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COVID-19 threatens non-profit aquarium

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium
Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 19:02:31-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Since COVID-19 came to Florida, Gulf Specimen Aquarium has lost thousands of dollars and says their only option now is to let most of their employees go.

Losing three to six months of revenue is devastating for any non-profit, and in the short time since COVID-19 came to Florida, the Gulf Specimen Marine Aquarium has lost thousands of dollars in revenue and predict there will be more than $100,000 of revenue lost by summer's end.

"Currently our plan is to lay off most employees," said Cypress Rudloe. "This is a last resort and something we hate to do. We know that many other businesses in the community are in the same situation and we feel for them."

Rudloe said they are offering virtual field trips instead of field trips to the aquarium, and video lab demonstrations for university students.

"We are hoping that most teachers will be interested in a virtual field trip and we’re hoping that many professors will want to do a video lab," Rudloe said. "But we realize even if these strategies work we will face a significant drop in funds. It is hard for any business to be ready for this type of situation."

"We are currently calculating the amount of funding it would take for Gulf Specimen to barely make it through this situation," said Rudloe.

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab has been in operation for over 50 years and say they want to continue being a part of the community.

Over the years, they have conducted marine life educational programs for hundreds of thousands of children, teaching students about marine life, ecosystems and the importance of protecting them.

A guided tour of our aquarium for school children is $8.50, and Rudloe says they keep prices low because they want to "provide a service to the community and educate the public to help create good stewards of our oceans."

To volunteer or make a donation, visit the Gulf Specimen Marine Aquarium website.