Shark attacks hit all-time high in 2015

February 9th, 2016

Editors note: An infographic follows this release. 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s the kind of record no one wants to break: the most shark attacks in a single year. But 2015 did just that, with 98 unprovoked attacks worldwide, beating the previous record of 88 set in 2000, according to the International Shark Attack File housed at the University of Florida.

Six of the attacks were fatal.

The all-time high came as no surprise to George Burgess, curator of the world’s clearinghouse of shark-attack data housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. With shark populations rebounding and more and more people in the ocean, bites are inevitable, he says.

“Sharks plus humans equals attacks. As our population (more…)

Museum reaches 500,000 digitized mollusks online, largest worldwide

February 5th, 2016
This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species found in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of more than 500,000 mollusk specimen records. The database includes about a third of the world’s 100,000 identified species. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

This jeweled topsnail, Calliostoma annulatum, from the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, is one of the species in the Florida Museum’s digital catalog of mollusk specimen records.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Gustav Paulay

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently surpassed half a million cataloged mollusk specimen records in its online database, making it the world’s largest digitally accessible collection for the shellfish group.

Museum researchers have been building the online catalog for more than 30 years, and it includes about a third of the word’s approximately 100,000 identified mollusk species, said Florida Museum curator of marine malacology Gustav Paulay.

“Researchers as well as the public may access the database and (more…)

Best-selling author Randy Wayne White to host Randell fundraiser Feb. 11

January 18th, 2016
Author Randy Wayne White will host the fundraiser at Doc Ford's Bar & Grill on Captiva Island.

Randy Wayne White

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Randell Research Center in Pineland will hold a fundraiser featuring best-selling author Randy Wayne White Feb. 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. for the preservation of Southwest Florida history and culture.

White will host the event at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Captiva Island featuring stories, food, cocktails and a live auction to help the Randell Center reach its 20th anniversary endowment goal of $850,000. Tickets are $200 and limited to 100 guests.

“Many people love Randy White’s “Doc Ford” and “Hannah Smith” novels and this is a rare opportunity to have some fun hanging out with Randy while helping a (more…)

Before the Pilgrims, Floridians celebrated the ‘real’ first Thanksgiving

November 18th, 2015
Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.  UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

Florida Museum Historical Archaeology Collection Manager Gifford Waters, pictured in the “First Colony” exhibit, is one of the UF experts setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving, which actually took place in Florida more than 50 years before the Pilgrims’ feast.
UF photo by Bernard Brzezinski

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s that time of year when children make cardboard turkeys and draw the Mayflower, while we prepare to fill our tables with stuffing and pumpkin pie the way most of us imagine the Pilgrims did at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

But there’s just one catch, according to archaeologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History: The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving wasn’t the first.

The nation’s real first Thanksgiving took place more than 50 years earlier near the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, when Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 soldiers, sailors and settlers joined local Native Americans in a feast that followed a Mass of Thanksgiving, according to Kathleen Deagan, distinguished research curator emerita of historical archaeology at the museum, located on the University of Florida campus.

Instead of flat-top hats and oversized buckles, conquistadors wore armor and (more…)

Alachua County fourth-graders to receive free ‘First Colony’ exhibit tours

September 29th, 2015
Students observe artifacts explaining how Native Americans made jewelry and other items out of silver and gold from shipwrecks off Florida’s coasts in the "First Colony: Our Spanish Origins" exhibit.  Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

Students observe artifacts explaining how Native Americans made jewelry and other items out of silver and gold from shipwrecks off Florida’s coasts in the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alachua County fourth-grade students have the opportunity to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new featured exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins,” during a two-hour free program beginning Oct. 27.

Designed to support classroom studies, the “First Colony Days” program engages students in learning about the nation’s first colony in St. Augustine through archaeology, history and the stories of people who lived there. Scheduled for 19 dates through January 2016, the program includes hands-on (more…)

Museum sets date for 100-year anniversary gala in 2017

September 28th, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate its 100-year anniversary as the state museum with a gala on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus. The event will include dinner, live entertainment and dancing.

Other anniversary weekend activities include a public celebration and academic symposium. The museum is also producing a special 100-year anniversary exhibition scheduled to open during fall 2017.

The museum traces its roots to the 1890s as part of Florida Agriculture College in Lake City, where the first specimens were collected and used for teaching. In 1906, the collections were moved and the museum was established on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.

The celebration marks the anniversary of the museum’s designation as the state’s (more…)

FWC to launch ‘Wings Over Florida’ butterfly program Saturday during ButterflyFest

September 14th, 2015

Media Advisory

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 19; 1 p.m.14174 ButterflyFest_SignUpGenius_FNL

WHO: Florida Museum of Natural History and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission representatives will launch the addition of a new butterfly certificate recognition to the “Wings Over Florida” program, which previously focused solely on birding.

WHERE: Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road – Powell Hall, University of Florida Cultural Plaza, Gainesville, FL 32611

WHAT: The “Wings Over Florida” program encourages bird and butterfly enthusiasts to explore Florida in search of species to add to their “life list.” The new component includes six certificates awarded based on butterfly-watching achievement. Following the unveiling, visitors may sign up for the program, start building their butterfly “life list” in the museum’s Florida Wildflower and Butterfly Garden or adjacent UF Natural Area Teaching Lab and earn a basic level certificate.

DETAILS: For more information, visit http://floridabirdingtrail.com/index.php/resources/wings/ or http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest/home/

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Contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-213-0999

New exhibit challenges belief first Thanksgiving held in Jamestown

August 27th, 2015

‘First Colony’ details St. Augustine’s Spanish roots
Photos available

PrintGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can discover the little-known history of the nation’s first enduring European settlement at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s new featured exhibit, “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins,” opening Oct. 17.

Spaniards, free and enslaved Africans and Native Americans crafted America’s original “melting pot” in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, long before the founding of Jamestown. “First Colony” features the site’s archeology, history and stories of people who lived there.

“‘First Colony’ challenges the long-standing belief that the English were the first to colonize America and establishes St. Augustine as our country’s oldest enduring European settlement,” said Florida Museum exhibit developer Julie Waters. “We’re (more…)

New ‘Exploring Our World’ exhibit features research

July 3rd, 2015

EOWGAINESVILLE, Fla. — Visitors can learn about the importance of research and collections in a new exhibit now on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“Exploring Our World” features information about ongoing University of Florida and museum research, and spotlights current UF initiatives in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The UF research section includes videos produced by students highlighting projects across campus.

“The exhibits at the museum are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Florida Museum exhibit developer Julie Waters. “The museum has vast collections and a rich history of research, (more…)

US military veterans, families receive free admission July 3-5

June 26th, 2015

US FlagGAINESVILLE, Fla. — To honor U.S. military veterans, the Florida Museum of Natural History will offer free admission to all fee-based exhibits for veterans and their families during the Fourth of July weekend.

The offer is valid July 3-5 for veterans and up to five family members with a valid form of identification. Valid identification includes: a military ID, DD Form 214, VA card or driver’s license with a blue “V” in the bottom right corner.

The Florida Museum also is offering free admission to all fee-based exhibits for active duty military personnel and their families through Labor Day as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

This is the fourth consecutive year the museum has participated in the program, which is a collaboration among (more…)