Archive for the 'Aquatic Life' Category



Australia Staff Caring for Eight Snapping Turtle Hatchlings!

We’re excited to share that our staff in Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes is now caring for eight snapping turtle hatchlings!

snapping turtle hatchlings

After announcing our first hatchling in late February, Aquarium staff have been very excited to see so many additional hatchlings emerge! The National Aquarium is the only Aquarium in the United States to house this turtle species. This occasion marks the first time any facility has successfully bred northern Australian snapping turtles!

All of our hatchlings are doing great – staff have observed them exhibiting lots of healthy behavior like swimming and basking in the open. The team will continue to monitor and care for these babies behind-the-scenes until they’re are grown enough to transition into the exhibit habitats.

Stay tuned for more updates as these hatchlings continue to grow! 

Q&A with Photojournalist and Ocean Advocate Brian Skerry!

In advance of his special lecture at the Aquarium on March 18th, we chatted with photographer Brian Skerry about what inspired him to pursue a career in photojournalism and how his work inspires others to protect our oceans!

brian skerry photographer

What first interested you about photographing marine wildlife?
From a very young age, I was captivated by marine wildlife. There was something mysterious to me about the sea and the creatures that lived there and I had a great desire to spend time with these animals and learn more about them.

If you had to pick one subject to photograph for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
A difficult question for sure, but I think I would say sharks. For me, these animals represent the perfect blend of grace and power and I’ve never tired of photographing them.

brian skerry and shark - photography

If the folks who engaged with your photographs could take away one thing about our oceans and their future, what would you hope for it to be?
That Earth’s ocean is a very, very special place, but it needs our help to survive.

How have you seen the areas your work represents change in recent years?
I began simply wanting to make beautiful pictures of animals or places that interested me. While I still have this desire, I have seen many problems occurring in our ocean and I feel compelled to tell these stories too, as a way of effecting positive change.

brian skerry photography

How does your new book, Ocean Soul, help to further your mission to increase protection of special ocean places?
A book has a long shelf-life so it can attract new readers over time. A book like this also allows me to tell my story; my journey of ocean exploration, the animals and places I’ve seen and how I have begun to connect the dots with species and ecosystems.

Join us for Brian Skerry’s Upcoming Lecture!

What: A lecture from “Ocean Soul: A Photojournalists Journey,” book signing to follow

When: March 18, 2014 at 7 pm EST

Where: National Aquarium
A livestream will also be available online.

To purchase tickets for this event, please visit aqua.org/lectures

Guest Post: Fighting Seafood Fraud Protects Our Health and the Environment

government affairs and policy update

Today’s post comes from Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH. She is the Director of the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In her role, Jillian works to engage public health communities in research, communication, education, policy, and advocacy activities aiming to increase understanding of the public health implications of industrial aquaculture practices and to move toward more sustainable and responsible methods of production. 

In support of that important work, Jillian is a strong advocate here in Maryland for the fight against seafood fraud.

Are you getting the seafood you are paying for? Maybe not– an investigation by Oceana revealed last year that a third of seafood sampled in the U.S. was mislabeled. In an effort to reduce seafood fraud, The Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act was introduced in this year’s state legislative session, and I strongly support the bill due to the potential effects of mislabeled seafood on human health, fish populations, and the environment.

People choose the seafood species they eat based on many factors—how it tastes, health benefits, if it’s responsibly fished or farmed, and if it’s generally known to have low contaminant levels. Many seafood guides exist, such as the popular Seafood Watch from Monterey Bay Aquarium, to help consumers make choices about seafood, but efforts to educate consumers about safe and environmentally sustainable fish have a reduced impact if seafood is not accurately labeled.

monterey bay aquarium seafood watch

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide.

When purchasing wild-caught fish, consumers should seek species known to be from well-managed fisheries to avoid overfishing and bycatch concerns. In the case of farm-raised fish, it should be from an operation that avoids use of chemicals, antibiotics, high densities of fish, and feed made mostly from small fish caught in the ocean (this contributes to overfishing). In addition, certain fish carry advisories, especially for pregnant women and young children, to limit or avoid due to contamination of heavy metals or chemicals.

Oceana’s investigation found overfished species sold as fish from well managed fisheries (e.g., Atlantic halibut as Pacific halibut), farmed fish sold as wild-caught (e.g., farmed tilapia as red snapper), and fish with health advisories being sold as fish with no advisories (e.g., tilefish as red snapper and halibut).

One goal of educating consumers about healthy and sustainable seafood options is to shift demand and change commercial fishing and aquaculture practices. But, if producers can pass off their product as a fish known to be safe and ecologically sustainable, there is little incentive to change practices due to market forces. This also puts honest wild-caught fishers and fish farmers at a disadvantage. To increase demand for fish that are safe and caught or produced sustainably, we need to know what we are eating and where it comes from, and that is why we need better monitoring and enforcement of seafood labeling in Maryland.

For more information on Jillian and the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project’s work, click here. For more information on The Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act, click here

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Go Behind-the-Scenes with Aquarium Vets!

Blog-Header-AnimalExpertUpd

Ever wondered how we care for the 17,000+ animals that call the Aquarium home?

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve just launched our first-ever Veterinarian Tour, which takes guests behind-the-scenes to learn all about the fascinating world of veterinary medicine!

At the National Aquarium, we currently have a staff of four veterinarians and three vet technicians that are in charge of the medical care for all of our animals.  These animals range in size and species from our rain forest tarantula up to our dolphins, and everything in between.

All of the veterinarians at the Aquarium have gone through specialized training to work with our invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. We are proud to say that two of our veterinarians are board-certified in at least one specialty, and our other two veterinarians are currently working towards their specialty certifications.

What it takes to become a veterinarian:
To become a veterinarian, you first need to get a bachelor’s degree from an undergraduate college.  After that, you need to apply and be accepted to a college of veterinary medicine.  Currently, there are only 29 schools in the United States with a veterinary college. This means that for approximately every 10 to 12 applicants to a veterinary school, only one person will be accepted.

After graduating from four years of veterinary school, you are able to go out and practice on any animal you would like to.  However, in order to become a certified specialist with any group of animals, more training is needed.  There are numerous internships and residencies available to provide this specialized training after graduating from veterinary school.

national aquarium vet tour

The next time you visit the Aquarium, take a moment to think about what it takes to keep our animals happy and healthy.

To learn more and to get a behind-the-scenes look at our line of work, check out an upcoming Veterinary Tour.

national aquarium Leigh Clayton

Animal Update – March 7

national aquarium animal update

Blue Hamlet in Atlantic Coral Reef

A blue hamlet has been added to our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit!

national aquarium blue hamlet

This fish, named for its iridescent blue hue, is native to Atlantic coral reef habitats (from the Florida Keys to Mexico).

Blue hamlets are typically very shy. They spend most of their days hiding in reef crevices.

Map Puffer in Blacktip Reef

Did you know? The map puffer is one of six species of pufferfish on exhibit in Blacktip Reef!

national aquarium map puffer

Map pufferfish can be found in reef habitats throughout the Indo-Pacific. Their oval shape and distinctive pattern make these fish easy to spot!

Map puffers are solitary animals. They mostly feed on invertebrates, sponges and algaes.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!


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