Thursday, February 27, 2020

SVF Eco-Tour Station 4 - Mangrove Beach

Rising sea levels and loss of mangroves are a double threat to the stability of our beaches. In this station of our eco-tour the children meet a sea turtle biologist and National Park ranger on a beach in the Florida Keys. 

They learn about the importance of mangroves as a nursery for many fish and invertebrates and how crabs, shore birds and sea turtles all rely on the beach to lay their eggs. The cut-away sea turtle nest helps the children to understand why sea turtle biologists sometimes relocate nests to higher ground to help give every nest a chance to hatch.

They discuss how our beaches also accumulates an enormous amount of marine debris including discarded fishing gear and single-use plastics. Children have an opportunity to help clean the reef by recycling plastic bottles at our recycling station. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SVF Eco-Tour Station 3 - Aquarius Habitat

Next stop on our tour of the Florida Keys underwater is the Aquarius Underwater Habitat. This unique underwater laboratory supports teams of six aquanauts that spend 7-14 days living at depth while conducting their research.

Our eco-tour station is set-up to resemble the inside of the Aquarius habitat with a table of SCUBA equipment and items related to underwater research.

We even play a video showing how divers enter the habitat through the unique 'wet porch'.

The docents share information about how important it is to keep the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide inside the habitat. Much like the importance of understanding how increasing carbon dioxide in the water and decrease oxygen impact the health of all marine life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

SVF Eco-Tour Station 2 - Coral Nursery

In the Something Very Fishy story line, marine biologist Sandy Carson is tending a coral tree nursery to grow corals for transplanting on the reef. Sandy's song details all of the steps she has to go through to transplant a coral and why corals are important to the reef. 

The coral nursery station on our eco-tour brings to life how coral biologists are growing coral fragments in laboratory and field nurseries to facilitate reef restoration through transplantation.

After the children have a chance to learn about corals and ask questions about reef restoration, each child selects a plaster coral model from the nursery to transplant out on the coral reef. Our plaster models were hand made from our actual Siderastrea and Porites coral fragments that we lost during Hurricane Irma. We give the children the coral health card to compare their coral color to illustrate how scientists visually assess coral health.

As the children leave the coral nursery they enter a long hallway with many jellyfish. A long shelf-like coral reef sits in front of a coral reef mural.

The children then "transplant" their plaster coral model onto the reef.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

SVF Eco-Tour Station 1 - Marine Animal Hospital

The Little Fishing Town Marine Animal Hospital is where Sunny and Octavia get taken after they are foul-hooked by Mr. Pidder. In this exhibit on our Florida Keys eco-tour the children meet aquarists and marine animal veterinarians who are helping to rehabilitate and restore over a hundred species of marine animals.

Our rich diversity is thanks to the folks at Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea, FL. The children love the opportunity to hold a crab or a starfish or to watch a jellyfish or shrimp swim around the tank. For many of these children, this is their first up close encounter with live marine animals.

Something Very Fishy is coming Feb 29th!

Don't miss our public performance of our marine science educational outreach program Something Very Fishy. A musical theatre adventure through the Florida Keys with our Conservation of Marine Resources Team.