Happy Christmas in July!

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Although it’s hard to believe that Christmas is only six months away, holiday preparations at Moody Gardens are already underway! Prepare for a spectacular holiday season as we begin with revealing this year’s brand-new theme for 2016, ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, Caribbean Christmas!

In honor of ICE LAND’s new Caribbean theme, the Aquarium Pyramid’s Caribbean Exhibit has taken on a holiday theme for the entire month of July.

  • See Santa dive in the Aquarium Pyramid’s Caribbean Exhibit daily at 2pm
  • Enjoy a Caribbean Christmas Light Show continuously in the aquarium’s Ocean View Room.

ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas                                                     November 12, 2016– January 8, 2017

New – Ice Carver VIP Experience Your exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunity to see the artists at work as they create these magnificent, towering ice sculptures.

New – Shiver’s Ice Bar featuring ultra-cool holiday spirits

Moody Gardens takes the holidays to a whole new level of cool! A skilled team of master ice carvers has charted your course for the ultimate Caribbean Christmas! Embark on an amazing undersea journey made of 2 million pounds of ice!

Imagine a towering oil rig ice slide takes you to the breathtaking Flower Garden Banks and the Gulf Mexico as you encounter spectacular schools of beautiful tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles, Hammerhead sharks and more on your way to your island destination!

With numerous attractions to offer this holiday season, 2016 will be the best year yet! Stay tuned in to our Facebook and Twitter as we will begin announcing all of the various events, attractions and activities. Happy Holidays from our Moody Gardens family to yours!

 

Get your chum ready, Shark Week is Here!

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Shark Week originated 28 years ago as a week-long event that focused on shark based programming on the Discovery Channel. Now, however, Shark Week has evolved into so much more! Here at Moody Gardens we are busy planning special events and talks that focus on some of the most enthralling creatures of the ocean.

Every day during Shark U Week, you can enjoy shark arts and crafts, Shark Talks with our shark experts, shark and ocean-themed movies and more. You can even participate in our Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a Moody Gardens Family Getaway with 4 tickets to all of our attractions, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Caribbean Exhibit Wet Deck and an overnight stay Moody Gardens Hotel!

Daily from June 26 through July 2 there will be an 11:00 a.m. sting ray feeding at the South Pacific Exhibit, a shark feeding at the Caribbean Exhibit at 1:30 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. there will be a Keeper Shark Talk in the Ocean View Room. If you cannot make it to property for one of our in-person chats there will be virtual Shark Talks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday live via the Moody Gardens Facebook page. Through the Facebook Live event, you can hang out with our shark experts as they chat about a variety of shark topics or you can have your questions answered in person at Aquarium Pyramid. Use #MGSharkTalk to join via Twitter & Facebook.

Continue the interactive learning sessions with our See-Food Activity where you can look at the silhouettes of people compared to a shark’s food chain. Most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity. During their attack, the victim is mistaken for prey. From a shark’s point of view, a surfer or swimmer can look quite similar to a turtle or seal. Stop by our Aquarium Pyramid to find out how easy it is for a shark to mistake a human for its prey.

Throughout the week be on the lookout for the MG Shark Spots around the Moody Gardens property. Take a picture at each location that is marked by a fin and upload your pictures to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MGSharkQuest to be entered for a chance to win a Moody Gardens Family Getaway with 4 tickets to all of our attractions, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Caribbean Exhibit Wet Deck and an overnight stay Moody Gardens Hotel!

You can buy tickets to start your own Shark Week adventures here!

A great white shark.
A great white shark.

The Screen that Saves

If you have been to our MG 3D Theater at Moody Gardens you would probably agree that it is pretty impressive for a number of reasons. Not only was it the first 3D Theater in North America, but is the biggest screen in Texas and just a little over a year ago was introduced as the world’s first 4K 3D Giant Screen 6 Primary Laser Projection System. However, did you know that it is also extremely environmentally friendly?IMG_1658 SMALL

Although our screen is 3x brighter than most traditional movie screens our system actually uses 88% less energy. The 1570 Projector system required 67.8 kilowatts an hour to run compared to just the 8.4 kilowatts required by the laser system.IMG_3131SMALL

The 1570 Projector relied on Xenon arc lamps, a special type of gas discharge lamps that are used in equipment like movie projectors and searchlights. Before we made the switch to our laser system we would have to replace the bulbs in the theater every month. The lifetime of the bulbs was between 300 and 800 hours. Now, instead of bulbs our system uses laser modules that have a lifetime of 20,000 to 50,000 hours. Not having to replace the bulbs means we have vastly cutting down on our waste and made our theater much more environmentally friendly.

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.

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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

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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.

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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)

 

World Penguin Day 2016

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Ever wondered what these tuxedo wearing birds enjoy eating? Where they’re from? Celebrated annually on April 25th World Penguin Day is a day that is meant to show appreciation to these cool birds and learn things such as biology, origin and more. In honor of this holiday we thought to include some cool information…enjoy!

  • Worldwide there are currently 17 species of penguin.
  • These flightless birds can be located mostly in the Southern Hemisphere from Antarctica to other places like South Africa and New Zealand.
  • Spending the majority of their time in the water their diet consists of seafood life such as fish, squid and krill.
  • The prominent black/white coat is used as a form of camouflage from predators in the water. From below their white chest blends in against the surface of the water and from above their black back appears like the dark depths of the ocean.
  • During breeding season most species of penguin will build nests of rocks in preparation of a chick.
  • Once a penguin has laid an egg most species share the incubation, while the other seeks food.
  • Once the egg has hatched the chick will begin calling the parents to get them to recognize its voice. As you can imagine this helps a lot when the chick is left with a huge group!

Be sure to stop by the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid, the largest aquarium in Texas. With 1.5 million gallons of water, the building houses life from four distinct ocean environments including more than 80 penguins such as Gentoo, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Chinstrap and King Penguins. Recent upgrades were made to the penguin exhibit earlier this year showcasing a swankier, brighter living space for our little friends.

Click this link to see what our guys are up to!

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!