I’m very proud to report that this week – on January 15th to be exact – The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion at Epcot will celebrate its 25th anniversary. In view of this significant milestone, I thought I’d share a few of the ways that Disney’s Animal Programs Cast Members at The Seas are helping to conserve marine wildlife as they share with Guests the wonders of the oceans.
The centerpiece of The Seas, of course, is its 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank, home to 4,000 inhabitants representing over 60 species—including sea turtles, angelfish, dolphins, rays, sharks and a very special manatee rehabilitation area.
One of the many conservation efforts undertaken by team members is rehabilitating and releasing rescued manatees. With only 5,000 around the state of Florida, manatees are considered an endangered species. Early last year, the animal care team welcomed rescued manatee, Jasper, who was treated for cold stress and is expected to be released back into the wild after he has gained sufficient weight. While at The Seas, Jasper is living in the company of resident manatee, Lou.
Since 1986, Disney’s animal care teams also have nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and returned them to their home in the sea. In 2010 sea turtles needed extra help, with record low temperatures in the Florida area early in the year followed by the Gulf oil spill in the spring and summer. During the cold spell, The Seas team and other animal care Cast Members logged more than 10,000 miles throughout the state carrying more than 500 rescued turtles to rehabilitation centers, as well as taking in critically injured turtles for long-term care. The team was quick to provide assistance once again to rehabilitate more than 60 sea turtles injured by the oil spill.
The team also is involved in conservation efforts further afield. Coral reefs in The Bahamas, for example, are getting a much-needed helping hand thanks to a unique conservation effort that includes transplanting long-spine sea urchins, which eat algae that can grow on and “choke” coral reefs, to support the health of threatened coral ecosystems. For more on Disney conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation.
Congratulations to The Seas team on 25 years of helping animals and inspiring people to care about the oceans!