Texas State Aquarium issued the following statement:
One week ago, the Texas State Aquarium experienced one of the most significant losses of marine life in our 25-year history. A total of 389 fish, including a number of our iconic species such as our male sand tiger shark, were lost during a medical treatment in which a low dose of what we thought was the drug Trichlorfon was administered to our main marine system.
Yesterday afternoon, we received preliminary lab results from chemists at Summit Environmental Technical which indicated that the drug was in fact not Trichlorfon, but instead an isomer of hydroquinone resorcinol. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, hydroquinone is a common chemical that has widespread application in human and industrial activities. It is used in film processing, as a stabilizer in paint and motor fuels, and in cosmetics. It is also a known haematotoxic (blood poison) and carcinogenic agent.
For further verification, we have also sent samples to the Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Medical Lab, and we will share additional information as it becomes available. Therefore, at this time, we are not prepared to release the name of the company from which we acquired the drug.
We have received an outpouring of support; over 30 aquariums and zoos from all over the country, from Canada, and as far away as Singapore have reached out to offer their support and condolences for our aquarium team. Many have also offered to send us animals. In fact, the first shipment of donated fish has already arrived from the Sealife Center in Grapevine.
We are in the process of cleaning all of the impacted systems to remove any trace of the toxin. Once we have established the water is safe, we will begin adding new fish, which could happen as early as this week.
The financial impact of this tragedy on the Aquarium, at this point, is unknown. The Aquarium has reduced admission pricing; however, it is simply too early to determine what the losses may be.
Aquarium President and CEO Tom Schmid remarked, “On a brighter note, we are receiving an outpouring of support from our local community. Hundreds of folks are posting positive and inspirational messages on our social media platforms, many recalling visits to the aquarium with their children. Their support is tremendously helpful for our team.”
The Aquarium has received many requests from individuals and businesses asking how they can help. Wayne Squires, the CEO and founder of Orion Drilling has generously committed to match all donations up to $50,000 to help with this recovery. Today we are launching an initiative, the Texas State Aquarium Recovery Fund, which will provide our community and our friends from all over the opportunity to help us rebuild our collection. We would encourage anyone who is interested in helping us to please visit our website at www.texasstateaquarium.org/recoveryfund for more details.