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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 www.georgiaaquarium.org.



Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta, GA

Marineland Dolphin Adventure
St. Augustine, FL

Conservation Field Station
St. Augustine, FL


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Thursday
Jan082015

Caring Together on Penguin Awareness Day 

January 9, 2015

Caring Together on Penguin Awareness Day!

Our African penguins are fascinating birds and a joy for all guests to visit while here at Georgia Aquarium. Guests of all ages watch in awe as the agile birds dive, swim and sometimes gracefully waddle over the habitat’s rocky terrain. We currently care for more than 40 African penguins in our Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery, but did you know their counterparts in the wild are facing harmful challenges such as oil spills, food shortages and habitat degradation?

Every year, an astonishing 182 million guests visit zoos and aquariums. We are honored to be able to inspire everyone who visits to care for the animals here at Georgia Aquarium as well as animals all over the Earth.

Did you also know that when you visit us at Georgia Aquarium you are helping anim als in the wild? Georgia Aquarium is a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to caring for animals. Proceeds from your ticket support further research and conservation efforts for African penguins and many other species, both here at home and in places like South Africa!

We hope you will join us Saturday, Jan. 17, for our annual Party with the Penguins event to continue learning about these waddle-tastic birds and celebrate Penguin Awareness Day. We’ll have trivia, Q&A sessions, penguin nest-building, prize giveaways and your chance to meet a real penguin! This event is free for annual pass members and complimentary for all guests with Aquarium admission.

Want to do more to support our conservation programs? Join the Caring Together Club, a special community of animal advocates who understand and support the work that Georgia Aquarium and the zoological community are doing for animals everywhere. You can sign up today via our newsletter preference center.

Visit our Animal Guide to learn more about African Penguins.

 

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Friday
Dec192014

Mysterious St. Helena

December 22, 2014

Mysterious St. Helena

Written by: Dr. Al Dove
Director of Research and Conservation at Georgia Aquarium

On December 26, while most of us are shaking off food comas from Christmas celebrations, a small team from Georgia Aquarium will be setting out on an extraordinary expedition to one of the of the world’s most remote locations on a quest as arduous as it is exciting: documenting the whale sharks of St. Helena.

Figure 1 - RMS St. Helena in the harbour at Jamestown St. HelenaIn 1502, on his way home from the colonies in India, the Portuguese navigator João de Nova Castella, discovered a rugged, tree-clad speck of land in the South Atlantic and named the island St. Helena.  Over the next decade, Portuguese sailors quietly began to use the island as a sort of informal resupply station – a renaissance truck stop, if you will -  planting it with fruit trees, and releasing chickens and goats that roamed precariously on its steep seaside cliffs and fatted themselves unsupervised in the forested central highlands.  In 1513 another Portuguese man named Fernando Lopez was also on his way back to Portugal from India, and he too stopped at St. Helena.  But Lopez was no navigator; he had turned traitor in a dispute between the Portuguese and the Indians and was being deported home for trial.  Lopez convinced the captain to leave him at St. Helena instead and he was duly abandoned on the island with three African slaves (history does not record their names), the group becoming the first permanent residents of what is to this day one of the most remote inhabited places on the planet.

The island, some 1,800 miles northwest of Cape Town South Africa, now boasts 500 years of extraordinary history, including occupations by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English (it remains an English territory today).  There have been skirmishes, wars, piracy, pestilence, famine and slavery; rarely has so much drama been condensed into so small a livable space.  At just 47 square miles, St. Helena is only a third of the area inside Atlanta’s 285 freeway perimeter (“ITP”, as we say around here), or about the same size as Staten Island in New York.  Perhaps the island’s greatest claim to fame is that in 1815, after his escape from exile on Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered to the English and was exiled once again.  This time the English wanted to make absolutely sure that escape was not an option, so they sent him to the most remote location available to them: the tiny rock halfway between Africa and South America.  Despite a daring plan to rescue him by lowering a sedan chair down a cliff and whisking him away by the newly-invented submarine (!), he died at Longwood estate in 1821 and remained buried there for 19 years before his remains were repatriated to France.

Figure 2 - St. Helena is over 6,000 miles from Atlanta, but they are united by whale sharks

Today, the world is a smaller place; international air travel is par for the course and so it seems we can go anywhere, anytime.  Not so for St. Helena!  The island has no airport, so the 3,800 permanent residents’ main connection to the outside world remains ships, as it has for 500 years.  Well, one ship really these days, the RMS St. Helena, one of the last Royal Mail Ships still in operation.  And it is the RMS St. Helena that will take me and my colleague and good friend Rafael de la Parra to St. Helena for Georgia Aquarium’s first expedition to this remarkable place.  Our month-long voyage actually only has two weeks on the island, the other two weeks are spent traveling thousands of miles by road, air and sea to get there and back!

What business does Georgia Aquarium have in such a far-flung destination, some 6,200 miles from Atlanta as the crow flies?  Well, our flagship species, whale sharks, have recently been discovered to be regular visitors to the island, which means that St. Helena joins a short list of such places around the world, and it also prompts a number of burning questions about what they are doing there.  Since we opened in 2005, Georgia Aquarium has concentrated its whale shark research and conservation efforts on a field location in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where we have worked with our Mexican partners (led by Rafael) to describe and study the largest coastal aggregation of whale sharks in the world.  During that time, other scientists have documented whale shark aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos, Australia, the Philippines, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Seychelles and the Maldives.  Yet the South Atlantic remains drastically understudied relative to these other locations.  Our goal is to fix that, by working alongside biologists from the St. Helenan government to describe and document this newest of known whale shark populations. 

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Three Reasons to Flip Your Fin Over Weeki Wachee Mermaids 


December 10, 2014

Three Reasons to Flip Your Fin Over Weeki Wachee Mermaids

The holidays are here and we are celebrating in a big way! Our Festival of the SEAson events started in late November and last week we welcomed the Weeki Wachee Mermaids to Georgia Aquarium. Their performances dazzled and enchanted our guests before select AT&T Dolphin Tales shows and if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out! Here are three reasons to flip your fin over Weeki Wachee Mermaids:

1. They put you in the holiday spirit

Some of the guests who have seen the Weeki Wachee mermaids could describe them “magical” and we couldn’t think of a better word! These mermaids are definitely a favorite and are asked about all year long. This year, the mermaids will be performing to your favorite holiday carols and getting you into the holiday spirit prior at select AT&T Dolphin Tales shows. Watch as these mermaids move and dance gracefully– all at no extra cost!

Date of their performances are December 11 – 14, and December 18-24.

2. Their vibrant history

The Weeki Wachee mermaids hail from Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida. On October 13, 1947 they performed their first show, an aquatic ballet, to tourists of the popular springs.

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