honors for his dedication to the oceans and to the planet. Among many commendations for his work, he received the Genesis Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, was named as one of the Top 20 Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century by Time Magazine in 2000, and was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in Washington D.C. in 2002. He was also awarded the Amazon Peace Prize by the president of Ecuador in 2007.

In 2012, Captain Watson became only the second person after Captain Jacques Cousteau to be awarded the Jules Verne Award, dedicated to environmentalists and adventurers.” For more info: ww.seashepherd.org

 

 
 

The Florida Aquarium is excited to announce being voted third in the nationwide USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards for Best Aquarium!

The Florida Aquarium, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and 19 other aquariums were nominated by a panel of experts to represent the best aquariums in North America recognized for their fun and educational setting, high quality exhibits and visitor interactions, and the vital role they play in animal conservation by taking part in rescue efforts and advocating for the health of our oceans. The Florida Aquarium was the only aquarium representing Florida in the Best Aquariums category.

“To be nationally recognized in the top three is both exciting and humbling in view of the other world-class aquariums that were in consideration. We want to thank everyone in Tampa Bay, Florida and the nation for their overwhelming support,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “For 23 years our aquarium friends and fans have allowed us to advance ocean conservation through community collaboration, education and entertainment, as well as rolling up our sleeves to save endangered animals through our conservation and research efforts. This vote further signifies we’re doing our part to protect and restore our blue planet for future generations.”

About The 10Best Readers’ Choice Award

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote via online voting, which took place from April 1-30. Visit 10best.com for in depth information.

 

Michelle Uhlig, Dr. Ari Fustukjian and Alex De Mola holding a radiated tortoise from The Florida Aquarium with a box of medical supplies that is on its way to Madagascar to help treat the confiscated tortoises.Credit: The Florida Aquarium.
 

Today, critical medical supplies from The Florida Aquarium are on their way to Madagascar to treat thousands of tortoises that were confiscated from a single residence in the city of Toliara in Madagascar.
 
On April 10, the Turtle Survival Alliance, a global partnership of individuals, zoos, aquariums, biologists and researchers who have joined together to help conserve threatened and endangered tortoise and turtle species, confiscated 10,976 critically endangered radiated tortoises from a personal residence.
 
The tortoises have been temporarily transferred to Villages de Tortues, a secure facility in Madagascar where the animals are receiving initial health evaluations, hydration and triage, but even within the first few days, hundreds of tortoises died from dehydration, malnutrition and illness. As of April 12, 9,760 tortoises are alive, but need immediate help. 
 
More than 20 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are sending medical supplies, team members or funds to care for the sick or injured tortoises. The first wave of responders arrived in Madagascar April 23. Many of the animals are in relatively good health and are only in need of water and food. However, responders are currently treating more than 1,000 animals for various conditions from severe to mild and they are still working through the initial assessments to determine if more tortoises have similar conditions. Numerous deceased animals have been sent to onsite veterinarians for necropsy (animal autopsy). 
 
“Illegal wildlife trade is a major problem and can have devastating impacts on sensitive animals like these that are already suffering from other major problems, like habitat loss. This case hits particularly close to home since Day, Night, and Dusk, our three radiated tortoises in the Journey to Madagascar gallery, are here to help educate the public about these very threats,” said Dr. Ari Fustukjian, Associate Veterinarian at The Florida Aquarium. “We are always saddened to hear about cases of illegal animal trafficking, but to see something of this magnitude is truly disheartening. What’s encouraging is to see how people and organizations like ours can pull together to help provide relief.”
 
Madagascar’s radiated tortoise population is threatened with extinction due to rampant hunting for its meat and the illegal pet trade. Radiated tortoises have a unique high dome-shaped shell, covered with a beautiful star-like pattern, which is why they are often collected illegally from the wild in southern Madagascar and shipped to other countries to be sold as pets. The species has been protected by international law since 1975, and was upgraded to “Critically Endangered” in 2008, meaning that they are at risk of extinction.
 
According to the Turtle Survival Alliance, this is the largest confiscation of tortoises or freshwater turtles in the history of the organization, and president and CEO Rick Hudson, believes these animals were destined to be part of the illegal pet trade.
 
Want to help? You can visit the Turtle Survival Alliance here.

 

 
The Florida Aquarium, along with 19 other accredited aquariums, has been nominated by a panel of experts for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice 2018 awards. The Florida Aquarium is the only aquarium representing Florida in the Best Aquariums category. Vote here: www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-aquarium/.
 
The nominees represent the best aquariums in the country and are recognized for their fun and educational setting, high quality exhibits and visitor interactions, and the vital role they play in animal conservation by taking part in rescue efforts and advocating for the environmental health of our oceans.
 
Vote every day for The Florida Aquarium until voting ends on Monday, April 30 at midnight EDT. The 10 best winners will be announced on Friday, May 4.
 
10 reasons why The Florida Aquarium is one of the 10Best: 
  1. The Florida Aquarium is a must-see for all animal lovers and marine life enthusiasts. With 7,000+ creatures to discover, you can get up-close with the oceans’ top predators – sharks – in a 500,000-gallon underwater habitat, touch a stingray, enjoy frolicking river otters, venture into Madagascar to see leaping lemurs and marvel at our magnificent giant Pacific octopus.
  2. Our coral experts are working on groundbreaking techniques to significantly increase coral conservation and restoration work that would make us the first in the U.S. to replicate wild coral spawning in a lab with multiple species. More info here: https://bit.ly/2GWFIoF
  3. We have educated more than 1.6+ million students about the importance of healthy oceans and the natural environment.
  4. We rescue, rehabilitate and release endangered sea turtles. And, when completed later this year, our new sea turtle hospital will allow us to amplify our sea turtle rescue and recovery efforts. Guests will also be able to view our turtles in various stages of rehabilitation as we model new dive and feeding pools that will assure their readiness for return to the ocean.
  5. You can swim or dive with our sand tiger sharks (and numerous other finned friends) in our 500,000-gallon coral reef habitat and learn how important sharks are to the health and vitality of our oceans.
  6. We vowed to pitch the plastics. We have teamed up with 22 aquariums that comprise the Aquarium Conservation Partnership to drive a shift away from single-use plastic and toward more sustainable alternatives. The partnership has rolled out a nationwide campaign, "In Our Hands," to empower our 20 million visitors and millions more in our communities to make positive behavior changes and raise awareness around how plastic pollution threatens ocean and freshwater animals.
  7. You can get up-close and personal with our African penguins, an endangered species we are working to help conserve through fieldwork in South Africa and by way of education about these incredible animals.
  8. You can experience The Splash Pad, our expansive outdoor, rainforest-themed kids’ play space featuring both wet and dry play elements, lush landscaping and more.
  9. In 2017, The Florida Aquarium hosted six coastal cleanups and collected more than 332 pounds of debris, tires, a pile of construction rubble and 62 bags of trash.
  10. As a nonprofit, your ticket to our Aquarium helps support our mission to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship of the natural environment

 

Left: A species of branching stony coral colonies releasing egg bundles into the water in Horniman's lab. Credit: Horniman Museum & Gardens. Right: Keri O'Neil at The Florida Aquarium's Center for Conservation with coral that has grown in the lab from wild spawning. Credit: the Florida Aquarium.
 
The Florida Aquarium, based in Tampa, Florida, and the Horniman Museum and Gardens, based in London, have joined forces to save coral reefs by spawning (reproducing) corals in a lab – a major technique to aid coral restoration that has only been accomplished at the Horniman.
 
Corals in the wild reproduce by releasing their eggs and sperm into the water at the same time, which is an event that is increasingly more uncertain given the changing climate. This wild spawning event only happens once per year, which has meant opportunities for research have been limited – until now.
 
From Dec. 11 - 17, Keri O’Neil, The Florida Aquarium’s Coral Nursery Manager, will be visiting the Horniman to learn their techniques of growing corals in a lab setting and brainstorm ideas of how to transport future coral fragments to Florida for restoration purposes.
 
The Horniman Aquarium started Project Coral and in 2013 became the first organization globally to predictably induce coral spawning in a fully closed aquarium lab setting.  Now The Florida Aquarium is providing even more expertise to enhance this project with plans to plant the lab-grown coral fragments to coral reefs along the Florida Reef Tract.
 
The new partnership with The Florida Aquarium takes the research protocols developed in the Horniman’s lab in Forest Hill, south London, and applies them in The Florida Aquarium’s state-of-the-art coral conservation nursery in Apollo Beach, Florida.
 
“Project Coral is ‘game-changing,’ allowing us to spawn corals on site, create multiple spawning events across the year and drastically speed up restoration work to ensure the survival of Florida’s reef,” said Scott Graves, Director of The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation.
 
Project Coral is an innovative coral reproductive research project led by the Horniman Aquarium with international partners, working to predictably spawn corals in a lab setting in order to investigate, counter and repair the impact of climate change on coral reef health and reproduction. Since 2012, researchers at the Horniman Museum and Gardens Aquarium have been researching broadcast coral reproduction, developing protocols that replicate natural reef conditions – and the triggers for mass spawning events – in the lab, to predict and induce land-based spawning.
 
Corals bred at The Florida Aquarium using Project Coral techniques – all from species listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act – will be transplanted into the ocean to restore the Florida Reef off the state’s south eastern coast.
 
Coral reefs are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and support about 25 percent of all marine life. In addition, they are important to the Florida economy as fisheries and a tourist attraction.
 
The reef has suffered dramatically from bleaching events that occur when ocean temperatures rise, as well as pollution and other human-related environmental causes. Some scientists believe staghorn coral can no longer successfully sexually reproduce in the wild at all with these environmental challenges emerging. Thus, scientific groups like the ones formed by the Horniman and The Florida Aquarium are changing the game by spawning corals in a lab setting, allowing the corals to spawn more than just once a year. The increase in spawning occurrences will give the team a better chance to make a substantial impact on the restoration of corals.
 
“Project Coral has made huge strides in creating the protocols to induce coral spawning in lab conditions, and the Horniman’s research will continue to refine the techniques and understand the effects of climate change on coral reproduction. But we need partners to be able to put our research into practice in the field. This partnership with The Florida Aquarium is Project Coral’s first opportunity to make a ‘real world’ change, and we look forward to seeing the positive effects our work together will have on Florida’s reefs” said Jamie Craggs, Aquarium Curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
 
About The Horniman Museum and Gardens
The Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, anthropology, music and an acclaimed aquarium. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from food and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London. horniman.ac.uk
 
About The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. The Florida Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. The Florida Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Former JP Morgan Chase Executive Daniel Borasch Elected Chair of The Florida Aquarium


(Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 – Tampa, Florida) – Yesterday at the annual meeting of The Florida Aquarium Board of Directors, Daniel Borasch was unanimously elected chairman by his peers. Borasch, who retired in 2015 from his position as President Middle Market West Florida with JP Morgan Chase, was installed for his two-year term as the Aquarium’s Board Chairman by outgoing Chair, W. Mark Watson.
 
Borasch has more than 40 years of experience in the banking industry, covering international, large corporate and middle market clients. Previously, he worked in client management for Bank of America, LaSalle Bank, Wachovia and Manufacturers Hanover Trust. Borasch joined The Florida Aquarium’s Board of Directors in 2001.
 
“The strong leadership and vision Dan brings to The Florida Aquarium Board as our new Chair will ensure the Aquarium continues to be a strong pillar of the community and one of the nation’s most respected aquariums,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO. “Dan’s passion for conservation and for the Aquarium being a world-class attraction will usher in a new and exciting chapter in our history. The staff and volunteers look forward to working closely with Dan and the entire Board of Directors.”
 
Additionally, Germann praised W. Mark Watson for his leadership as immediate past Chair. “Under Mark’s leadership, the Aquarium continued to thrive and completed several major initiatives, including the completion of the Aquarium’s $15 million capital campaign, opening of several new attractions, expanding the role of The Center for Conservation, and elevating the Aquarium’s profile in the community. We can’t thank him enough for his incredible leadership and continued commitment to our mission.”
 
During his tenure as Board Chair, Watson also led the committee that undertook a nationwide search to secure a new president and Chief Executive Officer for the Aquarium.
 
The 25-member Board of Directors also elected some new members at Thursday’s meeting, including:

Reginald Goins is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida. Goins has been with the Coca-Cola system for more than 20 years, holding key management positions such as Market Unit Vice President – Ohio/Kentucky for Coca-Cola Refreshments, Area Vice President of Sales for Coca-Cola North America (CCNA), and Director of Sales & Marketing for CCNA. Prior to joining the Coca-Cola System, Goins held key positions for Philip Morris, Exxon and Ford Motor Company. Goins and his family reside in Tampa, Florida.

Ted A. Beattie served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium from 1994 to 2016, when he retired. During his 33-year career in zoos and aquariums, Beattie’s marine expertise helped guide the creation of new ocean policies. Beattie is a former president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy by President George W. Bush in 2001. He and his wife currently reside in Sarasota, Florida.

Kimberly Bruce is the National Small Business Client Management Executive at Bank of America. In this role, Bruce leads a team of 12 market managers and approximately 170 client managers responsible for retaining, deepening and developing relationships with more than 110,000 small business clients located throughout the U.S. She has more than 26 years of experience in banking, with the majority of her experience as a senior client manager in the middle market segment. Bruce earned her B.A. in Government & Business Administration from University of Notre Dame and her MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She and her family reside in Tampa, Florida. The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. The Florida Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
Copyright © 2017. The Florida Aquarium. All rights reserved.

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Ventura County, CA – Oct. 15, 2017 – Staff at the Turtle Conservancy are celebrating the hatching of three Critically Endangered Pan’s Box Turtles (Cuora pani) this week at their conservation center in California.  It is the first time the Turtle Conservancy has hatched this species and the first second generation breeding of this species in the United States. Pan's Box Turtles are understood to be effectively extinct in its native China due to over-collection for the medicinal and pet trade.

“This is a critical step forward for Pan’s Box Turtle, a unique and little-known species that really needs more attention,” said Dr. Peter Paul van Dijk, Field Conservation Programs Director at the Turtle Conservancy. “Our efforts, along with those of our global partners, will contribute to ensuring their future on this planet.

This hatching success was years in the making. The parents hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo and Zoo Atlanta as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP). They came to the Turtle Conservancy in 2010 where they grew to adulthood and bred for the first time this spring. The Turtle Conservancy is home to one male and four female adult Pan’s Box Turtles, along with dozens of other species of threatened turtles and tortoises.

These animals represent a part of the North American “assurance colony” that is a last line of defense against extinction, with the ultimate goal of restoring wild populations. The Turtle Conservancy was the first organization in the world to return captive-born turtles to their native country for conservation when they sent young Golden Coin Turtles back to Hong Kong in 2012.

“We’ve been successful returning animals back to their native country in the past,” said Turtle Conservancy co-founder and president Eric Goode. “With this species that will be a much more daunting task, but my dream is to let all wild animals be exactly that, wild.”

The species is endemic to a small area of Central China, and may have been relatively common locally until the 1990s, when turtles increasingly became the focus of the traditional Chinese medicine markets. Now, China has grown into the largest market for turtles and tortoises in the world. Turtles and many other animals are collected and sold into the traditional medicine and food trade in massive quantities, while the exotic pet hobby is growing rapidly. The Pan’s Box Turtle can fetch prices upwards of $10,000 in the animal trade.

The Conservancy protects more than 45,000 acres world-wide of wild land for endangered turtles and tortoises, along with other threatened species including jaguars, macaws and antelope, and native flora. It is their hope they can continue to protect viable habitat for other species, including the Pan’s Box Turtle

Additional Info:

  • Pan’s Box Turtle is classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species [http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/5956/0].
  • Turtles and tortoises are the most endangered group of vertebrates on the planet. Over half of the 365 species of turtles and tortoises are threatened with, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Turtle Conservancy works to alleviate threats to highly threatened turtles around the world by protecting land and captive breeding endangered species
  • Asia is the world’s largest consumer of turtles – for the food, traditional medicine and pet trade
  • The Chinese turtle industry has surpassed $1 billion annually in gross revenue
  • The Turtle Conservancy is the only AZA-certified facility dedicated solely to the conservation of turtles and tortoises. 
  • Zoos in North America and elsewhere maintain Studbooks of captive animals to ensure long-term genetic diversity and maintain records of endangered species reproductive success

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Photo: A Critically Endangered Pan’s Box Turtle breaks through its egg and takes its first breath at the Turtle Conservancy in California. (Photo by Max Maurer/Turtle Conservancy)

The Turtle Conservancy is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to protecting threatened turtles and tortoises and their habitats worldwide. The Conservancy's Conservation Center in Southern California is a premier facility for breeding Critically Endangered turtles and tortoises in the world. Since 2005 the Conservancy has combined this highly successful breeding program with protecting land in Africa, Asia, and North America.

Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can learn more about turtle conservation and perhaps make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to www.turtleconservancy.org