Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunny Florida!

Hi Sea Fans!

Have you ever been to Florida?  Where Disney World is?  Well, I have!  How cool is that?!  I got to say hi to the folks at Florida Aquarium and they showed me two of the amazing projects that they're busy with at the moment.

Our coral reefs face many threats, from ocean acidification to rising sea level and overfishing, it is important to do what we can to protect this fragile environment. Along with other Aquariums and research Universities, Florida Aquarium (FA) are working on two projects that will help the Caribbean reef system flourish. The first is SECORE, where they are working with partners to repair, restore, and spawn new corals. The second project helps to decrease the amount of fish that are collected from the wild; with partners like SeaWorld Entertainment Parks and the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture lab in Ruskin, FA are working to raise Caribbean reef fish from eggs to adults. 

Here are the highlights of what I got to see:

The journey begins in the Coral Reef Gallery. 

The Coral Reef is the Aquarium’s largest exhibit holding 500,000 gallons of water! There are approximately 2,000 animals in the exhibit including, a Green sea turtle, three shark species and 55 Caribbean reef fish species.

I was just hanging out enjoying the gallery in these photos. : )

Next, I headed upstairs to the Reef Overlook Deck. This is the open air access to the Coral Reef exhibit where there's a whole lot of activity including animal care taking place. Staff dive in the exhibit to clean it and feeding takes place from the center platform. 

This is a collection basket that was designed to collect fish eggs. It's made from a plastic bin with the sides cut out and a screen glued to the openings. PVC (plastic) piping is attached to a hole in the bottom and floats are attached to the sides. Eggs will enter the basket through the PVC pipe, once inside they can’t escape. In our first attempt the basket floated in the water for only two days and thousands of eggs were collected!

After the eggs are collected they are taken to the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Lab, where they are cared for until they are old enough to be put on display in an Aquarium. 
The cool aquarium car that we got to drive in to take the eggs to the university.
The lab also has coral fragments. 

The Florida Aquarium has a permit to collect damaged corals and nurse them back to health. The FA Biology and Veterinarian staff developed a health certificate which assesses (evaluate/judge) a coral’s health. If a coral passes the assessment it can be replanted in the wild at the aquarium's site in the Florida Keys.

This new exhibit in the Wetlands Gallery houses some of the fish grown at the Aquaculture lab!  

So you see, aquarists making a difference once again!  Amazing!

Have a great week Sea Fans.
Chat soon.

}( *)8

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fake flippers for a turtle

Hi Sea Fans!

Seeing as I've been spending quite a bit of time travelling, I've had time to search the internet quite a bit and I've found some cool stories to share with you guys.  So if you don't mind, I'm going to share some of them with you in between my travel stories. : )

The most exciting one was that of a turtle named Yu!  Yu lost her front flippers.
Photo: Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP
Here you can see her test driving her new flippers in her home aquarium in Kobe (western Japan).  The rubber flippers are attached to a vest slipped over her head and the vest is designed in such a way to prevent her from taking it off.

Yu weighs 96kg and is 82cm long (shell length).  In 2008, she was pulled out of a fisherman's net with one third of her right flipper and half of her left flipper missing. Naoki Kamezaki, the aquarium curator (top manager of the animal team) believes it must have been a shark attack.  With such damaged flippers, Yu could only swim at 60% of her normal speed, but 27 tries later, the team managed to make the perfect flippers for her.  Yes, they designed the flippers and redesigned the flippers 27 TIMES!!  That's dedication!

This shows you that aquarium staff are dedicated to helping the animals in their care, no matter what!  Anyone want to be an aquarist and help save marine life? :)

Have a great week Sea Fans and chat soon.
}( *)8

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Hi Sea Fans!

While I've been travelling all over the place, Heidi, the author of my books, has also...she went to Yebo Gogga 2 weeks ago at Wits University in Johannesburg and sent me this photo to show me what she was teaching everyone:

On the left you can see me!!!  (Advertising my books of course).  Around the book posters, she had all sorts of photos of marine careers and on the right she had photos of me on my travels as well as a map to show where I've been and where I'm going.  She says there was quite a bit of interest in what I'm doing which makes me happy because that means that you guys out there are watching out for me and checking on my blog to see where I am.  You guys are welcome to e-mail me with questions if you'd like to know more about a specific never know, maybe I'm going to find out more about it when I go to New Zealand or Korea or maybe even Antarctica!

Stay tuned for more stories Sea Fans, there's lots more fun and photos coming up!
Have a great week.

PS.  The stuff on the table is a model of shark gills, real shark jaws, a mermaid's purse and a jar with the deadliest thing in the sea in it (anyone know what that is?).