Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aquarium Offers Canoeing Opportunities

Spend summer on the water with the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The Aquarium offers a canoeing program that takes participants on a three-hour exploration of the Zeke’s Island Estuarine Research Reserve, considered to be one of the most unusual areas of the North Carolina coasts. The trip includes an almost one mile paddle across the basin to Zeke’s Island. Common animals seen while touring the salt marsh include pelicans, seagulls, egrets, herons, ibis, sea turtles, and dolphins.

After arriving on the island, participants search for blue crabs, small fish, and invertebrates using crab rigs and dip nets, and also learn how to use cast and seine nets to catch fish. Throughout the journey, information on the history and maritime culture of this breathtaking area is described by the instructors.

Zeke’s Island is located in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties and is one of three main islands that make up the North Carolina Reserve. The island is only accessible by small boats, canoes, and kayaks.

Participants should be able to swim and be capable of sustained physical exertion. The program is for ages 8 and up. Ages 8-12 must be accompanied by two adults. The fee is $25.00 per participant. Admission to the Aquarium is not included. Pre-registration is required. Upcoming canoeing classes are Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 2:00 pm, Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 9:00 am and Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm.

For more information about this program or other summer programs, call 910-458-7468 or visit www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher.

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located just south of Kure Beach, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, on US 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day). Admission: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $6 ages 6-17. Free admission for: children under 6; registered groups of N.C. school children, and NC Aquarium Society members. General information: www.ncaquariums.com.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Young adults are the key to success!

Findings from America, the Ocean, and Climate Change: New Research Insights for Conservation, Awareness, and Action showed that young people ages 12-17 know and care more about the ocean and environmental issues, and are more willing to act than adults. It has long been thought that young adults were less concerned with the environment’s status, but these results prove that they in fact are an essential target audience to focus on. If given the right tools and guidance young people are the key needed to start an environmental revolution. Their concern will spark the interest of adults and inspire and motivate them to do their part to save our oceans.

A surprising result from the survey: Americans believe that their individual actions can have a positive effect on protecting the environment and improving the health of the ocean. Individuals believe they can help, but are unsure of what to do. They simply need direction on how they can put these thoughts into action. Environmental education is an excellent source for people to become informed on how to get involved. The Aquarium at Fort Fisher holds free programs daily which focus on environmental issues, animals and their habitats and how actions affect wildlife. With these efforts and the environmental revolution upon us, our oceans and environment can rest easy knowing we are going to save them!

* Information from The Ocean Project and picture from bviguides.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fearless Females

“Target”, Julie Johnson calls as she taps the red and white “candy” striped stick until the alligator touches it and receives the long-awaited reward. Kari Ysland keeps a watchful eye on the other alligators as she cleans the opposite side of the tank. Julie and Kari are just one husbandry team at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, yet their primary responsibility is one that most people, male or female, would fear. These women specialize in alligator care, as well as target training them.

Kari Ysland (l) and Julie Johnson (r) prepare for alligator target training.

Kari Ysland (l) and Julie Johnson (r) prepare for alligator target training.

“The fear is always there when we are target training,” says Julie, “you just have to understand them and have patience.” During weekly feedings and periodic cleanings, Julie and Kari train the alligators. Target training is a form of behavior conditioning with the ultimate goal of getting the alligators to come out of the water on command for vet visits; making it less stressful on the animals and safer for the staff.

When training began two years ago, the alligators were feisty, to say the least. “It was amazing the change we saw in just two weeks of starting the training, their behavior went from aggressive to calm immediately.” Currently the alligators are not yet coming fully out of the water on command, but Julie and Kari remain committed to use less restraint while examining the animals.

Working with alligators wasn’t always the dream job for Julie and Kari. “When I started at the Aquarium I wasn’t a huge fan of reptiles at all,” says Julie. Now they are both extremely passionate about working with the alligators, and ensuring safety and health. In the future, Julie and Kari both hope to further their careers in similar areas. Kari is focused on wildlife rehabilitation, while Julie’s vision is conducting behavior research in the wild.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer heats up at the Aquarium

June is National Zoo and Aquarium month. Come celebrate at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher! This month long recognition focuses on helping people learn how to preserve America’s wildlife. Summer is an excellent time to visit your local zoo or aquarium, as well as their websites and blogs.

What’s new at the Aquarium at Fort Fisher? Luna, a rare albino alligator has a new home at the Aquarium. She is growing daily, and loves her new found fame. Also new on display are Amazon milk frogs, which are a large species of arboreal frog that was originally discovered in Brazil, and is mainly found in South America. Check them out in the exotic Dart Frog exhibit.

The Aquarium is an economical attraction for the whole family. A family membership is only $50, which includes free admission to all three state Aquariums, NC Zoo and over one hundred other zoos and aquariums all over the county throughout the year. Other benefits include a free subscription to the award-winning Aquarium News magazine and 10% discounts on Aquarium gift shop items. The Aquarium offers countless fee-based educational programs members can attend at a discounted price. Most importantly, becoming a member helps support the commitment to high standards of exhibits, exciting educational experiences and valuable conservation programs. Regular ticket prices are adults: $8, seniors: $7, children: ages 6-17: $6, and 5 and under: FREE.

An extra effort the Aquarium has taken to help educate people on how to preserve the environment is by creating the Aquarium’s blog entitled Waterlogged. Waterlogged focuses on environmental issues and events, as well as animal news and events occurring at the Aquarium. The blog is updated weekly to keep information fresh and interesting. Visit the blog at http://www.ncaquarium.blogspot.com/.

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located just south of Kure Beach, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, on U.S. 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day). Admission: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $6 ages 6-17. Free admission for: children under 6; registered groups of N.C. school children, and NC Aquarium Society members. General information: www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Soaking Up Oil Spills One Hair at a Time

Did you ever think your hair could help save the environment after a destructive oil spill? Phil McCrory, a stylist from Alabama sure did! After viewing CNN coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, he began testing how much oil he could collect with the excess hair from his salon. After discovering hair’s ability to efficiently and abundantly collect and contain petroleum spills, he invented the “Hairmat”.

Matter of Trust, an ecological public charity that concentrates on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-education, picked up the invention and created a national effort to collect hair. Once word spread, thousands of salons started mailing their clippings in to help create oil spill hair mats. Salons collect an average of one pound of hair a day, which can be used to clean and contain spills. Stylists are excited, and have been extremely supportive of the program. They sweep up their clippings, put them in bags; and donate them.

So the next time you go to your favorite salon to have your hair cut, colored, shaved, dreaded, layered, or thinned make sure to ask your stylist where he takes your hair?

Visit http://www.matteroftrust.org/ to find out how you can donate hair.

*Information and picture from Matter of Trust

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aquarium Camp for Teen Coastal Crusaders

Think your teens are too old for summer camp? Think again! The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s Coastal Crusaders summer camp on June 29-July 3, is designed especially for young adults, ages 13-14. Additional dates for Coastal Crusaders are also available.

Throughout the week, teen campers hit the beach, go crabbing in the salt marsh, tour behind the scenes of the Aquarium, canoe at Holly Shelter, conduct underwater archaeology at Fort Fisher Historical Site, visit the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach, and try out surfing.

Space is also available for Aquarium summer camps for ages 5-12 with various dates and themes. For example, Sensational Senses camps focus on discovering how animals use their senses to survive. Humans explore the world using five senses. Animals share some of these, and have developed some of their own. By meeting and observing animals at the Aquarium, and in surrounding habitats, younger campers discover how their senses help animals survive.

For more information about camp dates, themes, and fees, visit the Aquarium website at http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher/programs/summer-camp or contact the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher at 910-458-7468.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Underwater Paradise in Peril

Reef is a photographic book by Scubazoo that leads the reader on a journey through the highly sensitive and threatened ecosystems of coral reefs. Coral reefs are home to thousands of fish, as well as algae, sponges, and mollusks. Photos of coral reefs are displayed in ways that have rarely been seen by humans. Reefs from around the globe are featured, including Southeast Asia, the Red Sea, and Hawaii. Quotes and captions throughout the book give background information about the plants and animals that live in this amazing world of its own. Pictures depict the life cycle of coral reefs, and the countless creatures that depend on their success for survival. The book tells how our coral reefs are being destroyed and the importance of saving this magnificent underwater world.

The Aquarium at Fort Fisher has also taken efforts to help reflourish these fascinating ecosystems. Aquarist Mike Suchy has created an extraordinary project: a coral propagation and holding system behind Aquarium walls. By snipping fragments of existing coral, mounting it on small disks, and submerging it under water with a light source, Suchy has begun to “grow” coral. Although the coral grows slowly, maybe only an inch a year, and can be challenging at times, Suchy’s hard work will allow the Aquarium to use less wild stock in the exhibits.

Suchy’s project and the book Reef are excellent examples of people trying to protect our underwater gardens. Help save these marine paradises by reading Reef or learning more about the Aquarium’s coral project.

*Information from http://www.coral.org/.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Seas the Day: Taking Ocean Conservation Personally

Commit to making a real difference by taking the Seven C’s pledge to Protect our Ocean. The seven C’s pledge was created by The Ocean Project, and focuses on teaching people about ocean conservation. The pledge asks people to have an ecological consciousness for the benefit of future life.

The Seven C’s are:
1. Commit to making a real difference
2. Conserve in my home
3. Consume consciously
4. Communicate my interest and concerns
5. Challenge myself daily
6. Connect in my community
7. Celebrate our Ocean

The term “Seven Seas” has always been used to describe all of the Earth’s oceans, when in actuality there is only one world ocean. “Seven seas” is commonly used to describe the act of people traveling all over the world, and people that have navigated through all of the seas. The Ocean Project decided to use the term as a play on words to show how each of us can make daily decisions in our lives for the benefit of our planet’ s future.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wear Blue and Tell Two!

In association with World Oceans Day, The Ocean Project has created an innovative way to promote their ocean conservation message. They are asking their partners, such as zoos, aquariums, and museums to wear blue on World Oceans Day in honor of the ocean. They also urge people to explain to visitors why they are wearing blue, and tell them two things they likely don’t know about our ocean and how they can help.

A public opinion research survey results that The Ocean Project recently released shows that people look towards zoos, aquariums, and museums for guidance on how to help save the ocean, and that they are willing to help if they knew the actions they needed to take. This proves that if we explain to visitors how they can make a difference, we may see more people joining in the fight to save our blue beauty.

So on June 8th, World Oceans Day, search through your closet and find all the blue you own! Since most aquarium employees have to wear blue shirts already, maybe add a little flare and wear blue socks as well. Finally, tell some friends about World Oceans Day, and how they can help!

*Information from The Ocean Project

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NC Aquarium Exhibits Coastal Works

Kure Beach, NC- The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher spreads the love and relaxation of living in a coastal environment with its new Spadefish gallery art exhibit. The Sun & Sea Celebration art exhibit will be on display during June, July, and August. The exhibit will showcase paintings that are inspired by the joy and overwhelming love for the coast. The works of art were created by award winning artist, Barbara Bayer.

After discovering the immense energy and creative enthusiasm that Barbara Bayer received from the coastal environment, she decided to relocate to areas where the shoreline was near. Her works are all created by watercolor, with a vibrant and lighthearted feel. Her work has been exhibited in galleries throughout North Carolina and Florida, and her work, “Park N Lights” was selected for the Pleasure Island’s Annual Island of Lights ’06 Christmas card. Barbara currently resides in Carolina Beach where she was recently one of the major art contributors for the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project.

The Spadefish gallery at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher showcases local artists throughout the year. Artwork that coincides with the Aquarium’s mission of “Inspiring Appreciation and Conservation of North Carolina’s Aquatic Environment” is located on the second floor, near the auditorium.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Our Oceans Enemies

The ocean provides us with important resources needed to survive, such as food, water, commerce, recreation, medicine, and the air we breathe each day. Today our ocean is in grave peril due to pollution, trash, declining fisheries, and multiple impacts from climate change. This year World Ocean Day has chosen to focus on four major threats are all working to destroy our blue beauty.

Climate change, a continuously controversial topic, is caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. It is no secret that the temperatures have raised over the years, which causes water to heat. Warmer water temperatures cause a loss of sea ice, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and more violent storms. All of these repercussions are harmful to the ocean wildlife, as well as humans. People can help fight climate change by using less energy and walking or biking to work instead of driving.

Marine debris also affects the ocean. Marine debris is litter in the water that kills marine mammals, releases toxins, as well as threatens human health. Aesthetically, trash in the water and along the coastline can decrease tourism and hurt local businesses. Ways that you can help reduce marine debris is by bringing your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, picking up trash on the beach, and using a reusable water bottle.

Water pollution is not only extremely dangerous to marine wildlife and humans; it has also caused countless beaches to close due to contamination. Polluted runoff from streets and parking lots makes its way to storm drains, which eventually leads directly back to oceans, lakes, and rivers. As water moves on land it picks up oil, trash, and pesticides from humans lack of conscious environmental decision making. Ways you can help decrease water pollution is take shorter showers, use an automated car wash, rather than washing your vehicle in your driveway, and recycle used motor oil.

The decline of marine life is an imminent threat that the ocean faces each day. Development and littering threaten the creatures of the sea constantly. Unsustainable fishing is a major contributor to the decline of marine life. Due to overfishing, 90% of the world’s large fish, such as tuna and swordfish, have been removed from the waters. One way to assist in reducing the decline of marine life is making smart seafood choices, and researching to find what seafood is in season.

There are countless other threats that the ocean faces, yet these four are major contributors to the decline of our waters. Helping reduce these ocean enemies not only protects our “blue backyard”, it also empowers our lives.

*Information and picture from The Ocean Project