World Oceans Day 30×30 Recycled Art Contest

Do you love the ocean? Show us by creating a piece of ocean-themed art from recycled, reused, or repurposed materials and entering the Greensboro Science Center’s World Oceans Day 30×30 Recycled Art Contest! Winners will receive a one-of-a-kind painting created by an animal at the GSC!

What is World Oceans Day?
World Oceans Day is a global celebration of the ocean that connects us all. It’s a day to inspire family, friends and community to start creating a better future for our planet. The Greensboro Science Center is proud to announce our 30×30 Recycled Art Contest in honor of World Oceans Day and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Party for the Planet.

Why are we hosting a recycled materials art contest?
According to the World Oceans Day website, “World Oceans Day is growing the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30×30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas we can help ensure a healthy home for all!” For more information on the 30% by 2030 movement, please visit https://worldoceansday.org/. This art contest is designed to help promote the 30×30 concept in our everyday lives.

What is the contest?
Create an original piece of art that promotes saving our oceans or the importance of our oceans. The art must be composed of at least 30% recycled, reused, or repurposed materials. The higher the percentage the better! Projects can be any size.

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Who can enter?
This contest is open to all residents of the United States. There are four age groups: 2-6, 7-12, 13-17, 18 and over. All artists under 18 will need a parent or guardian to submit their artwork and fill out the submission form.

What is the prize?
One winner from each age group will receive an original piece of art created by one of the Greensboro Science Center’s animals! Prizes will be mailed; winners will be contacted with more information. Winners’ artwork will also be shared within the GSC’s World Oceans Day Facebook event.

How do I enter?
Artwork must be submitted by completing the form and uploading one photograph of the art online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GSC_WOD2020_ArtContest. Only complete submissions will be considered. One entry per person.
Only one photograph per submission is permitted. The artwork should fill the frame of the picture so the judges can see detail. File size limit is 16MB. Allowable File Types: PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG.

Along with your photograph and basic information (name, address, etc.), you will also need to list the materials used, the title of the artwork, and a short description of the art piece: Why did you choose this subject or topic? What inspired you? What do you hope it will inspire in others?

What are the important dates?
Entries may be submitted until midnight on June 3rd, 2020. Winners will be announced on our World Oceans Day celebration, Saturday, June 6th, 2020.

Composting with Katie

Guest post by Katie Ruffolo, GSC Educator

Composting is the natural decomposition of organic materials, optimized by a controlled environment. Let’s break that down a little bit more. Decomposition is when bacteria, fungi and insects break down those organic materials — and this provides nutrients for other living things. What organic materials exactly? There are lots of things that can be composted, things like fruit and vegetable waste, old newspaper, even grass clippings! There are also many things that can NOT be composted, plastic and glass for example. 

Composting is very important to our environment. There are many benefits that include: enriches soil, reduces need for chemical fertilizers and reduces that amount of methane emissions from landfills, which helps lessen the carbon footprint! When waste sits in a landfill, it is not exposed to enough oxygen for the process of decomposition to fully happen. When the waste is anaerobic, or without oxygen, it will release methane into the atmosphere. With a process like composting, and aerobic process, methane-producing microbes are not active due to the presence of oxygen. 

At-home composting can be done on any size scale, whether you live in an apartment, or out on a farm. It’s important to choose the right container for your space, the correct items to place inside your compost, and the right time to tend. Depending on the size of your container, what materials you choose, how often you turn it and the temperature it is exposed to, it can take as little as 3 months for your compost to be usable soil! 

Be sure when you are choosing items to compost that they are NOT labeled for commercial composting. At-home composting does not produce nearly enough heat to break down the products that are marked for commercial composting. 

At the Greensboro Science Center I began a project to learn more about how things go through the process of decomposition, which materials break down fastest and what conditions are important to making for a successful composting pile/container. Over the course of 5 weeks, I built 4 Decomposition Columns. These are made from recycled soda bottles, and allow for watching the entire process of breaking down the organic materials. The columns were created weeks apart to see the stages of decomposition. What an interesting project to bring to my house! But, this is proof it really can be done in the comfort of your own home. 

For the design of my decomposition columns, I checked out: http://bottlebiology.org/investigations/decomp_main.html

You may want to make some of your own changes based on your space. I hung the columns at the GSC, but was not able to when I was at my home.

Most Fun: Seeing all the bugs!

Most Difficult: Keeping the bottles from falling over

Most Exciting: Seeing the presence of fungi

Most Disgusting: The look of the leachate at the bottom of the column

What can be done with the leftover plastic from your soda bottles? Check out these great ideas:

Science Café – Conserving Nature’s Keystone: The Gopher Tortoise

On Thursday, March 5, 2020, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is hosting a free Science Café in its Science Advancement through Innovative Learning (SAIL) Center. Dr. Christopher L. Jenkins, CEO of The Orianne Society, will present Conserving Nature’s Keystone: The Gopher Tortoise. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the talk begins at 6:30 p.m. This event is free to attend.

The gopher tortoise is a prehistoric animal that still roams the Coastal Plain of the Southeast, but populations have declined to the point of endangered species status. These animals are critical to the success of the ecosystem as their burrows are used as a habitat for more than 300 other species. Without gopher tortoises, many of these species’ populations would decline as well.

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About the Presenter
Dr. Jenkins is the founding Chief Executive Officer of The Orianne Society. He also was the founding chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Viper Specialist Group and the Georgia Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He has served in leadership roles in Partners for Reptiles and Amphibian Conservation and Gopher Tortoise Council. Dr. Jenkins has also worked with Wildlife Conservation Society, United States Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Massachusetts, University of British Columbia, and National Geographic. Dr. Jenkins received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Massachusetts in wildlife biology and wildlife conservation, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Idaho State University.

About The Orianne Society
Established in 2008, The Orianne Society is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the conservation of rare and imperiled reptiles and amphibians. Orianne promotes the conservation of these species through scientific research that informs on-the-ground conservation actions and managing habitats to promote robust reptile and amphibian populations. Currently, Orianne administers three large-scale conservation initiatives across the eastern United States, focusing on key landscapes that support high diversity and rare species: the Longleaf Savannas, Appalachian Highlands, and Great Northern Forests.

Rescued Sea Turtles Arrive at the Greensboro Science Center

The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) has admitted 11 cold-stunned sea turtles for rehabilitation in collaboration with the North Carolina Aquariums and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

A sudden cold snap along North Carolina’s Outer Banks cold-stunned 159 sea turtles last week alone. Since December 20, 2019, the North Carolina Aquariums have processed 225 cold-stunned sea turtles, leading coastal rehabilitation centers to seek help from fellow qualified institutions, like the GSC.

The GSC’s Wiseman Aquarium is housing 11 green sea turtles until they are ready to be released back into the wild. The turtles were transported from the coast to Raleigh by colleagues at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, who are also assisting with rehabilitation efforts by admitting eight turtles of their own. GSC staff moved the 11 being housed in Greensboro from Raleigh to the GSC, where aquarium and veterinary teams will monitor the turtles, track their weight, and administer any necessary medical assistance.

Sarah Halbrend, the GSC’s Curator of Aquatics, says, “We are delighted to help support the NC Aquariums in our mutual goal of protecting endangered and threatened species. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with like-minded facilities to rehabilitate these green sea turtles, allowing us to fulfill our role of promoting conservation through education and action. Our team is looking forward to the day we can release healthy green sea turtles back into the wild.”

While the rescued sea turtles will not be on exhibit for guests to view, the GSC will post updates with photos and video on its Facebook page so everyone can follow their progress.

Facilities such as the Greensboro Science Center work in collaboration with other aquariums and federal agencies to help protect and preserve wild animals and their habitats. Efforts such as this sea turtle rescue are possible because of well-trained aquarists, properly equipped facilities, and global conservation networks.

Run for Penguins at the Greensboro Science Center

GREENSBORO, NC — Registration for the Greensboro Science Center’s (GSC) 7th annual Tuxedo Trot: Run for the Penguins, sponsored by Greensboro Pediatricians, is now open. This 5K and Kids’ Fun Run will take place on Saturday, April 25. The 5K begins at 8:00 a.m. and the Kids’ Fun Run begins at 9:00 a.m. 100% of event proceeds will be donated to African penguin conservation efforts.

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Registration fees for the 5K are as follows:

  • $25 through February 29, 2020
  • $30 from March 1 through noon on April 23, 2020
  • $35 at packet pick-up and on race day

Registration fees for the Kids’ Fun Run are as follows:

  • $15 through noon on April 23, 2020
    $20 at packet pick-up and on race day

In 2019, the event raised $9,186.50, which was donated to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). Since this event’s inception in 2014, $60,000 has been donated to SANCCOB for the conservation of wild African penguins.

Kelli Crawford, Tuxedo Trot Race Director says, “In April, I attended the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Mid-Year Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. After a meeting for African Penguin SAFE – a program designed to save this species from extinction – I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stephen van der Spuy, CEO at SANCCOB. After introducing myself and explaining where I work, he immediately mentioned the Tuxedo Trot and remarked how incredible it is that people in North Carolina dress up like penguins and run 3.1 miles to support the birds he and his team care for in South Africa. From halfway around the world, you are helping us make a difference for these charismatic black and white birds who need our help. And you are supporting the work of a great team who devote their lives to their care. We look forward to seeing you on race day!”

Registration and sponsorships are available online at www.tuxedotrot.com.

Conservation in Action: Mona Rhino Iguana Survey

Post by Lindsey Zarecky, VP of Conservation & Research

During the month of October, four GSC staff members journeyed to the Caribbean to participate in a laborious data collection study to help protect the endangered Mona iguana. Mona Island, affectionately referred to as the Galapagos of the Caribbean, is home to many rare and endemic species. This 34-square-mile island is located between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on the Mona Passage.

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One of the endangered species on the island is the Mona Rhino iguana. This large-bodied, slow-growing, ancient-looking lizard thrives in the hot, humid environment found on the island. Today Mona does not have any permanent residents as it is a difficult island with no freshwater access, tough terrain, and unfriendly vegetation. But, humans have lived there in the past, utilizing the many caves on the island. And, explorers visited in the past and brought with them other vertebrate species, which are now a major threat to the iguanas and other native wildlife. Feral pigs, cats, goats, and rats threaten the future for the iguanas as they predate on the eggs, hatchlings and juvenile iguanas, compete for resources, and destroy nesting habitat.

Over 20 years ago a population survey was completed and estimated there to be around 5,000 iguanas. This is a very low count compared to similar iguanas on other islands. Even more concerning is the lack of recruitment by the species, with only 5-10% of the population being juveniles. In order to enact change and remove invasive species, we first need to understand the population.

Therefore, in October 2019 GSC staff joined our Puerto Rican partners on Mona Island. After a 6-hour boat ride, our team arrived on Mona Island – a towering rock of limestone, greenery, soil and sand. Eight teams of two people set out to lay 200-meter-long transects around the island in a randomized pattern. Those transects were then surveyed over the next three weeks. Every iguana seen while walking the transect was counted and included in the study. Each transect was surveyed multiple times and data is currently being compiled. The same survey will be replicated in October 2020.

Staff had the opportunity to experience the beauty and challenges found on Mona Island. The terrain is jagged and unforgiving. The temperature is hot, the bugs voracious, and the cacti are prevalent. But, there were also moments of wonder and beauty as we stepped on rock very few others have or will ever get to explore. The endemic plants and animals provided rare photobook memories. And the people we worked with were just wonderful and by far a highlight of our experience.

For many years, the GSC has been informing guests about conservation of species. But providing a hands-on, field experience in such a physically and mentally demanding island left lasting impressions on the staff who participated. We can only hope this work and the work we will do next year provide the data needed to support our goal of protecting Mona iguanas through removal of vertebrate invasive species. Stay tuned – we will continue to bring you more information about the great conservation work and scientific research taking at the GSC.

Conservation Creation: Junk Jellies

Without a doubt, jellies are one of Earth’s strangest animals. They have neither hearts nor brains but have managed to survive on our planet for over 500 million years! Often called jellyfish, they’re not actually fish – instead, they make up their own group of incredibly diverse animals. For example, the smallest jelly, the Irukanji, only grows to about the size of a thumbtack, while the Lion’s Mane Jelly can reach lengths of over 100 feet! Some jellies use stinging for defense and hunting, others can clone themselves, and others still can glow in the dark!

At first glance, jellies may not seem to be up to much, but they’re actually doing a lot of good for our oceans! Not only do they provide a food source for many of our favorite animals, but they also help to stir the ocean, keeping it healthy. Unfortunately, climate change and plastic pollution are working against these amazing animals. If you’d like to help jellies and the animals that rely upon them, reduce your plastic usage and your carbon footprint. A couple of easy ways to do this? Switch from single-use plastic straws and bags to reusable options, and buy more local produce and products when available.

And now for our DIY portion. This month we will be creating some fun decorations with things you can find around your home: Junk Jellies!

What you will need:

  • Glue
  • String or yarn
  • Leftover cups or bowls
  • Paint or markers
  • Junk (we use mostly craft materials for our examples, but anything you can find around your house will work!)
Supplies

Supplies for Junk Jellies

Step 1: Paint your cup or bowl and allow it to dry

Step 1 - Paint Cup

Step 1: Paint your cup or bowl

Step 2: Attach whatever material you are using for the arms. For our example, we are using clothes pins.

Step 2 - Attach Arms

Step 2: Attach arms

Step 3: Use glue to attach whatever materials you want to use to decorate your jelly and allow to dry.

Step 3 - Decorate

Step 3: Decorate your jelly

Step 4: Glue string or yarn to the top of your jelly and wait for the glue to dry

Step 4 - Attach Yarn to Top

Step 4: Attach string or yarn to the top of your jelly

Step 5: Hang your junk jellies around your home!

Step 5 - Hang Your Jellies

Step 5: Hang your Junk Jellies around your home!

For an added challenge, research different types of jellies and try to make your Junk Jellies look similar to them using things around your home.