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.

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