Monday, May 26, 2014

Georgia Aquarium

Hi Sea Fans!

What good memories!  I'm making amazing memories EVERY day and it's all thanks to the folks who have been nice enough to invite me to their facilities to have a look at what they get up to in a day. Georgia Aquarium was my most recent stop - Thanks to Kim and Megan, I had a ball!!!  And thanks to Megan, I'm not even writing this latest blog because she already did such a brilliant job with telling everyone in Georgia so I'm just reprinting her words.  Here is how she described my stay with them:


Abby had a fantastic time exploring the Georgia Aquarium these past few days. She participated in educating our guests about beluga whale biology (These guys are BEAUTIFUL!  Imagine a dolphin without it's beak and a very big forehead and you've got yourself a beluga..oh yes, and they're white.) and how to eat seafood sustainably (This means that we don't polish it all off and leave nothing for future generations.) with our Seafood Savvy program. She met a few beluga whales, African penguins (a little bit of home), groupers, jellyfish and more! We are big fans of Abby and can’t wait to see where her next big adventure takes her!(Gee, thanks Megan, I'm a big fan of Georgia Aquarium.)

Abby loved our Beluga Education Station located in our Cold Water Quest Gallery, home to four beautiful and beloved beluga whales. You can see some of the belugas swimming in their habitat in the background of the pictures.

Here Abby is teaching all about what a beluga whale skull actually looks like!  Belugas have about 30-40 short conical shaped teeth. They are used for grabbing their food, not chewing! Unlike humans, beluga whales do not have molars!

Abby also taught guests about the kinds of food belugas like to eat.  Belugas are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything they can find around them! In the wild, they can eat salmon, capelin, herring, shrimp, artic cod, flounder, crabs and mollusks. Here at Georgia Aquarium we feed them mackerel, capelin (in the picture) and squid!  They can eat up to 50lbs of food a day!
In this picture you can see one of the belugas in the background diving!
Abby also loved teaching our guests about how beluga whales are mammals and drink milk when they are babies, just like us!  Beluga calves get their milk from their mom. Their milk is much richer and thicker than human milk. You might drink 2% cow’s milk at home (2% fat content), but humans produce 4-5% milk.  And beluga milk consists of 28% fat!  Beluga milk is so fatty because babies have to put on lots of weight and fatty layers in order to stay warm and survive in their cold arctic habitats. Beluga blubber’s primary function is insulation (protecting them from the cold) but it can also store energy. Blubber accounts for 40-50% of an adult’s body weight.

Abby discovered our African penguins and learned all about some of the ways in which Georgia Aquarium is participating (taking part) in research and conservation efforts on behalf of this IUCN endangered species.
Georgia Aquarium is participating in a study of African penguin nutrition. Declines in breeding populations (there are fewer and fewer of them) of this species are thought to result from scarcity of prey (not much around) due to environmental changes and overfishing.  Proper nutrition (food to keep them growing) is a critical determinant in the successful conservation and propagation of all penguin populations (In other words, it's really important that they get the right kind of food for them to survive)!

We have also partnered with SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to assist in a health assessment of African penguins in their natural habitat (have a look at my previous blogs and you can see my visit there with Ed the's in my home town.). We also participate in SSP (Species Survival Plan) breeding programs.

Abby’s next stop was Ocean Voyager. 
This tank is almost the size of an American football field and has over 6 million gallons (almost 23 million litres!!) of water! It is also home to four whale sharks, 4 manta rays, predatory trevally jacks, small and large stingrays, goliath groupers,
 and several shark species.  Another one of our Education Stations lives in this gallery as well!

...I think I'm going to leave it at that for now and keep you in suspense for the second part of this blog.  Trust me, it's worth the wait!  :)

Have a great week Sea Fans.
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