Archive for the 'Conservation' Category



Happy National Wildlife Week!

national aquarium conservation expert update

This year’s National Wildlife Week is dedicated to the Wonders of Wildlife and this year’s theme, “Wildlife and Water,” highlights our connections through water.  The National Aquarium is an obvious place to think of when you think about water and wildlife.  Like we do every day, we invite you to discover your connection to water and to the other plants and animals sharing this precious resource.

It is no coincidence that National Wildlife Week coincides with the beginning of Spring.  Both occasions start us thinking about the natural beauty and waking wildlife that begins to emerge this time of year.  We are already seeing flowers popping up from the snowy ground and frogs beginning their spring mating rituals.  Osprey are beginning to return to the region after a long migration north and soon we’ll see other birds leaving or passing through.  Fish are moving in and out of the bays and rivers as they are headed to spawning grounds.  All of these amazing sights and sounds are intricately tied to water and to each other.  How they move, the food they eat, what they drink, where they raise their young – it’s all about water.

World Water Day quote

As warmer weather approaches and snow starts melting, vernal pools are filling and streams and rivers are flowing.  Get outside and discover how these changes to the water around us are providing opportunities for wildlife to thrive.  Birds and frogs are active, animals that had been hibernating are emerging and looking for food, turtles are basking in the stronger sun.  The world is waking from the long winter and this is often the best time to take a pair of binoculars (or a magnifying glass) and see what is happening in your local area.

Also, don’t miss the chance to celebrate wildlife that shares our world during National Wildlife Week.  Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation are highlighting more than 50 species of wildlife throughout the week.  I’ll bet even the most savvy of wildlife enthusiast will learn something new!

Are you celebrating National Wildlife Week? Share your plans with us in the comments section! 

national aquarium conservation expert laura bankey

Bill of the Week: Capital Budget

government affairs and policy update national aquarium

Governor O’Malley submitted his Fiscal Year 2015 Capital Budget to the Maryland General Assembly in early January. The $4 billion Capital Budget includes nearly $700 million for public school and university construction, $450 million for projects such as land preservation and Chesapeake Bay restoration, and $2.5 billion for transportation projects.

The Governor’s Capital Budget also includes funding for the National Aquarium for the second year in a row. If approved by the General Assembly, the State’s $1.5 million will help the Aquarium address critical infrastructure needs while simultaneously redesigning the way we communicate the remarkable aquatic treasure just beyond the Aquarium’s walls: the Chesapeake Bay.

chesapeake bay watershed

Addressing these infrastructure pieces will allow us to completely re-imagine the way we communicate the unique beauty and diversity of the Bay. Interactive exhibits – both in the main Aquarium building and outside the Aquarium walls that reach the edges of Inner Harbor – will share the success stories of and challenges still facing one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures.

The exhibit will surely give the Aquarium’s 1.4 million annual visitors – the majority of whom reside within the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed – a sense of how water connects us all.

The General Assembly will be voting on the Capital Budget over the next few weeks. The 2014 legislative session adjourns on April 7th.

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our legislative update emails and follow me on Twitter for real-time updates from Annapolis throughout session!

sarah elfreth government affairs manager national aquarium

Thoughtful Thursday: Maryland’s Lt. Governor Visits Masonville Cove

national aquarium conservation expert update

We are all custodians of the environment. - Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown

The National Aquarium’s Conservation team was excited to welcome long-time friend and environmental champion, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to our field station at Masonville Cove earlier today!

lt governor Anthony Brown at Masonville Cove

Lt. Governor Brown was on-site to participate in one of the first training sessions that are part of the Small Watershed Action Plan. He was joined by students from Benjamin Franklin High School, National Aquarium experts and community volunteers.

In the fall of 2013, the National Aquarium took the lead on creating a Small Watershed Action Plan (SWAP) for Masonville Cove. A SWAP identifies strategies to bring a small watershed into compliance with water quality standards and goals, in collaboration with local businesses and community volunteers.

The SWAP at Masonville Cove will include a comprehensive watershed assessment that will provide valuable baseline data and guide future protection and restoration projects that will lead to improved water quality. Community members are an integral part of the process and help create a shared vision for the watershed and included neighborhoods.

Background on Masonville Cove
The National Aquarium has been involved in the Masonville Cove Project since 2003, providing opportunities for community-based restoration both within the cove and upstream in the watershed. In partnership with the Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Environmental Service, The Living Classrooms Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and community partners, National Aquarium’s goal is to provide a thriving natural area in the heart of Baltimore City.

In 2013, our site at Masonville Cove was named the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge System.

If you are interested in joining us in one of our restoration projects at the cove or nearby Farring BayBrook Park this season, you can register here!

national aquarium conservation expert laura bankey

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

Blog-Header-SarahElfreth


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