Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Earth Day Celebration on April 19

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Learn how you can make a difference as Moody Gardens® welcomes several guest speakers for a special Earth Day event on Saturday.

Join fellow nature enthusiasts from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Herb Garden at Moody Gardens. The event features three presentations on ways you can help the environment.

There will also be special arts and crafts for kids from 10 a.m. to noon. All of the presentations and activities are free to the public.

Want like to lower your carbon footprint on this Earth and be a helper to Mother Nature? Learn 75 ways to live a “Greener N Leaner Life” at 10 a.m.

Got butterflies? Don’t have butterflies, but want them? At 11 a.m., learn the best practices for cultivating a habitat that will attract the beautiful and beneficial insects to your garden.

At noon, learn about collecting rainwater to help water your plants. Water can be costly and often rationed during a Texas drought, so having an additional, free source of that essential liquid is appealing.

EVENT DETAILS:

When: Saturday, April 19

Where: Herb Garden (outside of Discovery Pyramid)

Schedule:

  • 10:00 a.m. Tish Reustle
  • 10:30 a.m  Q & A
  • 11:00 a.m. Ken Steblein
  • 11:45 a.m. Q & A
  • 12:00 p.m. Tim Jahnke
  • 12:45 p.m. Q & A
  • 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. : Arts & Crafts

Topics of Discussion:

  • Rainwater Harvesting (Tim Jahnke): Water is expensive, especially on an island without fresh rivers, lakes and streams. So having an additional, free source of that essential liquid is appealing. Tim speaks on the topic of collecting rainwater to help us water our plants. Free of the usual chemicals that must be put into our drinking water to keep it safe for us, rainwater is perfect for our flowers, trees and shrubs.
  • 75 Ways to Live a Greener N Leaner Life (Ken Steblein): Would you like to lower your carbon footprint on this Earth? Could you be a helper to Mother Nature and live in harmony with Earth’s living things? Learn to become part of the solutions to the problems we are facing today.
  • Butterfly Gardening for the Gulf Coast (Tish Reustle): Got Butterflies? Don’t have them, but want them? Learn the best practices for cultivating a habitat that will attract the beautiful insects to your garden. You will have caterpillars galore in no time.

Pyramid of Love: Aquarium

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Join us this week as we take a closer look at the Pyramids of Love at Moody Gardens! Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom throughout the week on our blog and look for our trivia questions on Facebook & Twitter for chance to win Aquarium and Rainforest tickets. Make sure to stop by February 14-16 for Valentine’s Day themed animal enrichment and presentations at the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids.

Enjoy several keeper presentations inside the Aquarium Pyramid including South Pacific exhibit dives at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. penguin feedings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and seal feedings at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., as part of the weekend extravaganza. 

Let’s take a closer look at the relationships among the beloved penguins, seals & sea lions of the Aquarium Pyramid:

PENGUIN LOVE:

King Penguin twoFun Facts :

  • All of Moody Gardens’ penguins have an annual breeding season.
  • Most penguin species are monogamous (one male breeds with one female during a mating season), but may not mate for life.
  • Both the male and female take turns incubating the egg(s), except for Emperor Penguins, in which only the male incubates it.
  • Incubating time varies from one month to 62 days.
  • All of our smaller species build nests out of rocks and usually lay 2 eggs.
  • King penguins carry their 1 egg on their feet.

IMG_2023Look for these penguin courtship behaviors:

  • Ecstatic Displays- vocalizations, head swinging, stretching head and neck upward with flippers held outstretched.
  • Bowing-  One or both of the penguins dips its head and points its bill at the    nest or at the other bird’s feet.

 

SEALED WITH A KISS:

PorterHarbor Seal Courtship:

  • Harbor seals usually return to the same breeding grounds every year.
  • Males and females exhibit pre-mating activity such as rolling, bubble-blowing, and mouthing each other’s necks.
  • During the mating season, male harbor seals exhibit underwater vocal displays.
  • After the pupping season, males initiate true mating behavior by chasing, neck- and flipper-biting, and embracing.
  • Females respond by growling, head-thrusting, and flipper-waving.

IMG_1246Sea Lion Courtship:

  • California sea lions tend to breed on the same section of beach year after year.
  • Successful mating has been observed in males as young as two years.
  • A male with an established territory breeds with an average of 16 females in one season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shark U Week: Know Your Sharks

Friday, August 9th, 2013

How well do you know your sharks? Odds are most people only know the sharks that have been portrayed as vicious killers in Hollywood thrillers, such as the mighty great white shark in the 1975 blockbuster hit “JAWS.” But the truth is there are over 400 different types of sharks in our oceans and aquariums all over the world and, despite all the horror stories, sharks do not eat people.

Sharks come in all sizes from the massive whale shark, reaching lengths of 30 feet, to the dwarf lanternfish that’s less than 10 inches. Being able to tell the hammerhead from the nurse shark is quite easy, but others can be difficult. Can you spot the difference between a leopard shark and tiger shark?

How can you tell one from the other?

IT’S ALL IN THE BITE:

IMG_5603Sharks’ teeth are adapted for what they eat. Sharks like the great white and tiger shark have triangular teeth with jagged edges. This keeps hold of larger fish and animals, tear chunks of meat or slice through a turtle’s shell. A sand tiger’s teeth, on the other hand, are long and narrow which make them look frightening, but in fact these types of sharks are not very aggressive. The shape of their teeth is ideal for grabbing a hold of prey. However, the whale shark has very small teeth and it’s not used for biting because they simply filter their food.

SHARK MARKS:

IMG_5627Coloration and patterns play an important role in identifying a shark. Their special marks allow them to camouflage perfectly into their environment. Mako sharks, for example, inhabit tropical and offshore water and are normally a bluish color. On the other hand, the nurse shark has a tan pigmentation ideal for hiding on the ocean’s floor. Tiger sharks can be identified by their stripes and leopard sharks for their spots.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Know the sharks that lurk in the water. Sharks can be found all over the world from the warm waters of the Caribbean to the freezing temperatures of the arctic. The Gulf of Mexico alone houses more than 50 different species of sharks including, on the rare occasions, the great white shark. The bull shark and blacktip shark are quite common off the shores of Galveston while the Caribbean reef shark is obviously in the Caribbean.

 

Shark U Week: The Secret World of Shark Finning

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By Greg Whittaker
Moody Gardens Animal Husbandry Manager 

In early 1999 I found myself in Taiji, Japan working on a marine mammal acquisition for the Beijing Aquarium.  The conservation ethics surrounding “The Cove” are another story deserving its own chapter at another time. While we were working at a Dolphin encounter resort on the outskirts of Taiji, we were staying in a fishing community just to the north called Katsuura.  Every day we drove past the waterfront in Katsuura through the bustle of activity around the fishing markets.  On one of my few days off, I visited the market to see what was being caught and auctioned.  The sheer number of top level predator fishes that were laid out in organized stacks in the football-field-sized warehouse space was amazing.  Tuna, mackerel, billfish and ocean sunfish made up the bulk of the daily catch.  There were also several piles of shark fins stacked 4’ high and spreading over perhaps a 12’ diameter area.  I couldn’t locate any shark bodies in the entire market area, just three or four large heaps of fins.

The shark finning problem had not been as apparent back then, but the lack of carcasses hit me as a tremendous resource waste in a culture that had up to that point appeared contrary to such practice.  We were scrutinized by neighborhood mama-sans for not removing all recyclable materials from our trash.  The few occasions where we ventured through the Taiji waterfront were an incredible lesson in efficiency where the harvested dolphins and whales were carved up for consumption with nearly no waste evident.  How could a people so intimately linked with existing on the natural resources of the sea be so wasteful of their harvest?  It wasn’t until I later learned of the international demand for shark fin soup, that I fully understood what I had encountered in Japan.

Over the course of 3 months, we passed the Katsuura waterfront market daily and a subliminal counter was clicking in my mind.  Six days a week, thousands of tuna, dozens of billfish and those uncountable piles of shark fins every day, rain or shine.  Between the seemingly unscrupulous harvest of entire pods of cetaceans in Taiji and the daily take of finfish in Katsuura, the efficiency of removing these natural resources was mind numbing, and the ocean’s ability to sustain this level of take was something I struggled to understand.

What is Shark Finning?

On one spring morning shortly before our departure from Japan with our dolphins and whales, we had some free time to explore the area.  We happened upon a complex of houses a few streets behind our own that was a processing facility for shark fins.  The entire area was perhaps an acre with a large open space between 3 houses.  The central yard space was filled with 3 tiered clotheslines with two horizontal racks beneath them.  Shark fins were hung on the lines like laundry and all of the horizontal shelving was filled with trays containing drying fins 4 or 5 deep.  There were lines strung between the houses, both first and second stories with similar triangular, gray fins hanging in the sun to dry.  The entire roof surfaces of all 3 houses, including the shorter sheds attached to them, were completely covered with shark fins of all sizes, looking like roof tiles.  There were 2 vans parked in the driveway that were completely stuffed with baskets of dried shark fins inside, and completely covered with drying shark fins on top.  My Australian buddy Wayne and I took pictures and tried to count just a small portion of what we were seeing, but couldn’t even begin to estimate how many sharks were represented by what we saw.  There were likely 10,000 fins drying at that one complex the day we happened upon it.  The staggering thing is that we went back a few days later and there was a completely new batch of fins being processed.

Get schooled about SHARKS at #SharkUWeek at Moody Gardens!

 

Shark U Week: Here’s Your Syllabus

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Take a bite out of summer during Shark University Week at Moody Gardens Aug. 4 through Aug. 10. Moody Gardens is a proud sponsor of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Shark U Week

 

Growing Green with Solar!

Monday, July 1st, 2013

We’re happy to announce that the Moody Gardens grew a bit greener today with the addition of some new solar-powered donations from the Green Mountain Energy™ Sun Club™!

The Sun Club‘s dedication of solar-powered recycling stations, trash compactors, and a solar-powered maintenance cart to our grounds was funded in part by Galveston-area residents who are customers of Green Mountain Energy. With these new solar additions, we expect to reduce our landfill-bound waste production by 75% in the next two years. Our new solar items were dedicated in a special ceremony with Mayor Rosen and Mr. Doug McLeod, who spoke on the importance of conservation and environmental-consciousness in Galveston.

“This is a unique application of solar energy, and we’re thrilled to see it come to life at an organization as environmentally friendly as Moody Gardens,” said Tony Napolillo, Sun Club program manager, Green Mountain Energy Company. “We’re proud to help Moody Gardens in its quest to reduce its landfill-bound trash so dramatically. I also encourage our Houston/Galveston-area Sun Club members to visit the attractions to see how their contributions are helping a worthy organization reduce its environmental impact while promoting solar power.”

Applications are now open for other non-profits interested in working with the Sun Club to receive a solar donation in 2014. Apply online at greenmountainenergysunclub.com/apply-for-a-donation/ before the August 2nd deadline and see how solar can help enhance your mission!

Eagle Scout Project: Offatts Bayou Wetlands Improvement

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Ever since Hurricane Ike, Moody Gardens and Galveston Island has been on a slow but successful recovery. But the wetlands by Offatts Bayou close to Moody Garden’s parking lot sustained much damage on the shoreline. Debris became stuck on the land and it was a long way from being a habitat for some of the Island’s animals.

On May 18, Neil Stegman launched an Eagle Scout project to change the area for better. He and a large group of volunteers worked closely with Danny Carson, Moody Gardens’ Horticultural Manager. Together, they installed an improved, raised pathway with two Osprey nesting platforms.

Moody Gardens hopes to eventually create a three-quarter mile long path with interpretive signs, resting benches, gazebos and more. As these features become complete, the habitat will thrive on its own and become one of Galveston’s birding hot spots.

Happy World Turtle Day: Meet the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Happy World Turtle Day! Here are some facts about the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, one of the species we help out here at Moody Gardens

KempsFacts-Web

We’re Going BLUE for World Oceans Day!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
One World One Ocean Foundation Display outside of MG 3D Theater

One World One Ocean Foundation Display outside of MG 3D Theater

We’ll be celebrating World Ocean Day on June 8 with ocean-themed activities across the property to raise awareness about ocean conservation.   Guests can dive into aquatic movies, a special presentation at the MG 3D Theater, keeper activities at the Aquarium Pyramid®, special discounts and live concerts.

Like Moody Gardens, the One World One Ocean Foundation hopes to inspire generations to help protect the ocean.

“Earth Day is the ideal day to make an announcement about World Oceans Day activities,” said Moody Gardens President John Zendt. “The ocean plays a vital role in our conservation efforts.”

In partnership with the Foundation, Moody Gardens created an elaborate exhibit at the MG 3D Theater exit and donated $1,000 to the Foundation. The exhibit highlights the importance of ocean conservation with staggering statistics and beautiful imagery.

Beginning at 10 a.m., visitors can join Marine Biologist Sarah Bedolfe via Skype at the MG 3D Theater. Bedolfe, who works with film producers MacGillvray Freeman, will highlight the importance of conservation. Families can learn about whale sharks, sea turtles, coconut octopus and other exotic animals featured in upcoming films.

Audiences ages 12 to 18 can get involved by producing a video telling judges what the ocean means to them. Grand prize winners will receive $100 and a Go Pro HD HERO3 camera. For more information, visit www.worldoceansday.org.

Visitors can also help support ocean conservation when Bands on the Sand kicks off at Palm Beach with the popular beach group, the Intercoastal Pirates. Visitors can donate to the One World One Ocean Foundation, with Cadillac matching the donation up to $1,000. The summer concert series is sponsored by Cadillac with fireworks.

Guests can also watch a diverse range of ocean-themed movies throughout the day or visit the Aquarium Pyramid for presentations. A special World Oceans Day combo will be offered, featuring admission to the Aquarium Pyramid and MG 3D Theater for $24.95.

About World Oceans Day

Coordinated by The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network, World Oceans Day was recognized by the United Nations in 2008, encouraging people around the world to celebrate how water connects the globe and impacts all life forms. 

Earth Day Weekend Schedule & Savings

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Discoverypyramid01

EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES:

Start your Earth Day in our Herb Garden with the Galveston County Master Gardeners, as they teach easy gardening tips on Texas butterfly gardens. Children can also enjoy plenty of activities including make-and-take recycled pots and other crafts.

  • 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Oleander Festival in the Visitor Center
  • 10:30 a.m. Seal Presentations at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 11 a.m. Penguin Feedings at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 11 a.m. Butterfly Release at Rainforest Pyramid*
  • 11 a.m. Free Master Gardener Presentations at Discovery Pyramid (Saturday only)
  • 11:30 a.m. Sky King Falconry Bird Presentation at Herb Garden (Saturday only)
  • 11:30 a.m. South Pacific Exhibit Dive at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Arts and Crafts by the Discovery Pyramid
  • 1 p.m. Ocelot Presentation at Rainforest Pyramid*
  • 1 p.m. Free Master Gardener Presentations at Discovery Pyramid
  • 1:30 p.m. Sky King Falconry Bird Presentation at Herb Garden (Saturday only)
  • 2 p.m. Caribbean Tank Dive at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 2:15 p.m. Seal Presentations at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 3 p.m. Penguin Feedings at Aquarium Pyramid*
  • 3 p.m. Butterfly Release at Rainforest Pyramid*
  • 3 p.m. Free Master Gardener Presentations at Discovery Pyramid
  • 3:00 p.m. Sky King Falconry Bird Presentation at Herb Garden (Saturday only)

*Pyramid admission not included

EARTH DAY WEEKEND SAVINGS

Save big this Earth Day weekend with our Special Combo Pass to the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids for just $24.95 ($43.90 value). Click here to purchase online (valid only April 20-21).

 

Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation and research.