Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research and Jeff Corwin

NAPLES  -- Shark research at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) will have the national spotlight tomorrow in a segment of Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin. The new production, launched jointly by the Georgia Aquarium and Litton Entertainment, is part of the Litton Weekend Adventure Saturday morning three-hour educational programming block on ABC. The shark research episode, featuring RBNERR’s fisheries biologist Pat O’Donnell, along with Mike Hyatt and Paul Anderson, PhD., two of the other researchers involved in the study, is scheduled to air tomorrow Saturday, Nov. 5.
“We are thrilled that the Rookery Bay is being recognized in this production,” said Rookery Bay NERR Manager Gary Lytton. “Millions of TV viewers nationwide will have a great opportunity to learn more about sharks and the importance of mangrove estuaries as shark nurseries through our collaboration with Corwin and the Georgia Aquarium.” 
Five years ago, Rookery Bay NERR’s long-term shark monitoring program caught the attention of Florida Aquarium veterinary staff working to improve captive shark handling techniques. Subsequently, Rookery Bay NERR entered into a cooperative research effort with the Florida Aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium and Shedd’s Aquarium in Chicago. The collaborative shark stress response project required access to wild-caught sharks, such as those encountered monthly in RBNERR’s project.
As production plans got underway at the Georgia Aquarium for Ocean Mysteries, the Rookery Bay shark capture project became the perfect opportunity to put Corwin in close contact with wild sharks. Filming took place aboard a Rookery Bay NERR research vessel in the Ten Thousand Islands in August 2011. The crew encountered four sharks:  two lemon (Negaprion brevirostris), a bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) and a blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus). While the cameras rolled, the sharks were measured, weighed and had other data recorded before being tagged and released with Corwin’s assistance and enthusiastic explanation of their significance to the ocean ecosystem.
Programming times vary during the Saturday morning Litton’s Weekend Adventure on ABC. Check your local listings.