Gulf Specimen Marine Lab Needs Your Help

~ Help us replace our biggest display tank! ~

Funds are urgently needed to replace a major marine education display at Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea, Florida.  Until this past month, “C-5” (otherwise known as the “shark tank”) was our largest concrete tank built in 1970. U-Shaped 120 foot long, running around the perimeter of our 20 x 50’ foot building.  It held four thousand gallons of sea water, redfish that struck their food like a freight train, triggerfish that stared up at you with doleful eyes and remoras that we sometimes allowed kids to feed by hand.  You can watch kids squealing with delight as nurse sharks splash them during a feeding frenzy at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in the video below:


Our students, volunteers and alumni still recall the arduous back breaking labor of hauling in beach sand by the bucket full, and working through the night building the sub gravel filter system. Some helped erect the pole barn to keep out the rain, others worked on the insulation or the graphics and signs. Others helped us produce soft-shell crabs for a molting hormone study, working through the night, picking out the blue crabs that shed their shells and freezing them in liquid nitrogen.

shark tank rebuild 1 250.gifAfter decades of struggling with aging concrete in the tank walls and floor, spending endless hours and money playing “find the leak” our staff had enough.  Wakulla County community service workers demolished it with sledge hammers and hauled away 20 tons of concrete rubble.

We are now seeking $40,000 to rebuild the facility and fill the empty space with new and exciting tanks and exhibits. A bioluminescent tank is planned where people can see luminous sea pansies, and plankton flash blue fire along with transparent tubular columns with jellyfish pulsing in the darkness.  Special tanks featuring the “critter of the month” will magnify small and obscure pistol shrimp and sand fleas to show what monsters they are on giant television screens.

jack and tank 250.gifThe new temperature controlled tanks will give us more room to hold a greater number of endangered sea turtles during cold stun emergencies. This January we kept 65 sea turtles alive of the five thousand stranded by record biting cold until they could be released.

The new facility will also help us provide live baby blue crabs to Operation Migration’s young whooping cranes that are escorted from Wisconsin by ultralight planes to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Field Trip Season and thousands of kids are coming. We don’t want to disappoint them with fewer specimens to show.  You can see our dream layout on the video below:


It will cost $40,000, but any contribution you can make towards this effort will be greatly appreciated. I f you are not a member of Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, please see our website and join: or phone us at (850) 984-5297.


Jack Rudloe, President
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab

This information originally published on February 17, 2010.

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