New rollercoaster aims to help shark conservation

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A new shark-themed ride, opening next month at SeaWorld, is hoped will help raise awareness of the plight sharks face from commercial fishing.

While guests at SeaWorld Orlando are queuing for the new rollercoaster, called Mako, they will be able to watch interactive videos of scientists from the Guy Harvey Research Institute in Fort Lauderdale on shark tagging expeditions. The videos will highlight the fact that over 100 million sharks are killed every year.

Established in 1999, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) is a collaboration between the renowned marine artist, scientist and explorer, Dr. Guy Harvey, and Nova Southeastern University's Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. 

"Through the vehicle of SeaWorld, we can now tell this story to much wider audience that my organisation can reach, so that's the huge advantage of this collaboration," Harvey said. 

The new Mako ride is being billed by SeaWorld as the “tallest, longest, fastest coaster in Orlando.” It’s 200ft high and has a top speed of 73 mph. it opens on June 10. 

Guests will exit the new ride through a shop selling Guy Harvey-branded gear and paintings commissioned exclusively for SeaWorld — a portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

SeaWorld is also funding equipment for the institute's expeditions.

Following heavy pressure from animal rights groups, SeaWorld Entertainment recently announced that it intends to stop its killer whale breeding programme, meaning that the whales currently at its facilities will be its last. It also intends to phase out its orca shows, which will end in San Diego in 2017, and in San Antonio and Orlando by 2019.