Ocean Insight and Georgia Aquarium team up to create better habitats by exploring light and its impact on aquatic environments
Nov 12 2019
Georgia Aquarium holds 10 million gallons of water and is home to over 1,000 species of all shapes and sizes from seahorses to sharks, piranhas to penguins.
The aquarium is on the leading edge of creating the very best habitats for what they call their “animal ambassadors,” creatures living in captivity who create a bridge to the natural world and help us understand the importance of ocean conservation.
Aquarium staff are dedicated to learning more about natural habitats and using technology to recreate the water, air and light conditions that animals need to thrive. Monitoring these conditions can be challenging, requiring the best technical solutions and expertise available.
Species have different lighting needs to support their natural life cycle such as feeding, molting and breeding. For example, turtles depend on light to synthesize vitamin D3 to maintain strong, healthy shells. Corals, on the other hand, need a different segment of the spectrum to support photosynthesis. Other animals require total darkness for certain periods, which requires a way to measure very low levels of blue intrusion light that can cause disruption.
The scientists at Georgia Aquarium believe that we are just beginning to understand all the ways that light affects aquatic life, and are committed to deepening the understanding of these phenomena and sharing their findings with other scientists.
Ocean Insight worked with Georgia Aquarium to help evaluate the available sensing technology and provide a spectrometer package powerful and robust enough to measure light under challenging conditions. Because aquarium staff were new to spectroscopy equipment, they relied on Ocean Insight’s deep application expertise, customer service and know-how to better appreciate the ins and outs of spectroscopy systems.
Susan Walsh, the aquarium’s Water Quality Laboratory Manager, says the work with Ocean Insight is unlocking possibilities her team didn’t know existed. The aquarium is using spectroscopy equipment to make small habitat changes that have a big impact, such as adding a wire mesh between a light source and reptiles, reducing the amount of UV radiation exposure and causing a measurable difference in the energy levels the animals display.
Ocean Insight’s collaboration with Georgia Aquarium has helped advance the aquarium’s mission to inspire awareness and preservation of ocean and aquatic animals worldwide.
Georgia Aquarium relied on Ocean Insight’s expertise to assess their device needs and configure the appropriate setup for their application. Ocean then helped the aquarium implement and maintain that equipment in ways that benefit the animals under their care.
With Ocean Insight equipment, Georgia Aquarium can closely monitor the lighting conditions in aquarium habitats, making sure the light is adapted for the environment. Also, the staff can compare different lighting options for penetrating water columns.
Most important, aquarium staff can measure animal health indicators before and after lighting adjustments to ensure they are providing lighting that supports optimal health. “With some minor habitat upgrades, we’re seeing instant improvements,” says Walsh.
By supplying both equipment and expertise, Ocean Insight is enabling Georgia Aquarium to deepen human understanding of natural aquatic environments, improve animal health in aquaria around the globe, and inspire visitors to advocate for protecting our oceans.
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