Media Release: Brews & Bubbles Beer Tasting Conservation Fundraiser

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is hosting Brews & Bubbles, its annual beer tasting fundraiser, on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at greensboroscience.org. Prices are $40 for GSC members and $45 for non-members, with 100% of proceeds supporting local and global conservation initiatives.

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Last year, the event raised $12,000 for conservation and this year, GSC officials hope to raise $15,000.

Lindsey Zarecky, the GSC’s VP of Conservation & Research, says, “Funds raised last year supported conservation partners around the globe, helping to protect species including fishing cats, seahorses, Komodo dragons, sharks, monarch butterflies, lemurs, and penguins. Event proceeds also helped to support our local conservation partners, including the Piedmont Land Conservancy. We’re excited to provide a fun evening event that also raises money to help sustain some of the amazing work being done around the world!”

Each Brews & Bubbles ticket includes beer samples from participating North Carolina breweries, a souvenir tasting glass, hors d’oeuvres, and live music from Graymatter and duo Blind-Dog Gatewood & Abe Reid. Capacity is limited and the event tends to sell out, so GSC officials recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

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Project Seahorse Announces iSeahorse.org

By Regina Bestbier, Research Biologist with Project Seahorse, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and the University of British Columbia

Project Seahorse is delighted to announce the launch of our new, improved iSeahorse.org website – our pioneering citizen engagement tool who gathers information about seahorses while building a community of committed contributors that will be empowered to take action for seahorses and marine conservation.

Anyone can join. Whether you’re a diver, fisher, scientist, or just on a beach holiday, you can share your seahorse observations with a click of a button. If you’ve seen a seahorse in the wild, join iSeahorse.org or download the app to upload your seahorse observations and photos. You can also help us identify species, explore maps, beautiful photos, fun seahorse facts, and take action for seahorse conservation.

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Photo by Joshua Feingold/Guylian Seahorses of the World

Since we launched iSeahorse in October 2013, scientists from Project Seahorse and around the world have used this vital information to better understand seahorse behaviour, species ranges, and the threats they face.  Together, we use this knowledge to mobilize governments, policy makers, and ocean advocates to protect seahorses and the marine ecosystems they call home.

To date, almost 500 contributors have shared their 2400+ seahorse observations, and we now have information on 30 of the 43 recognised seahorse species.  The user-contributed observations on iSeahorse have also greatly expanded our knowledge of the known ranges of several seahorses – 15% of all iSeahorse observations are from outside of a species known geographic range!  We are also learning much about the depth ranges and habitat preferences of the species observed, which will contribute to conservation planning efforts in the near future.

We are building a community and alliance of citizen scientists, conservationists, experts and more, all working towards a common goal – to protect seahorses and expand our scientific knowledge of these mysterious and beautiful animals.  There are now ten long-term seahorse population monitoring projects established on six continents (North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia) and we have more than 25 seahorse experts and enthusiasts from 16 countries participating as iSeahorse National Seahorse Experts and program Ambassadors.  iSeahorse empowers users to take action and generate conservation change.   In fact,  the newly created 70 ha Marine Protected Area and seahorse sanctuary in Anda, Bohol, Philippines resulted from newly discovered seahorse populations reported through iSeahorse.

To learn more about Project Seahorse, iSeahorse and seahorses, and to get involved, visit projectseahorse.org and iseahorse.org.

The Komodo Dragon SSP and Dragon Conservation

By Don Boyer, Komodo Dragon SSP Coordinator

The Komodo Dragon SSP (Species Survival Plan) was established in 2002. The current AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) captive population has grown to more than 126 dragons maintained at 63 AZA institutions. We are very proud of the overall success of the program. Through the active participation and hard work of member institutions, funding support from these institutions also has been instrumental in aiding wild Komodo dragon conservation in Indonesia. The Greensboro Science Center is an active supporter of the conservation fund.

Adult Komodo on Komodo Island

Komodo dragons, exotic and fascinating in their own right, are nearly unparalleled in their ability to connect people with a strong conservation message. The wild population is estimated to be approximately 2500 animals. Current threats include global climate change, anthropogenic disturbance such as habitat alteration and poaching the dragon’s prey base. To help support the survival of these impressive lizards in the wild, the Komodo Dragon SSP maintains a conservation fund. That fund supports important and ongoing field research for long-term dragon conservation. During the past several years the steering committee has voted to approve funding to the Komodo Survival Program (KSP), a small non-governmental conservation organization that was established in 2007.

The main purpose of the KSP is to conduct monitoring activities to determine the population status of dragons, document any threats and recommend appropriate conservation measures to the Indonesian Government. Their work has provided important data in regard to demography, recruitment, dispersal and other vital information on the ecology of these magnificent reptiles. They have also worked very diligently to create community awareness of dragon ecology and conservation and the importance of the species in their ecosystem.

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Dissemination and training

The AZA institutional funding has made possible a significant amount the KSP work and helped to provide a sound foundation for future monitoring of the dragon population within the Komodo National Park by their rangers. The KSP team is training the National Park ranger staff in the scientific monitoring methodology and teaches them an in depth understanding of dragon biology ecology. The KSP is also directing on conservation efforts for the more vulnerable dragons outside of the protected areas on the Island of Flores.

The SSP fund remains a viable resource to continue this valuable conservation work. The bulk of the contributions come from AZA Zoos. The collective donations to this fund have enabled the import/export of dragons for program purposes.  Institutions have been able to satisfy the USFWS endangered species permit requirements for the enhancement through regular contributions to the fund. Most importantly the funding support to the KSP has filled significant gaps in their research funding and enabled infrastructure repair to ranger stations, the production of multilingual guide books with accurate dragon biology information and provided a science based long term population monitoring of the iconic species.

Conservation Partner Spotlight:  Fishing Cat Conservancy

Last year, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) donated $5,000 to the Fishing Cat Conservancy (FCC), an Arizona-based nonprofit organization whose mission is “to promote the long-term survival of fishing cats in the wild through public education, capacity-building, and community-based research and conservation.” Part of the GSC’s mission is to support global conservation efforts, and with two fishing cats in our care, supporting the FCC is of great significance to us.

We recently reached out to FCC’s president, Ashwin Naidu, for updates from the field. Here’s what he shared:

  1. We enabled a ‘community-managed’ monitoring program for fishing cats, wherein the training we provided to our field team and community members is translating into them sharing their knowledge with the local people and tribal communities that live next to fishing cats and their habitats. Now, these local people and tribals are taking an interest in protecting their backyard wetlands, mangroves, and locally endangered species like fishing cats and smooth-coated otters.
  2. We educated close to 1,000 school children in various government schools and local people in villages located next to mangroves (especially mangroves outside protected areas). We talked about the importance of protecting fishing cats and mangrove ecosystems for the benefit and long-term survival of local communities.Santosh_FCC_EduProg_SchoolKids_SAM_Apr2017 (1)
  3. We constructed a solar-powered Conservation Education Center, which is currently two cottages as it stands, to be openly used by the local community and visitors to educate about fishing cats, mangroves, and wetland biodiversity and support efforts to study and protect them. More information and photos about this are in a recent post on our Facebook page.FCC_CEC_SolarPanels_Aug2017
  4. We presented and shared all our data to date on fishing cats occurring outside protected areas (esp. in mangroves in revenue lands) with the Krishna District’s Vigilance Department. This Department is now looking into getting revenue lands with mangroves established as protected areas.
  5. From our partners, Gal Oya Lodge in Sri Lanka, we obtained a new record of fishing cat near the Gal Oya National Park – outside its known (mapped) range in Sri Lanka.

We are proud to support Ashwin and the FCC. With $0.25 from each general admission ticket sold earmarked for donation to our general conservation fund, our visitors make supporting these efforts possible…so thank YOU!ARao_FC_TrackCasts_Apr2017_FCC (1)

Conservation Partner Spotlight: Piedmont Land Conservancy

The Greensboro Science Center’s conservation mission is to preserve species and habitats through on-site programs, community awareness, field studies and fundraising for local and global conservation efforts. Today, we wanted to put the spotlight on one of our local partners in conservation, The Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC). Every year, we are fortunate to be able to donate at least $1,000 to PLC, a contribution made possible by on-site conservation events as well the donations made by our very own visitors (thank YOU!).

The Piedmont Land Conservancy aims to permanently protect important lands in order to conserve our region’s rivers and streams, natural and scenic areas, wildlife habitats and farmlands. The organization has been active in our community since 1989, the year they first came together to discuss how to preserve the Piedmont’s most precious natural assets forever.

If you’d like to learn about some of their recent activities, check out LANDLINES. From protecting Randolph County’s highest point at Mount Shepherd to working with the Alamance County Voluntary Agricultural District Board to protect a farm established back in in the 1850s, this group has proven to be action-oriented and effective, and we’re honored to lend them our support.

Visit our Conservation webpage to learn more about the Greensboro Science Center’s ongoing conservation projects and partnerships.

How Your Small Change Has Made a Big Difference

Each time someone visits the Greensboro Science Center (GSC), they’re supporting wildlife conservation! Twenty-five cents of each general admission ticket is dedicated to conservation efforts. Upon purchasing tickets, guests receive a token that allows them to direct their donation towards one of the three conservation projects represented on our Coins for Conservation machine. The GSC’s Conservation, Sustainable Practices and Research Committees come together to select the organizations and species represented. Over a six-month period, guests have the opportunity to use their tokens to select the organization they would like their $0.25 to support. After that time, three new organizations are selected for representation.

We’re excited to announce we have completed our first six months of the Coins for Conservation program. The following funds were raised in support of species conservation:

Oceana
Funds Raised: $10,000

oceanaEstablished in 2001, Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused on ocean conservation. Oceana seeks to find practical solutions to restore our world’s oceans. While not focused on one species, the organization influences decisions to address many ocean issues, including over-fishing and shark finning.

Komodo Dragon Species Survival Plan: Conservation Fund
Funds Raised: $7,000

komodoEstablished in 2007, the Komodo survival plan exists to research and monitor populations of Komodo dragons in the wild in order to conserve the species and its habitat. The organization educates locals about Komodo dragons as well as trains Indonesian conservationists to assist with population management and habitat conservation.

North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
Funds Raised: $6,000

ncEstablished in 1992, the NC Coastal Land Trust conserves natural areas to enrich the coastal community as well as educates visitors about land stewardship. One such natural area is the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, which was formed through a partnership with the City of Wilmington. The park is open to the public; visitors can learn about carnivorous plants, including the Venus Flytrap. The Trust has a dedicated Venus Flytrap fund whose purpose is to sustain and manage this rare plant.

To learn about the three projects currently being represented, visit the Coins for Conservation webpage.

Why We Support Penguins

With our annual Tuxedo Trot 5K and Kids’ Fun Run just weeks away, you might be asking yourself “Why African penguins?”

Well, first of all, we love African penguins! African penguins are charismatic birds, each with their own personality that you just can’t help but adore. Have you met our colony? They’re a riot!

Secondly, these feathered folks are truly in jeopardy of extinction. The species has declined over 90% since 1900 — they are even listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means immediate conservation action is required to prevent further declines. African penguin populations are decreasing for several reasons: food shortages, egg and guano removal from beaches, and displacement from breeding sites by other native species. However, knowing why the species is in decline also means we can work to preserve the population and hopefully expand it in coming years!

So, every year, we host the Tuxedo Trot (link) in order to raise money for these beautiful tuxedo-trot-logobirds. 100% of the proceeds from the race go to SANCCOB to support their conservation efforts. SANCCOB is an internationally recognized non-profit organization whose work helps to reverse the decline of seabird populations with a large focus on African penguins. They rescue abandoned chicks and hand rear them, they rehabilitate injured or oiled birds, they educate the locals about the importance of African penguins and they research ways to permanently reverse population declines. Tuxedo Trot funds help SANCCOB to sustain and expand their African penguin conservation efforts.

Want to help us save penguins?

If you haven’t already, please consider registering for the 2017 Tuxedo Trot and help us save these beautiful birds! If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation. Both registrations and donations are accepted online at www.tuxedotrot.com. We’re grateful for your help!