Monday, October 27, 2008

Educator Wins Award

The Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association (MAMEA), representing marine science in the classroom, at research institutions, aquariums, museums and governmental agencies from North Carolina to Delaware, has honored Ruth Schneider Gourley, education specialist at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher with its 2008 Informal Marine Educator Award.

Gourley interacts with the thousands of aquarium visitors as well as mentors and guides volunteers, interns, new educators and teachers. Her engaging presentations show her infectious enthusiasm for marine life.

Gourley began her marine education career at the University of Georgia and followed by serving at the Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies for two years. The North Carolina coast drew her to Fort Fisher. She has been the North Carolina representative for MAMEA for three years during which she promoted mini-conferences and facilitated workshops to aid North Carolina teachers.

The award was presented to Gourley at the MAMEA annual conference in Virginia Beach and was given in recognition of the superior educational experiences she has created for everyone from little children through seasoned educators at Fort Fisher.

Photo: Outgoing MAMEA President David Christopher (l) and incoming President Carol Hopper Brill (r) present Ruth Schneider Gourley (center) with her award at the annual conference.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trick or Treat Under the Sea

Celebrate Halloween one day early with the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s Trick or Treat Under the Sea. The aquarium welcomes trick-or-treaters of all ages on Thursday, October 30 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Trick or Treat Under the Sea offers children of all ages a chance to dress up in costume, rake in the candy and participate in games with prizes, face painting, story-telling, a haunted cave featuring Scotty the Pirate Magician for younger kids and a spooky trail older children. Children can trick-or-treat among the many booth operated by local businesses and organizations.


6:00: Rose O’Neal Greenhow: A local legend comes to “life” and tells us her story.
6:30 -8:00: Creepy diving
6:45: “Bats on the Beach” – story-telling and games
7:35: Rose O’Neal Greenhow
8:15: “Bats on the Beach”

Admission is $5 per person for Aquarium Society members and $6 per person for general public. Children 2 and under are free. Only umbrella strollers, please.

Tickets will be sold on the day of the event from 5 to 7:45 p.m. Advance tickets (includes priority admission) are still available for pickup only. Please call 458-8257 for tickets and more information.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birth Announcement

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is proud to announce the successful birth of six guitarfish, born October 10. An x-ray the previous week confirmed the mother was pregnant.

Hap Fatzinger, aquarium curator said, “Because of challenges x-raying other cartilaginous fish like sharks and rays, we were excited when our pregnancy suspicions were confirmed.”

Although not much is known about the gestational period of Atlantic guitarfish (Rhinobatos lentiginosus), the Aquarium staff is utilizing this and previous births to contribute to scientific research. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of only a few U.S. institutions exhibiting Atlantic guitarfish. “We hope our work with breeding will help increase the numbers in public aquariums without relying upon collecting from wild populations,” Fatzinger said.

The Atlantic guitarfish can be found in the spring and summer months along North Carolina’s coast. Their range extends from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and south to Yucatan, Mexico. Common food sources include scallops, shrimp and small fishes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Loggerhead Release

As most head for the open ocean when they emerge from their sandy nests, some sea turtle hatchlings are detoured to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for health concerns. On Wednesday, October 15, the Aquarium released three loggerhead sea turtles that were rescued last summer.

The loggerheads were part of an interactive exhibit, Let’s Talk Turtle, which features a loggerhead hatchling and a replica of a nest with newly hatched turtles starting their run to the ocean.

Due to human pressures and other factors, all sea turtles that frequent North Carolina waters are listed as threatened or endangered. The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher annually cares for many hatchlings suffering from injury, weakness or cold weather. The Aquarium releases all sea turtles that recover at the facility, most as soon as they are strong enough to face life in the wild. A few stay a little longer on exhibit as part of the Aquarium’s educational efforts.

Let’s Talk Turtle is a learning station that puts visitors face to face with a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, and gives them a chance to ask questions.

“Assigning a ‘turtle talker’ really adds value,” said Education Curator Peggy Sloan, who helps train volunteers and staffers for duty in the booth. “Loggerheads are a threatened species,” explained Sloan, “and by helping people understand them we’re increasing their odds for survival.”

The loggerheads are rotated at the exhibit daily. Their diet is adjusted and modified consistently to ensure proper bone and shell growth. Weekly length and weight measurements help track growth. Quarterly blood tests performed by veterinarians from NC State University and daily sunbathing ensure calcium is properly absorbed and the turtles are healthy.

Three one-month-old hatchlings are now on display in the exhibit. The hatchlings were obtained by the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project from a Kure Beach nest disturbed by Tropical Storm Hanna.

The Aquarium works closely with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who manages sea turtle permitting, monitoring and rescue efforts on the state’s beaches.

Photo: My, how you’ve grown: a one month and one year old loggerhead sea turtle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bright Light

Hate not having a window in your bathroom? A daylighting device can brighten up just about any interior with natural sunlight. A rooftop dome traps and funnels rays inside with a reflective tube. Inside, a diffuser in the ceiling spreads the light. It's cheaper and less invasive that installing a traditional skylight. And it saves energy!

Photo courtesy of Solatube.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just Ducky!

Meet the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher's new wood duck. Dubbed "Wilson" by the educators, this duck was raised by humans. Given to the aquarium, he is being trained by husbandry for use in educational and outreach programs. Here, Stefanie Misner, an educator at the Aquarium, is socializing with Wilson.