Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lending a Helping Hand to Nature one Movie at a Time

Have you been searching for an easy way to help protect the environment? Thanks to Disneynature your search has ended! Disneynature is launching an innovative effort to raise money to help protect coral reefs with their new movie Oceans. After the success of their campaign last year that involved one tree being planted for every ticket sold to the movie Earth, Disneynature decided it was time to focus on life under the sea. Disneynature has teamed up with The Nature Conservatory for “See Oceans, Save Oceans,” in which for every ticket sold on opening week to the new movie Oceans, Disneynature will donate a portion of the price to help establish new marine protected areas in the Bahamas in an effort to preserve coral reefs. Oceans is set to hit theaters on April 22, Earth Day!

Oceans delves deep into life underneath the sea by giving viewers an up close look at the oceans most notorious sea creatures, as well as countless animals that have yet to be discovered. The movie follows ocean inhabitants including sharks, swordfish, manta rays, and giant squids. The movie dives into the deepest parts of the ocean, starting at the top with the blue of the sky and ending where the darkest of night couldn’t compare.

Go watch Oceans and help save our aquatic treasures of the world!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Aquarium Employees Donate Time to Turtles

When severe cold weather hit the Florida area the beaches became inundated with cold-stunned sea turtles. The National Marine Fisheries Service responded to over 4,000 calls of stranded sea turtles in the second week of January. Helping hands were definitely vital to the endeavors, and employees from the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher were more than willing to help. Although many of the stunned sea turtles survived, some did not. The Protected Resources Branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Beaufort, North Carolina assisted in the evaluation of 532 turtles that died as a result of the harsh weather. This sad event presented a unique opportunity to sea turtle researchers who planned to conduct necropsies (animal autopsies) on all the turtles.

The necropsies included size and weight measurements, biological sampling, and full internal assessment of all of the major organ systems. This was a massive undertaking that could not have been completed without the help of countless, dedicated volunteers. The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher graciously provided several volunteers for the day to help complete as many necropsies as possible. Aquarium employees and volunteers Matt Babineau, Ginger Black, Monica Dudley, Heather Gaunt, Casey Grieshaber, Julie Johnson, and Jamie Neill all volunteered their time, talent and energy to this amazing opportunity. They effectively completed 42 full necropsies the day they visited, which will help the research team learn more about basic sea turtle biology.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Little Treasure of the Sea Makes a Guest Appearance

After a spell of sudden frigid weather hit the east coast the beaches became inundated with cold-stunned sea turtles. One tiny turtle that was affected by this adverse weather was a hawksbill, which is extremely rare to the Carolina beaches. The hawksbill was found along the water’s edge in Corolla when a beach walker spotted the stranded turtle and called a rescue team. After being taken to the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the turtle was transported to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The small, brown colored turtle called the Aquarium at Fort Fisher home while it was nursed back to health and was then transported to Sea World in Florida where they will continue to rehabilitate it and release it into warmer Florida waters, where they are commonly found.

These small beauties of the sea are critically endangered; their global population has declined by 80 percent during the past century and is projected to continue to decline. The decline of the hawksbill is due largely in part to human exploration for tortoiseshell. Threats due to loss or degradation of nesting habitat from coastal development and beach armoring, disorientation of hatchlings by beachfront lighting, marine pollution and debris, watercraft strikes, and excessive nest predation by native and non-native predators are all factors in the decline of the hawksbill population. The current major threat to these creatures is habitat loss of coral reef communities. It has been shown that the recent increase in global climate change has caused a decrease in coral reefs due to coral diseases that can ultimately kill entire coral reef communities. Hawksbill turtles utilize coral reefs as a habitat as well as a food supply.

Efforts to protect the hawksbill must continue in order for this creature of the sea to thrive again in the future. These beautiful turtles are globally migratory, crossing between nations on a regular basis. Negative activities by some nations can trickle into other nations, and conservation efforts will prove to be ineffective. U.S. protection efforts alone will not save the hawksbill, we must work together to globally save this amazing species.