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Florida Aquarium’s SEA SPAN brings the park to the people

Bill DeYoung



Screen grab: Thom Mesrobian and friends perform on SEA SPAN Wednesday morning. Says the Florida Aquarium's Kari Goetz: "It’s not just for the little ones. One of the things we loved about featuring Thom today was the fact that we knew a lot of his songs make grownups smile, too."

In the sort of innovative move many arts, culture and leisure organizations will most certainly be making soon, the Florida Aquarium began reaching out to the public via the Internet Tuesday; the Aquarium’s 30-minute daily segment on Facebook Live is titled SEA SPAN.

Vice President of Marketing Kari Goetz came up with the idea for the show, which is beamed live weekday mornings at 10, and subsequently made available, in perpetuity, as a video on the Florida Aquarium’s website and Facebook page.

“We want to be able to provide entertainment, education and distraction during a difficult time,” Goetz said.

“Everybody around here is looking for ways to help, ways to contribute, ways to feel like they’re doing something. SEA SPAN incorporates so many things that are going on while we’re closed. The love, care and compassion for our animals never stops.”

Wednesday’s SEA SPAN featured children’s entertainer Thom Mesrobian, who performed songs about sharks, turtles and other sea creatures with the aquarium’s giant marine tank as a backdrop.

Thursday morning, a staff biologist will “take” online visitors on a tour of the coral reef exhibit.

“We don’t want people to think that we’re closed, and that’s it,” Goetz explained. We’re in a unique situation in that the Florida Aquarium never truly closes. Because our number one priority is the care of our animals. The opportunity to share that with people, I think, is really important.”

She remembers a photo she saw, several years ago, posted by a South Florida animal park during a hurricane event. “It was all their flamingos in the ladies’ room,” Goetz laughs. “That’s where the flamingos were going to hunker down. I was fascinated by that photo, because I never really thought about ‘where do animals go when something happens?’”

This, of course, is a different situation. “There’s not an imminent natural disaster, but there is this sort of feeling of uneasiness people are having. Well, our animals are fine. Our animal are safe.

“They’re doing the same things they would normally do – they’re just seeing a lot less people every day.”

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