We love seeing the amazing moments and memories our online community captures during their visits to the Aquarium! So, every week we’re sharing some of our favorite photos from YOU right here on our blog!
Here are this week’s picks:
A Blog for the National Aquarium Community
With water temperatures in the Atlantic steadily dropping, sea turtles that perhaps stayed north a little too long are now faced with a long journey south towards warmer waters. Some of these sea turtles become cold-stunned (an illness equivalent to hypothermia in humans) and strand on our shores. This week, we received our first cold-stunned sea turtle patients of the season, two Kemp’s ridleys named Iceman and Maverick!
Our new arrivals both stranded within two days of one another off the coast of New Jersey, where water temperatures had taken a rapid dip into the low 60s over the last few months.
Iceman came in which a few small abrasions and a long laceration under his front flipper. He has weighed in at 7 pounds and has started to eat more regularly. His diet right now consists of squid, shrimp, and smelt.
Maverick weighs in at only 2 pounds and the rescue team is currently trying to get him to eat more regularly. Just like most of us don’t like to eat when we don’t feel well, we can only imagine how these little sea turtles feel when they first enter rehabilitation. So, our staff try to entice him with different foods to stimulate his hunting instincts and get him to eat. As of today, Maverick has started showing more signs of an appetite. Although small, we’re very pleased with this great start!
Stay tuned for more updates on these turtles progress in rehab, and stay tuned to find out which Top Gun name we choose for our next patient!
Over the years, we’ve been lucky to share America’s aquatic treasures with millions of visitors. Chief among those treasures is our nation’s network of marine sanctuaries!
Earlier this week, our Chief Conservation Officer Eric Schwaab sat on a panel on Capitol Hill to discuss the successes and importance of our Marine Sanctuary Program. His role was to highlight the shared goals of aquariums and the program – including to help people appreciate the economic and environmental importance of healthy ocean resources and to emphasize the wonder, diversity and importance of our National Marine Sanctuaries.
Just like their terrestrial counterparts, the National Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries are protected areas of our oceans and Great Lakes that preserve the natural and cultural heritage of our country. They are places of recreation, research, conservation, protection and managed use. Since 1972 when the Marine Protection, Research and Protection Act was passed, 14 Marine Protected Areas (13 Sanctuaries and 1 Marine National Monument) have been designated. In total, more than 170,000 square miles of aquatic habitats are under the protection of the National Marine Sanctuary Program.
Why are these areas singled out for protection? The answer is different for each sanctuary. Some, like the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary were created to protect significant cultural sites. Sixteen miles off the coast of North Carolina, the final resting place of the USS Monitor became the first sanctuary in 1975. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was created to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaii. It is considered one of the world’s most important humpback whale habitats, providing protected breeding, calving and nursing areas.
Many sanctuaries were designated because of their combined habitat and economic value. Managed, sustainable use of resources within sanctuary borders is allowed and strictly regulated. Recreational diving, ecotourism and fishing are all activities that are supported to varying degrees within the sanctuaries.
With all of the threats our oceans are facing, it is critically important that we continue to support underwater protected areas like these sanctuaries. It’s in these special places that we can study oceanographic processes and man’s effect on them. We can protect endangered species and habitats. We can learn how to manage for the sustainable use of our ocean’s resources. We can explore our underwater world in its natural state!
Finally, there are things we can all do to make sure these sanctuaries and our oceans are protected and healthy. You can volunteer (many sanctuaries need help with education, outreach, data collection and monitoring), sit on an advisory council or change one thing in your daily routine that will make a difference for our oceans and these special places.
Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a National Marine Sanctuary? Tell us about it in the comments section!
I’m happy to report that our sandbark shark pup Chloe is thriving in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit – where she has been since the end of June!
In the last few months, Chloe has been enjoying a steady diet of mackerel, squid, shrimp, herring and capelin! The diet of each Aquarium resident is measured out (based on their weight) and fed carefully, to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of nutrition. At the moment, Chloe is eating about .2 lbs of food at each meal!
Since her birth back in May, Chloe has grown to be about 10 lbs in weight and about 2.5 feet in length!
Do you have a question about Chloe, her species or just sharks in general? Ask me in the comments section!
We’re celebrating the arrival of our all-new Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas 4D Experience, by introducing you to some of our favorite “prehistoric” residents here at the Aquarium!
The chambered nautilus is a mollusk, related to the octopus, squid, clam and snail! Did you know? Nautili are the only cephalopod species that has a fully-developed protective shell.
The nautilus is considered to be a “living fossil,” as the species has undergone little change in the last 400 million years. The nautilus first appeared about 265 million years before the first dinosaurs.
Did you know? There were about 10,000 different species of nautilus in prehistoric times. Currently, there are six living species of nautilus – all found in the Indo-Pacific.
Scientists can trace this species back to the Paleozoic Era (before dinosaurs and even flowering plants were around!) – which began 540 million years ago. Incredibly, these “living fossils” have also changed very little over time!
Although they’re commonly known as “crabs,” these animals are actually more closely related to arachnids than they are to crustaceans. Their entire bodies are protected by a hard carapace (or shell). Its eyes are able to detect both visible and UV light.
The four remaining species of horseshoe crab can be found worldwide! Limulus polyphemus is the species that we have here – they’re found off the East Coast, from Maine to the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico).
With some species weighing in at 400 lbs, gar are considered the largest freshwater species in North America!
Gars can be traced back to the Cretaceous period, which began about 145 million years ago.
Although their ancestors could be found worldwide, today’s living species of gar only live in North and Central America. Young gar are preyed upon by larger fish and aquatic birds and reptiles. Once they reach adulthood, they have very few natural predators other than humans.
Survivors of the Cretaceous period, relatives of these elasmobranchs (subclass of cartilaginous fish, such as rays) can be traced back almost 145 million years ago. Historically, the rostrum of the sawfish has been used in religious offerings and traditional medicine.
Did you know? Sawfish are actually considered to be fairly docile animals. However, when provoked, they can cause major damage by swinging their tooth-laden rostrum from side-to-side.
Currently, there are six species of sawfish found worldwide – their distribution ranges from the warm, temperate waters of the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific! Sawfish are actually a “euryhaline” species, which means they can move between freshwater ad saltwater.
Sturgeon date back as far as 70 million years! The 25 species of sturgeon around today can be found commonly along the Atlantic coast of North America and Europe.
Did you know? Sturgeon are prized for their eggs, known more commonly as caviar. In fact, the Beluga sturgeon is responsible for the world’s most expensive caviar. Sadly, populations of sturgeon have faced rapid depletion in recent years because of overfishing.
This species belongs to the ancient group of Osteoglossids, which existed in the Jurassic period (close to 220 million years ago)!
There are currently 10 living species of this primitive fish, found in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Did you know? All species of arowana are “mouthbrooders,” meaning parents will care for hundreds of eggs in their mouths until the young are developed.
Want even more prehistoric fun? Stop by the Aquarium and catch our next screening of Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas!