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Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund awards grant to R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program

MIAMI -- October 11, 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."

Contact: Barbra Gonzalez, UM Rosenstiel School
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

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Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund awards grant to R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
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