Quinceañeras Celebrate with a Special Dolphin Encounter

June 2013

Quinceañera or Sweet 15 is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday that marks the transition from childhood to womanhood.  A long-established celebration rooted in Hispanic culture, the commemorate event varies significantly across many Latin America countries, with festivities taking a variety of non-traditional celebrations.
Although much of today’s Quinceañeras celebrations continue to follow customs and traditions, some have taken a different approach.  Young girls turning 15 are looking to travel and explore destinations around the world.  As a result of numerous inquiries on the Quinceañeras growing market, Miami Seaquarium has developed a customized dolphin encounter program to accommodate these young girls looking to create lifelong memories. 
 “The Quinceañeras Dolphin Encounter program at Miami Seaquarium originated with the goal in mind of making a Sweet 15 celebration a lifetime memorable experience,” said Nathalie Betancourt, Senior Sales Manager at Miami Seaquarium.  
During the encounter, the dolphin swims to up to special guest who is standing in just a few feet of water. They’ll have the opportunity to shake hands, share a friendly kiss and even try out some of our training signals with their new aquatic friend.  However, there is no swimming involved so Quinceañeras can enjoy a relaxing and comfortable experience. In addition, Quinceañeras are welcome to enjoy full day of shows and exhibits during their visit.
So, if you know of someone who is looking for a unique way to celebrate their Sweet 15 birthday, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will gladly accommodate your group of Quinceañeras.

Babies, babies, babies!

Babies, babies, babies!

May 2013

Babies, babies, babies!  
Three generations of Seals at Miami Seaquarium. 
It was a busy week at the park this past Mother’s Day holiday.  Miami Seaquarium welcomed the birth of three harbor seals.  The first was a female born on Tuesday morning May 7, to 8-year-old, first time mother Harley.  The second pup was a male born mid-afternoon on Thursday, May 9, to 17-year-old mom named Sandy.  The third pup was a female born on Friday afternoon, May 10, to 21-year-old mother named Baby.  Harley is the daughter of the seal named Baby who became a first time grandmother after the birth of her daughter, Harley’s pup.  That makes 3 generations of seals here at Miami Seaquarium.   
The birth of these three harbor seals is a positive indication of the park’s successful breeding program.  Miami Seaquarium cares for a total of 14 seals with the addition of the three new babies, five of which are on a breeding loan from Gulfworld Marine Park in Panama City Beach, FL.  We are pleased to announce that all of the pups are doing very well but won’t be small for long.  On average, a Pacific harbor seal pup will weigh anywhere between 15-20 pounds at birth and is approximately three feet long.  Harbor seals have a very short period of time they nurse from their mothers, only 30 days.  In that short time they may gain as much as 70 lbs!  So come visit soon if you, want to see them still as babies.  The trainers look forward to beginning the pups training.  Eventually they will be participating in the brand new Seal Swim.  The Seal Swim is offered daily and is a program in which guests swim, play, feed, kiss, and hug the seals during an in water interaction.

Reliving summer camp –every day

April 2013

Reliving summer camp –every day
By Heather Teadlow
Education Manager at Miami Seaquarium 
I was probably 12-years-old when my parents enrolled me in the summer camp program at Miami Seaquarium.  As I child, I loved animals, but was fascinated by marine mammals.  I looked forward to coming to camp every day for three weeks and learning everything about marine life.  My most memorable camp activities were the shows and participating in animal interactions.  Feeding the manatees and getting my picture taken were my favorite activities.  One time, we did a squid dissection.  I thought that was really cool.
My fascination for animals started when I was younger.  I remember going to a marine life park when I was ten and heard one of the dolphin trainers do a presentation about the animals and what they do.  During the presentation, I turned to my mom and said that I wanted to be a dolphin trainer.  I asked my mom what I had to do.  My mom encouraged me to go up to the trainer and ask her.  So, I did, and from that point on, I knew I wanted to study life in the ocean and become a marine biologist.  My parents supported me by finding me marine themed education programs at school so that I could participate during the summer.  My dad even took it further and got SCUBA certified with me when I was 12.
During my high school years, my interest and passion for biology and the ocean increased.   I was chosen to participate in an internship program my senior year at Zoo Miami’s education department.  Zoologist Damien Kong was my mentor and he was very inspirational to me.  He taught me about all kinds of wildlife, gave me tools to become a successful college student and he also gave me a summer job (for two summers).  After working with him, I knew I still wanted to pursue a marine biology degree, but instead of working out in the field I wanted to share my knowledge with others and inspire them just as I was inspired by him.  
After I graduated from college, I actually worked in retail management for several years until one day I decided that I did not want to work in retail anymore.   I began researching jobs and came across a posting on-line at Miami Seaquarium for a part-time overnight instructor position.  I was lucky.  I got hired.  I was very excited as I began my journey back into the education field.  I started working at the park in 2008 as a part-time overnight instructor.  Over time, I worked my way up to the education manager position.  
Summer time is a very exciting time for the park’s education department.  Our goal is to develop summer camp curriculum topics that are stimulating to our campers and current to what is going on in the world of nature, science and conservation.  
As a former camper, it is important for me to generate the excitement and enthusiasm I once experienced.  Today, I hope we can inspire future animal trainers and keepers, conservationists, or educators during our summer camp program.  If our campers walk away with a better understanding and appreciation for the ocean and its inhabitants, then we have done our job.

Eggs and babies

Eggs and babies

March 2013

March means spring and spring means Easter.  As we prepare the park for our annual BunnyPalooza celebration, our thoughts turn to eggs and babies.  Since we are asked dozens of times a year about our egg-laying animals.  We thought we would dedicate this post to one of the aquatic stars of BunnyPalooza – the sea turtle.
Most females sea turtles nest at least twice during the nesting season, although individuals of some species may nest only once and others more than ten times. Very little is known about why sea turtles nest on some beaches and not on others.  Female sea turtles crawl out of the ocean, pausing often to find a spot to begin digging a hole in the sand about 39 inches deep where they are going to be laying their eggs.  When the turtle has finished digging the egg chamber, she begins to lay the eggs.  
The average size of a clutch of eggs is from about 80 to 120 eggs, depending on the species of turtle. The eggs are flexible and do not break when they fall into the chamber.  Once all the eggs are in the chamber, the mother will use her rear flippers to push sand over the top of the egg cavity.  
Once the nest is concealed, the female returns back to the ocean and the incubation process begins taking about 60 days, but since the temperature of the sand governs the speed at which the embryos develop, the hatching period can cover a broad time frame.  The hotter the sand surrounding the nest, the faster the embryos will develop.  The nest temperature is very important since it determines the sex of the embryos.  Nests above 86 degrees Fahrenheit are predominately female while nests below 84 degrees Fahrenheit are predominately male, so the sex of the turtle embryo is temperature dependent.  
Who would have thought that global warming could have a big impact on sea turtles?   
Sea turtle hatchlings must do all of the work.  Digging out of the nest can take several days and the hatchlings usually emerge from their nest when temperatures are cooler.  Once they burst out, they leave the nest cavity as a group.  The baby turtles orient themselves to the brightest horizon and then make a dash to the sea.  Once they are in the water, the hatchlings typically swim several miles off shore, where they are caught in currents and seaweed that may carry them for years before returning to near shore waters.  
If you want to see sea turtles or other friendly critters, don’t forget to hop on to the scene at BunnyPalooza taking place March 29-31st with the largest parade in the event’s nearly 15 year history!  Enjoy continuous Easter egg hunts throughout the day, and five acres of adrenaline pumping fun with bounce houses, ‘Giant Fun Slide,’ Rock Climbing Wall, plus many prizes and surprises.
For more information on sea turtles, please visit www.miamiseaquarium.com. 

2012 Sea Trek Operator of the Year

2012 Sea Trek Operator of the Year

February 2013

Miami Seaquarium Named 2012 Sea Trek Operator of the Year

We have some good news to share with our followers.  Sub Sea Systems, manufacturer and developer of the Sea Trek underwater helmet-walking program, has recognized us as the 2012 Sea Trek Operator of the Year!

Our very own Sea Trek program won among many others from around the world that were considered for this prestigious award. Operators were evaluated based on tour quality, staff professionalism, community outreach, online guest comments, innovation and overall commitment to the Sea Trek program.

The Sea Trek program offers non-divers the opportunity to walk underwater on a guided tour surrounded by schools of fish and marine life. Sea Trek guests do not need to know how to swim or have any prior experience to participate–– the basic requirement is “walking and breathing.”

In May 2011, we added the Sea Trek Reef Encounter to our 300,000-gallon tropical reef aquarium bringing Trekkers face-to-face with schooling clouds of grunts and curious cow-nosed rays. As guests begin their diving adventure, they’ll catch glimpses of a graceful sea turtle gliding overhead, or lobsters scurrying along the bottom. A massive lime green moray eel will even make an appearance for a belly scratch!

Sea Trek Reef Encounter tours are conducted by our exceptional team of highly skilled and certified Sea Trek Guides and safety divers. The entire tour is guided for the highest level of entertainment and guest safety. Sea Trek Reef Encounter tours are available for $99 per person. For more information, visit: www.miamiseaquarium.com

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