Archive Page 5

Thoughtful Thursday: March 22nd is World Water Day

Blog-Header-ConservationExp

It’s that time of year again.  Everyone’s favorite holiday – World Water Day!  What? Never heard of the holiday that celebrates the one substance that is the basis for all life?  Think about it, when scientists are looking for proof of life on other planets, what is the one clue they hope to find?  Water.  The simple presence of water.  They know that if there is water, there may be a possibility for life.  No water, no life.

Here on Earth, almost three quarters of our planet’s surface is covered with water.  The volume of water in your own body is made up of almost that exact same percentage.  We all need water to survive.  And by “we all,” I mean microbes, insects, kittens, people, polar bears, trees, frogs, flowers, birds, turtles, forests, ecosystems, etc.  We are all intricately linked through water.  As much as we try to separate these groups in our minds, as much as we disassociate ourselves with parts of the rest of the world, it would do us good to remember that we all have one common need.

blacktip reef

What do sharks and humans have in common? Their need for water. Clean water.

There is some great information now available that helps us visualize how truly dependent we are on water.  We can see how much water it takes to make a one pound of beef, one pint of greek yogurt, one cup of coffee.  It’s all very fascinating – mostly because it forces us to look at water in new ways.  We live in a world where “conserve water” or “save water” used to mean – stop letting the faucet run while you are brushing your teeth, or don’t water your lawn in the middle of the hot summer day.

This new view of water, puts a truer value on the resources required to produce the food we eat and makes us think about our daily choices in different ways.  For example, it takes three eggs to equal the amount of protein in one serving of beef, but the beef requires nine times the amount of water to produce.

If we are committed to being good stewards of this amazing water planet, we need to start with our own daily choices.  Figure out what is most important to you and then look for ways to make less of an impact!

Interested in learning more about the state of our of water supply and how it’s impacting marine life? Tune into PBS NewHour’s weekly Twitter chat (#NewsHourChats) at 1pm EST to hear from me (@LauraBankey) and our Chief Conservation Officer, Eric Schwaab (via @NatlAquarium)! 

Laura Bankey

An Urban Oasis for Wildlife in Winter

In the winter, most people see very little wildlife in our area, especially in Baltimore City.  However, wildlife isn’t so hard to find even in the coldest of temperatures, if you know where to look.

Wendy Alexander, who leads bird walks in the wetland adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, knows just where to look to find that wonderful winter wildlife.  She writes here about her time spent this winter at the Fort McHenry Wetland:

The City of Baltimore is home to one of the most active ports in the United States, but it is also home to a thriving urban wetlands area adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Along with barges, tugs, and massive cruise ships, a large variety of water fowl and other birds thrive because of the successful cooperation and hard work of staff and volunteers of the National Aquarium, the National Park Conservation Association, National Park Service, Maryland Port Administration, and Steinweg Baltimore.

wildlife at fort mchenry

Photo is property of Wendy Alexander.

The Fort McHenry grounds and Wetlands ranks #2 among all time birding hotspots* in the Baltimore area (Hart Miller Island is #1) with 260 species identified by observers.  Despite the recent cold weather and snow, this winter has brought some interesting varieties of birds to the location including a very rare snowy owl, rare white-winged scoters and red-necked grebes, along with other ducks.  As of 3/8/2014, 64 species have been seen including a healthy population of bald eagles. This is a great indicator of a good supply of food such as mollusks, crustaceans, and a variety of fish.

**All photos are property of Wendy Alexander.

The number of possible bird species will certainly increase with Spring migration and the best way to enjoy this urban oasis is to join one of the scheduled bird walks that cover both the grounds and  the normally restricted Wetlands area adjacent to the grounds. These walks are led by members of the Baltimore Bird Club, which is a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Association.  Also consider lending a hand with the National Aquairum’s Fort McHenry Field Day in April.  In a time when wetland areas along the Atlantic coast are in rapid decline, maintenance and protection of this urban wetlands area is critical to its long-run sustainability!

Sustainable Seafood Q&A with PABU’s Jonah Kim

Our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner with PABU‘s Jonah Kim is next Tuesday, March 25th!Jonah Kim

In advance of his upcoming dinner, we chatted with Chef Kim about how the sustainable seafood movement is influencing Baltimore’s dining scene:

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?
Oysters—I love oysters. Every oyster is different; you can source them from various regions and they come in different tastes and textures. I showcase my love for oysters in PABU’s signature dish, the Happy Spoon. This dish features a raw oyster in ponzu-flavored crème fraîche, topped with fresh uni and two types of fish roe. The combination of sweet and salty makes this one of our guests’ favorite dishes.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?
We’re definitely lucky to be based in the mid-Atlantic region where you can find rockfish, oysters, crabs and more right in our backyard. I think the sustainable seafood movement is gaining momentum in the area, but continuing to grow the public’s awareness of and demand for sustainable seafood is key to growing it in the local dining scene.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?
Cooking sustainably is challenging in Japanese cuisine. Very few Japanese chefs are aware of whether or not ingredients are sustainable. Our goal at PABU is to offer the freshest product to our guests, but sometimes it’s difficult to find sustainable ingredients that are readily available. Hopefully soon, this will change.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?
Clams. Right now we don’t have any menu items featuring clams due to the lack of availability. I’m hoping to get ahold of some in the summer. I’d love to do a fish pairing featuring spicy pork and clams.

Tell us a little bit about PABU and how your team is always churning out such delicious meals!
As the only izakaya in the Baltimore region, PABU’s concept was built from offering small plate menu options highlighting authentic Japanese flavors and local ingredients. At PABU, we pride ourselves on serving our guests the freshest ingredients from all over the world. I believe it’s the balance between texture and sweetness and spice that makes our dishes so unique and memorable.

Where do you get the seafood you serve at PABU?
PABU sources its seafood from all over the world: from the mid-Atlantic all the way to Japan. Our menu items vary according to seasonal availability of ingredients. For example, our soft-shell crabs come from the mid-Atlantic region, but we can only get our hands on those in the summer months.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be…
By making the choice to dine at restaurants that support sustainable seafood, one person can make a change in the health of our oceans.

Can’t wait for the night of the 25th to see Chef Kim in action? He recently stopped by WBAL-TV to share his special Fresh Thoughts recipe for Asian Clam Chowder! Watch his segment here:

Chef Jonah Kim on WBAL

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

Animal Update – March 14

national aquarium animal update

Purple Urchins in Surviving Through Adaptation

Five purple sea urchins have been added to our Surviving Through Adaptation exhibit.

national aquarium sea urchin

Did you know? Sea urchins are sometimes referred to as sea hedgehogs! These spiny animals are echnioderms – they’re related to sea stars, sand dollars and sea cucumbers.

Sea urchins have movable spines that are used mostly for protection. Depending on the species, the spines can be solid, hollow or filled with poison!

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

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


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers