Dolphin Die-Off: Unraveling the Mystery - October 29, 2013
(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center will feature Stranding Response Research Coordinator Susan G. Barco for the November 17 Watts Conservation Speaker Series. Barco will present, “Dolphin Die-Off: Unraveling the Mystery” at 2 p.m. in the IMAX 3D Theater. The session is free and refreshments will be served following the program.
Since July of 2013, more than 650 bottlenose dolphins have died in the mid-Atlantic region from New York through North Carolina. The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team has been at the epicenter of this historic mortality event, responding to more than 330 stranded dolphins in the state. For the staff and volunteer members of the team, investigating this historic die-off has involved dealing with everything from tragedy and loss to wonder and discovery.
Barco will use facts, figures and amazing photographs to explain how scientists are unraveling the mysteries behind these marine mammal deaths and what we hope to learn in the future.
The Virginia Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation hosts The Eleanor & Henry Watts Speaker Series. The Foundation is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. The Foundation was formed in 1981, three years before construction on the Aquarium even began. Over the years, the Foundation’s role in support of the Aquarium has not only included garnering financial support to pay for the Aquarium’s exhibits, but it has expanded to include funding of education programs such as the speaker series, and research and conservation efforts through the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program.
Virginia Aquarium’s Rare Tomistoma Dies Suddenly - October 15, 2013
(Virginia Beach, VA) – “Grover,” a 13-foot, 28-year-old tomistoma, was found dead in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s crocodile enclosure early today. The cause of the sudden death is unknown and a necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed this afternoon. One of only seven pairs of the rare crocodilian in the U.S., the Aquarium had hoped that he would breed with his habitat mate, “Gloria.” The pair had produced several eggs, but none were viable. Gloria appears to be in good health and will remain on exhibit.
Herpetological staff was feeding the animals this morning, and noticed that Grover was unresponsive. The tomistomas receive regular veterinary care, and this particular animal had no apparent health issues. The tomistomas were added as part of the Aquarium’s Restless Planet gallery which opened in 2009, and has been a favorite of visitors. “It is always a tragedy to lose an animal, but losing such a rare and precious one is doubly difficult,” said Aquarium Executive Director Lynn Clements. “Certainly our staff, and many of our regular visitors, will mourn his loss.”
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and a participating member of the crocodilian taxonomic advisory group. As part of its conservation mission, the Aquarium has also donated to the Tomistoma Task Force, an international coalition dedicated to protecting this endangered species. Aquarium staff have also traveled to Borneo to conduct population surveys to assist in the species’ conservation.
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Virginia Aquarium Acquires Director of Live Exhibits - October 10, 2013
Virginia Beach, VA – When guests visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and see everything from fish to reptiles, they rarely think about the attention and care that these animals require. Many staff, mostly behind the scenes, are involved with the daily care of the Aquarium’s collection of over 12,000 animals. Beginning November 1, Rachel E. Metz will lead the team of its animal caretakers as the Director of Live Exhibits.
Metz brings with her 17 years of experience in the zoo and aquarium industry. Throughout the years she has served as a marine mammal trainer, manager, biologist, and aquarist working with numerous species including mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. Metz’s undergraduate degree in marine biology is from the College of Charleston. In cooperation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and George Mason University, Metz completed her Master’s Degree in Zoo and Aquarium Leadership.
Virginia Aquarium Deputy Director Cynthia Spanoulis said, “We are delighted to have Rachel join our team. Her expertise in animal care and aquarium management will be a true asset to the Aquarium.”
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of AZA and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The 89 acre campus includes: a one-third-mile long nature trail; Virginia native gardens; an aviary; two buildings comprised of 129,000 square feet; a 300-seat 3D theater; 800,000 gallons of aquariums; 360 interactive exhibits; live animal habitats and two touch pools. The animal collection represents over 700 species.
Aquarium Adventure Park Opening Summer 2014 - October 08, 2013
(Virginia Beach, VA) – Today the City of Virginia Beach City Council approved a joint project between the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation and the Outdoor Venture Group. This approval officially enables the opening of Virginia’s largest “aerial forest park” in early summer and, in fall 2014, a conservation garden. Appealing to outdoor fun-seekers age 5 and up, the Adventure Park, located on the campus of the Virginia Aquarium, will feature multiple zip lines and aerial ropes challenge courses. Activities at the park are forest-friendly, requiring only human power—no motors or machines.