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Radley, others take part in 'Shave to Save the Vqaquita' program

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KURE BEACH, N.C. - The NC Aquarium at Kure Beach recently had a unique fundraiser.

Below is a full press release on "Shave to Save the Vaquita" from the July 7 event.

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Dan Radley loved his beard. He loves the vaquita, a critically endangered porpoise species, even more. On Thursday morning, Radley perched himself on a giant, clam-shaped chair, worthy of Poseidon. He held his breath, closed his eyes and submitted his face to a professional shave to help save a tiny porpoise species. "Shave to Save the Vaquita" began as a challenge by Radley to his N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher co-workers and volunteers. Radley, the Aquarium's volunteer coordinator, offered to remove beloved facial hair he'd nurtured for 12 years in exchange for $1,000 in donations for the vaquita. Aquarium staff and volunteers donated the magic amount, quickly. At the prospect of even more donations, Radley recruited more bearded team members.

On Thursday, the Aquarium's auditorium was filled with cheers and applause as Antoine Boykin, Bangz Salon and Spa stylist, took up his clippers and approached Radley. Large clumps of crimson beard fell to the floor, while a plush-toy vaquita rested on the arm of his chair. When the shearing was complete, Radley and three additional team members - Larry Boles, Ed Febles and Ryan Tomb- sported smooth faces; and more than $2,000 was raised for VaquitaCPR (Conservation, Protection, and Recovery). The fundraiser continues months of work to raise awareness for the imperiled vaquita. This spring, the Aquarium, as part of a collaborative effort with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and 100 member zoos and aquariums, helped raise more than $1 million dollars toward an emergency rescue program for the vaquita. The Aquarium also accepted the "#Pied4aPorpoise" social media challenge, with Director Peggy Sloan taking a real pie to the face. In addition, staff began planning for an educational event to be hosted on "Save the Vaquita Day," July 8. Yet, Radley thought even more could be done. "What could be more tragic than the potential extinction of a species," said Radley. "Certainly not a clean, close shave. If this simple action can help make even a small difference, it's worth it." While Radley met his goal, the future of the vaquita remains uncertain. Found only in the Gulf of California in Mexico, only 30 vaquitas remain alive. The vaquitas are caught and die in the nets used by illegal fishing operations to capture another endangered fish, the totoaba. The swim bladder of the totoaba is sold on the black-market in parts of Asia for large sums of money. The Aquarium hopes to raise even more awareness during "Save the Vaquita Day" from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 8. Aquarium visitors have the opportunity to learn and play their way to a better understanding of the plight of the animal and why it matters. Hands-on science activities including dolphin bio facts and a life-sized vaquita board game will engage young and old. Two screenings of "Souls of the Vermillion Sea: Searching for Vaquita" will screen in the Aquarium auditorium at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. In addition, Marine Mammal expert, Dr. Ann Pabst from the University of North Carolina Wilmington will give a presentation and answer questions about vaquitas at 11:30 a.m. Save the Vaquita Day is free with N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher admission. For more information visit ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher.To view a video of Shave to Save the Vaquita, click here to go to the NCAFF YouTube page. About the Aquarium The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located south of Kure Beach, a short drive south from Wilmington, on U.S. 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Aquarium is one of three state aquariums in North Carolina administered by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR). General Information: The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of only 230 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a non-profit organization dedicated to the highest standards in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation. In addition, the Aquarium is an AZA partner in SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction. More on AZA: AZA.org

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