One of the main reasons we enjoy traveling with our kids is so that they can learn. Being hands-on and experiencing things first hands teaches much more than a textbook can. Therefore, with the invitation to learn from conservation and zoological experts about SeaWorld and Rising Tide Conservation from The MOMS, we were more than excited to attend. Both our oldest, Cheyenne, and youngest, Joeli, were able to fly to Florida for the experience.
Protect Wild Animals and Places
The evening of their arrival, Chey and Joeli were treated to a special dinner with their hosts and other guests. Before dinner, they were actually able to get in the water and learn about curating fish eggs. Since this was part of my very first job at the ripe age of 17, I love that they had this opportunity. Not to mention, they swam in the Grand Reef at Discovery Cove with fish — and even sting rays. Joeli has a fear of sting rays so this was a big deal. But, by the end of the weekend, she was much more comfortable with them and enjoyed touching them as they swam by. Not bad for just a small bit of time to learn more about them.
The next morning gave the group a better understanding of Rising Tide and tropical fish conservation. While the adults listened to a very qualified, experienced panel of experts, the kids were able to see, touch, hear and learn about animals in the program. After all, the entire trip was about discovering ways to protect wild animals and places. For starters, here are just a few ways that YOU can take action with SeaWorld to do your part:
- Visit your local accredited zoo or aquarium. Not only are they involved in important conservation work, but your visit helps ensure that work continues, and inspire your family to care for animals and our planet. Association of Zoos & Aquariums is a accredited facility that also participates in the Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program.
- Support conservation programs like Rising Tide, which are committed to protecting tropical fish and coral reefs. Plus, share information about reef fish population and the environmental challenges these animals and the coral reefs face with your friends and family, as well as local tropical fish groups.
- Buy sustainably-sourced seafood from your local retailers. Remember to ask them: “Do you sell sustainable seafood?” Let businesses know this is important to you. You can find additional tips from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Take part in activities like Discovery Cove’s SeaVenture program. Guests who participate in the SeaVenture program at Discovery Cove also directly help support Rising Tide Conservation, as the park donates five percent of every program purchased.
- You and your kids can join the SeaWorld myActions team. The myActions platform is an innovative social network that offers you the opportunity to share the actions you take to protect the environment on a daily basis while inspiring and challenging your friends and family to do the same.
As your passion for fish begins to grow, you may even want to start your own aquarium at home. SeaWorld wants to give you a few tips as you begin:
- Research the fish you are interested in caring for and how they interact with other fish.
- Opt for an aquacultured fish first, instead of one collected from the reefs.
- Saltwater aquariums can be tricky for beginners, so consider a freshwater aquarium instead.
- For the well-being of your fish and other wildlife and their habitats, never release fish into the wild.
Before the weekend was over, Cheyenne and Joeli visited more of Discovery Cove, as well as SeaWorld. They were able to interact with the animals they learned about in order to fully comprehend the species they were working to protect. It was great to hear their stories (Joeli still talks about the anteater) and to see their desire to help. It’s amazing what we can do once we all come together to support one cause.
Rising Tide Conservation
Led by SeaWorld’s Vice President of Research and Science, Dr. Judy St. Leger, Rising Tide Conservation integrates the efforts and expertise available at universities, private industry, public aquariums, the marine aquarium hobby, and other research institutions to build on successes and exchange information.
Rising Tide Conservation has had many breeding and rearing successes in its seven years of collaboration including porkfish, dragonets, grunt, angelfish, and gobies. Most notably and recently, Rising Tide Conservation partner the Oceanic Institute in Hawaii has gained international recognition with one of the world’s most popular saltwater aquarium fish, the yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens). More than 300,000 of these fish are collected from Hawaii’s reefs each year and they now represent a breakthrough in marine aquaculture nearly 15 years in the making.
SeaWorld Ends Orca Breeding
SeaWorld announced that the killer whales — or orcas — currently in their care will be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld. They are also introducing new, inspiring, natural orca encounters in place of theatrical shows. The announcement is part of SeaWorld’s ongoing commitment to education, marine science research and rescue of marine animals. The new programs will let the orcas be orcas focusing on the same behaviors the whales have in the wild.
Additionally, SeaWorld announced a broad new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to protect our oceans and the animals that call them home. Finally, they are committing to educating the 20 million visitors who come to their parks every year on how they can take action to help these animals in the wild — such as those mentioned above.
Watch for these changes to start in SeaWorld’s San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.