Not only is the Oklahoma Aquarium a world-class aquarium, caring for 10,000 animals, it is also an aquatic research facility conducting cutting-edge shark and coral research.
Photographers, scientists, filmmakers, and teams from Discovery Channel, BBC, Animal Planet, and many others, have traveled to Tulsa from around the world to work with the Oklahoma Aquarium team. These teams work to document and explore how to save human and shark lives! In addition to ongoing research projects, a new research center would allow more opportunities to expand the work and introduce more students to science.
Coral reef systems are the most bio-diverse habitats on the planet. They occupy only .1% of the ocean yet are home to 25% of all marine life. Reefs are the ocean's nursery grounds, protecting small animals and allowing them to thrive. Reefs also protect our coastlines by absorbing wave energy from massive storms that form at sea that cause large-scale damage to coastal areas. Scientists at the aquarium conduct innovative coral research that explores coral fluorescence to help restore and protect wild coral reef systems. The National Science Foundation-funded research has also made discoveries to help coral survive increasing ocean temperatures and bleaching. Recently, the team traveled to Honduras to look at coral under natural light and then under a blue light which excites the coral to fluoresce. The team then used a yellow filter to see the coral fluoresce green!
Bull sharks are widely considered the most dangerous in the world. As home to the world's largest collection of bull sharks and the only one in the western hemisphere, aquarium researchers have worked with many notable partners. For example, research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped to test and develop shark-proof and shark-deterrent technologies. The research team is currently working with IronSkinn, a New Zealand-based company, and OSU to test shark bite-proof wetsuits. Our famous bull sharks help to save lives around the world!