Beginning Jan. 18, 2022, the Zoo is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Entry passes are required for all guests, including infants. All visitors ages 2 and older are required to wear a mask in all indoor spaces at the Zoo, regardless of their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated visitors do not need to wear a mask in outdoor areas. Select animal buildings remain closed.

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Martín Benavides, Ph.D.

Marine Biologist
B.S., University of North Carolina Wilmington; M.S., Stony Brook University; M.S.T., Pace University; Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Martín Benavides is a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Sustainability, which strives to integrate biodiversity and conservation needs with development priorities. Benavides assists with research on sustainable marine infrastructure and seascape conservation. He focuses on landscape-level ecology of marine vertebrates in an effort to understand their use of habitats that are impacted by marine infrastructure development. 

While completing his doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences, Benavides led efforts to document temporal patterns in a now 50-year-running monitoring program for coastal sharks occurring in the waters off North Carolina. He also headed a research effort aimed at understanding seasonal residency and habitat use of bonnethead sharks in North Carolina and Georgia estuarine waters. This effort included a pioneering study of the use of drones to survey for sharks in temperate estuarine waters as well as an acoustic tracking study of bonnethead shark seasonal migrations along the southeastern U.S. Atlantic coastline. 

Prior to his doctoral studies, Benavides earned his Bachelor of Science in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2008, where he conducted an honors project focused on dietary analysis of red drum fish. He was also an intern for the Painted Bunting Observer Team while at UNC Wilmington, which documented populations of the painted bunting during their seasonal residency in southeastern North Carolina. Benavides obtained his Master of Science in marine and atmospheric sciences from Stony Brook University, where his master’s thesis was focused on the global population structure of two shark species, the dusky shark and the bronze whaler, inferred from genetic analyses. He also obtained a Master of Science for teachers from Pace University as part of the NYC Teaching Fellows Program, which allowed him to train while teaching in inner-city schools across New York City.

Recent Publications: 
Benavides, M. T., Fodrie, F. J., Fegley, S. R., & Bargione, G. 2021. Size changes within a southeastern United States coastal shark assemblage: 1975–2018. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 13(3). 
Benavides, M.T., F. J. Fodrie, and D. W. Johnston. 2020. Shark detection probability from aerial drone surveys within a temperate estuary. Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems 8(1). 
Benavides, M.T., Horn, R.L., Feldheim, K.A., Shivji, M.S., Clarke, S.C., Wintner, S., Natanson, L., Braccini, M., Boomer, J., Gulak, S.J.B., Chapman, D.D. 2011. Global phylogeography of the dusky shark, Carcharhinus obscurus: implications for fisheries management and monitoring the shark fin trade. Endangered Species Research 14.