(Virginia Aquarium, VA) – Sea turtles are among the most endearing marine animals of the sea. Maybe it’s their graceful moves in spite of their hard shell, and perhaps it is because they work so hard at survival. The next speaker of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Eleanor and Henry Watts Conservation Speaker Series is Patrick M. Burchfield Ph.D., who was a key leader in the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle return from the brink of extinction. His free presentation, “Sea Turtles: A Story of Survival” is March 10, 2 p.m. in the Aquarium’s 3D IMAX Theater.
Aquarium Director of Research & Conservation Mark Swingle said, “Dr. Burchfield’s work is truly one of the most amazing conservation stories in the animal world. He is an excellent speaker.” Guests will watch a short video which illustrates the details of the project. This will be followed by Burchfield’s remarks.
Burchfield began his career in herpetology at the Columbus Zoo. In 1970 he accepted the position of reptile supervisor at the Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville, TX, and in 1971 he was promoted to general curator in charge of the animal collection. From 1988 to 2006 he was the deputy director / zoologist, and since January 1, 2007 he has been the Zoo’s Executive Director. In 1973 he began working with the most critically endangered species of sea turtle, the Kemp’s ridley. In addition to his Zoo work, in 1981 Burchfield was formally asked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to head up the U.S. assistance portion of the Bi-national Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Population Restoration Project. He oversees and coordinates the field operation of six Kemp's ridley sea turtle conservation camps in Tamaulipas, Mexico; including all of the logistical and political aspects.
The presentation coincides with the Aquarium’s Trash Bash 2.0 weekend which focuses on marine debris and its effects on the environment. On both Saturday and Sunday, March 9 & 10,
from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. local and national organizations will provide displays and hands-on activities for guests including stations for recycled craft ideas and environmental games. An art show will feature trash used creatively. Throughout the day, Aquarium educators in the Marsh Pavilion and at the Restless Planet Conservation Station will offer “critter close-ups” and learn why a healthy environment is crucial to their survival.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation hosts The Eleanor & Henry Watts Speaker Series. The Foundation is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices.
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