GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Before five shark attacks left four people dead and one wounded on the Jersey Shore in 1916, there was widespread doubt a shark would even bite a human.
But the attacks that occurred July 1-12, later dubbed “the 12 Days of Terror,” marked a major turning point in the relationship between sharks and humans that put the fish on the defensive and continues to threaten their existence a century later.
“It literally landed on the desk of the president,” said George Burgess, who directs the Florida Program for Shark Research and International Shark Attack File based at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. “It was affecting everybody.”
The Jersey Shore was a vacation hotspot, and during a polio epidemic and sweltering heat wave in 1916, thousands flocked to the seaside paradise.
The first two attacks happened on the coast, and the last three in Matawan Creek. Some experts suspected a bull shark, because it’s the only shark that regularly swims into brackish water.
But the attacks occurred during a nearly full moon high tide when the tributary had maximum salinity. The high tide, severity of the human injuries and the fact a great white shark was later caught with human remains in its stomach, led Burgess to believe it was a great white.
And it was a 25-foot great white that spiked viewers’ heart rates in the 1975 film “Jaws.”
“When the movie came out, there was a collective testosterone rush up and down the East Coast,” Burgess said. Fishermen wanted to prove their bravery, and catching (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer extended hours and free film screenings with panel discussions during July as part of the University of Florida Creative B program.
The museum is also hosting an opening reception at 6 p.m. July 8 where attendees can meet and greet Creative B featured artist Nobuho Nagasawa prior to the discussion and viewing of “Mothra” (1961) at 7 p.m.
“Creative B is a unique opportunity to speak to experts in the fields of special effects, science and science fiction,” said Tiffany Ireland, Florida Museum educator. “It’s the main event of the summer.”
The museum also will show “Little Shop of Horrors” (1960) on July 15, “The (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History Director Douglas Jones has been elected chair of the board for the American Alliance of Museums. His two-year term began at the conclusion of the organization’s 2016 annual meeting last week in Washington, D.C.
In his new role, Jones will help lead the organization’s programs related to museum accreditation, monitoring the fiscal health of AAM and implementing the group’s 2016-2020 strategic plan. He also will chair two annual meetings and participate in federal advocacy efforts around the country.
An AAM board member since 2012, Jones previously served as vice chair for 2015-2016.
“I’m honored to have been elected to serve in (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two Florida Museum of Natural History professors have received the 2016 Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London, considered one of the top international awards given to researchers studying evolutionary biology.
Distinguished professor, Florida Museum curator and University of Florida Biodiversity Institute director Pam Soltis and Doug Soltis, distinguished professor in the Florida Museum and the UF department of biology, received the award today from Linnean Society President Paul Brakefield at the group’s headquarters at the Burlington House in London. The Soltises are principal investigators in the Florida Museum Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolutionary Genetics and researchers with the UF Genetics Institute.
“This is an incredible honor, particularly that Doug and I were selected as joint recipients,” Pam Soltis said. “We are humbled by this award and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spotting native alligators and crocodiles in Florida is common, but anyone who sees a large reptile may want to take a second look— man-eaters that can grow to 18 feet long and weigh as much as a small car have been found in the Sunshine State.
Using DNA analysis, University of Florida researchers have confirmed the capture of multiple Nile crocodiles in the wild.
The ancient icon eats everything from zebras to small hippos to humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Now three juveniles of the monster crocodile have been found in South Florida swimming in the Everglades and (more…)
WHEN: Saturday, May 21, 5:30 p.m.
WHO: New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart is available for limited media interviews before she speaks during a members-only reception and book signing at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The museum’s current featured exhibit is based on Stewart’s book “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” Media interested in interviewing Stewart must call Paul Ramey, 352-213-0999, in advance.
WHERE: Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, 32611
Contact: Paul Ramey, firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-213-0999
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Active duty military personnel and families receive free admission to all fee-based exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2016 as a part of the Blue Star Museums program.
This is the fifth consecutive year the Florida Museum has participated in the program, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Misty mountains, glistening forests and blue-green lakes make Cameroon, the wettest part of Africa, a tropical wonderland for amphibians.
The country holds more than half the species living on the continent, including dozens of endemic frogs — an animal that has been under attack across the world by the pervasive chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Africa has been mostly spared from the deadly and (more…)
ATHENS, Ga. — Centuries before modern countries such as Dubai and China started building islands, the Calusa Indians living in southwest Florida were piling shells into massive heaps to construct their own water-bound towns.
One island in particular, Mound Key, was the capital of the Calusa kingdom when Spanish explorers first set foot in the area. Supported in part by a grant from National Geographic, a new interdisciplinary study led by University of Georgia anthropologist Victor Thompson and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have an opportunity to play an “animal murder mystery game” and participate in other free family-friendly activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 14 during opening day of the new featured exhibition, “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit.”
Visitors can speak with Florida Museum botanists who will bring specimens from the collections, or play “pollinator vision” and “match the plant with the pollinator” with Gators Reaching Out With Botany.
Other participants include Alachua Conservation Trust, the City of Gainesville Nature Operations Division, (more…)