The bar at Mermaids & Mimosas and its drink offerings.

Story & Photos By

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, located in Panacea, hosted its annual Mermaids & Mimosas fundraiser on Saturday, June 8th.

The event is to raise funds for marine education and a new roof for their urchin tanks.
“We are raising money to replace everything, the aquarium needs new things,” said Jack Rudloe, founder of the Marine Lab. The aquarium was filled to the gills with participants for the event formerly known as Sharks and Chablis.
“I wanted the event to have a new look, said Rudloe.
Guests made a splash by coming in nautical clothing and mermaid-themed dresses. The nautical enchanted evening consisted of a silent auction, seafood hors d’oeuvres, crafted cocktails, and live music performed by Hot Tamale. The silent auction was described as an array of treasures generously donated by local businesses and artists.
Tom Dunaway donated photo art of Wilson’s Dock and Hannon’s Dock located on St. Teresa Beach. “I like to contribute my work to help contribute to a wonderful cause,” said Dunaway with agreement by his wife, Joyce.
Wilson’s dock is no longer on the beach because of the storms, Hannon’s Dock is the last one standing on the west of St. Teresa.
Funds are also being raised to help rehabilitate the aquarium’s first male loggerhead who weighs in at more than 200 pounds.
“The male loggerhead has medical problems and needs help straightening out, he is swelling up with air, indicating an obstruction somewhere,” said Rudloe. “We could not get a grant we applied for to have a vet on site due to not having an X-ray machine at the aquarium. Our vet, Julie O’Brian, is now a certified turtle vet, and she is currently working with our animals, but with raised funds, I am going with a vengeance to get an X-ray machine to cover the costs (to satisfy grant requirements) to have a vet on site.”
Tallahassee visitors to the event, Gabriel Johnston, Ondrea Maldonado, Carlos Morales and Matthew Johnston said, “We like Gulf Specimen Marine Lab so much we came back because we like to help donating to a cause while having fun, help rehabilitating animals, and enjoying Wakulla County.”
Also visiting the event was Michael and Susan Sentmen, residents of Wakulla County. “We came because we are friends of Jack. We used to help with Sharks and Chablis by bringing our collection of venomous snakes to provide education to guests. We also brought our Gila monster, a species of lizard, to the event. We knew it was on Jack’s bucket list to hold one, so we provided a Gila monster to help check off his bucket list.” They added: “Our display cases of animals were pretty popular.”
Diane Lima, a first time Gulf Specimen fundraising event participant, said, “I have been many times to the aquarium with my grandkids, but the event tonight is really fun. The mimosas are good, music is good, and it is all for a great cause.”
“I want to say the AmeriCorps is the best thing that has ever happened,” Rudloe added. “They bring neverending energy, intelligence and bright ideas.”
He noted AmeriCorps volunteers helped staff the event.

Volunteers Paige Parker and daughter Hunter Eichler.
Billy Shores with his wife with a Harris Hawk named Phil and a peregrine falcon.
Tom and Joyce Dunaway with photo of Wilson’s Dock.
The silent auction with wearable art.