Since its founding, The Dallas World Aquarium has been involved in a number of conservation initiatives, which are related to the animals displayed in our exhibits. Many of these programs are focused on ecosystems in Central and South America. Recently, we have become involved in programs a little closer to home that focus on important marine ecosystems. We have found unique ways to contribute to these programs and participation is open to anyone who shares an interest in marine conservation.
In September 2012, The Dallas World Aquarium in collaboration with the Dallas/Ft. Worth Marine Aquarium Society donated a total of $5000 to the Coral Restoration Foundation in order to purchase a mooring ball to help with coral restoration in the Florida Keys. The Coral Restoration Foundation Inc. (CRF) is a 501 c (3) non-profit conservation organization created to develop off-shore coral nurseries and reef restoration programs for critically endangered coral reefs at local, national, and international levels. Visit their website at www.coralrestoration.org and find out how you can participate in these important programs.
In an effort to repurpose some of our gently used dive gear, members of The Dallas World Aquarium’s fish staff gathered up the equipment they were no longer using and shipped it to the Reef Check Worldwide organization for use by their volunteers working in Haiti. It is our plan to continue to recycle our dive gear in this manner and to encourage others to find ways to participate as well. The Reef Check Foundation is an international non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of two ecosystems: tropical coral reefs and California rocky reefs. They are based in Los Angeles and have volunteer teams in more than 90 countries and territories. Reef Check works to create partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities and other non-profits. Reef Check goals are to: educate the public about the value of reef ecosystems and the current crisis affecting marine life; to create a global network of volunteer teams trained in Reef Check’s scientific methods who regularly monitor and report on reef health; to facilitate collaboration that produces ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions; and to stimulate local community action to protect remaining pristine reefs and rehabilitate damaged reefs worldwide. Visit their website for more information www.reefcheck.org.
Following a meeting at the London Zoo in May 2012, The Dallas World Aquarium has been working alongside a number of other zoos and aquariums as well as field biologists and researchers from around the world to help to develop the IUCN’s Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy that will provide an update on the status of sawfishes. It will also detail global-scale prioritized recommendations for meaningful research, education and conservation action and a roadmap for the development of regional conservation programs to improve the status of sawfishes. The Dallas World Aquarium has assisted with financial support of the publication and release of this strategy and will continue to help by working closely with other AZA accredited facilities to implement some of the education, outreach and captive breeding portions of the strategy.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list all Sawfish species under the Endangered Species Act. The IUCN lists them in their Red List as Critically endangered due to overexploitation and habitat loss. IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. For more information on the Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy visit the IUCN Shark Specialist’s Group web page at www.iucnssg.org/sawfish