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Georgia Aquarium Blog

Georgia Aquarium provides an entertaining, engaging and educational experience inspiring stewardship in conservation, research and the appreciation for the animal world. Visit us at

Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta, GA

Marineland Dolphin Adventure
St. Augustine, FL

Conservation Field Station
St. Augustine, FL

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Beluga Calf and Mom Update

May 22, 2015

Beluga Calf and Mom Update

Since the first few hours after birth, Georgia Aquarium’s 12-day old beluga whale calf began showing nursing behavior. Despite the calf’s strong instinct and attempts to nurse, it took several days for Maris, a first time mother, to learn exactly how to nurse her calf.

In addition to showing nursing behavior, the calf has completed several key milestones including successful birth and bonding with her mother. There are still some very critical milestones to overcome, most notably significant weight gain, which the team is addressing on a day-to-day basis. At this stage we define the calf’s condition as stable but guarded.

As of now, the team has not seen the desired weight gain in the calf. We measure success by monitoring the calf’s body condition, watching her behavior and activity, and monitoring Maris’ energy intake. Our focus now is that the calf is able to consume enough calories to gain weight and grow. In order for calves to build their blubber layer, it is necessary for them to receive the proteins, essential carbohydrates and exceptionally high fat found in beluga milk. While seeing nursing behavior is a positive sign, the team is aware that a delay in nursing can impact the calf’s growth.

To remedy the situation and help the calf gain weight, we are supplementing her caloric needs with formula, which mimics beluga milk. Concurrently, the team is also assessing Maris’ milk production as well as the calf’s nursing efficiency. The team continues to monitor both mom and calf 24-hours a day ensuring that they receive appropriate nutrition, and are provided with all other necessary care.

Georgia Aquarium is monitoring and documenting the development of the calf closely, with daily update videos posted at


Endangered Species 2015

May 15, 2015

Endangered Species Day 2015

Today, May 15, marks the 10th Anniversary of Endangered Species Day! This day is an opportunity for Georgia Aquarium and other like-minded organizations to highlight the growing importance of working together to save endangered species from extinction, and to instill in our guests the knowledge of everyday actions they can do to help these animals survive.

Our African penguins and whale sharks are among fan favorites at the Aquarium, but did you know they are listed as “endangered” and “vulnerable,” respectively, on the IUCN red list? Living along the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia, African penguins face human impacts like oil spills, habitat degradation from guano collection and food shortages from fisheries. Populations of whale sharks in some parts of the world have decreased dramatically in recent years due to heavy fishing. Irresponsible ecotourism also threatens these gentle giants.

African penguins and whale sharks aren’t the only endangered species we house at Georgia Aquarium, for coral reefs and sea horses are also facing similar threats. The American alligator used to be near-extinction, but conservation efforts and implementation have helped make them a success story! Without action, this species could not have recovered from historically low populations of the early 20th century that resulted from over-exploitation.

Extinction is often a difficult thought to grasp for we don’t ever want to image the disappearance of the animals we love. To help illustrate what this concept would be like, from May 15-17 during our Endangered Species Day activities, we will have the endangered species at the Aquarium “vanish” from their exhibits and guests will be able to see them like they never seen them before.

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Our Baby Beluga Birth Did You Know

May 14, 2015

Maris' Baby Beluga Birth: Did You Know?

On Sunday, May 10, we welcomed our newest addition to the Aquarium family, resident beluga Maris’ newborn female calf! Since the arrival of the calf, Aquarium teams have been working around the clock to care for Maris and her daughter.The birth was a significant moment for Georgia Aquarium and here to tell you more about that experience is Dr. Tonya Clauss, Director of Animal Health.

Our devoted teams brought an extraordinary level of work and dedication to ensure a smooth labor and delivery for Maris and her calf. As one can see, the journey to this amazing moment was undoubtedly an enormous collaborative effort and worth the long wait. Maris’ pregnancy and delivery was not a simple task, but rather a 15-month preparation requiring committed time and focus from the passionate teams that make up the Aquarium family.

Below is an impressive "By the Numbers" list we’ve compiled as we welcomed our newest bundle of joy:

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