Posts Tagged ‘Galveston’

Tap into Texas’s Largest Craft Beer Festival with 400 featured brews

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

According to Brewers Association records there are now almost 2,000 craft breweries in the United States and growing. In 2011, craft beer sales grew more than 13%. Join fellow craft beer lovers and supporters of this independent craft as they gather Labor Day weekend to sample more than 400 specialty and hard-to-find brews at the Third Annual BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival. This annual foam fete takes place at Moody Gardens Friday, August 31 through Sunday, September 2, 2012.

The three-day celebration will showcase two signature events: BrewLicious in the Ballroom and BrewHaHa Grand Tasting, both of which have VIP experiences, as well as the regular ticket. There are a host of related events like the BrewMasters PubCrawl and Texas Brewery Tasting Tours. Featured activities include: live music, beer and food pairing seminars and dinners featuring renowned chefs, educational events, and a slew of Brew Brains and industry experts including award-winning BrewMasters. Sunday, September 2 will feature a new event called Tex-E-Que which will feature a live concert.

“We’re fortunate to have multiple micro breweries right here in Houston and many others throughout the region, said event founder and organizer, Clifton McDerby, principal of Food & Vine Time Productions, Inc. “This event is dedicated to showcasing the voluminous and explosive industry that is craft and specialty brews and it just keeps getting bigger and better along with the craft beer industry,” added McDerby. “We started as the largest beer festival in the state and we plan to give Texans even more including the largest selection of Craft beers available at any Texas festival. Plus, we’ll continue to feature Taste it First at BrewMasters selections where we’ll be bringing to market beers that haven’t been tasted before since the brewers are holding off the beer’s release to showcase them first at BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival.”

Festivities begin on Friday, August 31 with BrewLicious in the Ballroom. Located at the Moody Gardens Hotel’s Francis Anne Moody Ballroom, this spectacular evening for suds sippers is for the serious beer and culinary enthusiast. BrewLicious in the Ballroom will feature renowned chefs showcasing unique food and beer pairing selections. BrewLicious in the Ballroom will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets to the event are $55, with a VIP Premium Room upgrade ticket for $75 with early entry and premium craft selections.

Also on tap is the BrewMasters Pub Crawl Friday, August 31 at 8 p.m. Hop on board this festive party bus with a tour to some of Galveston’s coolest bars and meet featured Brew Brains at each stop.

Saturday, September 1st sample some of the best available brews in the world at the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting held in the Moody Gardens Expo Arena, featuring over 400 craft and specialty brews and more than 30 wines. Admission to BrewHaHa is $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $75 for a VIP ticket, or guests can purchase a VIP or general admission two-day Hopper Pass. The BrewHaHa Grand Tasting will run from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and includes access to multiple beer seminars on the Spec’s University Seminar Stage, a fun and educational experience for all who take pride in their beer and want to expand their knowledge of craft beers.

Sunday, September 2nd offers the new Tex-E-Que and concert. For a $10 cover charge, beer lovers get their pick of 400 selections for a flat price per bottle. Get them while they last and boot scoot the night away.

BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival is presented by Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods. Additional sponsors include Moody Gardens Hotel and Conference Center, GreatBrewers.com, Toasted Head Wine, and DeFalco’s Home Wine & Beer Supplies.

For more information on the BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival, visit www.brewmastersbeerfest.com or call 713-557-5732.

WORLD’S LARGEST FLOWERING PLANT IN FULL BLOOM AT MOODY GARDENS

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

 

Corpse Flower, “Morticia” Intrigues Guests with Two-Day Bloom and Powerful Stench.

Galveston Island, TX (June 14, 2012) — The odor of rotting flesh has never smelled so sweet as “Morticia,” the Giant Corpse Flower officially started to bloom in the evening June 13 at the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid. With a short blooming period of 2 to 4 days, visitors have the rare opportunity to see and smell the Amorphophallus titanum. Native only to Sumatra, Indonesia, it is not only rare in its native habitat, it is extremely rare in cultivation. Fewer than 85 Corpse Flowers have ever bloomed in the United States. Measuring in at 56 inches tall and 40 inches in circumference, this bloom is only the fourth in the state of Texas. Visitors can expect to have their breath taken away in more ways than one.

“The stench and beauty of this plant are equally amazing,” said Donnita Brannon, horticulture exhibit manager at Moody Gardens; who added the staff has been anxiously waiting for the big blooming event to occur since the plant first broke dormancy May 1. “She is even more beautiful than I expected. We are celebrating and invite guests to hurry out to the Rainforest Pyramid to share this experience with us.”

The common name, Corpse Flower, originates from the unpleasant odor the plant emits during flowering. The strong smell that is similar to rotting flesh attracts its pollinators, carrion beetles and sweat flies. It is considered the largest flowering plant in the world, often reaching heights of over 10 feet tall. Technically, it is the largest unbranched inflorescence, containing both male & female flowers.

The plant has a very unpredictable blooming schedule. There is no bloom season and flowers can be produced at any time of year. The Corpse Flower grows from an underground tuber which can weigh up to 200 pounds. A single large leaf that resembles a small tree emerges from this tuber that can grow to more than 20 feet tall. During this vegetative state, the tuber gains energy to produce the massive bloom. The plant then goes into a dormant period for approximately three months. The tuber will then either produce another leaf or a flower as it has at Moody Gardens. Once the tuber breaks dormancy and begins to send up a flower spike, the plant will usually bloom within four to six weeks as it did at Moody Gardens. There are six other Corpse Flower tubers in the Rainforest Pyramid. Brannon hopes to see some of these plants bloom in the future.

The Corpse Flower was first discovered in 1878 by an Italian plant explorer Odoardo Beccari. Upon initial discovery, the plant struck fear into Beccari’s team due to the plant’s tremendous size and smell. It was believed to be a man-eating plant. Beccari took seeds back to the botanical gardens in Florence, Italy and later sent seedlings to The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, England. The first recorded bloom of the Corpse Flower took place at Kew in 1889. Police had to be called in to control the crowds of people who came to see it.

The first bloom ever recorded in the United States took place at New York Botanic Garden in 1937 where it created a similar response. The same plant bloomed again in 1939. In May 1998, the University of Missouri at St. Louis had a bloom and was the first in this country in nearly 60 years. Due to the plant’s peculiarity, popularity and incredible appeal to growers and collectors in the botanical community, the Corpse Flower began to gain attention in again the 1990s and early 2000s. Since May 1998, there have been 84 recorded blooms in the U.S. at arboretums, botanic gardens, zoos and universities.


Rainforest Pyramid®: Special Hours of Operation

Thursday, June 14: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday, June 15: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, June 16: 9 a.m. – 10p.m.

Click here for more information

“Who ‘nose’ when the Corpse Flower will bloom?” Contest

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

UPDATE—WINNERS: Lucky 13…today has been declared official bloom date! Only guesses submitted by 2:00pm today June 13, 2012 will be taken in consideration. Email us at communications@moodygardens.com  if we reply to your comment with “WINNER” to claim your prize. Thank you all for your guesses!

Morticia, the Corpse Flower, looks like she’s ready for her bloom! But without a set blooming season, it’s hard to predict when the Corpse Flower will bloom. So who “nose” when the Corpse Flower will bloom and begin its silent and smelly flowering? The first 20 people to guess correctly will win a free ticket to the Rainforest Pyramid to see Morticia!

A Corpse Flower bloom occurs when the spadix, the long, French bread-like stem, emerges from the bud. At that point, the flower will grow four to six inches a day and the strong smell will start to roll in. The strong smell that is similar to rotting flesh attracts its pollinators, carrion beetles and sweat flies. It is considered the largest flowering plant in the world, often reaching heights of over 10 feet tall. Technically, it is the largest unbranched inflorescence, containing both male & female flowers.

The Corpse Flower grows from an underground tuber which can weigh up to 200 pounds. From this tuber, a large single leaf emerges resembling a small tree that can grow to more than 20 feet tall. During this vegetative state, the tuber gains its energy to produce the massive bloom.  The plant then goes into a dormant period for approximately three months. The tuber will then either produce another leaf or a flower as it has at Moody Gardens.

Once fully unfurled, the flower will only last for a day or two. Then the flower collapses upon itself and withers away. The tuber will then go into a dormant period, resting and gaining energy, eventually sending up another tree trunk-like stalk, beginning the incredible process all over again!

The Corpse Flower is under threat of extinction in the wild due to illegal logging and the clearing of rain forest land for cultivation of oil palm plantations. It is our hope that interest in and appreciation of our Earth’s amazing plants and animals will lead to increased efforts at conserving the habitats of these and other rare species.

CONTEST RULES:

Use the information we’ve provided above as well as Morticia’s growth progress, which we update frequently on our Facebook  & Twitter, to guess the exact date that she will bloom. Our horticultural exhibit manager, Donita Brannon, will declare the official bloom date. Here are the rules:

  • Leave your guess in the comments section of this post or tweet us your guess @Moody_Gardens with hashtag #MorticiaContest
  • Only one guess per person.
  • Contest open until flower starts to bloom
  • First 20 people to guess correctly will win two (2) tickets to the Rainforest Pyramid®
  • Only people who guess the EXACT date determined by our horticultural exhibit manager will win

While you’re at it, why not go ahead and like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc. Any comments that are inappropriate, offensive, spam or commercial in nature can be deleted by the page admin. Must be 18 years or older to win.

Recap: Birding 201 (10/15/2011)

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Presented by Moody Gardens® and Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, Birding 101 is a series of free classes designed to educate and excite people about the tremendous variety of bird life routinely seen around Galveston Island. Birding 201 classes allows participants, led by an instructor, to visit areas on the island and spy some of the amazing variety of birds here.

Here is a quick recap, written by Birding instructor Greg Whittaker, of what you might see during our Birding classes:

Saturday, 15 October — Birding 201

Beautiful weather – left MG property shortly after 9am with a full van. Visited the Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet) nests at the ballfield on 54th street and Ave. S. Travelled to Pelican Island to the wetlands interpretive area, then east to Pier 19, then to the Big Reef area on Bodekker Road and finally to the base of the South Jetty on east beach. Not sure this is the complete list as I think I missed a few that others saw during the trip. Again, this is taxonomic order and not the order in which we saw them. 45 species, although I wouldn’t technically count the unidentified rail and the presumption on the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Species spotted include:

American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Reddish Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk (think this was the one we originally identified as Peregrine Falcon but looked in book and think it was a Sharp-shin), Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Rail (not identified to species), American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Forster’s Tern, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Monk Parakeet, Belted Kingfisher, Scissortail Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Great-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow.

Get out there and see some of the cool stuff before, and after this front comes through. It should bring some more waterfowl and perhaps bigger numbers of sandhill cranes.

Upcoming Birding classes:

*Birding 101

  • Date: November 12, 2011
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m
  • Location: Aquarium Pyramid Lobby
  • Admission: FREE

*Birding 201

  • Date: November 19, 2011
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m
  • Location: Aquarium Pyramid Lobby
  • Admission: $5.00
  • Reservations: Call 409-683-4105 no later than the Wednesday prior to the Saturday class.

Don’t Worry, There Are No Count Dracula’s Here

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

With Halloween fast approaching, Moody Gardens® is here to celebrate one of the holiday’s most recognizable creatures- the bat. In the newly renovated Rainforest Pyramid® there are three different exhibits that allow you to get a little closer to these mythical mammals and learn the truth about bats.

The first type of bat you will encounter at Moody Gardens® is the Rodrigues fruit bats. This species of bat are located in the treetops of the African section of the Rainforest Pyramid® for public viewing. The way these bats navigate and find food is different from the other species of bats in the pyramid. Instead of using echolocation, the rodrigues species use their large eyes and hearing to find their way. They also have a keen sense of smell that allows them to find their food.

As you continue through the Rainforest, you will come across another type of fruit bat, the Egyptian fruit bat. Just as the name states these bats survive on a daily balance of fruits prepared by our biologists. These fruit bats originate in areas of Africa and can live up to 22 years while in captivity.

Finally, you’ll be able to watch our smallest and most notorious species of bat–the Vampire bat. Unlike the stereotype that Halloween places on these mammals, the vampire bat does not want to turn you into a vampire. These nocturnal bats sleep throughout the day and come out at night to feed upon the blood of horses, pigs and cows otherwise known as bovine blood. These types of bats are the only known mammals that can survive exclusively on blood. The reverse habitual pattern can be seen when visiting the exhibit and also a new exciting surprise. Recently, two of our older vampire bats have added a baby to our vampire bat family!

If you want to get yourself in the Halloween spirit then come to Moody Gardens® to see all of the different species of bats. Also, celebrate our Ghostly Gardens on October 30, 2011. The property will offer free trick-or-treating, creepy crafts, face painting and other fun activities for children and their families. The event will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will also include a kid’s costume contest for children 12 years old and younger with prizes for the participant with the best costume. The costume contest will kickoff at 3 p.m. in the Garden Lobby of the visitor’s center. All other activities will be held in various locations throughout the Moody Gardens® complex. Guests of all ages are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costume the day of the event to receive $5 admission to each Moody Gardens® attraction.

For more information on the Rainforest Pyramid and other attractions visit www.moodygardens.org 

Where in the World is Atlas?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

It’s time to check in with Atlas, our 362 pound loggerhead sea turtle friend that we released back in July. Atlas hasn’t wasted anytime exploring the Gulf since his release. He’s been down the Texas coast and even ventured into Mexico, before heading off to the Louisiana Coast. What a detour! So where will Atlas journey to next? Maybe he’s headed to the Bahamas? Or maybe he’s trying to draw a pattern and will head back to Galveston! Wherever he goes, you can keep track of him too by visiting http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?project_id=652

Here’s a little background on Atlas and his release:

Biologists from Moody Gardens partnered with officials from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to release 10 endangered sea turtles, including Atlas, a loggerhead sea turtle on display in the Aquarium Pyramid® since 2004. They were released on July 14, 20 miles off the coast of Galveston.

Atlas came to Moody Gardens in June of 2004 from the Six Flags amusement park in Aurora, Ohio, with the intent that he would one day be released back into the wild. Moody Gardens biologists provided for his health and welfare to help prepare for his eventual release. In 2010, Atlas was taken off exhibit so biologists could prepare him for life in the wild by allowing him to search for food on his own, thereby removing the connection between humans and food instilled in him by years of captivity.

Where do you think Atlas will end up next?

WHAT’S BREWING?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

BrewMasters International Beer Festival at Moody Gardens
Labor Day Weekend, September 2 – 5
WHAT: BrewMasters International Beer Festival, presented by Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods!  Held at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center, the largest craft beer festival in Texas is a four-day celebration showcasing three signature events:  the BrewTopia Beer Garden, the Brew HaHa Grand Tastings & Keg Korner, and BrewLicious in the Ballroom.  Interactive activities include the BrewMasters 5K Rock & Run, a new kid’s zone, live music, beer and food pairing dinners featuring renowned chefs, educational seminars, and award-winning Brewmasters.  To beer-lovers delight, Spec’s will bring in upwards of 20 Brewmasters/Founders and 80 Brew Brains to quench the literal and educational thirst of consumers interested in learning more about the festival’s 400 represented craft beers.  More than 15,000 suds sippers are expected to hoist a mug at the craft beer bonanza.

WHEN:  Labor Day Weekend, Friday thru Monday, September 2 to 5

WHERE: Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center, One Hope Boulevard, Galveston, 77554; (888-388-8484)

HIGHLIGHTS:

BREWTOPIA BEER GARDEN – Friday-Sunday, September 2-4, 4-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Sat/Sun

The family-friendly area under the big tent in the Oleander Bowl at Moody Gardens includes a new Krazy Kids Fun Zone, live music, food and of course beer! Entry to the BrewTopia Beer Garden is free, although the donation of canned goods or spare change is encouraged with contributions benefiting the Galveston County Food Bank in conjunction with hunger awareness month.

BREWTOPIA MUSIC LINE-UP:

Friday, Sept. 2   

4:30-6:30 p.m.                 David Grace

7-10 p.m.                            The Line Up

Saturday, Sept. 3

Noon-2 p.m.                       Free Radicals

2:15-3:45 p.m.                  The Hit Squad

4-6:30 p.m.                        Wearemantis

7-8 p.m.                               Mr. Blacc Sheep and Bigga Staar

8:15-10 p.m.                      D.R.U.M.

Sunday, Sept. 4

Noon-2:30 p.m.               The Navigators

3-5 p.m.                               Paul Ramirez Band

5:30-7:30 p.m.                 Texas Brass Band

8-9:30 p.m.                        ZWEE

BREWLICIOUS IN THE BALLROOM – Friday, September 2, 6:30 -10 p.m.

Located at the Moody Gardens Hotel’s Francis Anne Moody Ballroom, BrewLicious in the Ballroom will feature restaurants and chefs showcasing unique food and beer pairing samples.  Tickets to the event are $55, with a VIP Premium Room upgrade ticket for $75.

PUB PARTY CRAWL – Friday, September 2, 8 p.m. start from Moody Gardens Hotel Lobby

Tour Galveston Island’s featured hot spots in an air conditioned bus and meet Brew Brains along the way while sampling their crafts.  Tickets are $20; includes BrewMasters coozie, T-shirt and reserved seat on Moody Garden’s bus.

BREWMASTERS 5K ROCK & RUNSaturday, September 3, 6 a.m. onsite registration; 7 a.m. walk/run

Party on the Pavement sponsored by Coca-Cola and held at Moody Gardens.  The race will be a timed fun run, followed by a 5K walk.  A post-event awards ceremony takes place at 8:45 a.m. and includes complimentary “fitness friendly” beer.  Participants may register online at www.signmeupsports.com/77924  or download a race brochure at www.brewmastersbeerfest.com.   Entry fees paid by August 27 are $20; fees paid August 28 thru race day are $25.  The BrewMasters 5K Rock & Run benefits Galveston County Food Bank Gleanings From the Harvest, a non-profit whose mission is to find and distribute surplus food to organizations that serve the hungry.

TEXAS BREWERY TASTING TOUR – Saturday, September 3, 11:30 a.m.  at Moody Gardens ConventionCenter Floral Rooms   —  Exclusive meet and greet and sampling with emerging and wildly successful Texas craft brewery Brewmasters representing No Label, Saint Arnold, Karbach Brewing, Southern Star, Austin Beerworks, Ranger Creek, Rahr & Sons, and Real Ale.  Tickets $25; limited to 50 guests.

BREWHAHA GRAND TASTINGS & KEG KORNER – Saturday & Sunday, September 3-4, 2 p.m. VIP; 3-6:30 p.m. at Moody Gardens Convention Center — Sample some of the best of brews featuring 400 craft and specialty brews, more than 30 wines, and Brew Brain seminars on the Spec’s University stage.  Admission to Brew HaHa is $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $75 for a VIP ticket, or purchase a VIP or general admission two-day Spec’s Hopper Pass.

BrewHaHa Brew Brain Seminars

Moderated by Justin Cody, Craft & High-end Import Buyer, Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods

Grant Wood, Senior Brewing Manager, Samuel Adams (Boston, MA)

Gregg Berman, Owner, Clown Shoes Beer (Massachusetts)

Craig Pijanowski, Lead Brewer, Boulevard Brewing (Kansas City, MO)

Eric Warner, Founder and Brewmaster of Karbach Brewing – Houston’s newest Brewery opening in September and featuring their brews first at BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival

Rick Lovett, Owner/Founder, Indian Wells Brewing (Inyokem, CA)

John DeMers, Author & Radio Host, “Delicious Mischief” (Houston, TX)

BEER DINNERS & BRUNCH – Saturday & Sunday, September 3-4 at Shearn’s Restaurant/Moody Gardens

Shearn’s 4-course Beer Pairing Dinner to feature Samuel Adams beer (Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for $85) and hosted by Samuel Adams Lead Brewer Grant Wood (appearance Saturday only); South of the Border Beer Brunch with Victoria, Modelo, Pacifica, and Corona Beer (Sunday only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $35) in the Frances Anne Moody Ballroom.

FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR – Sunday, September 4 at 8:45 p.m. 

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend with a bang at this fireworks extravaganza held over the water at Moody Gardens.  Free to the public.

BLUES & BREWS – Monday, September 5, noon to 4 p.m.

Craftapolooza Poolside Terrace at Moody Gardens Hotel with live music and happy hour craft beer pricing.

SPONSORS:  The BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival is presented by Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods.  Additional sponsors include Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center, Alex Rodriguez Mercedes- Benz | Sprinter, Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, Toasted Head, CultureMap, Cumulus Radio (ESPN 97.5, KRBE 104.1, and KHJK 103.7, Draft Magazine, The Greensheet, WHERE Magazine, Houston Press, Shiner, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s, Great Brewers, DaFalco’s Home Wine and Beer Supplies, AT&T and Coca-Cola.

BOOK HOTEL:   Moody Gardens Hotel is offering a special BrewMasters package for the festival weekend.  To book a hotel package, visit www.moodygardenshotel.com or call 888-388-8484.  For additional hotel reservation options, visit www.galveston.com.

MORE INFO & TICKETS:    www.brewmastersbeerfest.com or call 713-557-5732

Sharks: Fact vs. Fiction

Monday, July 18th, 2011


A recent string of shark sightings along the Texas Gulf Coast has sparked a flurry of media interest and has beach-goers questioning their safety in the salty waters. According to recent reports, two large sharks were caught from the shorelines at Crystal Beach and Matagorda Bay and a college student was bitten at Surfside Beach, adding to the animosity between man and fish that Steven Spielberg helped permeate our culture nearly four decades ago.

While the image of massive aquatic beasts breaking the surface to swallow anything in sight has been burned into our collective consciousness via Jaws or the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, several experts, including those at Moody Gardens, say that sharks are misunderstood creatures and it’s important that humans learn to respect them and know how to safely share the ocean with them.

For any who are apprehensive about visiting Galveston and going to the beach because of what may be swimming beside them the water, here’s a breakdown of shark fact and fiction to help shed some light on whether or not their reputation is deserved.

FICTION: Increased sightings of sharks in the Texas Gulf Coast means I’m more likely to get bitten if I go swimming.

FACT: Instances of sharks attacking humans are extremely, extremely rare. According to Roy Drinnen, Moody Gardens’ assistant curator of fishes, while there are numerous sharks that make their home in the waters off Galveston Island, there have only been approximately 11 shark bites reported in the Galveston Bay area in the last 100 years.

“There are sharks out there. That’s their home. We basically are visitors when we go swimming. We have to expect them to be out there,” Drinnen said. “You have a better chance being struck by lightning or killed by a group of bees.”

FICTION: Sharks are a bigger threat to humans than humans are to sharks.

FACT: Humans are a huge threat to sharks, as overfishing is the biggest threat to their existence. A soup made from shark fins is a delicacy in many countries. Sharks are routinely caught and thrown back into the ocean to die after their fins are chopped off in a process called “finning.” Finning is now prohibited in the United States.

FICTION: There’s nothing you can do to reduce your chances of being attacked by a shark.

FACT: Swimmers can take numerous precautions to reduce their chances of being mistaken for prey by a shark. A few tips include:

  • Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk (sharks’ typical feeding time)
  • Avoid wearing any shiny, flashy clothing or jewelry that a shark can mistake for a fish in the Gulf’s murky waters
  • Leave the water if you are bleeding in any way, as sharks are attracted to the smell of blood.

Overall, sharks are beautiful animals that deserve respect more than fear. While sharks are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico with approximately 15 species inhabiting the waters around Galveston, attacks are few and far between.

To learn more about sharks, visit the Sharks: In Depth exhibit, currently in the Aquarium Pyramid at Moody Gardens®.


RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: African Palm Civet

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Don’t call her a weasel!  Come meet Zinga, our African Palm Civet who lives in the nocturnal animal exhibit at the Moody Gardens® Rainforest Pyramid®. The African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is a small cat-like relative of weasels and mongooses and is one of the many mammals you’ll meet on your adventure when the Rainforest Pyramid® reopens on May 28th.

African Palm Civets are found in the forests of eastern and central Africa and are threatened due to loss of habitat. They will usually weigh between 3.7 to 4.6 pounds and are brown to light tan in color with a mottled series of darker brown spots. The fur is darker on the top half of the body to help the Civet stay camouflaged in the trees. The Civet also has bare pink pads on its feet to help provide cushioning and friction while they move and hunt. It also has a thick, muscular tail which helps with balance.  These omnivores (both meat and plant eating) will use its back feet and tail to grip and balance on branches while using its front feet to grab and manipulate prey. It will then finish off its prey with a series of fast bites. If the prey is small enough, it may swallow it whole.

Civets are arboreal (tree dwelling), solitary and crepuscular, meaning only active at dawn and dusk. Females will usually give birth to up to four young after two months of gestation. Also, the female’s mammary glands secrete an orange-yellow liquid that turns the mother’s belly and the offspring’s fur orange-yellow. It is thought this is a deterrent for males wanting to mate and to protect the young from attacks. An adult male African Palm Civet may occupy a territory of over 250 acres with up to three females occupying the same territory. Each female will have her own patch of land and will only share it with their offspring. Adult male and female civets hardly socialize, but they will keep track of each other using siren-like calls.

Smell something? Civets have scent glands on their feet and tail that secrete a fruit-like smell. These scents are used for a variety of purposes.

Watch the following video to meet Zinga and come see her and her friends on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!

(Click here if the following video is not functioning)

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: Giant Otters

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

You “otter” see this! Come meet the newest residents of Moody Gardens® when life emerges on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®. On your adventure you’ll meet Dru, Ella and Yzma, three Giant Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) who came to Moody Gardens® on December 17 of last year.

Giant Otters are a carnivorous mammal native to South America and found mostly in the Amazon River and the Pantanal, which is an area of tropical wetland in Brazil. Otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae) and have the longest body length in the species. In some cases, males have reached reported lengths of over seven feet. Males in general will be about 4.9 to 5.9 feet, while females will reach lengths of about 4.9 to 5.6 feet.

These noisy mammals have the shortest fur of all otter species and it’s usually chocolate-brown, reddish or fawn in coloration. This fur is extremely dense so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. Guard hairs trap water and keep the inner fur dry. These hairs are about one third of an inch long and are twice as long as the fur of the inner coat. Giant Otters also have unique markings of white or cream colored fur on the throat and under the chin, which allows individuals to be identified from birth. It is believed that these markings are used by the otter to identify each other. When meeting each other for the first time, otters will engage in a behavior known as “periscoping”. When “periscoping”, otters will pop their heads and chests out of the water to display their markings to the other. They are also characterized by their small, rounded ears and their short and stubby legs that end in large webbed feet equipped with very sharp claws that help them catch prey.  Giant Otters also have highly sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) that track changes in water pressure and currents, which aids in detecting prey.

Giant Otters are diurnal, which means they are active exclusively during daylight hours. They are excellent hunters and have extremely keen senses of smell and sight. They are apex predators, meaning they have no serious natural enemies. A Giant Otter’s diet usually consists of fish, but they have also been known to eat crabs, snakes and even small Caimans. These natives of South America like to talk too.  They are the noisiest of any otter species and they have vocalizations that indicate alarm, aggressiveness and reassurance just to name a few.

This species of otter is unusually social for a member of the weasel family. In Spanish, they are known as Lobos Del Rio(Wolves of River) and Perro de Agua (Water Dog) because they live and hunt in packs like canines. They can live in groups of anywhere from two to twenty, but the average group size is three to eight. These groups are strongly cohesive. Members will sleep, play, travel and feed together. Group members will share roles, structured around a dominant breeding pair. This species is highly territorial and they will mark their territory with latrines, gland secretions and vocalizations. Dens are built into the riverbanks and are usually equipped with multiple entrances and chambers. After a 65-70 day gestation period, females will give birth to around one to five pups. After two years the young otters reach full maturity and will leave the family group permanently.

Giant Otters have been categorized as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1999 as a result from poaching and loss of habitat. Moody Gardens® is one of six zoos and aquariums in North America that feature Giant Otters.

Watch the following video to learn about Dru, Ella and Yzma’s journey and see how they are adapting to their new home here at Moody Gardens. (Click here if the video below is not working.)