(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is decking the halls and transforming into a winter wonderland during Holi-Rays! Come dressed in your holiday best or festive pajamas for an evening of family fun on December 16 and 17 from 6 to 9 p.m.


Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus in the workshop as they prepare presents with the elves, or wave hello as jolly ol’ Saint Nick scuba dives under the sea. Help the grouchy Grump find his holiday spirit through the power of recycling. Decorate an ornament using recycled material, in keeping with the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation. Candy canes galore, there will be much for all to explore!


Tickets are $25.95, and members receive a 50% discount. Online registration and timed tickets are required due to limited capacity. Tickets will not be available at the door. Children two years old and under get in free. A paying adult must accompany children.


PRA Group is the exclusive corporate sponsor of the Virginia Aquarium’s after-hours programming this year, including the Fins & Frights, Holi-Rays and FantaSea events. A global leader in acquiring and servicing nonperforming loans, PRA Group prioritizes giving back to the communities in which it operates around the world. As a long-time partner of the Aquarium, the company’s generous gifts have funded three years of the Aquarium’s education programming, and PRA Group will be the title sponsor of the South Building grand opening and dedication events once renovations are complete.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.


About PRA Group


As a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, PRA Group, Inc. returns capital to banks and other creditors to help expand financial services for consumers in the Americas, Europe and Australia. With thousands of employees worldwide, PRA Group, Inc. companies collaborate with customers to help them resolve their debt. For more information, please visit www.pragroup.com.

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(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium’s annual fundraising event, newly named Ocean Commotion, raised more than $185,000 this year through event sponsorships and auction proceeds, netting approximately $125,000 after expenses. The net exceeds the Aquarium’s prior record of $113,000 from the event in 2021. Sponsored by Capital Group, the online auction took place September 19 through October 8 and featured Aquarium experiences, local attraction tickets, vacation getaways, beach cruisers, an electric golf cart, unique artwork, and more.


Over 700 supporters registered to participate in the auction, placing 928 bids on approximately 134 items. The winning bids ranged from $450 for a jammin’ with jellies behind-the-scenes tour to $1,550 weeklong stay at a house in Sandbridge to $15,500 for a street-legal golf cart. The online auction allows the annual event to safely reach a vastly broader audience with supporters participating from Illinois to Kansas to Michigan. Additionally, generous corporate partners included Capital Group, auction sponsor Checkered Flag, Cutting Edge Total Comfort, Sentara-Optima Health, TowneBank, Virginia Natural Gas and more.


“Thank you to everyone who participated in Ocean Commotion! We are continually astounded by the community’s support, which helped us break a new fundraising record this year. Your contributions directly impact our on-site animal care and conservation efforts which include saving endangered species from extinction,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, the Virginia Aquarium’s Executive Director.


All event proceeds will be used to care for thousands of animals, provide educational offerings to visitors, offer outreach programs to local schools, conduct research and conservation activities, and operate our nationally recognized Stranding Response Program.


Explore more ways to support the Virginia Aquarium Foundation by visiting VirginiaAquarium.com.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – Two Tomistoma hatched at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center on September 1, 2022. In May, 16-year-old Sommer laid a clutch of 19 eggs. Two babies hatched after being closely monitored by the Aquarium’s husbandry team during a 113-day incubation period. This is the first successful Tomistoma birth at the Aquarium, following previous nests laid by Sommer in 2019 and 2020.


“This hatching event is significant for not only the Virginia Aquarium, but also for broader Tomistoma conservation in North America,” says Colin Walker, Assistant Curator of Fishes, Herpetology, and Invertebrates at the Virginia Aquarium. “Ralf and Sommer were the first legal Tomistoma imports from a home-range country in nearly 50 years, and their offspring will contribute greatly to the long-term genetic diversity of this crocodilian species.”


Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, Tomistoma are a freshwater crocodilian species at risk of extinction. Therefore, this reproduction marks a commemorative milestone for the Virginia Aquarium and the Tomistoma Species Survival Plan (SSP), an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) conservation program that manages breeding, research, and field projects with the goal to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population.


The hatchlings are approximately 12 inches long and will likely double in size within the first year. They will remain behind the scenes at the Virginia Aquarium for about 12 months while their health is closely monitored. Aquarium staff are coordinating with Tomistoma SSP partners to locate qualified caretakers.


Born in Malaysia, Ralf (male) and Sommer were acquired by the Virginia Aquarium in October 2015. At the time, they were the first legally imported Tomistoma in the U.S. since 1973. Tomistoma are one of the least studied of the 24 different types of crocodilians found around the world, due to their remote and inaccessible habitat, but some estimates show only 2,500 remaining in the wild. Tomistoma are listed as vulnerable on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and listed as endangered according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Population threats include habitat destruction, drowning in fishing nets, and overfishing of food resources.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has an extensive history with field and conservation research on these animals. The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as well as a participating member of the AZA Crocodilian Taxonomic Advisory Group.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – It is almost time for a devilishly fun family-friendly Halloween event at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center! Fins & Frights will take place on October 21 and 22 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Dress up in a costume and join us for a spook-tacular journey through the Aquarium, hauntingly decked for the occasion. Swing by spooky science stations located throughout the Aquarium, where learning is a frighteningly ghoulish time. Get ready to learn how to turn this wicked holiday into something thrillingly helpful for the planet.


Online registration and timed tickets are required due to limited capacity. Tickets are $25.95; Members receive a 50% discount. A paying adult must accompany children. Children two years old and under get in free. Tickets will not be available at the door. Parking fees apply. Tickets may be purchased on the website.


PRA Group is the exclusive corporate sponsor of the Virginia Aquarium’s after-hours programming this year, including the Fins & Frights, Holi-Rays, and FantaSea events. A global leader in acquiring and servicing nonperforming loans, PRA Group prioritizes giving back to the communities in which it operates around the world. As a long-time partner of the Aquarium, the company’s generous gifts have funded three years of the Aquarium’s education programming, and PRA Group will be the title sponsor of the South Building grand opening and dedication events once renovations are complete.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration, and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.


About PRA Group


As a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, PRA Group returns capital to banks and other creditors to help expand financial services for consumers. With thousands of employees worldwide, PRA Group companies collaborate with customers to help them resolve their debt. For more information, please visit www.pragroup.com.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – Staff at the Virginia Aquarium are mourning the loss of Sanchez, a 17-year-old Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Sanchez was an active and precocious dragon. He loved resting in the sunlight, overlooking Owls Creek, and coming nose-to-nose with guests who visited him. He will be missed dearly.

Sanchez was born on January 5, 2005 at the Columbus Zoo. He joined the Virginia Aquarium in 2007 when the Restless Planet exhibit gallery opened. For more than 15 years, he educated and inspired guests to love and protect animals and the environment. He lived a wholesome life and was easily motivated by food, making him a quick learner during behavioral training.

Our veterinary and animal care team observed signs that Sanchez’s health was declining this week. Supportive care, medical management, and diagnostics were initiated, but his health and quality of life did not improve with treatment. He was monitored continuously and provided medical support to ensure his comfort. After thoughtful and careful study of Sanchez’s condition, the Aquarium team made the difficult decision to euthanize him, surrounded by the Aquarium’s veterinary and animal care teams. A cause for the acute changes in his health condition has not yet been determined. A necropsy is being conducted by the Virginia Aquarium and additional diagnostic tests will be sent out for analysis.

“As I personally reflect on Sanchez’s impact, it gives me great comfort knowing he was one of our most powerful ambassadors. We will miss him deeply,” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “This news is devasting, especially for our herpetology team and our veterinary staff. They are devoted to providing outstanding care for our animals. We appreciate your support and understanding during this difficult time.”

Images of Sanchez are available HERE.

The work at the Virginia Aquarium goes beyond introducing guests to animals or teaching visitors about their habitats and behaviors. The Aquarium is also dedicated to preserving the future of the animals. Komodo dragons are native to Indonesia and are an endangered species according to the IUCN Red List. There are less than 1,400 mature Komodo dragons estimated in the world, and the Aquarium participates in the Species Survival Plan of this treasured species as managed through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – A marine-inspired mural will soon adorn the façade of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Artist Sarah Gallahan, a Virginia native, was commissioned for this mural project and will begin work on the 2,508-square-foot canvas, approximately 66 feet wide by 38 feet high, at the Virginia Aquarium on Monday, September 12, 2022.


The City of Virginia Beach’s Cultural Affairs Department launched the mural project in collaboration with the Virginia Aquarium and sought an artist to design and paint a large mural to transform the Aquarium’s building and entrance into an inspiring and welcoming moment for visitors and passersby. Earlier this year, Cultural Affairs assembled a public art committee to review the 20 applications received from artists based locally, regionally, and nationally. The committee was comprised of citizen representatives, public art committee members, Cultural Affairs staff, and Virginia Aquarium staff.


During the review process, the public art committee was looking for artwork that celebrates the natural world and our local eco- and aquatic history and that reflects the Virginia Aquarium’s mission and art. Gallahan’s submission illustrated three sea turtles swimming underwater, artistically representing the guest experience at the Aquarium, the work of the Stranding Response Program, and the Aquarium’s mission to protect endangered species and the marine environment. The artwork will be revealed at the completion of the project; however, sneak peeks of the artwork will publish on the Aquarium’s social channels throughout the duration of the project.


From the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Sarah Gallahan is a multi-talented creator who gives life to her clients’ imaginations through her mural artwork. Gallahan says, “The Virginia Aquarium is a beautifully immersive place for people of all ages, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to create a new experience that inspires guests to continue loving and caring for the marine environment.” When describing her art and design style she says, “I strive for realism with my own artistic touch of bold colors and clean lines to guide the viewer through the scene.” Sarah’s portfolio can be found on her Instagram, @sarahgallahanart.


The project is estimated to take two weeks with a projected completion date of September 23, weather permitting. Media is invited to attend a scheduled meet-up to conduct interviews with the artist on Friday, September 16 from 7-8:30 a.m. at the Virginia Aquarium. Please reach out to Mackenzie Di Nardo directly for additional details.


This project is a collaboration between the City of Virginia Beach’s departments of Cultural Affairs and the Virginia Aquarium and is funded by the Aquarium. To learn more about the City of Virginia Beach Public Art program, visit VBPublicArt.org.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.


City of Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department

The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – A ceremony was held to dedicate the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center (DMACC) on Thursday, August 25. This is a state-of-the-art facility for the Stranding Response Program, and the first of its kind on the east coast. The Virginia Aquarium was pleased to commemorate the newly constructed facility and honor the esteemed Darden family during a small private ceremony, which convened a small but impressive guest list including Governor Glenn Youngkin, Senator John A. Cosgrove, Jr., Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata, Mayor Bobby Dyer, and Councilman Linwood Branch. The Darden family was represented by Holley Darden, a Foundation Trustee, and her husband Mark Szymczak.


Opening the DMACC is a significant milestone in the Virginia Aquarium’s history. Previously, the Stranding Response Program operated from a small, unconditioned workspace near the Oceanfront with limited space and resources to conduct the team’s treatment and rehabilitation work. The DMACC holds national significance as the only facility on the east coast that handles sea turtle and seal rehabilitation and necropsies in one location. The new facility provides holding pools and animal care spaces for rehabilitation, examination rooms and laboratory space for forensic investigations of stranded animals, and office space providing logistical and technological support for Aquarium scientists. In addition, the center creates space for the Aquarium to enhance research and conservation collaborations with universities, state agencies, and federal partners.


“This project represents one of the biggest steps for the Virginia Aquarium to be recognized as a world-class marine science research center and to have a worldwide impact on ocean and marine animal conservation,” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, President and CEO of the Virginia Aquarium.


The Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center was named in recognition of the Darden family and the Joshua P. and Elizabeth D. Darden Foundation for their generous contribution to the facility and the Virginia Aquarium’s mission. Elizabeth D. “Betty” Darden shared, “Josh and I always enjoyed the ocean and bay that surrounds Tidewater. Whether boating, sailing, crabbing, or fishing, we were thankful for the clean water and abundant marine life that is unique to our area. We are thrilled to be one small part of helping ensure its long-term survival.”


The dedication included a welcome from Aquarium Foundation Board Member Andy Vakos, remarks from Governor Glenn Youngkin, a presentation of the proclamation from Mayor Bobby Dyer, and a ribbon cutting. Additionally, the Aquarium’s CEO Cynthia Spanoulis presented the Darden’s with the first-ever Virginia Aquarium Conservation Champion award and a David Turner sea turtle sculpture as a gift of appreciation; The Darden’s were selected as the first recipients of this notable award for their commitment to conservation and championship of the project; credited to their stewardship, this facility will further the reach of the Aquarium’s conservation initiatives and provide the necessary tools to make impactful actions that protect the marine environment.


Gifts to the Aquarium Fund helps maintain the exhibits and care for thousands of animals, provide educational offerings, allow for research and conservation activities, and operate the Stranding Response Program. The community is invited to make a gift by visiting the Aquarium’s website.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. The Virginia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – A brand-new dolphin-watching boat tour experience is now offered at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center! The first of its kind on the east coast, the 70-minute excursion brings guests even closer to wildlife in the new low-riding vessel called the Atlantic Scout. The new ride is a RIB boat, or a rigid inflatable boat, and hosts 40 passengers with a canvas awning for shade.


Guests are now able to choose from two unique dolphin-watching experiences at the Virginia Aquarium, as the traditional 90-minute tour on the Atlantic Explorer is still offered as well. What makes the Atlantic Scout distinct is that it seats guests at sea level and provides a quieter and more adventurous experience with nature. While cruising, guests will ebb and flow with the waves, so this option may be less suitable for guests who feel motion sickness.


Guests on the Atlantic Scout must be 6 years or older and must be able to navigate stairs. Tickets for guests of all ages are $34.95. Tickets must be purchased in advance through online ticketing only. A portion of all ticket sales supports the Virginia Aquarium’s education, research, and conservation initiatives. Passengers should report to the Aquarium Boat Dock (adjacent to the outdoor Seal Exhibit) at least 30 minutes prior to their scheduled tour.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration, and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – 2022 is a record-breaking year for the most hooked sea turtle responses in the history of the Stranding Response Program at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Hooked sea turtle season, referring to a time when sea turtles are caught by hooks on fishing lines during recreational fishing season, began in late April in Hampton Roads and the number of hooked turtle events has accelerated tremendously. From April 30 (the first reported hooked turtle) to June 27, the Virginia Aquarium has reported 58 hooked turtles, of which 51 have been recovered for rehabilitation and 26 of those turtles have been successfully released. Previously, the former record was 45 hooked sea turtle responses in 2018.

As of June 28, 2022, the Stranding Response Team has 21 turtles in rehabilitation at the Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center (DMACC) – 19 of which are hooked turtle patients. Most of the patients have been Kemp’s ridley sea turtles which is a critically endangered species that is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) conservation program. The rehab spaces within DMACC are filling up as calls from civilians continue to come in weekly with new hooked turtle reports. Turtles with no complications or additional hooks can often be released within 24 hours. However, when fishing hook removal requires advanced medical intervention or turtles are otherwise compromised, they are released back into the ocean when they are healthy, which can be days to months later. Therefore, the team has turned to their counterparts at neighboring facilities to help with the caseload. Five hooked turtles and two recovering cold-stunned turtles have been transferred to facilities with the expertise and capabilities to rehabilitate turtles, including Sea Turtle Recovery in New Jersey, the South Carolina Aquarium, and NC State University CMAST.

In Virginia, hooked sea turtle season occurs throughout recreational fishing season, which takes place predominantly in May and June but can be seen through September. This year, the Stranding Response Team has received high call volumes from Buckroe and Virginia Beach Fishing Piers. The Virginia Aquarium partners with these piers and others throughout the community through the Virginia Aquarium Pier Partner Program to educate local anglers, minimize harm to turtles during hooking events, and provide quality medical care for hooked sea turtles. The four partnered piers have signage, recovery gear and pier staff who are willing to assist when a hooked sea turtle is reported. It is important to note that anglers will not get in trouble for accidentally hooking a sea turtle; please do not release the turtle and report it to the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team at 757-385-7575.

What to do if a sea turtle is hooked by a fishing line:

  • Inform the pier attendant (if there is one) ASAP who can supply recovery gear
  • Call the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team at 757-385-7575
  • Use a net to bring the turtle to the top of the pier. DO NOT lift by the hook if at all avoidable. Lifting by the hook can cause severe damage
  • If the turtle is too large to net, try to walk it to the beach
  • Leave the hook in place. Removing it may cause harm and make medical treatment more difficult
  • When you have control of the turtle, cut the line but leave at least two feet of line attached to the hook
  • Keep turtle out of direct sunlight
  • Cover carapace (shell) with damp towel

Support the Virginia Aquarium’s mission by making a tax-deductible donation or by purchasing a ‘Protect Sea Life’ license plate from the Virginia DMV, which features a loggerhead sea turtle, a threatened species in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. A portion of the license plate funds are transferred to the Virginia Aquarium Foundation in support of our conservation and research programs, including the Stranding Response Program.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. The Virginia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

# # #

(Virginia Beach, VA) – Sommer, a 16-year-old Tomistoma (freshwater crocodilian species), has laid 19 eggs at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the species is at high risk of extinction. Therefore, the prospect of this reproduction marks a commemorative milestone for the Virginia Aquarium and the Tomistoma Species Survival Plan (SSP), an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) conservation program that manages breeding, research, and field projects with the goal to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population.


The Virginia Aquarium’s husbandry team excavated the eggs on Thursday, May 12, and transferred them to incubators for temperature and humidity control with hopes of generating a higher hatching success rate. Both Sommer and her partner Ralf (male) are in the early stages of adulthood which means it is unclear whether they have reached sexual maturity and are reproductively viable. The eggs Sommer laid in 2019 and 2020 were infertile. Oval and evenly rounded, Sommer’s latest clutch will be monitored closely for an 80- to 120-day incubation period. If the eggs fully develop, hatchlings will likely stay at the Aquarium for the first year to monitor their health. In the meantime, the Aquarium will coordinate with Tomistoma SSP partners to locate qualified caretakers.


Born in Malaysia, Ralf and Sommer were acquired by the Virginia Aquarium in October 2015. At the time, they were the first legally imported Tomistoma in the U.S. since 1973. Tomistoma are the least studied of the 23 different types of crocodilians found around the world, due to their remote and inaccessible habitat, but some estimates show only 2,500 remaining in the wild. Tomistoma are listed as vulnerable on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and listed as endangered according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Population threats include habitat destruction, drowning in fishing nets, and overfishing of food resources.


"This event is an important milestone for Tomistoma conservation efforts in the United States,” says Colin Walker, Assistant Curator of Fishes, Herpetology, and Invertebrates at the Virginia Aquarium. “As Ralf and Sommer were the first legal imports from a home-range country in nearly 50 years, any offspring they produce will greatly contribute to the long-term sustainability of genetic diversity in the American population of this little known but charismatic crocodilian species. Nest attrition can be high, particularly with younger females, but we are cautiously optimistic for the future of this clutch."


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has an extensive history with field and conservation research on these animals. The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as well as a participating member of the AZA Crocodilian Taxonomic Advisory Group.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

# # #

(Virginia Beach, Va.) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Stranding Response Team has recovered seven hooked sea turtles since the end of April, all of which were Kemp’s ridley turtles, a species that is critically endangered and part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) conservation program. Three sea turtles were recovered on Saturday, April 30 and admitted to the Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center for health assessment, which marks the highest number of hooked sea turtles recorded in the month of April, according to the Stranding Response Program; it is also the second year on record that hooked turtles have been reported in April. In conjunction with recreational fishing season, hooked sea turtle responses occur predominantly in May and June but can be seen through September. The turtles were hooked at local piers in Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, all of which are partners in the Aquarium’s Pier Partner Program.

The naming theme for hooked sea turtles this season is ‘cereals’ as voted by the community on the Virginia Aquarium’s social media earlier this year. The sea turtles in the Aquarium’s care are stable and will be released once they meet the Stranding Response Program’s release criteria.

  • Saturday, April 30 at Oceanview Fishing Pier in Norfolk
    Kix and Trix were hooked in the flipper and the hooks have been removed. Both turtles are expected to recover and be released.
  • Saturday, April 30 at Buckroe Fishing Pier in Hampton
    Special K was hooked in its carapace or shell and the hook has been removed. Additional hook fragments are shown in its stomach on radiographs.
  • Found Monday, May 2 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier; Released Tuesday, May 3
    Fruit Loops was reported hooked and caught in a fishing line. It did not have further health concerns and met immediate release criteria. The turtle was released on Tuesday, May 3
  • Friday, May 6 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
    Cocoa Pebbles was hooked in esophagus and the hook has been removed. The turtle is recovering from the hook removal procedure and is expected to be released.
  • Saturday, May 7 at Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
    Granola was reported to have swallowed a hook, but no hooks were found externally or on radiographs. The turtle was released on Monday, May 9
  • Saturday, May 7 at Buckroe Fishing Pier in Hampton
    Grape Nuts was hooked in the corner of the mouth. The turtle is expected to be released once recovered from the hook removal procedure

The Stranding Response Team urges anyone who sees a stranded, entangled, or hooked turtle to call the 24-hour hotline (757) 385-7575. If you hook a turtle and cannot immediately contact the Stranding Team for advice, bring it up onto the pier or boat using a net; do not attempt to remove the hook yourself. If you must cut the line, leave two feet attached. Keep the turtle contained in a quiet, shaded area until Stranding Response Team arrives.

Even a minor injury, such as a small hook in the mouth, can pose a risk to a sea turtle. To help educate local anglers and provide quality medical care for turtles, the Aquarium has partnered with local piers in the Virginia Aquarium Pier Partner Program. The four local piers – Buckroe Fishing Pier, Little Island Fishing Pier, Ocean View Fishing Pier, and Virginia Beach Fishing Pier – have signage, recovery gear and pier staff who are willing to assist when a hooked sea turtle is reported. When a hooking occurs, anglers or pier staff call the Stranding Response Program and team members are dispatched to begin triage and medical care for the turtle. Turtles with no complications or additional hooks can often be released within 24 hours. When hook removal requires advanced medical intervention or turtles are otherwise compromised, they are released back into the ocean when they are healthy which can be days to months.

The Virginia Aquarium Foundation is a 501 (c) 3, nonprofit. The purpose of the Foundation is to support the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in its mission to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. Founded in 1981, the Foundation is dedicated to the success of the Aquarium which opened its doors to the public in 1986. 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, animals, and habitats, but it has expanded to include funding of education programs and research and conservation efforts such as the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response and Sensible Seafood™ programs.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – A spotted eagle ray gave birth to two female pups at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. The rays, born on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, mark a significant milestone for the Virginia Aquarium and for zoos and aquariums worldwide. Spotted eagle ray reproduction is exceedingly rare, and the typical gestation period can be from six to 13 months. Spotted eagle rays are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are included in a Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).


The newborns were born to mother Sadana, named after the Sadana Islands on the northern coast of the Red Sea. Newborn spotted eagle rays do not require parental care and are self-sufficient at birth. Currently, the pups are in an off-exhibit area while staff continue to closely monitor their diets, behaviors, and welfare. Our veterinary and animal care teams are providing the pups with additional nutritional support as they get better at eating on their own. The pups will be transported to a new home at a fellow AZA facility once they reach six to twelve months old.


Stay tuned to our social channels to keep up with the spotted eagle ray pups as new milestones are met. Support our mission and the work performed by our team by making a gift to the Aquarium fund here.

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Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

(Virginia Beach, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center hires new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mary Anna Twisdale, effective Thursday, April 7. Twisdale will oversee the Aquarium’s City of Virginia Beach and Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation budgets while leading the finance department, including five accountants and financial specialists. She will be at the forefront of continued profitable growth for the organization while reporting directly to Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Aquarium.

Twisdale has more than 30 years of industry experience and has been responsible for developing and managing multi-million-dollar city and county departmental budgets in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Fluvanna County, and Goochland County. She is well-versed and proficient at adopting and managing local government finances, assessing and reporting financial trends, processing payroll for thousands of staff members, presenting department budgets to city officials, and much more.

As Twisdale joins the Virginia Aquarium executive team as CFO, she returns to work for the City of Virginia Beach, where she previously held the role of Management and Budget Analyst for the City’s Budget & Management Services department, Finance Officer Supervisor for Parks & Recreation and Finance Specialist for the City’s Information Technology department. Furthermore, Twisdale spent the early years of her budding career as an Account Clerk I, II, and II within the Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and the Police department.

“Mary Anna’s impressive background makes her the perfect fit for the Virginia Aquarium. We are thrilled she is joining our team and look forward to the ways in which she will drive revenue growth to further our mission of inspiring the conservation of the marine environment,” shares Executive Director, Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. Be a part of the mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support the programming.

# # #

(Virginia Beach, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center celebrates the retirement of Mark Swingle, Chief of Research & Conservation. Swingle was the very first full-time employee hired by the Director of the Aquarium prior to its opening in 1986 and has advanced his career with the City of Virginia Beach ever since. However, Swingle’s work began in 1982, before the Aquarium opened under its former name, the Virginia Marine Science Museum. Spanning his 40-year career, Swingle's work profoundly impacted marine conservation in the Commonwealth of Virginia and inspired action and change around the world.

Swingle is a conservation and marine biologist dedicated to inspiring stewardship of natural environments to preserve and maintain a healthy and sustainable planet. During his tenure at the Aquarium, he built and evolved the research and conservation division, fostering a small but mighty team of scientists, aquarists, and volunteers. His roles at the Aquarium have included nearly all aspects of working with exhibit design, aquatic animal care, animal acquisitions and quarantine, and marine mammal and sea turtle stranding response. Most recently, Swingle’s responsibilities as Chief of Research & Conservation have revolved around research, marine animal acquisitions, the Stranding Response Program, and advocating for sustainable practices and public policy in support of ocean and freshwater conservation.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the City of Virginia Beach and our community the past 40 years. The opportunity to be part of the creation of the Virginia Aquarium in my hometown has been an amazing experience. I am most proud of the accomplishments of our team to protect wild animals and wild places in support of the Aquarium’s conservation mission,” Swingle shares.

Spanning four decades, Swingle’s professional portfolio and noble achievements are robust. Most recently, Swingle directed the development of the state-of-the-art Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center to carry out the important work of the Aquarium, including the Stranding Response Program. With Swingle at the helm, the stranding team has grown to 8 full-time researchers and scientists and more than 50 volunteers. The stranding team has responded to more than 10,000 marine mammal and sea turtle strandings in over 30 years and has released hundreds of rehabilitated sea turtles back into the ocean. Swingle also played a major role in the creation of the Virginia Aquarium Sensible Seafood Program, which helps local restaurateurs and food vendors select sustainable products and inspire their patrons to do the same. He was instrumental in the Aquarium’s designation as the first Virginia Green Attraction after helping establish the Aquarium’s “Green Team,” which continues to successfully implement sustainable practices onsite. Swingle’s advocacy efforts with state environmental partners recently reached a new milestone as Virginia became the first state in the nation to officially ban the intentional outdoor release of balloons, a campaign in which he was engaged for years. His work on sustainable practices is ongoing as he continues to meet with policymakers regarding legislation on single-use plastics.

As for accomplishments in decades past, Swingle helped design the Aquarium’s first exhibit on Virginia’s sea turtles, which was recognized as the Virginia Conservation Project of the Year by the Virginia Wildlife Federation in 1990. This project also awarded him the Virginia Beach City Manager’s Creativity, Innovation, and Public Service Award. In the past 30 years, Swingle has served on multiple committees and worked with grant-funded projects and state and federal agencies to develop the first conservation plans for sea turtles and marine mammals in Virginia. He has also served as a scientific coordinator and project manager for more than 100 grants and contracts, valued at more than $9 million, made to the Virginia Aquarium Foundation. In 2009, Swingle received the Virginia Beach City Employee of the Year Award from the Virginia Beach Rotary Club.

“Our future is bright because of Mark Swingle. His legacy is cherished and woven into what we do every day at the Virginia Aquarium,” says Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “We are grateful for everything he has done and congratulate him on this well-deserved and commemorative milestone.”

Additionally, Swingle has served on several key committees and boards, including: current Program Leader for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Sea Turtle SAFE Program; member and Chair of the Bycatch Prioritization Committee of the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; member of NOAA Fisheries Bottlenose Dolphin and Large Whale Take Reduction Teams; and past President, board member, and Chair of Stranding Committee for the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. Be a part of the mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support the programming.

# # #

(Virginia Beach, VA) – As of this afternoon, the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team has taken nearly a dozen phone calls for common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) sightings and strandings in the last three days. The dolphins have been seen between Fort Story and up the Bay side of the Eastern Shore, as far north as Harborton and as far south as Fisherman Island. Common dolphins are an offshore species and are not typically found in shallow inshore waters.

Since Sunday, the Aquarium’s Stranding team identified four live common dolphins that stranded in shallow creeks, five dead dolphins that stranded on shore, and a group of approximately ten dolphins moving freely in a shallow creek. The team hoped the live dolphins would navigate back to deeper water on their own. The dolphins’ activity has been monitored and two dolphins re-stranded this morning and the team dispatched to respond.

One dolphin was found with a severe wound on its flank while the other dolphins had no obvious sign of injury or illness. Dolphin necropsies will be conducted by the Virginia Aquarium Response Team to collect samples for information on cause of stranding, and other research studies. Aquarium biologists believe the deaths are from biological causes and not human interactions, however, there is not an obvious cause for the event at this time. This is an ongoing investigation and additional analyses will be conducted over the next several months.

Please report stranded marine mammal and sea turtle sightings immediately to the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response hotline at 757-385-7575 with the exact location. Do not approach stranded animals and keep a safe distance of at least 50 yards from the animal.

The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Program is largely a volunteer-based group supported by the Virginia Aquarium Foundation through donations from the community and grant-making organizations.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

Hop into the Easter spirit with Kinder Joy and egg-citing activities!

(Virginia Beach, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is hosting a two-day EGGstra sweet event filled with chocolate treats and fun for the whole family in partnership with Kinder Joy®. Visit the Aquarium for EGGstravaganza on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3 to enjoy an enlightening egg search featuring the iconic egg-shaped Kinder Joy® treat. Other Easter celebrations include an egg craft and trivia prize wheel. Plus, snap a selfie with our bunny ambassador Sparkles!

“We are thrilled to partner with zoos and aquariums across the country to make their Easter egg hunts even more exciting with the addition of Kinder Joy eggs,” said Felipe Riera Michelotti, Vice President of Marketing Kinder Joy and Seasonal Products at Ferrero. “Just like Kinder Joy, zoos and aquariums are known for creating authentic and connected moments when awe, wonder, and childhood joy are at the center of shared family experiences, and we look forward to connecting with families across the country in a new capacity.”

EGGstravaganza activities are included in general Aquarium admission for timed tickets admitted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 2 and 3. No additional ticketing is required. The event will take place rain or shine; weather permitting, the event will be outside at the Aquarium’s Discovery Garden.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

About Kinder Joy ®

Kinder Joy® is part of the portfolio of brands by Ferrero U.S.A. Inc., the confectionery company known also for Ferrero Rocher®, Tic Tac® and Nutella® The Original Hazelnut Spread®. Kinder Joy® first broke onto the U.S. confectionery scene in 2018, quickly winning over American consumers with its delicious creamy layers, chocolate-covered wafer bites and exciting surprise toy. It has quickly become a beloved treat and toy, earning the title of "2019 Product of the Year" within the Kids Novelty Snack category.

(Virginia Beach, VA) – Mural artists are invited to apply for the opportunity to transform the façade of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center into an inspiring and welcoming backdrop for visitors and passersby. In partnership with the City of Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department, the highly visible mural will bring a sense of arrival for guests, create decorative curb appeal for the Aquarium, and enhance Virginia Beach as a popular tourist destination.

A wide range of submissions is encouraged that celebrate the natural world and Virginia Beach’s local eco- and aquatic history while reflecting the Virginia Aquarium’s mission to inspire the conservation of the marine environment. The selected artist will be commissioned to bring their concept to life on the building’s 2,508-square-foot canvas, spanning approximately 66 feet wide by 38 feet high. All artistic styles are welcome, and the artwork must be designed for safe viewing by vehicular traffic arriving to or traveling by the Aquarium.

A Public Art Selection Committee will be created by the Cultural Affairs Department. The Selection Committee’s duties include the review and feedback of artist concepts based on set criteria and complete applications.

Details on artist eligibility, guidelines, and timeline are available in the application packet.

To Apply:

• Visit the Artist Opportunities section of VBPublicArt.org for details and a link to the application.

• Fill out and submit all required forms by 5 p.m. on April 1, 2022.

• Please email NGoodale@vbgov.com with any questions.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

City of Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department

The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – Out with the old and in with the new as we embrace 2022! It is a great time to recycle old electronics that have stacked up around the house or in storage over the years. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is hosting its bi-annual E-cycling Event to recycle personally owned electronic waste, in partnership with Goodwill and the City of Virginia Beach Waste Management and Police departments. Stop by the Aquarium’s East Parking Lot on Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

There will be an opportunity to recycle three different types of personal products at the event: electronics, household hazardous wastes, and prescription drugs. Goodwill and the Aquarium are spearheading general electronics recycling such as personal computers, cell phones, printers, fax machines, televisions (except for tubes/CRTs), and stereo equipment. The City of Virginia Beach’s Waste Management department will collect household hazardous wastes for proper disposal, such as batteries, automotive fluids, pool chemicals, fertilizers, and light bulbs, and the Virginia Beach Police Department will collect expired or unneeded prescription drugs.

Conducted by volunteers, the Virginia Aquarium has hosted 20 e-cycling events since 2009 that have collectively diverted more than 350 tons or 700,000 pounds of e-waste from the landfill. In 2011, the Aquarium’s e-cycling program won Most Innovative Green Project by Virginia Green.

The event is free to the public, but donations are appreciated and will go to the Aquarium’s Green Team and their efforts promoting sustainable practices. Only personal-use items will be collected at this time.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration, and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation, and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – An eight-month-old male harbor seal named Javier is now the newest mammal resident at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. On Thursday, February 10, Javier was safely transported from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York to the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Javier was moved to the Virginia Aquarium to provide more space for him to mature. As a young seal pup, he boasts curiosity and playful energy and is expected to adjust well to his new surroundings.


Following the Virginia Aquarium’s standard procedure, he is in quarantine, working with the Animal Care team as he acclimates to a new environment, new caregivers, and new behavioral training. “We are excited to welcome Javier to the Virginia Aquarium,” says Michele Sousa, Senior Mammal Curator. “Our team has begun basic behavior training and is working on building a mutual trusting relationship.” Once we achieve these milestones, Javier will join the Aquarium’s three harbor seals, Hector (17 years old), Rudder (7 years old), and Monty (1 year old), in the main outdoor exhibit.


“Our harbor seals are the first to greet guests as they arrive to the Aquarium; they are great ambassadors for the City of Virginia Beach, and they have a large influence on our mission to educate the public about marine life,” says Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, CEO of the Virginia Aquarium. “We are honored to have Javier join us and look forward to the joy he will bring our community.”


Follow Javier’s journey on the Virginia Aquarium’s Facebook and Instagram channels.


The Virginia Aquarium extends a warm thanks to the Long Island Aquarium for their assistance in coordinating a smooth transportation for the seal.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. Visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com for more information.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration, and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation, and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.


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(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) – Hot cocoa and candy canes galore, there will be much for all to explore at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center this holiday season. A six-night event, Holi-Rays decks the halls and transforms the Virginia Aquarium into a merry and bright winter wonderland, taking place Fridays and Saturdays on December 3-4, 10-11, and 17-18 from 6 - 8:30 p.m.

Bring the family and feel the holiday cheer while wandering through the fish-mas trees and playing dreidel by the menorah-ctopus. Meet Santa in his workshop preparing presents with the elves or wave hello as jolly ol’ Saint Nick scuba dives under the sea. Get crafty and decorate an ornament using recycled items, in support of the Aquarium’s ongoing conservation mission. Oh, and be on the lookout for where the elf on the shelf is hidden.

With a gift of $25,000, East Coast Appliance is the exclusive corporate sponsor of the Virginia Aquarium’s after-hours programming, including the Fins & Frights, Holi-Rays and FantaSea events. Online registration and timed tickets are required due to limited capacity. Tickets will not be available at the door. Tickets are $25.95; Members receive a 50% discount. Children two years old and under get in free. A paying adult must accompany children. Parking fees apply.

The Aquarium follows the state’s COVID-19 mandates and prioritizes the safety of its guests and staff. Safety measures and procedures will be in place, including one-way traffic flow through exhibits, enhanced cleaning protocols and mandatory facial coverings for staff. Visit our website for more details.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

# # #

(Virginia Beach, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is back in the classroom teaching marine science to students across the Hampton Roads region. The Aquarium launched its virtual and in-person education programs to schools in Norfolk, Hampton, and Danville which were underwritten by PRA Group, a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans.

A long-time partner, the locally based PRA Group’s $75,000 gift will fund three years of the Aquarium’s education programming. “Our company is committed to giving back to organizations that strengthen the communities in which we live and work,” said Chris Graves, PRA Group’s executive vice president, global investment and analytics officer, and Virginia Aquarium Board of Trustees member. “We are excited to partner with the Aquarium in expanding the breadth of what children are learning in the classroom to include real-world applications, especially as our public schools return to Standard of Learning (SOL) testing this year.”

The Virginia Aquarium will host 250 programs for students in Kindergarten through 7th grade this school year with PRA Group’s gift. Program topics vary and are curated to meet curriculum and SOL requirements for each grade level. For example, Sea Turtle Survivor for first and second grade explores the Aquarium’s Light Tower exhibit and teaches students how to identify sea turtles’ life stages and what it takes to survive in the open ocean; the fifth grade Ocean Zones program reveals the zones of life in the ocean and the adaptations of animals surviving in the deep, dark sea; and Live Animal Encounter at the seventh-grade level focuses on comparing major animal groups such as fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, and amphibians.

Beyond the classroom, PRA Group is the title sponsor of the Virginia Aquarium’s new South Building grand opening and dedication events, with a total of $175,000 pledged to the upgraded facility—expected to open in spring of 2022. The donation to the capital campaign supports the new jellyfish touch pool, exhibiting the lifecycle of jellyfish and allowing guests to feel the belly of moon jellies, a common local species.

“These gifts from PRA Group allow our team to create memorable experiences and advance our facilities for students and guests. Their generosity and steadfast partnership will leave a lasting impact on the Virginia Aquarium, the region, and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” says Suzanne Savage, Chief Development Officer.

Be a part of the Virginia Aquarium’s mission by making a tax-deductible donation. Visit the website for more information.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center announces the retirement of William “Chip” G. Harshaw, Vice President of Animal Care, and Donna J. Ellis, Chief Finance Officer. Respectively for 26 years, Harshaw and Ellis advanced their careers at the Virginia Aquarium and earned department lead positions. Collectively, their expertise and philosophies have become imprinted in the organization and created a lasting impact on the team, exhibits, and animals at the Aquarium, as well as across the community and aquarium industry at large.

As Vice President of Animal Care, Harshaw oversees operations and management of the animal curators and ambassadors. In previous years, he served a variety of roles that expanded his knowledge and prowess, including Exhibits Specialist, Curator, and Senior Curator. During his tenure at the Virginia Aquarium, he played a critical role in the $36 million expansion in 1995. During this time, he was responsible for the creation of the Animal Training and Enrichment Committee to organize and formalize the behavioral training practices and the management of the entire Marsh Pavilion, including all fish aquariums and horticulture operations. More recently, Harshaw contributed to the Aquarium’s receipt of the inaugural Ralf Sommerlad Crocodile Conservation Award by “Croc Fest” in 2015, which acknowledges the commitment to crocodilian husbandry and conservation.

Ellis has been the Chief Finance Officer at the Virginia Aquarium for three years. Prior to this role, she served as Director of Finance – and earlier in her career as Accountant I, II, and III and Aquarium Financial Services Coordinator. Ellis’ diligence and knowledge for streamlining processes and negotiating prices created efficiencies and grew the Aquarium’s budget over time – increasing the City budget by 89% and the Aquarium Foundation budget by 44% since 1995. During her tenure, Ellis negotiated and administered Foundation contracts; provided financial oversight to capital campaigns, renovations, and Federal grant awards; assisted with the implementation of new ticketing systems; and improved the Aquarium Foundation’s fiscal health by establishing cash reserves, capital reserves, and funding depreciation.

“The years of service Donna and Chip dedicated to the Virginia Aquarium will always be treasured. We are honored to have had their expertise for more than two decades. We will miss them greatly but wish them joy and adventure in their retirement,” says Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis.

The Virginia Aquarium team extends their warmest gratitude for their service and wishes them all the best in their future endeavors.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. Be a part of the mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support the programming.

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HALLOWEEN FAMILY FUN & TRICK-OR-TREATING ON OCTOBER 29 & 30

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center brings back the devilishly fun and family-friendly Halloween event. Formerly called Halloween at the Aquarium, Fins & Frights will take place on October 29 and 30 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dress up in a costume and join us for a spook-tacular journey through the Aquarium, hauntingly decked for the occasion. Families are encouraged to bring a reusable trick-or-treat bag to fill with fang-tastic treats.

This year’s ghostly event will feature contactless trick-or-treat stations throughout the exhibits. Plus, guests won’t want to miss our mascots in their favorite costumes, Halloween photo opportunities, a Guest Quest scavenger hunt, and more!

With a gift of $25,000, East Coast Appliance is the exclusive corporate sponsor of the Virginia Aquarium’s after hours programming, including the Fins & Frights, Holi-Rays and FantaSea events. Online registration and timed tickets are required due to limited capacity. Tickets are $25.95; Members receive a 50% discount. A paying adult must accompany children. Children two years old and under get in free. Tickets will not be available at the door. Parking fees apply.

The Aquarium follows the state’s COVID-19 mandates and prioritizes the safety of its guests and staff. Safety measures and procedures will be in place, including one-way traffic flow through exhibits, enhanced cleaning protocols and mandatory facial coverings for staff. Visit our website for more details.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our programming.

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(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium’s annual Night at the Aquarium fundraising event raised more than $143,000 this year through event sponsorships and auction proceeds, netting approximately $113,000 after expenses. The net exceeds the Aquarium’s prior record of $105,000, which occurred amid the pandemic last year. Sponsored by Capital Group, the online auction took place August 16-28 and featured Aquarium and local attraction experiences, artwork, one-of-a-kind items, exotic travel opportunities, and more!

Over 400 supporters registered to participate in the virtual auction, placing 732 bids on approximately 100 items. The winning bids ranged from $75 for a painting of a Mahi on Live Edge Wood to $925 to Experience Sea Turtle physicals firsthand, to more than $3,000 for a weeklong trip through Diamond Resorts. The online auction allowed the annual event to safely reach a vastly broader audience this year with supporters participating from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, all the way to California. Additionally, generous corporate partners, including Capital Group, Checkered Flag, MEB, Optima Health, TowneBank, Virginia Natural Gas, and many others sponsored the event.

All proceeds will be used to care for thousands of animals, provide educational offerings to visitors, offer outreach programs to local schools, conduct research and conservation activities, and operate our nationally-recognized Stranding Response Program.

“Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to this year’s event. You helped us reach our biggest fundraising milestone which will contribute to advancing our on-site care and conservation efforts as well as enhance our guest experiences,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, the Virginia Aquarium’s Executive Director.

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The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium’s exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration, and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation, and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium’s mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission by making a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

(Virginia Beach, VA) The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has welcomed a new juvenile male harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) to our home. Just over a year old, the seal was previously in rehabilitation at the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) in Buzzards Bay, MA.

This young seal was rescued a total of three times in his short life. He was initially admitted to NMLC on May 27, 2020 after a well-meaning citizen collected him out of the water. After months of rehabilitation, he was released on September 2, 2020. Sadly, he was unable to thrive on his own and was readmitted to NMLC September 12, 2020 after several interactions with humans and dogs. A few weeks later, on October 15, 2020, he was again released. After nine days of monitoring, he was discovered to have become entangled in fishing gear. The International Fund for Animal Welfare's veterinarian removed the lure in the field and cleaned and rinsed the wound. The seal was again admitted to NMLC on October 24, 2020. Since he has habituated to being around humans, and not able to thrive on his own, he has been deemed non-releasable.

On Friday, June 11, our friends at Turtles Fly Too, along with staff from the NMLC transported the seal to Norfolk, where Aquarium staff safely transported him to the Virginia Aquarium.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for a young, stranded seal to begin a new life,” said William “Chip” Harshaw, Vice-President of Animal Care. “I am also hopeful that we can use his story to illustrate the importance of maintaining a safe distance from marine mammals along our beaches and shorelines.”

The seal will begin in quarantine away from the Aquarium’s iconic seals, Hector and Rudder. This quarantine is for the health and safety of Hector, Rudder, this seal, and our staff, and is a standard procedure when introducing a new animal to the Virginia Aquarium.

The Aquarium animal care team will also begin behavior training with our new seal. A crucial component of this training will be giving him a name. Later this week, the Aquarium will open a Naming Auction for the new seal, where participants can bid for the opportunity to name the newest member of our marine mammal family. The auction will run from June 15 through June 25, 2021.

The Aquarium team is grateful to our partners at Marine Mammals of Maine, the International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue, the National Marine Life Center, Turtles Fly Too, and their pilot Richard for helping with this transport. As the seal acclimates to the Virginia Aquarium we’ll continue to share updates on his progress on our website, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you see a seal, sea turtle, dolphin, or whale on a beach, call the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team’s 24-hour hotline at (757) 385-7575. The public is reminded of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a federal conservation law, that requires members of the public remain at least 50 feet away from marine mammals, including seals resting on our beaches. Pets should always be leashed when wild animals are near to prevent injury, reduce the likelihood of bites, and reduce the spread of disease. Seals are wild animals that can injure or spread disease to pets and humans.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

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​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium is pleased to announce that Matt Schneider has joined the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center as the Vice President of Marketing.

Schneider was previously the Creative Director for Regent University. He has also held the role of Director of Marketing for Smartmouth Brewing Co., and worked for the Meridian Group, progressing from Production Manager to Art Director to Creative Director. Schneider is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

"Matt's experience with developing and implementing creative, tailored marketing content is impressive," said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. "I am confident that with his experience and his leadership, the Virginia Aquarium brand will thrive. I am thrilled to have him join our team."

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – Thanks to the generosity of T-Mobile, the Virginia Aquarium will provide the Sea Turtle Survivor virtual program to 2,800 third-grade students in the Chesapeake Public Schools beginning April 15, 2021. This live, virtual program will provide an up-close view of unique sea turtle biofacts and the sea turtles in the Aquarium’s exhibit. Students will learn about a sea turtle’s anatomy, life history, and conservation concerns. In addition to the live, virtual program, each of Chesapeake Public Schools’ twenty elementary schools will receive the corresponding lesson plans teachers can use after Sea Turtle Survivor to build on concepts about human impact on sea turtles and solutions to help protect these vital species.

“We are excited to partner with T-Mobile to offer this unique and valued STEM educational program to students who are not able to visit the Aquarium due to current COVID-19 restrictions,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, CEO of the Virginia Aquarium. “Support like this enables the Aquarium to fulfill our mission to inspire the conservation of the marine environment. Donations and grants help us offer education programs to our guests, facilitate outreach programs to students, provide care for thousands of animals, and conduct research programs such as our nationally recognized Stranding Response Program.”

​(Virginia Beach, VA) He was a very vocal seal with a loud, beautiful bark. He was our most laid-back seal, who loved relaxing on the rocks and gliding through the water. His sweet personality will be missed at the Virginia Aquarium, as staff mourns the loss of Piper, our 29-year-old harbor seal (Phoca vitulina).


Staff and guests loved Piper, whose speckled side and belly made him easily recognizable. He was a favorite of our marine mammal trainers and often made them and our guests smile with his loud bark and swirly paintings. Often, Piper made his presence known by splashing guests as they strolled by the seal habitat.
Piper was born May 30, 1991, at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. He came to the Virginia Aquarium on August 30, 1996, with his four brothers when the Mystic Aquarium underwent a major renovation. Of those original five, Piper was the last of the brothers still at the Virginia Aquarium.
“At 29 years old, Piper has lived beyond the typical life expectancy of harbor seals,” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “Typical lifespan estimates for harbor seals are about 20 to 25 years in the open ocean, or about 30 years in human care. For Piper to have thrived for almost 30 years is truly a testament to the incredible level of care that our team provides daily.
“This news is devasting, especially for our mammal team and our veterinary staff. They work tirelessly to provide outstanding care for our animals, and I know they appreciate your support and understanding during this difficult time. We will all miss Piper.”
Over the past several weeks, our animal care team observed signs that Piper’s health was slowly declining. We monitored Piper continuously and provided medical support to ensure his comfort. Although he appeared to improve over the past few days, Piper passed away peacefully this morning. Images of Piper are available at:

https://virginiaaquarium.imagerelay.com/sb/236c4055-238b-4d24-a298-4e2fc3cd799a/piper .

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – For a limited time, active duty military members and their families are eligible for free admission to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center through the Snyder Military Appreciation Program, sponsored by Checkered Flag Auto Group, the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia, and the Virginia Aquarium.
The Snyder Military Appreciation Program was conceived and underwritten by Ed Snyder, the late founder of Checkered Flag Auto Group. The USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia will provide active duty military details on how to secure one of 2,666 tickets for free entry to the Virginia Aquarium to visit between February 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021. Once the 2,666 tickets have been issued, this year’s offer will end.
Snyder was a founding member of the Virginia Aquarium. He donated $2 million to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation (HRCF) to create an endowment to provide this free admission to the Virginia Aquarium for military families. “Dad served in the Air Force and understood how this would enrich the lives of military families on tight budgets,” said Steve Snyder. “Checkered Flag has funded the free admission over the last few years and letters of thanks from the military community leave no doubt that it is very much appreciated.”
Karen Licari, Center Operations and Programs Manager of the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia stated, "Local supporters like Ed Snyder and the Virginia Aquarium are essential to the USO mission. Over the years, local military families appreciated the chance to spend time together at the Aquarium through the Snyder Military Appreciation Program. For many of those families, it was their last outing together before their active duty family member deployed."
“Passionate leaders like Ed Snyder are essential to both our community and the Virginia Aquarium,” expressed Cynthia Spanoulis, President and CEO of the Virginia Aquarium. “We are so very thankful that Steve Snyder, like his father, continues to honor our military members by providing them a way to enjoy quality time with their families at the Virginia Aquarium. The Snyder Military Appreciation Program is a wonderful partnership for our community.”
About Checkered Flag Auto GroupCheckered Flag Auto Group has been providing drivers in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News and Hampton with first-rate vehicles and services since 1964. More than fifty years later, they’ve expanded to 11 dealerships in the area offering some of the nation’s top automotive brands, including Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Genesis, Volkswagen, Audi, MINI, BMW, Porsche, Land Rover and Jaguar. www.CheckeredFlag.com
About the USO of Hampton Roads and Central VirginiaThe USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USOHRCV is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment are made possible by local Virginians, support of our corporate partners, local organizations, local board members, and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join our mission, or for more information, visit www.hrcv.uso.org

About the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science CenterThe Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, boat rides and special events, call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.
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​VIRGINIA AQUARIUM VIRTUAL AUCTION A SUCCESS

THANK YOU FOR HELPING RAISE OVER $100,000 FOR EXCEPTIONAL ANIMAL CARE & CONSERVATION WORK

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium's annual Night at the Aquarium fundraising event sponsored by Capital Group went virtual this year for the safety of our guests and staff. Through event sponsorships and auction proceeds, the event raised more than $150,000 with the net after expenses totaling approximately $105,000. The net significantly exceeds the prior highest net of $89,551 in 2014-15.

Generous corporate partners sponsored the event, including Capital Group, Fain Family Fund, Checkered Flag Motor Company, MEB General Contractors, OptimaHealth, Virginia Natural Gas, and others.

The online auction ran from September 21 through October 3 featuring exciting Aquarium and local attraction experiences, summer camps, artwork, wine tours, one-of-a-kind items, and even a 2020 Toyota Yaris! The 2020 Toyota Yaris was generously provided by Checkered Flag. "The Virginia Aquarium is a wonderful asset to our community for the residents that live here and visitors to our area, and our Checkered Flag family greatly values all that the Aquarium offers. We were pleased to support the auction fundraiser with the donation of a sporty new Toyota Yaris," said Steve Snyder, President of Checkered Flag Automotive Dealerships.

More than 400 supporters registered to participate in the auction, bidding for approximately 100 items. The winning bids ranged from $60 for bags of compost to $2,025 for Lunch with Our Veterinarian to $13,250 for the 2020 Toyota Yaris. The online auction allowed the annual Night at the Aquarium fundraising event to reach a vastly broader audience this year with supporters participating from Virginia Beach to Chicago to New York.

All event proceeds will be used to help care for thousands of animals, provide educational offerings to visitors, offer outreach programs to schools, conduct research and conservation activities, and operate our nationally-recognized Stranding Response Program. "Thanks to everyone who supported us during our annual, premier fundraiser. Gifts and bids help the Virginia Aquarium animals, our marine life research, and the Virginia Beach community," stated Aquarium Executive Director, Cynthia Spanoulis.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming. ###

​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center will have a modified Halloween event this year due to the pandemic. Families are encouraged to bring a reusable trick-or-treat bag and come dressed in their Halloween best for not-so-spooky family fun. The Halloween event will take place at the Aquarium on October 30 and 31. This year's ghostly event will host over 12 contactless trick-or-treat stations throughout the aquarium exhibits, in a safe and fun new way. Plus, guests won't want to miss our mascots in their favorite costumes, fun Halloween photo opportunities, a spook-tacular Guest Quest scavenger hunt, and more!

Visit our website for more details – Halloween at the Virginia AquariumOnline registration and timed tickets are required due to limited capacity. Tickets will not be available at the door. A paying adult must accompany children. Children 2 and under are free. Facial coverings are required for guests 10+. Halloween costume masks do not qualify as facial coverings.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium's annual Night at the Aquarium fundraising event is going virtual this year for the safety of our guests and staff. Join the Aquarium September 21 through October 3 for an online auction featuring exciting Aquarium and local attraction experiences, summer camps, artwork, wine tours, one-of-a-kind items and even a 2020 Toyota Yaris! We extend a special thank you to all our sponsors, including our title sponsor Capital Group.

All event proceeds will be used to help care for thousands of animals, provide educational offerings to visitors, offer outreach programs to schools, conduct research and conservation activities, and operate our nationally-recognized Stranding Response Program. "Thank you for supporting us during our annual, premier fundraiser. Your gifts and bids will help the Virginia Aquarium animals, our marine life research, and the Virginia Beach community", stated Aquarium Executive Director Cynthia Spanoulis.

Even during global pandemic hardships, local businesses, organizations, guests and Virginia Beach residents have rallied together to provide gifts and experiences to support the Virginia Aquarium with this fundraiser. Chairman of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation Board of Trustees, Sal DaBiero added, "We need your help now more than ever. Being closed for three months and now operating only at 50% capacity has had a devastating impact on our ability to further our mission to inspire conservation of the marine environment. We appreciate all of the generous gifts to this special virtual event and encourage guests to continue to visit and contribute to our online auction. These packages and experiences truly are one of a kind."

An exciting high-value item this year includes a 2020 Toyota Yaris-Hatchback LE, generously provided by Checkered Flag and valued at over $18,000. "The Virginia Aquarium is a wonderful asset to our community for the residents that live here and visitors to our area, and our Checkered Flag family greatly values all that the Aquarium offers. We are pleased to support the auction fundraiser with the donation of a sporty new Toyota Yaris that we hope will bring high bids," said Steve Snyder, President of Checkered Flag Automotive Dealerships.

Anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone can participate in this year's virtual auction, from the comfort of home. Simply click here to support the Aquarium and bid on these incredible auction items. Bidders can choose from over 100 different items. Bidding will open September 21 at 12 p.m. and will close October 3 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information on this Virtual Auction – Night at the Aquarium sponsored by Capital Group, and how to make a gift, visit virginiaaquarium.com. Those wishing to help via traditional mail can send a donation of any amount to Virginia Aquarium Foundation, 717 General Booth Blvd., Suite 10, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

Link to Virtual Auction video - https://youtu.be/9LNpjQCOLpk

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium. The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium's exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium's mission-related education programs. You can be a part of our mission: make a tax-deductible donation to support our incredible programming.

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium is saddened to announce that the newborn spotted eagle ray pup has passed away despite emergency medical intervention and the best efforts of our highly trained staff. The animal, one born in only ten Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)-accredited facilities worldwide, declined rapidly late Wednesday. Despite lifesaving efforts, staff was unable to revive it.

“This week we had been providing the spotted eagle ray pup with some nutritional support, which is not uncommon if a pup does not eat vigorously on its own initially. We were pleased with its progress but unfortunately its condition declined rapidly on Wednesday,” said Dr. Allyson McNaughton, veterinarian for the Virginia Aquarium. “The initial necropsy did not demonstrate a definitive cause. We did collect several diagnostic samples, so we are hopeful that those may provide additional information.”

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium is proud to welcome a newborn spotted eagle ray. The ray, born on Monday, July 20, 2020, marks a major milestone for the Aquarium and for zoos and aquariums worldwide. Prior to this birth, spotted eagle ray pups have been born at only nine other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions around the world.

The newborn pup was born to mother Sadana. The sex of the pup and a naming contest will be announced in the coming weeks.Newborn spotted eagle rays do not require parental care and are self-sufficient at birth. Currently, the pup is in an off-exhibit quarantine area while staff continue to closely monitor the diet, behavior, and welfare of the newborn animal. Our veterinary and animal care teams are providing the pup with additional nutritional support as it gets better at eating on its own. Sadana also passed a nonviable pup shortly before the live pup. It is not uncommon for sharks and rays to be pregnant with multiple pups but have fewer remain viable through birth. Spotted eagle ray reproduction is exceedingly rare, and the typical gestation period can be from six to 13 months, so the Aquarium team collaborated with other facilities for advice from the beginning. Spotted eagle rays are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are included in a Species Survival Plan through AZA.

We do not have immediate plans for moving the animal into the larger exhibit but will share updates and videos on our social channels as milestones are met.
The Virginia Aquarium is open to the public. More information about the new procedures, including a welcome back and frequently asked questions page, can be found on the Virginia Aquarium’s website: https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/visit/Pages/WelcomeBack.aspx

Even during these trying times, the Virginia Aquarium continues to care for our animals and perform important research like the birth of this spotted eagle ray pup. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted the Aquarium Fund immeasurably. Please consider supporting our mission and operations by giving to the Aquarium Fund here.

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, in compliance with the phased opening plan set forth by the Governor of Virginia and consultation with City of Virginia Beach leadership, will take the first steps to welcome guests back starting June 19, 2020. New safety measures have been developed to keep guests, staff, volunteers, and animals safe, including:

  • Requiring online reservations to create a touch-free payment process
  • Limiting capacity with timed tickets, both for members and general admission
  • Guests 10 and older, staff, and volunteers required to wear face coverings, in accordance with the Virginia Governor's Executive Order 63
  • Creating one-way paths throughout the Aquarium
  • Installing signage to demonstrate social distancing throughout the Aquarium
  • Providing additional hand sanitizing stations around the Aquarium
  • Increasing sanitation procedures for high-contact surfaces in the Aquarium
  • Not accepting reservations between 1 to 2 p.m. each day for staff to conduct additional thorough cleaning and sanitization
  • Complying with all state and local regulations concerning COVID-19

"We are excited to begin reopening to guests and members, and we are pleased to implement these new policies to help protect our guests, members, staff, volunteers, and animals. Their safety is paramount, and these procedures will ensure that their only focus during a visit to the Aquarium is to enjoy themselves," said Cynthia Spanoulis, President and CEO of the Virginia Aquarium. "We are proud to be a continuing community resource and pillar of marine science, even during our closure, and we appreciate all of the support from our friends."

Other temporary changes during our wave one of opening will include closing the café and snack stand; not offering special programs, behind-the-scenes tours, and scheduled feeding presentations; and not hosting private events, summer camps, or school programs. Additionally, the Virginia Aquarium Giant Screen Theater will be closed.

The Virginia Aquarium officially opens to the public on Monday, June 19, 2020. More information about the new procedures, including a welcome back and frequently asked questions page, can be found on the Virginia Aquarium's website https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/visit/Pages/WelcomeBack.aspx.

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – To celebrate the Virginia Aquarium's 34th anniversary on June 14, and World Sea Turtle Day on June 16, the Virginia Aquarium will host its first-ever virtual 5K: the Virginia Aquarium Turtle Trot presented by New Realm Brewing Company. Proceeds from the event will support the Virginia Aquarium's mission-based programming, including educational offerings, animal care, and the Stranding Response Program.

The first 100 participants will receive a medal and participants 21 years or older will receive one free New Realm Brewing beverage ticket, to be redeemed at New Realm Brewing through July 16, 2020 for dine-in only. Participants under 21 years old will receive a coupon for $5 off a purchase at New Realm Brewing.

Registration is $34 per participant, and runners are encouraged to complete the 5K any time from June 14-16, documenting their miles using #VAQTurtleTrot and @VAAquarium on social platforms. Registration is available here.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

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(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The Virginia Aquarium announced that Natalie Sims has joined their leadership team as the Vice President of Marketing. In this role, she will lead all aspects of marketing and public relations.

A native of Suffolk, VA, Sims has extensive experience in the tourism and attractions industry, most recently as the Marketing Senior Leader for SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Sesame Place, San Diego, CA. Prior to that, she held a variety of positions within SeaWorld, including Social Content Leader for SeaWorld Orlando and the Marketing Director for Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Sims holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Virginia Tech.

“I am so excited to have Natalie on our leadership team. Her understanding of the attractions and tourism industry will help the Virginia Aquarium implement our strategic goals, including our future expansion,” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “The combination of Natalie’s creativity, passion for animals, and focus on conservation will be an asset for our organization.”

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.###

​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – In the wake of an unprecedented time in our shared history, the Virginia Aquarium has temporarily closed its doors to guests. We are closed, but still caring: for our animals, for our staff, for our community, and for our mission. This means a change in how we operate and what we offer to our guests.

The good news is that we have more community resources available than ever before on our website. Interested teachers, parents, and students can find that here: https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/visit/Pages/Community-Resources.aspx From videos to virtual lessons, including supplemental materials, we have options sorted by every grade and age, including fun for families. Resources continue to be added, so please check back often.

The difficult news is with our closure, we currently have no source of revenue to offset our animal care expenses. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN: 52-1272309), we rely on ticket sales, Aquarium visits, memberships, education program fees, and gifts to operate. Being closed has a detrimental impact on our overall operating budget.

Your support is critical now more than ever. Gifts may be made online at https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/give/Pages/Closed-Caring.aspx or by calling the Virginia Aquarium Development Office at 757-385-0260.

There are challenges ahead of us, but we will persevere. We are closed, but still caring: for our animals, for our staff, for our community, and for our mission.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

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​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – Bottle caps and balloons are the most frequently found litter items on Virginia’s beaches according to a new report by the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Over four years, Aquarium researchers and trained volunteers conducted monthly surveys of four beaches: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Grandview Nature Preserve. The Aquarium then worked closely with Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University to analyze the mountain of collected data.

“The results were stunning,” said Laura McKay of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program which funded the research through grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “On these relatively inaccessible beaches, over 15,000 debris items were found in the four small survey areas that ranged from .2 to .4 acres,” she said.

The study sought to understand the scope of the marine debris problem in coastal Virginia by identifying hotspots of debris accumulation and understanding the products and material types that are most frequently found on beaches.

“Through careful and regular monitoring and analysis of data about the human-made debris on beaches, we were able to reveal temporal and spatial trends,” said Mark Swingle, Chief of Research & Conservation for the Virginia Aquarium. “Policy makers and local communities can use the data in our report to craft effective policies and campaigns that will reduce the amount of litter entering our waterways…and the ocean,” he continued.

Over the four years of monitoring, a total of 15,276 pieces of debris were documented, of which the vast majority (83.0%) were made of plastic. Uninhabited Fisherman Island accounted for 55.5% of the total debris items – more than the other three sites combined.

Christina Trapani, who led 206 of the 207 surveys over the four year period commented, “Balloons were the second most common type of litter we found on the beaches overall, surpassed only by bottle caps. Balloon debris is of special concern because of its potentially severe impact on seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals.” A 2018 report by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University found that balloon-related litter was the #1 type of debris on Virginia’s remote barrier islands.

Bottles caps topped the list at Back Bay and Fisherman; balloons at Chincoteague and building materials at Grandview. Cigarettes, food wrappers, bottles, bags and plastic rope were also high on the list.

“This research will certainly improve our understanding of the marine debris issue in the region. It is also a great example of how citizen scientists contribute to solutions to the problems facing our oceans,” said Christy Kehoe, from NOAA’s marine debris program which provided the protocol that was followed during the surveys. Volunteers contributed more than 2,135 hours during the project.

“Human-made debris in the world’s rivers, coastal waters and oceans is a fast-growing threat that is increasingly recognized as requiring urgent action,” said Katie Register of Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University, co-author of the report. “Marine debris has been shown to impact marine animals from the smallest zooplankton to the largest species – including whales. It also has negative impacts on critical habitat. In addition to ecosystem threats, larger marine debris items can impede navigation and this form of pollution has economic and societal costs.”

The complete report is available for download here: https://www.virginiaaquarium.c...

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The City of Virginia Beach Department of the Virginia Aquarium is pleased to announce that Caryl Thompson has been named the Chief Operating Officer. Thompson began the position on November 6.

Thompson was previously the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. She joined the Virginia Aquarium team in February 2016, but has been with the City of Virginia Beach since 1992. Thompson previously worked in the Parks and Recreation Department in several capacities through her years of service.

“Caryl is a proven leader,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Aquarium. “She has strong technical skills and great business insights, with the ability to understand and further our mission. I have worked closely with Caryl over the past few years, and I have seen her skills in action. Our senior leadership team has never been stronger.”

Thompson has a distinguished background, including serving on several key City of Virginia Beach cross-functional teams, leading key training opportunities for departmental leadership, and leading Aquarium team initiatives. Thompson was a 2016 recipient of the City of Virginia Beach Employee Hall of Fame Award, and the City Manager’s Creativity, Innovation & Public Service Award in 1997, 1999, and 2001.

Thompson is a graduate of the George Washington University with a Master of Arts in Human Resource Development- Organizational Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.###

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The City of Virginia Beach Department of Aquarium, Historic Houses, and Museums is pleased to announce that Suzanne Savage has been named the Chief Development Officer. Savage began the position on April 1.

Savage was previously the Associate Vice President for Advancement and Board Relations at Virginia Wesleyan University. She joined Virginia Wesleyan in 2004, and was responsible for two successful capital campaigns during her tenure. Additionally, Savage oversaw fundraising related to science, technology and sustainability needs. During her tenure, Virginia Wesleyan was named Outstanding Nonprofit in Fundraising in 2018 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Hampton Roads Chapter.

Prior to her time at Virginia Wesleyan University, Savage worked as the Director of Development for the Savannah College of Art and Design, Executive Director of Development for Christopher Newport University, Associate Director of Development for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Director of Development for the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, and Annual Fund Manager for the Virginia Opera.

Savage graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Virginia Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. It is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

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(Virginia Beach, VA) One of the Virginia Aquarium's most popular events, Mermaid Mondays, returns tonight! Continuing on Monday evenings through April 29, this 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. series has something for every mermaid lover, and guests are invited to explore the entire Aquarium during the event.

The mermaids return with all of their friends for special encounters all over the Main Building. In addition, King Neptune will greet guests and activities will be spread throughout the Main Building.

​Guests will also be able to visit with a mermaid at the Ray Touch Pool, Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, and at the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium. This year's event also includes a mermaid puppet show, live musical performances, and other activities. Don't forget your camera- there are photo opportunities all over!

Reservations for this limited engagement are required. Tickets are $22.95 for Aquarium members and $32.95 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at https://tickets.virginiaaquarium.com/shows/mermaid%20mondays/events or by calling Guest Services at (757) 385-FISH (3474) with a credit card reservation. To enable full viewing of the mermaids by guests, strollers are discouraged for this event.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is conservation through education. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special events, call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.

(Virginia Beach, VA) On World Autism Awareness Day, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is proud to announce a new partnership with KultureCity, an organization dedicated to helping businesses become more inclusive of guests with sensory processing disorders.

As part of this new partnership, the Virginia Aquarium has been certified as Sensory Inclusive by KultureCity. This certification included staff training on sensory processing disorders and the best ways to help guests with them, creation of a social story to prepare guests with sensory processing disorders prior to their visit, creation of quiet zones, and acquisition of on-site resources, such as noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, and feelings thermometers, for guests feeling overwhelmed. These on-site resources are included in bags guests may check out upon their arrival. Learn more about the bags and how to check them out at the Aquarium’s website.

"At the Aquarium, we recognize the importance of finding ways to inspire all of our guests so they, too, can learn about, appreciate, and protect our marine environment,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “The certification by KultureCity is an important first step to engaging all of our audiences, and we are proud to be a Sensory Inclusive facility.”

The Sensory Inclusive certification is in addition to the Aquarium’s inclusionary programming, Special Needs Under the Sea. This before- and after-hours event allows guests with special needs to visit the Aquarium in a calm, comfortable environment. Sounds are turned off, lights are dimmed, and crowds are reduced to ensure a positive experience for all. To learn more about the Special Needs Under the Sea events, please visit the Aquarium’s website.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is conservation through education. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard , just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special events, call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.###

(Virginia Beach, VA) With an operating budget of roughly $14 million, the Aquarium supports more than $257 million in annual economic activity in Virginia Beach and over $276 million across the state of Virginia, according to a Sage Policy Group, Inc. presentation to the Virginia Beach City Council today. The Virginia Aquarium’s leadership team shared the results of an economic impact study completed by Sage Policy Group, Inc. during both the peak and off peak season.

Other key findings from the economic impact study include:

  • The Aquarium supports more than 3,250 jobs in Virginia Beach once multiplier effects are considered;
  • In fiscal year 2018, the Aquarium generated enough City tax revenue to conceptually pay the salary for nearly 180 additional teachers or firefighters and 185 additional police officers;
  • City of Virginia Beach tax revenues increase by $12 for every one visitor to the Virginia Aquarium via indirect and induced impacts;

“This economic impact study shows that, without question, the Aquarium is one of the top economic drivers for the City of Virginia Beach, and the importance of reinvesting in our current operations will only pay dividends well into the future,” said Cynthia Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “We are thankful to Sage Policy Group for their research and compiling data that reinforces our importance in the City of Virginia Beach, the Hampton Roads region, and the state of Virginia.”

The survey was conducted by Christopher Newport University and administered during peak and off peak seasons. Survey questions included whether the Aquarium was the guests’ primary reason for visiting the area, how many days they intended to stay in the area, and how much they intended to spend in the area.
Sage Policy Group, Inc. is an economic and policy consulting firm based on Baltimore that serves clients in more than 40 states and in seven countries. The firm has authored economic impact analyses on behalf of communities across the United States, for Fortune 500 Companies, and for organizations like the National Aquarium.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is conservation through education. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard , just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special events, call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.###

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) As air and water temperatures drop for the winter, the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program is preparing to respond to cold-stunned sea turtles. We have already responded to eight strandings this season, but Virginia has seen up to ten rehabilitation admits in a single season. The patients currently being rehabilitated are:

  • "Nandua," a loggerhead sea turtle recovered on November 11 from the resort area in Virginia Beach;
  • "Birdneck," a loggerhead sea turtle recovered on November 13 from Buckroe Beach in Hampton;
  • "Trantwood," a loggerhead sea turtle recovered on November 15 from Chick's Beach;
  • "Creeds," a loggerhead sea turtle recovered on November 16 from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge;
  • "Kellam," a loggerhead sea turtle recovered on November 17 from Little Creek in Norfolk;

Sea turtles exposed to water temperatures below 50 degrees can become lethargic and drift on top of the water or wash ashore, often mistakenly thought to be dead. These cold-stunned turtles are vulnerable to predators, accidental boat strikes, and even death due to prolonged exposure to extended periods of cold weather.

To prevent future losses of these endangered animals, the Stranding Response Team is asking all citizens to be watchful and to call the 24-hour hotline (757) 385-7575 if they see any sea turtle in the region, regardless of its apparent condition. Although citizens should avoid trying to handle or warm up such turtles, video and photographs can be critical for the health assessment.​

(Virginia Beach, VA) The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is proud to present a striking new license plate featuring an image of an endangered loggerhead sea turtle and the phrase “Protect Sea Life,” beginning today. Proceeds from the sale of the plate help support the Virginia Aquarium’s conservation and research programs, including our state-wide marine animal Stranding Response Program. The Stranding Response Program recovers and provides medical care and rehabilitation for stranded marine mammals and sea turtles throughout the state of Virginia.

“This license plate enables drivers to show the world that they support conservation of the marine environment and the incredible ecological diversity within it,” said Virginia Aquarium Director of Research and Conservation Mark Swingle. “It is an exciting opportunity to generate much-needed funds for the important work that our team conducts every day.”

The new design requires 450 pre-sold plates before it can be approved by the Virginia General Assembly, and only costs $25 for a non-vanity plate or $35 for a vanity plate.To preorder the license plate, download the form from the Aquarium’s website at https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/donate/Pages/License-Plate.aspx. There are three ways to return the completed form to our team for processing:

  • Email it to our team at accounting@virginiaaquarium.com and we will send you the link to process your online payment.
  • Return the completed form in person to our Guest Services Office, located to the right of the ticket counter, and we can accept payment on-site.
  • Mail the completed form and payment to us at:
    • Virginia Aquarium
      ATTN: Accounting
      717 General Booth Blvd.
      Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Forms will also be available at the Virginia Aquarium Guest Services Office and can be completed on-site and turned in. Please note that the digital copy of the form displays best in Internet Explorer, and can fail to load in other internet browsers.

For online payments, the name on the credit card or account created must match the name on the vehicle registration.

The Virginia Aquarium Foundation is a 501 (c) 3, nonprofit. The purpose of the Foundation is to support the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in its mission to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. Founded in 1981, the Foundation is dedicated to the success of the Aquarium which opened its doors to the public in 1986. 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, animals and habitats, but it has expanded to include funding of education programs, and research and conservation efforts such as the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response and Sensible Seafood™ programs.###

(Virginia Beach, VA) He loved to bark on cue, and had a loud, beautiful voice that sounded just like a dog! He was not a picky eater, and he was adept at removing fish placed on special disk-shaped sleds that float on the water. His sweet personality will be missed at the Virginia Aquarium, as staff mourns the loss of Peter, our 32 year old Atlantic harbor seal (Phoca vitulina).

Staff and guests loved Peter, whose speckled side and belly made him easily recognizable. He was a favorite of our marine mammal trainers, and often made his trainers and guests laugh with silly antics.

Peter was born May 1986 at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. He came to the Virginia Aquarium on August 30, 1996 with his four brothers, when the Mystic Aquarium underwent a major renovation. Of those original four, Piper, age 27, is still with the Aquarium.

“At 32 years old, Peter has lived a long life (for a seal),” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “Typical lifespan estimates for harbor seals are about 20 to 25 years in the open ocean, or about 30 years in human care. For Peter to have thrived for 32 years is truly a testament to the incredible level of care that our team provides daily.

“The news of Peter’s death is very hard to share, especially for our mammal team and our veterinary care team. They are consummate professionals and are doing a wonderful job and I know they appreciate your support and understanding during this difficult time.”

Over the past few months, the Virginia Aquarium veterinary team observed signs that Peter’s condition slowly, consistently declined. Although Peter improved from an acute illness over the summer, he continued to lose weight, and his appetite level did not rebounded consistently. These signs were consistent with a change in kidney function, and our team recognized that Peter’s quality of life was declining rapidly. He was euthanized this morning, surrounded by the Virginia Aquarium’s veterinary team and his trainers.

The Virginia Aquarium Foundation is a 501 (c) 3, nonprofit. The purpose of the Foundation is to support the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in its mission to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. Founded in 1981, the Foundation is dedicated to the success of the Aquarium which opened its doors to the public in 1986. 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, animals and habitats, but it has expanded to include funding of education programs, and research and conservation efforts such as the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response and Sensible Seafood™ programs.

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(Virginia Beach, Va.) The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Stranding Response Program will release four rehabilitated sea turtles on Wednesday, June 20 at 9 a.m. along the shore behind Neptune’s Park at 31st Street. The four turtles to be released include two of the most common species to Virginia’s coastal waters: Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles. This release will also feature Green Apple, who is both the season’s first return patient and the first hooked loggerhead patient of 2018.

The sea turtles to be released are:​

  • Green Apple, a loggerhead sea turtle, who was originally hooked at Ocean View Fishing Pier on August 9, 2017 and was released on October 12, 2017, at Croatan Beach. Green Apple made a return appearance at Ocean View Fishing Pier on June 13, 2018 after being hooked by another recreational angler. Green Apple will have a satellite tag affixed to study habitual feeding at piers with tracks uploaded to seaturtle.org
  • Dahlia, a loggerhead sea turtle, was hooked on June 16, 2018 at Buckroe Fishing Pier and admitted to the Virginia Aquarium Marine Animal Care Center. Dahlia was hooked in the shoulder and the hook was removed quickly, facilitating a speedy return to the ocean.
  • Snapdragon, a juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was hooked by a recreational angler at Ocean View Fishing Pier on June 13, 2018. Snapdragon will be outfitted with an acoustic tag.
  • Rose, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was hooked by a recreational angler on May 25, 2018 at Buckroe Fishing Pier. Rose will also be outfitted with an acoustic tag.

The Stranding Response Team urges anyone who sees a stranded, entangled or hooked turtle to call the 24-hour hotline (757) 385-7575. If you do hook a turtle and cannot immediately contact the Stranding Center for advice, bring it up onto the pier or boat using a net; do not attempt to remove the hook yourself. If you must cut the line, leave 2 feet attached. Keep the turtle contained in a quiet, shaded area until Stranding Response Team members arrive.

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program is primarily funded by grants and donations, and is in critical need of financial support. To help, please visit https://membership.virginiaaquarium.com/donatestrandingteam.

(Virginia Beach, VA) Caryl Thompson, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, was named a recipient of the 2017 City of Virginia Beach Employee Hall of Fame Award on Wednesday, June 6 in a ceremony at the Virginia Aquarium.

Caryl began her career with the City of Virginia Beach in 1986 as a lifeguard for the Department of Parks and Recreation. After graduating from Old Dominion University, she became an Aquatics Recreation Specialist, eventually ascending to a marketing role in the Parks and Recreation department’s marketing bureau. During her tenure with Parks and Recreation, she received the City Manager’s Award in 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002. Caryl also received the Parks and Recreation Distinguished Service award in 2006. She joined the Aquarium team in 2015 as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has maintained the role ever since.

“In the short time that I have been fortunate enough to work with Caryl, she has rapidly become one of my go-to employees,” said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Deputy Director of the Virginia Aquarium. “She constantly goes above and beyond her daily duties, and has been an invaluable addition to an already impressive department, and I was proud to nominate her for such an honor.”The City of Virginia Beach Employee Hall of Fame Award is an annual tribute to outstanding City employees. Nominations are made by fellow City employees, and a committee of City employees select the recipient.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is conservation through education. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special events, call (757) 385-FISH (3474), (TDD 385-4305) or visit www.VirginiaAquarium.com.###

​(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) – The following new trustees to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation Board of Trustees were recently announced. They include: Barbara Ciara, Anchor for WTKR News 3; George Faatz, Director of External Affairs for AGL Resources; Mollie S. Korte, Community Leader; Troy Lindsey, Community Affairs Manager for Dominion Energy; William M. Macali, Legal Counsel; Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of Virginia Wesleyan University; and Kathy O'Hara, Community Leader.

The Virginia Aquarium 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, and research and conservation efforts through the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program.

(Virginia Beach, VA) One of the Virginia Aquarium's most visible and iconic areas, the harbor seal exhibit, will receive some special attention in early April 2018 with an anticipated reopening in mid-June 2018. The renovations will include painting the pool bottom, resealing the pool, and polishing the acrylic for better viewing opportunities.

During these renovations, the seals will be making a trip to Florida. All four male harbor seals will head to Fort Walton Beach, where they will stay until completion of the exhibit renovations. The seals will stay at an Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA)-accredited facility while in Florida, along with some Virginia Aquarium staff members. These members of the animal care staff will temporarily relocate to Florida with the seals to maintain continuity of behavioral training and ensure that our seals receive the exceptional care they are used to. Additionally, the Aquarium's staff veterinarian and the Director of Husbandry will oversee and be directly involved in each step of the process, including travel down and from to the seals' temporary home.

While it will be difficult to say goodbye to the seals, even for a few short months, Aquarium staff anticipates welcoming them home when the harbor seals exhibit reopens.

Occurring concurrently with the harbor seals exhibit renovations, the Bay & Ocean Pavilion bathrooms in the lobby area will be renovated and the existing Café will be reimagined. Work begins on these projects in April 2018 with estimated completion for the Café in May 2018 and the renovated restrooms opening in mid-June 2018.

The restrooms will include new energy efficient and water efficient fixtures, as well as low-flow toilets aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. The all-new Café concept will bring an improved flow to ordering and paying for your meals and a revamped menu. ​

(Virginia Beach, VA) One of the Virginia Aquarium's most popular events returns for a swim in a new month with even more mermaids! Beginning on March 5 and continuing on Monday evenings through April 2, this 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. series is sure to thrill even the staunchest mermaid non-believer.

Mermaid Mondays, the after-hours event featuring real mermaids swimming in the Aquarium's Red Sea Tunnel, kicks off in March for 2018. The mermaids return with even more friends for special encounters all over the Bay & Ocean Pavilion. In addition, King Neptune will greet guests and activities will be spread throughout the Aquarium.

Guests will also be able to visit with a mermaid at the Ray Touch Pool, Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, and, new for 2018, a mermaid at the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium. This year's event also includes story time with a mermaid, a mermaid puppet show, live musical performances by the C-Shells, and other activities and photo opportunities in the Aquarium's Bay & Ocean Pavilion. ​

Reservations for this limited engagement are required. Tickets are $22.95 for Aquarium members and $32.95 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at https://tickets.virginiaaquarium.com/shows/mermaid%20monday/events or by calling Guest Services at (757) 385-FISH (3474) with a credit card reservation. To enable full viewing of the mermaids by guests, strollers are discouraged for this event. ​

(Virginia Beach, VA) If you've been out on the beach or aboard one of our Whales & Wildlife boat trips recently, you may have noticed that you're sharing space with some marine visitors. Seals have been seen recently in Virginia waters, and some are hauling out on our local beaches. Sometimes these seals stop on local beaches to rest, and sometimes they are too tired or sick to continue the journey. That's where the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Program steps in to help.

The Stranding Response Team noted that there have been a lot of seal sighting reports recently. Although not uncommon, these animals are wild and should be treated with caution.

"As of right now, most of the seals have returned to the ocean on their own," said Stranding Response Program Coordinator Alex Costidis. "However, we want to remind citizens that the best thing to do when encountering a seal is to keep their distance and call us so we can evaluate the animal's behavior and condition."

Citizens should not feed seals, nor should anyone fish or discard bait in the water near seals. They are wild animals and feeding them not only encourages them to lose their natural fear of humans, but it's also illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition, seals can carry parasites and diseases, so citizens and their pets should steer clear and view safely from a distance. Immediately report seal sightings to the Stranding Response Team by calling the 24-hour hotline, 757-385-7575.

When a live seal is reported, the Stranding Response Team evaluates the health of the animal. During this time, citizens may see a member of the team observing or photographing the animal. The team examines everything from the seal's posture to its appearance and behavior.

If you're interested in safely seeing seals, the Aquarium offers several boat trips in search of winter visitors, including seals and whales. The Whales & Wildlife boat trip ventures to areas where seals and whales are known to frequently visit. Information on these trips can be found at https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/learn/boat-trips.

When viewing marine animals on the water, please do not approach seals, sea turtles, or dolphins closer than 50 yards and do not approach the animals head on. If you do need to maneuver closer to the animals due to channel markers, obstacles, or shallow water, please set a slow speed and straight course. For more information on how to observe these animals safely while you are boating, please visit: http://www.virginiaaquarium.com/conserve/sightings-information.​

Collected electronic waste is diverted from landfills

(Virginia Beach, VA) The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's semi-annual e-cycling event was an overwhelming success, breaking one of its own records, and coming close to a second!

During this three hour event, Aquarium staff and volunteers serviced over 650 individual vehicles, a record for the number of attendees. The team also collected more than 50,000 pounds of material, with that number likely to increase once all of the household hazardous waste products have been processed. Preliminary numbers indicate that this is our second highest collection total through the history of the event.

​E-cycling is a free community conservation event hosted by the Virginia Aquarium twice annually with support from the City of Virginia Beach Public Works department, Goodwill Industries, and TFC Recycling. The next event is scheduled for January 27, 2018.