NewsLocal News


Gulf Specimen Marine Lab reflects on lessons learned from Michael as it preps for 2020 hurricane season

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 19:20:40-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As the 2020 hurricane season begins employees at the Gulf Specimen Lab reflect on how they've prepared after being slammed by Hurricane Michael two years ago.

"Immediately running to the store, getting gas, getting generators," said Cypress Rudloe, the executive director of Gulf Specimen Lab. "I didn't stop for three days after that."

With the help of fellow aquarists, Rudloe was able to get animals evacuated before the hurricane hit.

"Our sharks had to get evacuated up to Atlanta and then our sea turtles had to get evacuated to Sea World down in Orlando," Rudloe said.

When Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10, 2018, filtration systems and the living dock were severely damaged.

"The entire living, floating part of it was ripped apart and the entire boards were ripped apart," said Rudloe. "The heart of our aquarium is where our pumps and filters are that clean the water up. After Michael, we had to go on a huge undertaking to rebuild our entire filtration."

A recovery grant will soon help construct a sturdy building to protect the filtration system. However, Rudloe says they have to see how this hurricane season goes.

"This is part of the lifestyle, living on the coast," said Rudloe. "You have to deal with hurricanes."

Rudloe says the grant will help pay for the building over the filtration system as well as replace old classrooms.