World Oceans Day: 8 Tampa Bay marine life stories

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(WFLA) – June 8th is recognized as World Ocean’s Day and we’re bring back some noteworthy stories we’ve covered on Tampa Bay’s marine life within the past year, while also recognizing the perils much wildlife goes through and what we can do to help.

The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet and produces much of its oxygen.

According to the United Nations, World Oceans Day “reminds everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.”

Many things can be done to help protect our waters and those who live in them, including things such as ditching plastic items and using reef-safe sunscreen.

It’s also easy to help pick up little and things within our waters, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tips on how you can help our oceans.

1. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosting weekend cleanup event in honor of World Oceans Day

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is hosting a clean-up event this weekend and residents are encouraged to volunteer to pick up trash from the Hillsborough River.

“Volunteers can bring their water crafts like kayaks, canoes or paddleboards,” according to 8 On Your Side’s Brianda Villegas.

2. Penguin Awareness Day: Florida Aquarium & its ‘backstage pass’ for families

It’s often easy to forget about marine animals who don’t inhabit the Tampa Bay area, but the Florida Aquarium has an experience, at additional cost, for families to interact and even pet an African penguin! Included in aquarium admission is a chat with a biologist who will tell you all about the animal and answer any questions.

The aquarium is home to 10 penguins, though does not feature a full public habitat for them. Throughout the day, biologists will bring them out for these chats.

3. Clearwater Marine Aquarium to release documentary on pilot whales stranded in 2019

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced in April it would be a releasing a new documentary this summer. The documentary covers the rescue, rehabilitation, release, and tracking of the five pilot whales that were stranded on Redington Beach in 2019.

The documentary includes original footage from the beach and the series of events that followed.

4. Witnesses watch manatee give birth on Earth Day in Westshore district

Witnesses watched a miracle on Earth Day this year as a West Indian manatee gave birth right in front of them.

8 On Your Side received two videos of the mother and calf and were able to speak with the man who shot the video.

“…we saw the little baby manatee just going across the water in a circle like that. It was so much fun,” Jeff Wysocki said.

5. Oddly-pigmented dolphin spotted in Gulf, Clearwater Marine Aquarium not calling it albino

A dolphin caused quite the stir on social media in April after it was recorded swimming along… but it looked a little different than most dolphins we see here in the Tampa Bay area.

Investigators and biologists at CMA did not call the 1-year-old dolphin, now known as “Cherub,” “albino,” as the young one did not have red eyes, a common sign in albinism.

6. Florida Aquarium spawns grooved brain coral in lab for 2nd year

For the second year in a row, The Florida Aquarium was successfully able to make grooved brain coral spawn in a controlled laboratory setting.

The aquarium’s Induced Spawning Lab uses computers and LED illumination to create the proper temperature, simulations of sunset, sunrise and moon cues, to mimic environmental conditions of coral in the wild to induce spawning.

7. Well-traveled manatee ‘Chessie’ back in wild, being tracked by Clearwater Marine Aquarium

“Chessie” the well-traveled manatee, was released back into the wild in May and is being tracked by researchers from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Chessie has been spotted as far north as Rhode Island, first being seen in the Chesapeake Bay in 1994, a highly unusual place for a manatee to be. The male manatee is estimated to be around 35 years old and has a scar pattern that makes him distinguishable among other manatees.

8. Are Tampa Bay shark populations indicators of tropical weather?

Some species of sharks and their locations could be an indicator of whether tropical weather is about to strike in your area, according to new research that supports previous research conducted by Mote Marine Laboratory.

Mote’s research from summer 2001 used a series of underwater receivers that tracked the positions of 41 young blacktip sharks fitted with transmitters ahead of Tropical Storm Gabrielle in a nursery area of Terra Ceia Bay. Doctor Bob Hueter, a retired shark researcher with Mote Marine Laboratory and current OSEARCH employee, was involved.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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