Posts Tagged ‘Aquarium Pyramid’
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.
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!
The toughest penguin at Moody Gardens is growing into a big guy just like his namesake.
Watt, a King Penguin named after Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, has already grown to around 3-feet tall and 30 pounds in just 2 ½ months.
Watt absolutely loves fish, which has helped him grow so big in such a short about of time. He is a curious little guy, but his dad still watches over him. He’s definitely not ready for his son to be exploring on his own.
Watt suffered a cut on his back shortly after breaking out of his shell. Under the care of Moody Gardens biologists, Watt proved he was one tough chick and made a quick recovery. Now he is on exhibit joining the nearly 100 penguins housed in the Aquarium Pyramid
J.J. Watt is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and one of the most popular athletes in Houston.
Come see Watt and the other penguins at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. The Aquarium is currently open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
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
Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation and research.
Volunteering is a great way to boost morale and promote team building for your company, organization, or student group. Corporate and group volunteers at Moody Gardens have an opportunity to get involved with ground work and special events, such as the Festival of Lights.
At Moody Gardens, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the help of our incredible volunteers. We depend on them for assistance in many areas of operation.
The Corporate and Group Volunteer Program allows participants to provide hands-on assistance in many areas, including but not limited to:
- Gardens and grounds keeping (mulching, planting, and weeding)
- Exhibit upkeep
- Event preparation
- Cleaning attractions, such as the lazy river and playground structures, and surfaces
- Paint and change bulbs for the Festival of Lights
- Special events, such as Ghostly Gardens, Easter in the Gardens, and Festival of Lights
Corporate and Group Volunteer Program details:
- Weather permitting, groups may volunteer year round
- Highest need for volunteers is between September and May
- A maximum of 50 volunteers will be accepted
- Groups are taken on a first-come, first-served basis
- There is a 4-hour minimum requirement
- Must be 16 years or older
- Children may not accompany adults while volunteering
- Each participant must sign a liability waiver
Volunteering with a group gives you the opportunity to become part of the conservation and education efforts that are a major aspect of Moody Gardens. You also have the chance to give back to your community and meet new people.
When you aren’t spending your time helping us out, be sure to check out the popular attractions, such as the Rainforest Pyramid and Aquarium Pyramid. For overnight stays, check out one of the best places to stay in Galveston—the Moody Gardens Hotel. We are so appreciative of our volunteers, and look forward to working with you soon!
Spend your Valentine’s Day on a unique date in Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. Celebrate the romance by diving into an underwater dining experience! Seating is limited, so book now!
Choose from four different Aquarium Pyramid dining experiences:
Tunnel of Love: Feel as though you’re underwater in our Caribbean Exhibit tunnel. Enjoy your romantic dinner while sharks and other beautiful sea creatures swim overhead.
Sealed with a Kiss: First- and second-level seating is available by the seals and sea lions of the North Pacific Exhibit. These playful animals will add a splash of fun to your dining experience.
Fishin’ for Love: First and second level seating is available in the South Pacific Exhibit. The colorful fish inhabitants provide the perfect backdrop for your romantic evening.
Lovable Penguins: You’ll have to be careful around the penguins of the South Atlantic Exhibit! They’re so cute they may just steal your heart this Valentine’s Day!
Our Lover’s Menu is packed full of delicious options to make the dining experience one to remember!
Soup and Salad (choice of one):
- Asparagus Bisque topped with Roasted Pear
- Seven Leaf Salad with Fresh Berries and tossed with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Entrée Selection (choice of one):
- Colonel’s Rib Eye Steak with Garlic Herb Shrimp served with Red Potatoes
- Red Snapped topped with Lump Crab Meat Cream Sauce served with Sauteed Julianne Vegetables
- Pan Grilled Chicken Breast topped with Grape Tomato and Porcini Mushroom Sauce served with Char-Grilled Asparagus
- Chocolate Heart Shaped Tiramisu for two: three-layer sponge cake with mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, whipped cream, coffee liqueur, chocolate shavings, and topped with cocoa. Served with Bailey’s whipped cream.
This special Sea of Love Valentine’s Dinner is $80 per couple (does not include tax and gratuity). The event is from 6-8 p.m. on February 14, 2013.
Go ahead and turn the evening into an overnight romantic rendezvous with our special Valentine’s Hotel Package. For only $255, the package includes:
- Valentine’s dinner
- Chocolate covered strawberries
- Breakfast for two
- Behind the scenes tour of the Aquarium Pyramid on Friday morning
Make your reservations TODAY! Call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4200.
At Moody Gardens, we have thousands of animal residents and a huge variety of different species! Keep reading to learn more about these exciting creatures from all over the world.
Pygmy Loris: A Pygmy loris is a mammal that can be found in the rainforests and bamboo groves throughout Asia, including China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. This wooly creature has a brown coat and grows to be up to ten inches long and weighs about two pounds. They are recognized by their large eyes and small ears. Pygmy lorises are nocturnal animals that feed on small invertebrates, eggs, small reptiles, fruits, and vegetation. They can easily climb trees because of their opposable thumbs and strong hands and feet. The Pygmy loris is a threatened species, but cooperative breeding and conservation by various organizations is helping to ensure their survival.
Gentoo Penguins: We have a special place in our heart for the penguin residents at Moody Gardens! The Gentoo penguin can be found on the sub-Antarctic islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. They are recognizable by their red eyes ringed in white feathers, with a white patch above each eye that extends over their head. Their black beak has a vibrant orange “swish” and they waddle around on orange feet. The Gentoo penguin is listed as a lower risk-near threatened species because of habitat destruction.
Ocelot: The ocelot is an endangered medium-sized wild cat with tawny fur and irregular dark brown spots and stripes. They come from arid and forested habitats all over the world, including many parts of Central and South America. Ocelots are terrific swimmers that hunt during the night feeding on small deer, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, birds, other small mammals, and sometimes they go fishing!
Moody Gardens is dedicated to the care and survival of animals. We go to great lengths to make sure we provide a comfortable home for our animal residents and provide assistance to animals in need.
Moody Gardens has worked with the Marine Stranding Network and other organizations to help rescue injured animals and rehabilitate them. Moody Gardens has helped to provide aid in the recovery and release of marine animals, such as dolphins and turtles, back into the wild.
A permanent home is also provided for animals that may not be able to survive in the wild, as in the case of Porter. Porter was a newborn abandoned harbor seal pup that needed treatment for dehydration and injuries. After the Marine Animal Lifeline nursed him back to health, he did not have the survival and hunting skills necessary to be released back into the wild. He is now a permanent resident of the Aquarium Pyramid’s North Pacific Exhibit.
At the Seahorse Symphony Exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid, visitors are reminded of the quickly diminishing seahorse population. It’s estimated that each year around 20 million seahorses are taken from the ocean to be used as souvenirs, pets, and for medicine. Project Seahorse is a collaborative international effort that focuses on conservation habitats, educating visitors, and making a difference for the seahorse population.
The efforts of Moody Gardens have been as widespread as South America, where a rescue team helped save a colony of Caribbean Flamingos after their home was attacked by jaguars. Also, the King Penguins at Moody Gardens are a genetically desirable group that have been part of a breeding exchange program with other institutions, helping to ensure their species survival.
Come visit the King Penguins and Porter the seal at the Aquarium Pyramid on your next family weekend getaway in Texas. Don’t forget to stop in and see the variety of animal residents at the Rainforest Pyramid! We look forward to seeing you soon.
Boy and Girl Scouts can come for a day of fun and learning at Moody Gardens, and earn badges and merit badges through our Scout Programs.
Each scout workshop includes hands-on activities, a Moody Gardens attraction visit, and a guaranteed good time! While scouts are having fun, they are also meeting most or all of the requirements needed to earn specific badges.
For Cub Scouts, we offer badges for Wolves, Bears, and Webelos. For $100.00, up to ten participants (including chaperones) can participate and earn the following badges:
- Wolves: Elective 13, Birds
- Bears: Achievement 5, Sharing Your World
- Webelos: Naturalist Activity Badge
Each additional participant is $10.00 per person. We also require one chaperone for every five cub scouts, and non-scout children are not permitted to attend the workshop.
Reservations are required and must be made at least two weeks in advance. Call 1-800-582-4673, ext. 4325 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and reservations.
For Boy Scouts, we offer Merit Badge Day, which gives them the opportunity to finish most of the requirements for a merit badge in just one day.
Upcoming Merit Badge Days at Moody Gardens include:
February 16, 2013 (Register on January 21, 2013)
- Environmental Science $25
- Communications $25
- Oceanography $20
- Nature $25
March 23, 2013 (Register on February 18, 2013)
- Communications $25
- Soil & Water Conservation $20
- Mammal Study $20
- First Aid $25
April 20, 2013 (Register on March 25, 2013)
- Oceanography $20
- Environmental Science $25
- Nature $25
- Bird Study $20
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on the designated days. Call 1-800-582-4673, ext. 4320 or 409-683-4320 to register. Private Merit Badge workshops are available for a minimum of ten scouts, and two weeks’ notice is required. You can also email email@example.com for more information.