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Maryland: Help save the sharks!

Shark populations worldwide are in danger of collapse due to fishing pressures stimulated by the global demand for shark fin soup.  Every year fins from tens of millions of sharks are used for this traditional, but non-nutritional meal.  Many species have been depleted nearly to the brink of extinction.  The National Aquarium and its partners are advocating on behalf of legislation that will help eliminate the market for shark fins in Maryland.

Current Federal and Maryland laws banning shark finning control shark handling practices but do not restrict the number of sharks killed just for their fins, or the substantial market for shark fins which creates economic incentives to overfish sharks just for their fins.  One of the most effective ways to protect sharks is to eliminate the market for fins by prohibiting their sale.  California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington have all banned the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins, and now it’s our opportunity to lead.

With our support, the Maryland State Senate has passed the bill (Senate Bill 465) that would ban the possession or distribution of shark fins in the state.  Now, it will be heard in the House of Delegates.  This legislation will establish Maryland as the first state on the east coast to join these other states in ensuring we are not contributing to the supply and demand of shark fins.

What You Can Do!
If you live in Maryland, please contact your delegates and let them know you support the “Shark Fin Ban” bill.  They need to hear from you!

Animal Updates – March 30

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Reef Scorpionfish 
We’ve added three Reef Scorpionfish to our Caribbean Camouflage exhibit.

Most scorpion fishes live on or near the bottom. They lie in crevices, in caves and under overhangs. This type of scorpionfish can change its color to better match its surroundings. For example, if it’s near sand, it will camouflage to look like sand while if it’s near red rocks, it will change its coloration to match the rocks. Thus he can blend in with its surroundings and go unnoticed by its prey.

Spring Blooms 
Our Cochliostema odoratissimum is currently in bloom in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

This large herbaceous plant is a tank-epiphyte, meaning the leaves form pockets at their bases to collect and store water. The leaves later absorb the water through small leaf hairs called trichromes. This characteristic gives this plant a very bromeliad-like appearance, making this species sometimes called false bromeliad; however, because this plant is rare in cultivation it has no scientifically recognized common name.

The leaves of the plant can grow in-excess of 1 meter in length and grow in a rosette, meaning its stem does not elongate and is comprised of overlapping leaf bases. The flowers erupt from clusters that form on the top of stalks, originating from the base of the leaf whorls. These clusters each produce a couple dozen flowers and must be hand pollinated in cultivation in order to produce fruit. The flowers have a deep blue to purple coloration and are highly fragrant.

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

National Aquarium has been selected to be a MSDE Gifted & Talented Summer Center!

We are proud to announce a new opportunity for gifted and talented middle school students this summer. The National Aquarium has been selected to be a Maryland State Department of Education Maryland Summer Center for gifted and talented middle school students, offering the Maryland Summer Center for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Investigations.

At the National Aquarium’s Summer Center, students will work alongside scientists at the National Aquarium and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Maryland. Over a span of two weeks, the students will conduct scientific studies on water quality and biodiversity in different areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed to determine the impact of water quality on biodiversity of the watershed as well as human impacts and possible solutions.

During the first week, a day program, students will use our exhibits to learn how water quality pertains to a closed aquarium system by identifying necessary water parameters for fish to survive and how to resolve water quality issues in a closed system. Using our fish collection as a study tool, students will identify local plants and animals and create a biodiversity study. The students will also have field visits to a freshwater and brackish water site where they will collect field data on water quality and biodiversity by kayak!

The mission of the National Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. By working with our scientists and staff, these students will be able to explore human impacts on watersheds, what possible solutions are being pursued and what we can all do to increase conservation.

In week two, a residential program, students will work at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point Laboratory. Working with the resident scientists, students will learn about and assist with current research efforts on key Chesapeake Bay species.

Dates of Operation:
Week 1: Daily program
July 23 – July 27 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (daily)
Week 2: Residential program
July 30 8:30 a.m. – August 3 5:00 p.m.

Tuition:
$400 total
Financial assistance is available

Applications:
In order to apply, students must demonstrate outstanding ability through the Maryland Summer Centers application process and/or be identified as gifted and talented by their school. Students must be able to attend both weeks of the program. Parents/guardians are responsible for transportation to the National Aquarium. Transportation to the field sites and residential site will be provided. Applications are due by April 15, 2012.

Click Here for more information or to apply!

Animal Updates – March 16

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

You’ll notice in this week’s update that we’ve changed the format and design a little. We’ll now be adding labels so you can easily identify what venue the animal update is coming from! We love to hear feedback–please let us know how you like the new format!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s happening this week!

Scrawled Filefish
A beautiful scrawled filefish has been added to the Gray’s Reef exhibit.

Bucktooth Tetras
A total of 29 new bucktooth tetras have been added to the Piranha exhibit.

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

Now that we’ve shared this week’s Animal Updates, we wanted to share some other news!  If you haven’t seen, we announced some BIG news this week: we launched a beautifully redesigned Aqua.org!

One of the very exciting features of this new website is our wonderfully detailed animal pages! The main Animals page will now give you the opportunity to explore our animals (from both Baltimore and Washington, DC) like never before. Explore by venue, color, exhibit, geography, characteristics, and more!

On specific animal pages you can explore even further. Each animal has various photos, facts, and sometimes videos; plus, many have a special note from the animal’s Aquarium caretaker!

So please explore the new Aqua.org, especially the new Animals section!

And remember, be sure to check back here every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Visit the Newly Redesigned Aqua.org!

We are thrilled to share a very special announcement with you: we’ve launched the redesigned Aqua.org! The new website is now home for both National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, D.C., provides more intuitive navigation, easy-to-access ticketing, tons of beautiful photography, event calendars, and up-to-the-minute news and intriguing facts about our animals!

Please take a look! We have added some really great features we think our community will enjoy! Take some time to explore the site (and believe us, there’s a lot to explore!). Starting with the homepage, we’ve made the site more beautiful with amazing images of our animals as well as interesting facts!

Our new Animals page gives you the opportunity to explore more of our animal collection in new and different ways. You can search by venue, color, geography, exhibit, and more!

Then, once you get to a specific animal page, you can explore even further! Each animal has various photos, facts, and sometimes videos. Plus many have a note from the animal’s Aquarium caretaker!

We also want to highlight the new Trip Planner functionality–you can plan your trip from almost EVERY PAGE! When you click the “Add to Trip Planner” button throughout the website, your choices will be compiled into a full itinerary that is easy to read and organize. Plus, it’s easy to print or e-mail in preparation for your visit!

There are TONS of other new features! Please visit and roam around. We hope you’ll enjoy it!

Please take a look and let us know what you think! AQUA.ORG 


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