About NewportAquarium

Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky jewel attraction is home to: The world’s first and only Shark Bridge; the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program; Mighty Mike – the biggest and baddest American alligator outside the state of Florida; the largest and most diverse collection of sharks in the Midwest; and one of the world’s largest and most diverse penguin exhibits. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Immersive Stingray Experience Coming to Newport Aquarium in May

NEWPORT, Ky. — Today Newport Aquarium announced, Stingray Hideaway: Enter their World; the only stingray experience of its kind in North America, will open in May. The highly interactive new exhibit will allow guests to discover one of the ocean’s most mysterious animals from above and below the water’s surface and even the opportunity to touch them. stingray-hideaway-full-color

“When Stingray Hideaway opens, it’s quickly going to become a guest favorite,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium Executive Director. “Anytime our guests are able to experience what it feels like to touch an animal, a personal relationship is built that leads to a lifetime of love and respect for those animals.”

Stingray Hideaway is the biggest development at Newport Aquarium since Shark Bridge opened in 2015. When it opens this summer, the 6,000 square feet signature attraction’s soaring 40-feet high atrium ceiling will allow sunlight to filter down on the wide-open, expansive area of tropical habitats below. The project represents a major investment in the aquarium of more than a million dollars.

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Guests will be invited to explore the tropical habitat from below the water’s surface. Once underwater, they’ll have a 360-degree view of stingrays swimming around them.

Highlights of the new experience include a 17,000-gallon stingray touchpool where guests can interact with two dozen stingrays. Among the most innovative of elements, the touchpool will feature a 30-f00t long tunnel where kids and adventurous adults will be able to see stingrays swimming from below the touchpool’s surface, effectively allowing them to enter the stingrays’ underwater world. Another special feature is a touch area for smaller children to get up close to several juvenile sharks at their level.  Rounding out the experience, guests will be able to explore the tropical island habitat around the touchpool featuring land-dwelling creatures like iguanas and lizards.

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Stingray Hideaway: Enter their World will open this May. The 17,000-gallon stingray touchpool features an innovative, 30-foot long tunnel where kids and adventurous adults will be allowed to enter the stingrays’ underwater world.

The extensive project will transform the space previously occupied by Canyon Falls, which closed in December. Stingray Hideaway: Enter Their World will be open year around and will be included with general admission.

WAVE Foundation Expanding Outreach with Stingrays

In conjunction with Stingray Hideaway, WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium is expanding its outreach efforts, with a new outreach vehicle and a new state-of-the-art mobile stingray outreach cart – the only one in the country.

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WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium is extending its outreach efforts with a new state-of-the-art outreach cart.

“By having these new outreach tools, WAVE will more than double its ability to serve more than 100,000 community learners annually, serving youth and community members in need who may not be able to visit the aquarium,” said Scott Wingate, Executive Director of WAVE Foundation.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

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Newport Aquarium, named one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

 

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Winter Family Days: One Free Kids ticket through Feb. 26, with paid adult

NEWPORT, Ky. – Just as meteorologists are forecasting a cold front and colder temperatures on the way, Newport Aquarium announces the return of Winter Family Days, where one child (ages 2-12) gets in FREE with each full-priced adult.* The aquarium has also added a brand new limited-time-only meet and greet opportunity with Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles from the new kids TV show by the same name.

Kids will have fun inside Newport Aquarium’s 72-degree climate-controlled facility, no matter the weather outside.

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NEW: Meet Splash and Bubbles
A new attraction has been added to Newport Aquarium in the form of a meet and greet with the title characters of Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles, the newest PBS KIDS TV show. The new ocean-themed animated kids’ series encourages children to explore the natural undersea world and features endearing and humorous characters on fun-filled adventures. During Winter Family Days, several of the species featured in the cartoon will be on exhibit in the Shore Gallery. And, Newport Aquarium’s Shark Ray Bay Theater will be transformed into the hit TV show’s Reeftown setting where guests will have an opportunity to meet and get their picture taken with Splash and Bubbles.

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Splash and Bubbles can be seen on local PBS station, CET. The TV show is co-produced by Newport Aquarium’s parent company, Herschend Enterprises (Herschend Studios) and the Emmy Award winning Jim Henson Company, the producers of Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid.

Extended Winter Hours

The aquarium will open one hour early (9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.) on the following dates:

  • Saturdays in January & February (Beginning January 11)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend
  • Presidents Day Weekend

Last entry to the aquarium will be one hour before closing. See website for operating hours.

At Newport Aquarium, there is always more new to see and do:

  • Shark Bridge –This 75-foot rope bridge is the only one of its kind in North America and allows guests to walk just inches above nearly two dozen sharks, exotic shark rays, two stingrays and more than 300 fish in one of the country’s largest open air tank displays.
  • Surrounded by Sharks – Guests can walk through a 385,000-gallon tank filled with rare and exotic shark rays, six species of shark, and Denver, the mischievous 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle.
  • Seahorses: Unbridled Fun – This interactive exhibit features some of nature’s most amazing creatures, including several species of seahorses, sea dragons, trumpetfish, razorfish and pipefish. At the Seahorse Creation Station, guests can discover their inner-artist and create a digital seahorse to share. The exhibit also features rare video of seahorses and their most unusual behaviors.
  • Gator AlleyGator Alley is the home of Mighty Mike – who at 14-feet long and 800 pounds is the biggest alligator in the country outside of Florida, as well as Snowball and Snowflake, two of fewer than 100 white alligators in the world.
  • Kroger Penguin Palooza – With five different sub-Antarctic penguin species totaling nearly 50 birds, Kroger Penguin Palooza boasts one of the most diverse collections of cold-weather penguins in the country.
  • Frog Bog – Children have never seen frogs like this before as they can find secret frog tanks visible only when they climb through tunnels and tubes in the kids-only Frog Bog jungle gym.

Beginning January 4th, Winter Family Days tickets will be available at the Newport Aquarium ticket window, online at NewportAquarium.com or by phone at 800-406-FISH (3474).

*This special offer cannot be combined with other discounts or coupons.

Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa® returns to the Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium invites guests to celebrate the holidays under the sea

 NEWPORT, Ky. — Newport Aquarium invites the public to experience a holiday celebration under the sea Nov. 25 – Dec. 31 at Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa®.

Newport Aquarium is the only place where families can celebrate the holidays under the sea as Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa® blends the thrill of indoor bubble showers and the intimacy of uniquely holiday-themed galleries with the tradition of Scuba Santa®, who has delighted guests since 2003.Scuba Santa

“Every year Newport Aquarium transforms into a truly wondrous setting where families can discover the wonder of an undersea holiday celebration,” said Eric Rose, executive director of Newport Aquarium. “It’s the only underwater holiday tradition in Greater Cincinnati.”

The Water Wonderland journey will also take guests through a number of holiday-clad galleries, culminating in a truly wondrous experience where families connect and interact with the magic of an undersea holiday celebration:

  • Shark Ray Bay – Guests will be surrounded by lights, bubbles and holiday music as they join one of Scuba Santa’s elves in song and discover how some of Newport Aquarium’s most iconic animals celebrate holidays under the sea. Children will have the unique opportunity to meet Scuba Santa® one-on-one as he dives inside the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank and tell him their holiday wishes.
  • Seahorses: Unbridled Fun – Hundreds of twinkling sea-creature lights will hang from the ceiling of the Seahorses: Unbridled Fun exhibit as guests experience holiday music and magical bubbles while enjoying some of nature’s most amazing creatures, such as trumpet fish, pipefish and several different species of seahorses and sea dragons.
  • Gator Alley – Honky-tonk holiday lighting, music and decorations welcome guests at Gator Alley, the home of Mighty Mike – the biggest and baddest alligator in the country outside of Florida at 14 feet and 800 pounds – as well as Snowball and Snowflake, two of less than 100 white alligators in the world.
  • Kroger Penguin Palooza – Children can write their holiday wish on a magic bubble and mail it at Scuba Santa’s Post Office inside Kroger Penguin Palooza, where five species of cold-weather penguins – a total of nearly 50 birds spread their own brand of holiday cheer.

* Scuba Santa® will not be diving on Christmas Day – he’ll be resting after a busy night traveling to homes all around the world.

Buy 3, Get 1 Annual Pass Sale: In time for the holidays, guests who purchase three Newport Aquarium Annual Passes will receive a fourth Annual Pass free. The Annual Pass Holiday Special ends on Jan. 2. Existing Newport Aquarium Annual Passholders can renew their passes during this promotion to receive $3 off the renewal rate for even more savings.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474)

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Newport Aquarium, named one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Renowned Shark Scientist Joins Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium Takes Research Efforts to Next Level 

NEWPORT, Ky. — Thanks to a partnership with New England Aquarium, Newport Aquarium has created a new Senior Research Scientist position. Dr. Nick Whitney, Ph.D. is the new researcher working with the two institutions, and is now in residence at Newport Aquarium.

“This partnership speaks to the reach of the aquarium. We are now expanding our scope and commitment to wildlife conservation through leading-edge shark research,” said Eric Rose, Executive Director at Newport Aquarium.

Dr. Nick Whitney

Dr. Nick Whitney, new Senior Research Scientist

The opportunity for a dedicated research position presented itself when Dr. Whitney relocated to Cincinnati after more than seven years with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. He then joined the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium, and thanks to some great collaboration with these leading institutions, Dr. Whitney will work in residence right here at Newport Aquarium.

“I’m looking forward to taking research and conservation efforts here at Newport Aquarium to more of a national and international level. I’m excited to join this team of dedicated biologists and build upon their impressive research efforts that have the potential to improve animal care and field conservation around the world,” said Whitney.

Whitney’s research uses high-tech tags called accelerometers (the same motion sensors found in smartphones and Fitbits) to measure fine-scale movements of animals to study their behavior and answer questions that can’t be addressed through traditional tags. His current research with New England Aquarium focuses on whether sharks survive after being caught and released by fishermen.

At Newport, Whitney looks forward to contributing to ongoing research around the Aquarium’s groundbreaking shark ray breeding program, developing and testing new types of shark tags and attachment methods, and helping to increase the conservation impact of this research.

“We are fortunate to have the talents of Dr. Whitney on staff. He will also be supporting the animal husbandry team by leading our own in-house research, then publishing our original research in leading journals and publications,” said Eric Rose.

Dr. Whitney has conducted research on sharks, sea turtles, and other species and has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel among others. He has worked with the conservation group OCEARCH to tag adult great white sharks off of Cape Cod, and his research has been supported by a variety of funding sources, including the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Geographic Society.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

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Newport Aquarium, named one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Stay Hooked In: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | YouTube | WordPress
One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Newport Aquarium offers free admission to veterans and active military Nov. 5 – 13

Veterans Week

Sponsored by Humana

Veterans Get Free Admission!

Newport Aquarium and Humana are honoring all the men and women who’ve served our country and are currently serving, by offering them free admission from November 5th to 13th. If you’re an active or retired member of the military, a disabled veterans, military reservist, or anyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces, just show your Military I.D.* at the Newport Aquarium ticket window to receive your free admission.

Military Discount for Family Members

Family members can receive our military discount of $3 off adult tickets and $2 off child tickets.

Free Gift and Reserved seating for Veterans

Newport Aquarium and Humana would like to present each Veteran with a special patriotic pin to show our appreciation for your service. Veterans wearing the pin can take advantage of reserved front row seating with their families during shows, feeds and talks.

Other special discounts for pin wearing Veterans:

*To receive free admission you can show a Military I.D. card, VA membership or healthcare card, a state verified veteran status logo on your driver’s license or state I.D., discharge papers or any other proof of military service.

Thank you for your service to our country!

 

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle makes successful return to the ocean

Shack’s Release

A team from Newport Aquarium is in North Carolina, bringing Shack back to Shackleford Banks. After spending this past year at Newport Aquarium, growing and thriving, he’s ready to return to the ocean. Here’s Shack’s homecoming, told from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres, and Water Quality Specialist, Cameo VonStrohe.

Jen and Cameo with Shack, ready for the return to the ocean.

Jen and Cameo with Shack, ready for the return to the ocean.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A busy day ahead! We started at NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The biologists prepared the turtles for the boat journey. It’s the same way we did when we prepared Shack for the trip back to North Carolina – applied an eye salve and ointment on shells and flippers.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk, joined Jen and Cameo for the release.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk, joined Jen and Cameo for the release.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk joined us on the trip, to release Shack back into the ocean.

We traveled to the dock at Morehead City. This is where the volunteers (total of about 70 passengers) had a chance to meet and greet the turtles before boarding the Carolina Princess.

After about a two hour ride out, we reached warmer waters so it was time to anchor for the release. The water temperature was 74 F, depth 98 feet, latitude 34.27.477, longitude 76.17.969.

33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore – they ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old. Photo Courtesy: NC Aquarium at Pink Knoll Shores

33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore – they ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old.
Photo Courtesy: NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

 

 

Out on the boat today, to release hatchlings and yearlings, were teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, National Aquarium in Baltimore, NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, NC State Aquariums Roanoke and NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

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Thanks to NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, 33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore, near the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. They ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old.

Homecoming for Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle

Greetings from Shackleford Banks

This week marks a big homecoming for Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle. A team from Newport Aquarium is in North Carolina, bringing Shack back to Shackleford Banks. After spending this past year at Newport Aquarium, growing and thriving, he’s ready to return to the ocean. Here’s Shack’s homecoming, told from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres, and Water Quality Specialist, Cameo VonStrohe.

Monday, October 17, 2016
We spent the day collecting salt marsh fish with two biologists from Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.

We caught striped killifish, sheepshead minnows, permit, mullet, and hermit crabs.

After a short boat ride to Shackleford Banks, the team anchored then used cast nets. This location happens to be our yearling turtle’s namesake… Shack, where he was found stranded on the beach last year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We took Shack to get a check-up and prepped for a PIT tag. Dr. Matthew Godfrey from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission measured Shack’s shell. Dr. Godfrey performed check-ups and took measurements on all of the turtles that are going to be released.

The PIT tag is an injected ID tag that can be read via a reader like UPC code. Biologists and keepers at zoos and aquariums use PIT tags with a lot of larger animals to help identify them from like animals in the same tank – such as sharks at Newport.

Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

We joined teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

We joined teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

Jean Beasley gave us a tour at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. She is a real hero for sea turtle rescue in memory of her daughter.

The hospital was incredible, Jean is a huge champion of sea turtles.

The hospital was incredible, Jean is a huge champion of sea turtles.

The pools in the picture behind Jean are full of other rescue turtles. The hospital gets severe medical cases that usually involve surgeries or more involved rehab. Almost all turtles are released.

The hospital is 20 years old but moved into the new huge building three years ago. They have two main rooms, one for more critical patients. They also have a surgery room, radiograph room, kitchen, lab, and more. The hospital is completely funded privately and staffed by volunteers. They rehab green sea turtles, kemps, and loggerheads. Learn more about the hospital here: http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/

From the hospital’s website: The mission of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is the conservation and preservation of all species of marine turtles, both in the water and on the beach.

Karen Beasley Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

We accomplish this through the rescue, care, and release of sick and injured sea turtles, public education regarding the plight of sea turtles and the threat of their extinction, and learning opportunities for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and veterinary medicine from around the world. A nonprofit organization, we view our work as a privilege and are honored to work with these magnificent creatures.

Stay tuned for Jen and Cameo’s next post: Shack gets released back into the ocean.

Read our previous post: Rescued loggerhead sea turtle ‘yearling’ on his way to the ocean.

National Veterinary Technician Week 2016

This week is National Veterinary Technician Week. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes veterinary technicians for their contributions in animal healthcare. Vet Techs are educated professionals who work closely with veterinarians to ensure the best quality of care for animals. We’d like to recognize Jolene Hanna, the Animal Health & Quarantine Manager and Veterinary Technician at Newport Aquarium. Thank you, Jolene for all that you do!

Jolene Hanna, RVT Animal Health & Quarantine Manager at Newport Aquarium, feeds a shark behind the scenes.

Jolene Hanna, RVT Animal Health & Quarantine Manager at Newport Aquarium, feeds a shark behind the scenes.

Why did you choose to become a vet tech?

“I always wanted to work with animals. As a teenager, I worked as kennel help at the local vet hospital and was given the opportunity to go out on farm calls and to watch surgeries on a regular basis.”

Hanna received her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology. “I always wanted to work with dolphins.”

As fate would have it, she ended up working with a completely different species – sharks! She helped launch the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding program, and ended up working with sharks here at Newport Aquarium.

After college, Hanna joined AmeriCorps and completed the Vet Tech program before coming to work at Newport Aquarium.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

“The possibilities are limitless. I don’t have a ‘typical’ day. I could be in the Antarctic or I could be diving in the Amazon tank. There’s always something new to learn.”

Something new, such as taking part in research projects.  “Taking part in scientific research. I did a study on birth control implants on freshwater stingrays.”

Hanna makes tank-side visits with animals at Newport Aquarium. “I never would have imagined I’d be doing this, but this is what I do.”

What has been your most memorable moment during your career?

“Definitely, working with the shark rays – it’s been a long journey! It’s an opportunity to work with a first of its kind program in the world.”

“We’re part of (kind of) a new industry, working with sharks. What we learn, we’re sharing the knowledge with other institutions. We have become better stewards for the species. This is my contribution to something that is globally influential. I’m putting my fingerprint on it.”

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle ‘yearling’ on his way to the ocean

After spending the last year at Newport Aquarium, Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle is making his way back to North Carolina, and will be released back into the ocean this week. Shack came to Newport Aquarium last October, as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project. He was rescued as a hatchling on the beach along Shackleford Banks in North Carolina.

Shack, therescued loggerhead sea turtle is ready to return to the ocean.

Shack, therescued loggerhead sea turtle is ready to return to the ocean.

Working Together

Biologists at Newport Aquarium work closely with the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shores to rehabilitate a young loggerhead sea turtle each year.

One final picture in front of the saltwater tank near Shore Gallery. Biologist Jen Hazeres spent the last year raising Shack, and preparing him to return to the ocean.

One final picture in front of the saltwater tank near Shore Gallery. Biologist Jen Hazeres spent the last year raising Shack, and preparing him to return to the ocean.

“We travel to North Carolina every fall to release the previous year’s hatchling and pick up a new sea turtle that needs our help,” said Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres who will be joined by Newport Aquarium Water Quality Specialist, Cameo Von Strohe. This week, they will meet up with teams from several other facilities to release the sea turtle “yearlings” back into the ocean. And they’ll return with a new hatchling to raise over the next year.

Ready for the ocean

In preparation to bring the yearling sea turtle back to North Carolina, Hazeres gave Shack one final check-up. She prepped his shell and rubbed an ointment on his head and shell. She also applied a salve on his eyes to keep them moistened.

Stay tuned for updates as Hazeres and Von Strohe visit the site in North Carolina and rescue a new hatchling.

To learn more about how you can help, see our previous post: https://aquariumworks.org/2016/05/20/endangered-species-day-rescued-loggerhead-sea-turtle-enters-new-tank/

African Penguin Awareness Days Oct. 8 – 16 at Newport Aquarium

By: Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer

Newport Aquarium is celebrating African Penguin Awareness Week October 8th  through October 16th. On Saturday, October 8th we are kicking off African Penguin Awareness Day with an entire week focused on African Penguins. During this week, we want to tell the story of the African Penguins and what the WAVE Foundation and the Newport Aquarium are doing to prevent the species from moving closer to extinction. From Saturday October 8th-Sunday October 16th we are donating every “Dollar for Conservation” that we get to SANCCOB’s disaster relief and chick-rearing efforts.

African penguins

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic drop in the population for African Penguins. In 2006, there was estimated to be over 100,000 African Penguins in South Africa. Today it is estimated to be less than 50,000 birds in Namibia and South Africa.

Why have numbers dropped so drastically?  The answer is not very simple since there are several different levels of influence on the population.  But two areas to focus would be competition for food with the fishing industry and the oil industry.

Competition For Food
The Benguela marine ecosystem is one of the richest in sardines and anchovies in the world and located off the coast of South Africa and the breeding colonies of the African Penguins.  This is a main food choice for African Penguins.  However, there is competition for food for the African Penguins; this area is also heavily fished by commercial fisheries. The competition with the fisheries and warming sea waters, forces the birds to travel further out to sea to catch fish in order to feed the chicks on the nest.

The additional travel for the adult birds only compounds the situations, expending more energy requires more food for them and their chicks. This means more time in the ocean, and the threat of predators, both at sea and on land.  At sea, the adults can fall prey to Cape fur seals and sharks.  On land, the chicks and eggs can be eaten by Kelp Gulls and small carnivores that have access to mainland colonies.

The Oil Industry
The oil industry has just increased their goals for production and the construction of more oil rigs in the region.  In 2000, the MV Treasure sank in Table Bay, South Africa.  This event caused the oiling of over 19,000 African Penguins.  Crude oil is dangerous for the penguins; it breaks down the natural water-proofing of the birds while at sea.  The oil causes them to become water-logged, hypothermic, disoriented and sometimes not able to make it back to shore.  Once on shore, the penguins will begin to preen themselves; ingesting the oil, becoming ill and potentially dying if not helped.  Rescuing oiled African penguins is a regular occurrence in South Africa.
Making A Difference
The WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium promotes and raises funds to support SANCCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) in Cape Town.  SANCCOB rescues, rehabilitates and releases approximately 1,000 African Penguins a year affected by oil.  The staff and volunteers of SANCCOB dedicate themselves every day to the African Penguins and other sea birds.  They need our support.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) initiated a program in 2015 called SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction); targeting 10 endangered species around the world.  Collaborative Conservation will identify and prioritize the needs of a species and build a 3-year Conservation Action Plan (CAP).

Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium, was appointed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to be the Program Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Project.

Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium, was appointed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to be the Program Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Project.

The Newport Aquarium is playing an integral part of this conservation plan.  Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) Tags are being used as part of the Individual Identification Project that the Newport Aquarium is responsible for coordinating.  A collaboration of AZA Partners – The Racine Zoo, Northeastern Zoo of Wisconsin, the Maryland Zoo, Sea World and the WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium as well as our South African Partners are working together to individually identify 10% of the world’s population of African Penguins over the next 3 years. PIT Tagging will allow biologists to assess longevity and survival, nest site, natal site and mate fidelity, inter-colony movement, and many other metrics that will be helpful to management of the species.

Now is the time to Act – you can make a difference during African Penguin Awareness Week.  Everyone can contribute to the conservation of African Penguins by visiting the Newport Aquarium.  By visiting the Newport Aquarium Gift Shop, you can make a contribution to “Dollars to Conservation” when you purchase anything in the store, or you can just make a donation at the desk.  All the proceeds during this week to “Dollars for Conservation” will go directly to support SANCCOB and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of African Penguins.

The African Penguin is an endangered species, threatened with extinction that needs our help.  You can learn more about how to contribute by visiting, www.wavefoundation.org or www.AZASavingSpecies.org