Archive for the 'Exhibits' Category



It’s so cold our lobster turned BLUE!

We kid, we kid! Toby, our blue lobster, has always been this shade, due to a genetic variation that occurs in 1 of every 2 million lobsters.

Today, this very special lobster joined our more than 17,000 animals at National Aquarium, Baltimore!

national aquarium Blue Lobster closeup

Toby is the newest resident in the Atlantic Shelf gallery in our Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit. This exhibit depicts the continental shelf habitat off the coast of Maryland and has plenty of cave-like structures perfect for Toby! Lobsters are bottom dwellers and tend to settle on the ocean floor, where they like to hide in caves and crevices.

Toby Blue Lobster national aquarium

In June of 2012, Toby was donated to the National Aquarium after being caught by John Gourley on his fishing boat, the Pot Luck, near Ocean City, MD. He spent 16 months at our Washington, DC venue until it closed in September, due to renovations. Toby is one of the 1,700 animals that were transported from DC to our Baltimore facility, including one of our other new residents, Brownie the loggerhead turtle!

Check in soon to hear more about how Toby is adapting to his new home!

Animal Update – January 3

national aquarium animal update

Two angelfish species added to Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit! 

A queen angelfish and a french angelfish have been introduced into our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit.

There are over 80 species of angelfish inhabiting the world’s oceans. These tropical fish make their homes in shallow waters surrounding coral reefs!

Did you know? Queen angelfish get their name from the crown-like ring that sits on their heads.

Starry puffer introduced into Blacktip Reef!

Our Blacktip Reef exhibit has a new resident – a starry pufferfish!

national aquarium starry puffer

Starry puffers can only be found in the Indo-Pacific region. Measuring up to 4 feet in length, they are one of the largest identified species of pufferfish in the world!

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

2013 Re-cap: The Making of Blacktip Reef

This year, many of us here at the Aquarium had one thing on the brain - Blacktip Reef

From demolition to animal acquisitions, construction to animal introductions, countless hours of work from all of our departments went into the creation of this $12.5 million dollar exhibit!

As 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to look back at how Blacktip Reef was made: 

Animal Transports

Before construction could begin on our new exhibit, the animals in our old Wings in the Water exhibit had to be safely removed!

Many of the animals that called Wings in the Water home, like our zebra sharks (Zeke and Zoe) and green sea turtle (Calypso) were moved behind-the-scenes, where they could patiently await the creation of their new home. Others were moved to other exhibits at the Aquarium or to other accredited institutions.

Want to see how we transport animals like our 500+ pound sea turtle? Check out our video:

Construction

After all the animals had been safely removed from the exhibit space and the necessary demolition was finished, the construction phase could begin!

Blacktip Reef‘s construction process included the installation of a 28 foot acrylic window and the individual placement of over 3,000 coral pieces, creating the perfect re-creation of an Indo-Pacific reef habitat.

Want to see how all of that coral was crafted by hand? Check out our video: 

Animal Introductions

The process of introducing animals into the exhibit began in early July, with the transport of Calypso!

Calypso

After Calypso and a few hundred fish had acclimated well to their new home, all 20 of our blacktip reef sharks were added to the exhibit.

In October, our last animals were introduced into the exhibit! Over the period of two weeks, we added three wobbegong sharks and a huge Napoleon wrasse!

national aquarium humphead wrasse

It has been an incredibly busy and rewarding year. From all of us here at the Aquarium, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone for their continued support!

Here’s how YOU can support the continued growth and evolution of our newest exhibit!

2013 Re-Cap: Our Family’s New Additions

In 2013, was a year filled with very exciting births here at the National Aquarium!

From sloths to sharks, check out what animals joined the family this past year:

Scout

In November, our Rain Forest staff noticed that one of our Linne’s two-toed sloths, Ivy, had given birth to a baby!

national aquarium baby sloth scout

Scout is the fourth sloth born at the National Aquarium. His sibling, Camden, was just born in the Fall of 2012.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping.

Puffin Chick

In July, most of the world was on royal baby watch. At the Aquarium, however, we were obsessing over our newest addition – a puffin chick!

puffin chick

This baby is the fourth chick for puffin parents Victor and Vixen, the parents of the Aquarium’s first successful puffin chick back in 2006.

Did you know? Puffins co-parent their young and take turns incubating the egg, protecting their nest and carrying back food to keep their chick well-fed!

Chloe

Our sandbar shark pup, Chloe, was born at the Aquarium back in May!

national aquarium sandbar shark

Chloe is the first pup our female sandbar shark has had since coming to our facility in 2003. Female sandbars are known to have a range of 1 to 14 pups throughout their lifetime.

Given the low survival rates of shark pups, we are very excited to see how well Chloe is doing in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit!

Motmot Chicks

Earlier this year, four blue-crowned motmot chicks were born in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

blue crowned motmot chick

This was the second successful brood for our pair of motmots. They produced their first set of chicks back in 2011!

Blue-crowned motmots are known for their unusual nesting behaviors – parent birds actually excavate long tunnels into the earth, where they lay their eggs and raise their offspring!

Celebrating any new additions to your family this year? Tell us about them in the comments section! 

Saltwater Science at the National Aquarium

Just add salt? Not quite. Here’s the inside story on how we get our water just right: 

As vibrant fish residents swim gracefully in their aquatic habitats at the National Aquarium, the most important element of their exhibit homes – the water – often goes unnoticed.

national aquarium clown triggerfish

In total, more than 2 million gallons of water are perpetually pumped, filtered and re-pumped within the Aquarium’s nearly 200 water systems. For perspective, the average bathtub holds 50 gallons of water, making the National Aquarium’s water content roughly equal to 40,000 bathtubs!

Maintaining the quality of these millions of gallons of water is essential for healthy animals, and it is through the tireless work of dedicated aquarists and laboratory and life-support staff that we can provide the highest quality of water to the thousands of marine animals that call the Aquarium home.

Testing the Water

In every high school across the country, chemistry teachers illustrate water’s elemental simplicity by connection to Hs to one O. Sustaining life at the Aquarium, however, as in the oceans, is infinitely more complex. Salinity (the amount of salt), dissolved oxygen (the “air” fish absorb through their gills) and nitrates (waste product) all affect water chemistry.

That chemical balance, in turn, affects those plans and animals on exhibit, as well as fungi and bacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Presenting a healthy environment by maintaining the absolute best water quality for each and every exhibit and backup tank requires a well-coordinated effort between staff across departments.

Each morning, aquarists, under the guidance of water quality expert Kim Gaeta, extract samples from select exhibit spaces. Those samples are then labeled and deliver to the lab, where they are test for ammonia, nitrite and salinity, as well as pH and alkalinity. If there’s a noticeable imbalance, staff, under the watchful eye of Laboratory Services Department supervisor Jill Arnold, diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution.

The Right Water

Nearly all of the water in our exhibits is homemade seawater. The National Aquarium, like most Aquariums, manufactures its own. The millions of gallons circulating through the exhibits are a combination of Baltimore City water and a house blend of salts.

Consequently, these salt solutions affect the pH, dissolved oxygen levels and hardness of the seawater, based on their own specific chemistry. Tons of salt is shipped to the Aquarium every year to be used in the manufacturing process. At a cost of about 7 cents per gallon, we spend roughly $150,000 every year to manufacture seawater.

“The Aquarium utilizes a variety of food-grade salts to prepare artificial seawater, using our proprietary formulation developed by our chemist,” says Arnold. “Our goal is to mimic natural ocean waters as closely as possible,” guaranteeing all of our animals a healthy place to call home!

Our hand-crafted saltwater is just one of the many things we do everyday to give our animals the best quality of care possible. Here’s how YOU can support our efforts this holiday season! 


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