World Oceans Day!

From North to South, East to West, we are all connected by a vast body of water known as the ocean. This year’s theme for World Ocean’s Day is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet,” and is celebrated on June 8th. This day is meant to celebrate the importance of the world’s oceans and how vital they are to the environment.

Groups and organizations across the country are participating in various activities to educate the public on ocean conservation and ways they can help keep the ocean healthy for future generations. Water is the source of life and is vital to mankind and animals worldwide. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our new film Wild Africa 3D as you are taken on water’s journey throughout the enchanted continent of Africa. Learn how life is created and sustained by water as you cascade along raging rivers or travel above the plains on the largest theater screen in the state of Texas.IMG_1174

In honor or World Ocean’s Day we would like to recognize some of our dedicated Moody Gardens divers that recently completed a week-long technical diving research cruise. During this time they explored mesophotic coral reefs over 100 miles off the Texas Coast in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and outlying coral banks. Members of the Voss Lab at FAU Harbor Branch and collaborators from Florida FWC leading the cruise aim to provide data that will help us better understand and protect coral ecosystems using a suite of molecular techniques. These studies are important for effective management strategies because these reefs are typically deeper than 30 meters, and are largely an unknown frontier that provides habitats to commercially important fish species and coral larvae for recovery of shallower reef areas. We have included the cool video link below for your viewing pleasure!

 http://vosslab.weebly.com/news.

Out To Sea

The dedicated curatorial staff here at Moody Gardens routinely does great things here on property, but they also do many great things out in the community as well. Recently, two of our Penguin and Seal Biologists, Hector and Allison visited the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach, CA and volunteered to help the stranding center with the large amount of pinniped patients they have this spring. PMMC currently cares for four species of pinnipeds: over 100 California sea lions, a dozen elephant seals, two harbor seals, and two Northern fur seals. Officials have called the large number of strandings an unusual mortality event for California sea lions. It is also rare to see animals like Northern fur seals all the way down in Southern California.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the week that the biologists were there, they helped with the various tasks the center performs every day from cleaning sinks and sorting fish to scrubbing, feeding, and shifting animals. Some patients were in large groups in large pens competing for fish to prove they were ready to survive on their own after release, and some were still getting individual care to learn how to eat and search for fish.  Our biologists worked side by side with PMMC staff and volunteers and a biologist from Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, IA.

On Sunday, May 22, Hector and Allison were able to join several other volunteers in a release of two of the animals they had helped care for. Commanche and Detour were released after several months of rehabilitation.

shifting elephant sealsCalifornia sea lions and harbor seals pupping season is early summer. With this approaching, it is important to remember to give animals space on beaches. If in your travels you come upon an animal you think needs help, whether that’s a seabird here in Galveston or a marine mammal on another coast, please do not approach the animal and call a local stranding center for help.

In anticipation of World Oceans Day we thought to include the link of this bittersweet release.

Summer, Summer, Summertime

A variety of unique adventures await your youngsters and teens as the 2016 Spring/Summer Pyramid Kid’s Camps kick off for the season! These interactive day camps give children the opportunity to become explorers and learn about wildlife and conservation at Moody Gardens.

For nearly 20 years, the Moody Gardens Education Department has continued to create interesting and engaging camps in which children are taught about the amazing worlds of oceans, rainforests and much more. Come and observe animal behavior from the various exhibits and participate in interactive stories, crafts and games.

Reservations are required at least two weeks in advance.  For additional information or to register, please call 409-683-4325 or email education@moodygardens.com.pyramidkidscamps_kidsattable2_small

The fun continues with the following camps below:

Preschool Camps

3-4 year olds

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

  • June 18 – Out of My Shell
  • July 9 – Funny Bones
  • July 23 – Sea Slimers
  • August 6 – Bits & Bites

Non-member: $20.00/camper (includes adult)

Member: $17.00/camper (includes adult)

Kid’s Camps

5-6 year olds

7-9 years olds

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • June 13-17 – Moody Views
  • July 11-15 – Moody Views 2
  • August 8-12 – Best in Shows

Non-member: $250/camper (Full Day-Weeklong)

Member: $212.50/camper

Non-member: $160/camper (Half Day-Weeklong)

Member: $136/camper

Non-member: $60/camper (Full Day-Two attraction visits)

Member: $51/camper

Non-member: $40/camper (Half Day – one attraction visit)

Member: $34/camper

Junior Keepers

10-11 year olds

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 21
  • Tuesday, July 19
  • Tuesday, August 16

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper

Jr. Garden Artist

10 to 11 year olds

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 21
  • Non-member: $75/camper
  • Member: $63.75/camper

Garden Artist

12 to 13 year olds

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, June 23

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper

Keeper for a Day

12 to 13 year olds

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 21
  • Thursday, August 18

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper

Double the Stank

Call Wednesday and Pugsley as “Morticia,” the Giant Corpse Flower officially started to bloom this week. This is an extraordinary occurrence given that this is the second time for her to bloom. The first bloom was in June 2012! You now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and smell this rare flower at the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid. The blooming schedule for this plant is very unpredictable, which is why a second bloom from the same flower is an extraordinary feat! With a short blooming period of 2 to 4 days, don’t miss your chance to enjoy this unique experience. She is expected to be in Full Bloom within the next week.

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 common name, Corpse Flower, originates from the unpleasant odor the plant emits during flowering. The strong smell and color are similar to rotting flesh, which 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.  Something that makes it so special is that not only is it rare in its native habitat, but also extremely rare in cultivation.

A mere 100 Corpse Flowers have bloomed in the United States since 1937 when the first bloom was recorded. The most recent was last month at the Chicago Botanical Garden in Illinois. Morticia’s bloom is only the fifth in the state of Texas. During Full Bloom, Moody Gardens Rainforest is offering extended hours until 10 p.m. for guests to experience this powerfully pungent and beautiful occurrence.

Watch Morticia LIVE on the #CorpseCam

 

*Morticia at full bloom in June 2012

Corpseflower

Summer Breeze

White sand in Galveston? That’s right, Palm Beach. Galveston’s favorite white sand beach will be opening to the public on May 21st! Relax under lush palm trees or take a dip in the cool waters of the popular lazy river or wave pool. With something for everyone, this summer will be loaded with fun and unforgettable memories!

Come and enjoy the interactive 650-foot lazy river, wave pool and two 18-foot tower slides. Other attractions include beach volleyball on regulation courts and the Aquarium Adventure play area. The Splashpad automated aquatic water feature offers interactive dump buckets, spray arches and fountains for a day of fun at the beach. Palm Beach admission is $23.95 for adults, $17.95 for children and seniors, or $55 for a season pass. Children ages three and under are free.

As if this isn’t enough fun, we have exactly what you need for a weekend of island fun with the Bands on the Sand summer concert series. Beginning June 4, this live music series runs throughout the summer following each show with fireworks over the Moody Gardens pyramids and Offatts Bayou. Admission to each concert is $15 and free for kids three and under. Bands on the Sand will be held from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through August 13.

splashpad

Below is the Bands on the Sand line-up:

June 4:                 Gary Michael Dahl (Variety/R&B)

June 10:               The Mockingbirds(Variety)

June 11:               Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Variety)

June 17:               Yelba (Variety/Latin)

June 18:               Mid Life Crisis (Variety)

June 24:               A Sure Thing (Rock)

June 25:               Line Up (Variety)

July 1:                   Intercoastal Pirates (Variety)

July 2:                   Space Monkeys (Variety)

July 8:                   Kaos (Variety/Rock)

July 9:                   Cody Hodges (Country)

July 15:                 Velvet Punch (Rock)

July 16:                The Relics (Rock)

July 22:                 The Slags (Variety/Rock)

July 23:                 Intercoastal Pirates (Variety)

July 29:                 Leannasaurus Rex (Variety)

July 30:                 Vertigo (Rock)

August 5:             Line Up (Variety)

August 6:             Rat Ranch (Rock)

August 12:           DJ Dio (Variety)

August 13:           The Relics (Rock)

 

Who Runs the World…. Girls!

I’m sure most have heard the saying, “There’s strength in numbers.” For one ant colony at the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid this proves to be true. Located in the browse boxes of the Rainforest, one in the canopy level and the other towards the exhibit’s exit, resides the largest Leaf Cutter Ant (Atta Cephalotes) colony in Texas. Hailing from various tropical paradises in Central and South America, Leaf Cutter Ants are responsible for 20% of all plant consumption in the rainforests.

Consisting of hundreds of thousands female ants, work duties are based on a caste system. Within this pure feminist society are four different types of ants whose sole purpose is to care for and protect the queen. Soldiers, normally the largest of the ants defend the nest from intruders. Cutters are the worker ants that spend their time cutting leaves and returning them to the nest. Guards are the first line of defense and attack anything that may pose a threat. Minims, the smallest of the workers play a vital role in maintaining the colony as they are the caretakers of the fungal garden as well as the queen.

From the time we exit our mother’s womb, we are groomed to be self-sufficient individuals in order to one day run our own successful households. This isn’t too far-fetched for Leaf Cutter Ants. When a virgin queen leaves her mother’s nest, she will mate with multiple males during “nuptial flight.” During this process the males will die off and she will collect the sperm she needs in order to begin her own colony. She will then dig a tunnel and burrow herself into a chamber known as a “fungal garden.” For a few years, she will nourish the fungus brought from her mother’s colony in order to begin her own. Queens can live anywhere from 15-20 years of age. Upon her death the entire colony dies out with her.

The Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens offers a huge variety of plant life to offer the colony as the ants cut daily. Be sure to stop by and get your own glimpse of these amazing creatures in action!

 

Earth Day Celebrations

On April 23 you can start the day with a yoga class in the morning, and then take part in gardens tours, a treasure hunt, arts and crafts, and a free milkweed plant giveaway throughout the day as supplies last.  We will also be having an Earth Day Expo in the Garden Lobby with speakers that will focus on composting, rainwater harvesting, hummingbirds and nesting birds. You can also attend presentations on gardening and sustainable cooking on Saturday.

Billboard_EarthDay2016_Digital_SMALL_500

Throughout the weekend you can check out the Rainforest Pyramid to witness a breathtaking tribute to rapidly vanishing wonders of Africa, Asia and the Americas that will showcase some of the issues that are having a negative impact in the wild. We will also be holding Keeper Chats with Moody Gardens biologists with a variety of animals that range from butterflies and birds to komodo dragons and more. Staff will lead discussions on important environmental issues as visitors can learn how to better protect the planet for the future. Sunday, there will also be free live musical entertainment for you and your family to enjoy.

The Moody Gardens “ZOOpermarket” will be open the entire weekend inside the Rainforest Pyramid allowing you to learn about palm oil and how environmentally friendly your food is. In addition to the “ZOOpermarket” you can take part in arts and crafts tables on both Saturday and Sunday.

We will also be offering a special $29.95 Combo Pass to visit the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids April 22-24. One Earth, One Choice is possible with the partnership of the Friends of Moody Gardens. For the complete One Earth, Once Choice  schedule, visit our website.

Birding Classes offered at Moody Gardens

At Moody Gardens we are dedicated to educating the community on nature, animals, and conservation. Part of the way that we do this is through different Keeper Chats and scheduled activities throughout the year. As Spring and Fall migrations offer fantastic birding on Galveston Island, we offer our Birding Classes  during which you are given a chance to go out into the field with our Animal Husbandry Manager, Greg Whitaker.

birding-warbler

Birding 101 is a series of beginner level birding classes focused on the basics of birdwatching with a unique focus each month on timely, relevant subjects.  Reservations are not required for Birding 101, if you would like to attend please meet at the 4-D theater in the Visitors Center. The day will start off there with a short classroom style presentation followed by a leisurely walk around the Moody Gardens property. While looking around, Greg will discuss and point out the diversity that we have to offer on site. The next Birding 101 is scheduled for April 9, 2016 from 9am-11am.

birding-sandhillcranes

If after Birding 101 you are looking for something a level up, we also offer Birding 201, offered on the third Saturday of the month..  This is a series of field trips that are geared towards the beginning level birders.  Most trips will be combined with the Galveston County Audubon Group’s field trips and offer an opportunity for you to interact with more experienced local birders.  Seats in the van for this trip are limited, so reservations are required. If you are interested please contact Greg directly at 409.683.4101. The next Birding 201 field trip is scheduled for May 21, 2016.

Feather Fest is also happening on Galveston from April 14-17. The fest boasts over 100 field trips, workshops, the Birds of Prey Raptor Show, and a screening of Audubon The Film! More information about the fest can be found on their website.

Happy birding!

Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens 3D on the BIGGEST screen in TEXAS!

There is still time to catch Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens 3D  at Moody Gardens in our state of the art theater!

Thirty years ago the Empire was defeated and now a new threat, the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. A scavenger named Rey has come into contact with a droid that contains a map to the legendary Luke Skywalker, who has vanished. Rey and a rogue storm trooper named Finn find themselves in a monumental conflict between good and evil that will see faces old and new.

Experience the action at it plays out not only on the largest screen in Texas, but on one that features the world’s first 4K 3D Giant Screen 6 Primary Laser Projection System. What this means is that you will be immersed in 11.1 surround sound with Auro 3D on our Texas sized screen allowing the spectacular special effects of the film to be featured in the optimal setting for the best viewing experience in the world!

Take photos with your favorite Star Wars characters before the show Saturday, March 26! Stormtroopers and other characters will be roaming around Moody Gardens later in the afternoon before the 5:10 p.m. showing.

IMG_3795_edit_small
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens 3D runs through spring break until March 27. Tickets for the film are included in our Day Pass or Two Day Value Pass as well as can be purchased separately for $10.95 for adults, $8.95 for children and seniors, and children 3 and under are free.  View our MG 3D Theater film schedule, or purchase tickets.

So Much to Love

From adventuring in the Rainforest Pyramid to the taking a sunset cruise on The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, there is something for you to make this Valentine’s Day memorable for those that you love.

On February 13 you can make plans with your sweetheart to set sail on a romantic sunset dinner cruise complete with a dinner buffet, DJ, and dancing. This cruise package includes your choice of a bottle of champagne or wine, a rose for your sweetheart, and a souvenir photo. Get a table for two for $200 or a table for four for $380. Seating is limited and reservations are required so be sure to make your reservations now by calling 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. For more details and table options, visit our website.

ColonelPhoto evening

We also have our popular Aquarium Valentine’s Day Dinner on February 14. Dive into an underwater dining experience at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. The evening includes a chef’s three-course dinner, your choice of a bottle of champagne or wine, a rose for your sweetheart, a souvenir photo, and Aquarium Pyramid admission with our biologists on hand to answer your questions about the Moody Gardens marine animals. Enjoy your romantic dinner while sharks and other beautiful sea creatures swim overhead. There is also the Sealed With A Kiss seating area that treats guests to a table by the seals and sea lions of the North Pacific Exhibit. These playful animals will add a splash of fun to your dining experience. Another option for you and your sweetheart are our Fishin’ For Love tables that have the colorful fish inhabitants provide the perfect backdrop for your romantic evening. The Tunnel of Love section is already sold out. Grab a peak at the seating chart here and make your reservations by calling 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368.

IMG_1584_SMALL

Love is in the air in the animal kingdom, too! For $29.95 you can join us on February 13 or 14 and see the plants and animals you love as you travel around the world in the Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids with our Rainforest and Aquarium Combo ticket. Visit the seals, sharks, birds, and even Moody Gardens’ sweet new couple, our Cotton-top Tamarins Victor and Gracie. This is a great option if you are looking to involve the whole family in a Valentine’s Day activity.

IMG_9605_edited_SMALL

For the entire month of February you can also enjoy the Moody Gardens Hotel Valentine’s Room Special. Be sure to book early because this deal is subject to hotel availability. The price is $229 for hotel room, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne, breakfast, and valet service.

You can also enjoy a wonderful Valentine’s Day meal at Shearn’s Seafood and Prime Steaks located in the Moody Gardens Hotel. The menu for the mouthwatering and carefully selected meal can be found here.