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Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Awards Grant to U of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation

Critically Endangered Oceanic Sharks Get a Helping Hand from Disney

Disney

MIAMI — September 28, 2011 — The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) announced that the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD) at the University of Miami (UM) has been awarded an annual grant to support its project: Conserving Critically Endangered Oceanic Sharks.

DWCF awarded $2 million to conservation projects around the globe in 2011, the highest amount ever contributed in a single year. RJD is one of nearly 100 grant recipients recognized for helping to preserve habitats, protect endangered species, foster kids’ connections to nature and ensure future generations can enjoy wildlife and wild places.

The RJD team will conduct a comprehensive study on the movement patterns of oceanic whitetip sharks in the subtropical Atlantic employing Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting (“SPOT”) satellite tags to track shark behavior in near real-time for up to 2 years. The study will help to determine the vulnerability of the species to continued overfishing and identifying critical mating and feeding areas.

“This year’s $2 million milestone is testament to Disney’s commitment to protect the planet and help create connections between kids and nature around the world in 40 countries,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, Senior Vice President, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment & Conservation. “We are grateful to the many scientists, educators and community conservationists who devote their lives to conservation and are very proud to work with our guests, fans, employees and cast members to help ensure a better future for our planet.”

“We are honored to have been recognized by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for our research efforts to conserve oceanic whitetip sharks,” said Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, UM Assistant Research Professor and Director of the RJD Program. “Every time one of the tagged sharks surfaces, the SPOT tag sends a signal to an orbiting satellite that subsequently relays the sharks’s position to us. We upload the shark’s movements to our website enabling the public to also monitor the shark’s movements in near-real time via Google Earth¨. The exciting part is that not only will the data be available to students, but it will also be accessible for local and international governments to help design effective conservation strategies, such as open-ocean marine protected areas.”

About the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Since 1995, DWCF has awarded nearly $18 million to support conservation programs in 111 countries. Projects selected for funding must address a critical conservation need, offer education and community engagement, an ability to influence decision makers and solid scientific investigation. For a complete list of grant recipients and to view The Walt Disney Company’s most recent Conservation Report, visit www.disney.com/conservation. Learn more about Disney’s citizenship efforts at www.disney.com/citizenship

About UM and the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
The University of Miami (UM) is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in 2009, the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is a joint program of the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. The Rosenstiel School offers one of largest, most comprehensive marine and atmospheric programs in the nation. The Abess Center encourages innovative interdisciplinary initiatives that bridge the gap between hard science and environmental policy. You can support us by visiting ShopforSharks.com. For more information, please visit www.rjd.miami.edu.

Tags:
disney •  r.j. dunlap conservation program •  grant •  sharks •  satellite observations •  dr. neil hammerschlag •  endangered species •