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Jeff Corwin (center, bottom) with Rookery Bay Reserve Researchers Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin airs Saturday mornings on ABC

NAPLES, FL (September 6, 2011) - Shark research at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) will have the national spotlight in an upcoming segment of Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin. The new production, being launched jointly by the Georgia Aquarium and Litton Entertainment, is part of the Litton Weekend Adventure Saturday morning three-hour educational programming block on ABC. The shark research episode, featuring RBNERR’s fisheries biologist Pat O’Donnell, along with Mike Hyatt and Paul Anderson, PhD., two of the other researchers involved in the study, is slated to air on October 29.

"We are thrilled that the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is being recognized in this production,” said RBNERR director Gary Lytton. “Millions of TV viewers nationwide will have a great opportunity to learn more about sharks and the importance of mangrove estuaries as shark nurseries through our collaboration with Corwin and the Georgia Aquarium."

Five years ago RBNERR’s long-term shark monitoring program caught the attention of Florida Aquarium veterinary staff working to improve captive shark handling techniques. Subsequently, RBNERR entered into a cooperative research effort with the Florida Aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium and Shedd’s Aquarium in Chicago. The collaborative shark blood gas/stress response project required access to wild-caught sharks such as those encountered monthly in RBNERR’s project.

As production plans got underway at the Georgia Aquarium, the Ten Thousand Islands shark capture project became the perfect opportunity to put Corwin in close contact with wild sharks. Filming took place aboard a RBNERR research vessel in the Ten Thousand Islands in August 2011 and encountered four sharks: two lemon (Negaprion brevirostris), a bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) and a blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus). While the cameras rolled, the sharks were measured, weighed and had other data recorded before being tagged and released with Corwin’s assistance and enthusiastic explanation of their significance to the ocean ecosystem.

About Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Located on the western edge of the Ten Thousand Islands, RBNERR encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that serve as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students and scientists from around the world. RBNERR is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

About Litton’s Weekend Adventure

Litton's Weekend Adventure is a series of six all new series airing on 95 percent of the country's ABC affiliates following Good Morning America in most markets. Litton Entertainment is the preeminent independent distributor in the television industry. Covering marine species and issues facing them around the world, Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin is a 26-episode, half-hour weekly TV series that will be broadcast nationally on Saturday mornings on more than 200 ABC affiliates each week -  www.facebook.com/oceanmysteriestv

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