Our Aquarium Supervisor & His Mission to Save Coral Reefs – Day 5

Friday, May 22

11 a.m.

The Georgia Aquarium crew made an early trip to make a deep dive on a nearby wreck, while I stayed behind to make some coral trees.  The workshop is set up on Ken Nedimyer’s home property and consists of a couple of drill presses beneath sunshades.  Volunteer Jonathon Cole, and later Ken, tutored me on construction of the structures.  They need to be very precise in order to maintain rigidity.  The cross (horizontal) beams are fashioned from fiberglass rod while the central (vertical) structure is PVC piping.  Ken has constructed very simple but effective wooden guides to help keep everything straight.  Slots for the horizontal rods are drilled at alternating 90 degree angles to one another to maximize the amount of corals that can be hung on a single tree.  A total of ten holes are drilled in each set of horizontal arms, from which corals are suspended with monofilament line.  In the past, they had as many as 16 holes but that caused too much crowding with rapid coral growth.  A modern coral tree holds 100 fragments in total.

Captain Sonny constructing a coral tree.
Captain Sonny constructing a coral tree.

Once everything is drilled, the horizontal arms are inserted through the PVC “trunk” and epoxied in place.  By the time 1130 rolled around, I had finished two trees.  I wanted to do more, but needed to meet up at the Marina for my last two dives of the trip.

6 p.m.

The Georgia Aquarium  sponsors an outplanting site at Molasses Reef.  We made our way there to do some maintenance work on Staghorn Coral clusters that had been planted previously.  Without the guidance of CRF staff, it felt a little bit disorganized and overwhelming at first but we quickly got accustomed to our surroundings and got started.

Though most clusters were pretty healthy and exhibited good growth, many had broken free from their epoxy anchors.  This site is located in a relatively shallow area with a fairly flat bottom.  Lack of three dimensional structure allowed for stronger surge and made attachment more difficult.

Lack of structure on the flat bottom made reattachment more difficult.
Lack of structure on the flat bottom made reattachment more difficult.

After an hour of maintenance work, we returned to the boat to resupply on air.  Our last dive would be purely for enjoyment!

The second dive was excellent. Molasses Reef has a lot of variability in structure and marine life.  We spent the majority of our time working through the spur-and-groove formations, which where riddled with numerous caves.  It was teeming with life.  We saw both hawksbill and green sea turtles, green moray eels, a huge school of midnight parrotfish crunching away at the reef, nurse sharks and a seemingly endless number of various colorful reef fishes.  Unfortunately, in an hour of exploring I only spotted two natural colonies of Elkhorn coral.  Hopefully, within a few years, they will return to prominence due to the hard work of the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) staff.

One of only two mature Elkhorn colonies I observed at Molasses reef.
One of only two mature Elkhorn colonies I observed at Molasses reef.

Luckily, I’ll be returning again later in the year.  This has been an amazing experience with an even more amazing organization.  Stay tuned for my next round of blogs!

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Special thanks to Ken Nedimyer, Pam Hughes, Jessica Levy, Jonathon Cole and Kayla Ripple of the Coral Restoration Foundation. I am very grateful to my Curator, George Brandy III for suggesting this project in the first place.  Without his guidance, I likely would have never gotten involved with such an amazing project.   I am also very appreciative to the media-related support given to me by Ryan Draper of the HZI Graphics Department and logistical support provided by the Conservation Department.  Lastly, I would like to again thank everyone who helped to fund this project through the Staff Conservation Fund.

Read dive logs from each day of the trip!

Dive Log – Saving Coral Reefs:



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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you to you and your staff for the years of quality care given this magnificant creature.

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Aww, so very sorry for your loss, Houston. Condolences to his keepers and all who loved him. ((((Lorie Fortner)))) He surely lived a long life with the great care he received at Houston.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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