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Special Events

Special Events

The Bishop Announces Nearly $550,000 in State Funding to Expand Manatee Rehabilitation Facilities

The Bishop Announces Nearly $550,000 in State Funding to Expand Manatee Rehabilitation Facilities

The Museum’s plan to quickly renovate an existing facility has the potential to increase Florida’s capacity to rehabilitate injured and sick manatees by 10%.

One of the rehabilitation pools onsite in Myakka City, FL, that The Bishop's Animal Care team plans to retrofit in order to rehabilitate and monitor more of Florida’s manatees.
Bradenton, Fla. – The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature announces it has secured $547,000 in state funding to expand its manatee care program, providing additional holding and acute care space in the statewide effort to rescue, rehabilitate, release, and monitor Florida’s manatees.
The Museum’s plan to lease, retrofit, and operate an existing facility in Myakka City, FL is part of a wider effort to assist as many manatees as possible and hopes are it will be operational before the end of the year. Through this grant, which was appropriated to The Bishop via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the overall capacity of the statewide manatee care network could be increased by 10%, providing resources for both critical emergency care and short-term care of manatees.
These efforts are needed now more than ever in response to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) affecting manatee populations, primarily on the east coast of Florida. A UME is defined by the Marine Mammal Protection Act as a significant die-off that demands immediate response. The current UME began in 2020 and continues to the present, making every effort to address the crisis more important than ever.
Additionally, The Bishop was recently approved for acute care status, which means that in addition to providing holding space for manatees that are not quite ready for return to the wild, they can now accept and provide treatment for rescued manatees in need of hospital care. While The Bishop has long been approved as a secondary holding facility, the authorization to provide acute care means that The Bishop will have the opportunity to make an even greater impact on alleviating the UME, being only one of five facilities federally authorized to treat sick, injured, or orphaned Florida manatees.
Another of the rehabilitation pools onsite in Myakka City, FL, that The Bishop's Animal Care team plans to retrofit in order to rehabilitate and monitor more of Florida’s manatees.
Hillary Spencer, CEO of The Bishop, shared, “The Myakka property and FWC funding are providing an opportunity for The Bishop not only to increase the number of manatees we can help, but also the way in which we help them. The work that Virginia Edmonds, our Director of Animal Care, the Animal Care team, and Museum veterinarian Dr. David Murphy are doing is impactful already, but this expansion will redefine The Bishop’s role in the animal care community.”
The state award of $547,000 is expected to cover the seed money for this significant renovation and its first year of operations. Roughly 50% of the funds will cover expenses related to the renovation and lease of the facility, with the other 50% covering new equipment, additional staffing costs, veterinary care, and other operating expenses.
The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. The MRP is a cooperative of nonprofit, private, state, and federal entities that rescue, rehabilitate, and return manatees to the wild.
While the Myakka Facility will not be open to the public for viewing, at the Museum in downtown Bradenton, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat holds 60,000 gallons of water for up to three manatees rescued from the wild after they became sick or injured. This exhibition was remodeled in 2021 to resemble a cypress spring and allows above and underwater viewing opportunities, offering guests information about the anatomy and life history of manatees, including the challenges they face in the wild.
Report a Sick, Injured, Dead, or Tagged Manatee
Please call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Toll-Free Number at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922). Cellular phone customers: *FWC or #FWC
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • What is the exact location of the animal?
  • Is the manatee alive or dead?
  • Is the manatee tagged?
  • How long have you been observing the manatee?
  • What is the approximate size of the manatee?
  • What is the location of the public boat ramp closest to the manatee?
  • Can you provide a contact number where you can be reached for further information?
The above information is the most important you can provide; however, any additional information will be helpful.
How to Help a Stranded Manatee
  • Do not touch or feed the manatee.
  • Observe from a safe distance and keep other people away.
  • Note the manatee’s condition. Does it appear weak, skinny, or have open wounds?
  • Look for any obvious identification – tag or markings.
  • Determine the manatee’s exact location for accurate reporting.
  • Report the manatee using the above information.

New Special Exhibition Offers a New Perspective

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s New Special Exhibition Offers a New Perspective

Opening on April 12, Illumination: Seeing Beyond the Shell invites guests to see in a new light

A shell can be many things: a mollusk’s protection against a predator, a piece of jewelry, a makeshift spoon—it can even be a calcium supplement or an alternative to limestone mining to help fight climate change! But what happens when you take a closer look?

With the opening of Illumination: Seeing Beyond the Shell on Tuesday, April 12, The Bishop continues the celebration of its 75th Anniversary Year of Light with the stunning photography of Scott Odell — who is not only a talented local photographer but also a member of the Museum’s Staff.

This exhibition of macro photography literally takes a closer look at the shells in The Bishop’s permanent collection, showing what happens when you take an object and view it in a completely different way. “I just wanted to show people objects in a different light, and that anything can be viewed another way by just changing the light source, angles and color,” Odell said.

“Illumination can be used in both a literal and intellectual context,” said Tiffany LaBritt, Curator of Collections. “This exhibition asks viewers of the art to explore and connect to the images in different ways beyond just seeing a pretty shell.”

These images are the fortuitous result of the Museum’s temporary closure during the Covid-19 pandemic. Odell originally began his work with the idea of having an online exhibition where visitors to The Bishop’s website could continue to view items from the permanent collection.

“We have a vast collection at The Bishop to choose from and so the ‘playing with light’ project started,” Odell said. “By using different light sources, I was able to create shadows where I wanted them to be and lighting from behind gave them a totally different look. You might be surprised with the end results!”

Illumination: Seeing Beyond the Shell opens on Tuesday, April 12 on the Museum’s second floor. Visiting is included in the price of admission.

Imperial Volute, Cymbiola imperialis.
Image by Scott Odell.

Atlantic Hairy Triton, Monoplex pilearis.
Image by Scott Odell.

Celebrating Our 75th Year

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature Celebrates its 75thAnniversary with the Year of Light

To ring in our 75th Anniversary, The Bishop is celebrating the Year of Light, exploring how visible light shapes our world and how harnessing invisible energy expands our scientific understanding of the cosmos.

We know that light has a profound impact on our lives, but the light we see — the rainbow of colors that fills the visual world — is only a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic (EM) radiation that constantly surrounds us. Although most of the EM spectrum is invisible, scientists have been able to capture its power to shine a new perspective on our incredible universe.

In that spirit, The Bishop is also offering new perspectives throughout the year. The Year of Light will include eight new exhibitions and experiences, including:

  • On March 5, Picturing Science opens in the Museum’s first floor Gallery 1, introducing guests to ways in which modern imaging technologies make it possible for scientists to examine details that were previously unobservable.
  • In April, local photographer Scott Odell’s Illumination: Seeing Beyond the Shell opens on the second floor, playing with lighting, angles, and color in an astonishing exhibition of macro photography that features items from the Museum’s permanent collection.
  • This summer, new interpretations of our collections using the theme of light will be available throughout the Museum, developed by Director of Museum Experience, Ashley Waite, and Curator of Collections, Tiffany LaBritt.
  • This fall, The Planetarium anticipates hosting infrared images — outside light’s visible wavelength — from NASA’s recently launched James Webb Space Telescope.
  • And we anxiously await the return of laser light shows in May!

The 75th Anniversary culminates in the Museum’s annual black tie gala, The Bash at The Bishop, on November 5. Our Diamond Jubilee will welcome back the Manatee and Sarasota county communities to the preeminent event of the season, and features a colorful large-scale art installation evoking the joy and wonder of science and nature.

“We’re excited to unveil these new experiences throughout The Bishop and the greater Bradenton community,” Museum CEO Hillary Spencer said. “We’re also planning other vibrant multi-sensory experiences such as a room with hundreds of prisms reflecting light. I can’t wait to share the dynamic, fun, and joyful explorations as we celebrate the Year of Light. We look forward to welcoming and collaborating with visitors time and again throughout 2022.”

Picturing Science Special Exhibition

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature Welcomes American Museum of Natural History Exhibition Shedding Light on Stunning Sights

Opening on March 5, Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies reveals the hidden art of the universe’s infinitesimal detail

Ichthyologist John Sparks treated fish with a calibrated series of chemical dyes. Red dye tints bones, blue dye clings to cartilage, and enzymes “clear” tissues, rendering them transparent. These and other stunning images are featured in The Bishop’s newest exhibition Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies opening to the public March 5. Image by John S. Sparks, Associate Curator, Division of Vertebrate Zoology American Museum of Natural History.

Scientists see a great deal more than most of us do, thanks to a range of sophisticated imaging techniques. Tools such as remote sensors, scanning electron microscopes, CT scanners and high-powered telescopes allow researchers to detect evolving supernovas, long-buried ancient villages, microscopic hairs on wasp antennae and much more.

With the opening of Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies on March 5 — the first exhibition of its 75th Anniversary Year of Light — The Bishop makes it possible for visitors to see what scientists do, using technology to reveal once-hidden, intricate details of both natural phenomena and cultural artifacts.

This graphic panel exhibition features the work of scientists from the American Museum of Natural History, showcasing more than 20 sets of striking large-format images that were created in pursuit of scientific knowledge, but also resulted in visually arresting art. The exhibition — which also features items from the The Bishop’s own collections — also explores how new imaging technologies make it possible to examine and analyze a range of specimens and phenomena at levels of detail previously unimaginable, advancing science and providing new insights into the visual splendor of the universe.

Visitors will be introduced to scientific imaging technologies such as:

  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • SEM (scanning electron microscopy)
  • Electron microscopy
  • CT scanning (computed tomography)
  • X-Ray imaging
  • UV Fluorescence

The exhibition opens on March 5 in the Museum’s Gallery 1. Visiting is included in the price of admission. Adults (18-64) $23.95 | Seniors (65+) $21.95 | Youth (12-17) and College Students (with ID) $17.95 | Children (5-11) $14.95 | Pre-K (2-4) $8.95 | Children younger than 2 admitted FREE with paying adult | Discovery Society Members get in FREE

Picturing Science is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (amnh.org).

Aria Arrives at The Bishop

New Manatee Arrives at The Bishop for Rehabilitation as Museum Unveils Bishop Foster Friends Program

Monthly support program will help ensure continuity of care for manatees like Aria

A manatee injured by a boat strike and suffering from cold stress that was originally rescued in January arrived at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s Stage 2 rehabilitation facility on Tuesday. Nicknamed Aria, the young manatee was rescued from Anna Maria Sound and received initial treatment from ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Aria, estimated to be about 1 1/2, will join Janus and Iclyn, the manatees already being cared for in The Bishop’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. Aria weighed just 220 pounds when she was rescued. When she arrived at The Bishop on Tuesday, she was just over 6 feet long and about 340 pounds.

“It’s likely that Aria was struck by a boat and subsequently orphaned,” said Virginia Edmonds, Director of Animal Care at the Museum. “And, since she was injured in January and may not have known where to find a warm-water refuge without her mother’s guidance, she also suffered from cold stress. We’re glad we’re here to help care for this young manatee and get her ready to return to the wild.”

The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. As one of only three Stage 2 rehabilitation facilities in Florida, The Bishop cares for recovering manatees, freeing much-needed emergency space so that seriously ill and injured animals can be treated in critical-care units elsewhere. Spending time in the Museum’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat allows manatees time to finish the recovery process, grow and prepare for their return to the wild.

It’s a service that is needed now more than ever, said Museum CEO Hillary Spencer. “This year has been especially tough for manatees throughout Florida. More manatees have died in 2021 than in any other year in the state’s history — making rescue and rehabilitation programs like ours more important than ever.”

That’s why The Bishop is unveiling a new monthly support program for manatees: Bishop Foster Friends.

“You really will become manatees’ BFF when you become a Bishop Foster Friend and make a monthly donation  that directly supports things like food and the specialized care and habitat that manatees need so we can help them successfully return to the wild,” Spencer said. “We’re also honored to share that donations made through Bishop Foster Friends will be matched by Florida Power & Light Company’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation!”

“FPL is committed to conserving Florida’s unique ecosystems and native wildlife,” said Kate MacGregor, FPL vice president of environmental services. “We’ve worked closely with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations for more than 30 years to ensure that manatees are protected. That is why we are pleased to support The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s efforts to raise funds to increase their capacity for manatee rehabilitation during this critical time.”

FPL will match up to $20,000 of donations made to Bishop Foster Friends. Monthly donations will provide guaranteed support for manatee care and will ensure that the Museum can meet the needs of one of Florida’s most beloved — and threatened — species.

Bishop Foster Friends receive special benefits, including a quarterly newsletter focused on the rehabilitating manatees, exclusive programs and unique merchandise.

DinoVenture Roars Into The Bishop

DinoVenture Will Roar to Life at The Bishop Next Month!

Q: What’s 40 feet long, and will soon be roaring into The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature?

A: A Tyrannosaurus rex — one of more than two dozen life-like dinosaurs that will be in The Bishop’s newest experience, Dino Don’s DinoVenture, opening to the public on Oct. 23. DinoVenture is presented by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and Mosaic.

This outdoor exhibition will transport visitors back to the Cretaceous Period — when T. rexes were apex predators and the kings of the Earth — allowing visitors to walk among these roaring, breathing giants in real life! The animals featured in DinoVenture are the world’s most accurate animatronic dinosaurs — complete with silicon waterproof skin and life-like movements.

They breathe, blink, and flick their tails. And beware — some are so realistic that they even fart and pee!

Most of the dinosaurs of DinoVenture will be outside in The Bishop’s Riverside Plaza, adjacent to the Mosaic Backyard Universe. There, you can encounter:

  • T. Rex  (pictured above right) — one of the largest land carnivores of its era. Weighing in at around 6 tons, T. Rex was the menacing dinosaur featured in the movie Jurassic Park.
  • The other main menace of Jurassic Park: velociraptor. Did you know that in real life, velociraptors were really only the size of turkeys? (The ones in Jurassic Park were much bigger.) They had three curved claws on their ‘manus’ or hands, and were similar to modern birds.

A mother and baby Triceratops, with their large bony frills and brow horns. Triceratops were among the largest known land animals and grew to an estimated 30 feet long!

Euoplocephalus, an ankylosaurid, or armored dinosaur. This armor was made by osteoderms, bones embedded in their dermis. Some modern animals, including turtles, crocodiles and alligators, sport osteoderms today.

  • The “thick-headed lizard” — the Pachycephalosaurus, one of the last non-avian dinosaurs before an enormous comet or asteroid caused the mass extinction event that killed nearly all the dinosaurs.
  • Quetzalcoatus, a flying reptile, or pterosaur. This was one of the largest flying animals that ever existed.
  • DinoVenture at The Bishop will also include Parasaurolophus, Platesaurus, an Oviraptor with its nest, Herrasaurus, Yunnanosaurus and many more!

“Our guests will feel like they’ve been transported back millions of years as they walk among these moving, breathing dinosaurs,” said The Bishop’s CEO, Hillary Spencer. “We’re thrilled to offer this new experience where families will make unforgettable memories together! And those who decide to explore both DinoVenture and the Museum will discover fascinating connections between dinosaurs and the ancient animals that shared the planet with them, myths of indigenous people, and even modern animals.”

The animals in DinoVenture were created by Don Lessem, the dinosaur advisor on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, who is known world-wide for his dinosaur expertise. Lessem has written more than 40 popular science books about dinosaurs, has excavated and reconstructed skeletons of some of the largest dinosaurs that ever existed and has a dinosaur — the Lessemsaurus, a sauropod — named for him.

Guests can choose from three different ticket packages: DinoVenture only, Museum only, or the best of both: an all-access pass to both DinoVenture and the Museum.

Dino Don’s DinoVenture closed on March 20, 2022. Thank you for visiting!

The Mosaic Backyard Universe

Southwest Florida’s best backyard is now open exclusively at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. The best part? You don’t even need a password to climb into our Tree House-Platform, let your imagination be your guide on the Cardboard Rocket, or explore this brand-new play space where kids and families can learn about science and nature!

Our backyard is your backyard!

The new Mosaic Backyard Universe is fully ADA accessible and designed for kids of all ages — and grown-ups who are young at heart. From scale models of our solar system and a freshwater Pond filled with turtles, to a Science Shed and a massive Mighty Oak towering above it all, we have Southwest Florida’s coolest backyard!

Visit today, learn more about the Mosaic Backyard Universe or join the Discovery Society so you can visit for free anytime!

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The Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat

Modeled after a cypress spring, the newly renovated Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat holds 60,000 gallons of water and houses manatees that were rescued from the wild after they became sick or injured. This exhibition allows above and underwater viewing, and offers guests information about the anatomy and life history of manatees, including the challenges they face in the wild.

The Bishop’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat is a Stage 2 rehabilitation facility — a temporary home where manatees come after their initial critical care needs have been met in manatee hospitals. This second-stage facility offers manatees the opportunity to gain exposure to natural foods and feeding strategies, and gain weight for their return to the wild. Second stage facilities play a vital role in maintaining space for critically ill manatee patients in the hospitals.

The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. The MRP is a cooperative of nonprofit, private, state, and federal entities that rescue, rehabilitate and return manatees to the wild.

The newly renovated Habitat resembles a cypress spring and provides the animals with an environment that closely mimics what they will encounter in the wild. The pool contains variable textures and rougher surfaces that give manatees an opportunity to use their sense of touch. Other features include an artificial tree that the manatees can navigate around, as well as different levels on which to rest, providing a stimulating environment for them to navigate that has features similar to what they experience in the wild.

The facility was the permanent home to Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty, who passed away in 2017 at a record-breaking 69 years old.

Exhibition: Being a Sea Turtle is Hard — But You Can Help!

Sea turtles and manatees share similar evolutionary histories — both animals are descendants of terrestrial species. Unfortunately, they also share similar threats — from loss of habitat to man-made obstacles. All sea turtle species are federally listed as threatened or endangered.

This exhibition highlights some of the ways that the public can be good stewards and help keep sea turtles safe on our local beaches and in our local waterways. It features life-size scientific illustrations of the five sea turtle species that call the Gulf of Mexico home, along with the skeleton of a loggerhead sea turtle — the most common sea turtle species on Florida’s west coast and shows the ecosystem connections that manatees and sea turtles share.

“Being a Sea Turtle is Hard — But You Can Help!” also showcases information about loggerhead nesting on Anna Maria Island as monitored by the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, with running totals of false crawls and nests laid during the annual May-October sea turtle nesting season and shows the public how they can make a difference in the lives of these animals.

The exhibit was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Licence plateSea Turtle Grants Program, which is supported by proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at helpingseaturtles.org.

The Planetarium

All-New System Offers Brighter, Sharper Images in Our Digital Full-Dome Planetarium Theater

The Planetarium at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is the premier astronomy facility on Florida’s west coast — and our new state-of-the-art projection system and software is 1½ times brighter than our previous system and has four times the contrast.

The full-dome Planetarium’s Digistar 6 dual projection system and latest-generation software provide stunning views and allow for constant updating as new astronomy discoveries are found. The new system also allows The Bishop to share live on-air events as they happen. The combination of our new system and the size of our dome enables us to recreate a dark sky natural environment.

The Planetarium is a remarkable astronomy education resource, allowing you to explore the universe through immersive virtual journeys to the far reaches of the cosmos. In The Planetarium, you can lift off from Earth and fly beyond our solar system, out of our galaxy and to the very edge of the universe. You can even see how a black hole affects the objects around it — including how it bends light in surprising ways.

Entrance to The Planetarium at The Bishop is included with the price of admission.

The Bishop’s Newest Special Exhibition Packs a Punch

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s Newest Special Exhibition Packs a Punch

Opening on July 8, Battles of the Boneless features the fierce and fascinating lives of marine mollusks 

They may be spineless but marine mollusks are no pushovers! In fact, the gastropods that live in our oceans have fierce and fascinating lives employing a wide variety of superhero-like powers that make them more than just pretty shells.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is inviting guests to go beyond the beautiful shell to learn the real stories of these cool and complex animals in its newest special exhibition, Battles of the Boneless, opening July 8.


This comic-book themed exhibition explores the adaptations that have allowed mollusks to become one of the largest and most diverse animal groups on the planet, with more than 93,000 species.

“People are often fascinated by the colors, shapes or sizes of the shells of marine mollusks, but these animals are so much more than just a pretty face,” said Matthew D. Woodside, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at The Bishop. “In fact, their eating habits alone make them so fierce they could go foot-to-foot with any comic book superhero.

“Just take a look at cone snails. They have a harpoon hidden inside their proboscis that injects a potent venom cocktail into their prey. And murexes secrete acid to bore a hole into their prey. Marine mollusks really do pack a punch!”

Battles of the Boneless — developed by The Bishop’s own expert curators exclusively for the Museum — explores five groups of marine snails:

Tritons — among the fastest-moving marine snails (pictured above).

Conchs — one of the most widely recognized groups in Florida, thanks to menu items like conch fritters and conch chowder.

Cones — of the 700 species worldwide, five are found in Florida.

Moon snails — which use their sense of smell to locate prey.

Murexes — which were used by ancient people to create dye.

The Bishop has more than 20,000 mollusk shells in our collection,” Woodside said. “We’re pleased that this exhibition gives us an opportunity to showcase some of them, but we also wanted to help visitors understand the important role that these often-overlooked animals play in their ecosystems. Some of them have incredible adaptations, which really are a kind of superpower!”

Battles of the Boneless is open starting July 8 in the Museum’s East Gallery. Visiting is included in the price of admission.