Who’s Who at WMODA – Alexandra Barth

Rhanu, our new mermaid in residence, is appearing on Halloween, to launch our Mermaid Quest scavenger hunt around the museum, which is entertaining and informing guests of all ages. Rhanu has also been modeling the wearable glass art creations of Chelsea Rousso to accessorize her beautiful mermaid tail.

On land, Rhanu is better known as Alexandra Barth, a graduate student at the Marine Science Master’s program at NSU. Alex is passionate about shark ecology and introducing guests to the importance of conserving Florida’s ocean environment.

Before Alex began her academic career at Nova Southeastern University, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Spanish at Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD. Over the past six years, she has been participating in shark tagging surveys off the coast of Assateague Island, MD, Clearwater, FL, and Broward County, FL. Her research for her master's thesis at NSU is about the community ecology of the sharks found off the coast of Southeast Florida.

Alex assesses the sharks with a technique called stable isotope analysis. This process requires a small tissue sample from each shark's first dorsal fin in order to analyze the ratio of carbon to nitrogen isotopes within their tissue. This indicates the position of that species in the food web relative to other organisms in the same ecosystem. In this project, Alex is focusing on nurse, sandbar, lemon, tiger, and great hammerhead sharks.

In Alex’s words, “I am extremely passionate about conservation and educating the public on the ecological importance of these magnificent creatures!” To this end, she often volunteers in her “mersona” as Rhanu, the mermaid, and talks about the wonders of the deep at festivals and events in support of our beautiful marine environment in Florida.

Alex was introduced to the Wiener Museum by Ken Evans, a WMODA board member and the founder of Camp Live Oak, a 501c3 nonprofit organization which provides children with a nurturing setting to develop a profound appreciation of nature through active play. Alex is also a field instructor at Build-A-Field Trip, a division of Florida Safari Adventures, with a mission to provide exciting and challenging adventures to inspire future environmental stewards.

Thank you Rhanu for helping us connect science and the decorative arts in the educational programs at WMODA.

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