Posts Tagged 'A Blue View'



A Blue View: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 13, 2013: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews discuss 
the threat lionfish pose to the health of our oceans.

Since 1992, when Pacific lionfish were first sighted in South Florida waters, this fish has become widely established all along the southeast United States and the Caribbean Sea, even being spotted as far north as New York. These distinctive looking fish—red and white striped with long pectoral fins and needle-like dorsal fins, have profoundly impacted the health of the ecosystems where they now reside.

So, how were these species introduced into local waters? Ashleigh Clews, a senior aquarist at the Aquarium, says it’s likely that the species was first introduced by home aquarium owners. Although these fish are popular in the trade, they often outgrow their tanks and will sometimes prey on other fish.

There was an estimated population boom of 700 percent between 2004 and 2008 in invaded areas. This presence of lionfish in the Atlantic is causing many problems. They’re eating native fish and crustaceans and destroying native habitats and ecosystems. Additionally, with no real predators and an average spawn rate of close to 2 million eggs a year, this species shows no sign of disappearing on its own.

Conservationists and researchers are working to address this growing problem through a variety of initiatives, including raising awareness of lionfish as a sustainable seafood option!

Have you ever eaten lionfish? Tell us about your experience in the comments! 

A Blue View: The Truth About Invasive Species

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 6, 2013: The Truth About Invasive Species 

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews
discuss the impact that invasive species of plants
and animals 
have on our ecosystems. 

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising consciousness about invasive plants and animals and their effects on our environment and our economy.

In recent years, exotic species like lionfish, burmese pythons, zebra mussels and snakehead have had an increasing presence in local our waterways and oceans. With no natural predators in these new environments, these animals essentially wreak havoc on entire ecosystems. Once these intense habitat alterations and ecosystem degradations take place, it is very hard to reverse those effects.

In addition to environmental toll, invasive species cost billions of dollars every year in prevention, control and management.

What we can all do to protect native species: 

  • Prevention - A majority of invasive species end up in our waterways and oceans because of human release. Whether it’s the release of unwanted pets or the use of bait fish in their non-native area, these human introductions CAN be prevented through increased awareness! 
  • Early Detection and Response - Get a better sense of which species in your area are “nonindigenous” and invasive so that you can report them when spotted!

A Blue View: Every Drop Counts

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

February 27, 2013: Every Drop Counts

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance of responsible water use!

A lot of us take water for granted. We simply turn on a faucet, and there it is, in seemingly endless supply.

Freshwater, however, is not as plentiful as you might think. Yes, the world is 70 percent water, a staggering amount. Of that water, 97.5 percent is salt water. The rest, just 2.5 percent, is freshwater. And of that, less than 1 percent of the world’s freshwater is available for use by people.

According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population in the last century. Around the world, many people don’t have enough water. Even in the United States, water shortages as a result of drought or environmental issues are on the rise. In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that more than 1,100 U.S. counties—one-third of all the counties in the lower 48—now face higher risks of water shortages by 2050.

According to the National Geographic Society, the average person in America uses nearly 2,000 gallons of water per day. Only 5 percent of that, however, is traveling through your faucets or watering your lawn. In fact, the water consumption is hidden in the food, products and services you use every day.

Our diets in particular are responsible for the majority of our water consumption. Take milk, for example. Eight-hundred eighty gallons of water are required to generate that one gallon of milk sitting in your fridge. And getting beef on the dinner table is one of the biggest diet-related water consumers: every pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water. Even a cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water, due primarily to the water used to grow coffee beans.

To help consumers make more water-friendly choices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a program called WaterSense. This program certifies products and services that meet a set of water-conservation standards. Consumers can look for the WaterSense label on products like faucets, shower heads and toilets, and know it meets performance standards and is also 20 percent more water efficient than average fixtures! 

water sense label

If one in every 10 homes in the US installed WaterSense-labeled faucets, we could save 6 billion gallons of water per year.

Here are some ways YOU can conserve water: 

  • Calculate your water footprint to get a better sense of how much water you use per day. Awareness is an important first step in changing behavior!
  • Purchase water-friendly products for your home.
  • Live a water-conscious life: keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to wait for the tap to run cold; go meatless and/or dairy-free once a week; buy local; take quick showers instead of baths; and turn off the faucet while washing dishes and brushing your teeth!
  • Check the plumbing! It’s estimated that each of us loses 10 gallons per day due to leaks.
  • For even more ways to conserve, click here.

If each of us just takes a few small steps to reduce our water consumption, we can make a big difference, not only in gallons but in the health of our planet’s finite supply of freshwater. 

Do you have any great tricks for conserving water? Share them with us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #ABlueView!

A Blue View: Snakes In Our Backyards

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

In a two-part interview series with Dr. Kat Hadfield, Associate Veterinarian at National Aquarium, CEO John Racanelli discusses the endangered status of the world’s seven species of sea turtle and how organizations like the Aquarium and working to save them.

February 20, 2013: Snakes In Our Backyards

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss snakes
and their bad reputation with humans.

As spring approaches, the stray warm, sunny day is going to start waking up our natural world from its winter sleep. Grass will grow, buds will burst from trees and shrubs, birds will migrate, and yes, snakes will come out of hibernation.

For many, the thought of a snake basking in the sunshine on their driveway is enough to send them running for the moving boxes. There’s no doubt about it, snakes—often thought of as creepy, crawly, slimy, and scaly—have an undeservedly bad reputation. Yet these creatures fill a critical role in our environment, and they’re pretty amazing animals, too.

Did you know that some snakes, despite their lack of legs, can climb trees and cave walls in search of food? Or that all snakes can swim, with some, like the water snake, able to dive beneath the surface to feed on fish and frogs? Some species even have infrared heat receptors, allowing them to find prey in the dark.

The emerald tree boa is just one species of snake that makes its home up in the trees!

The emerald tree boa is just one species of snake that makes its home up in the trees!

Snakes are uniquely designed to locate their prey. Though they don’t hear very well, they pick up vibrations from the ground. When snakes stick out their forked tongues, they actually smell the air, using the two-prong shape to establish a direction. “Odor” molecules caught on a snake’s tongue are translated by something called a Jacobson’s Organ in the roof of its mouth, so snakes literally taste the scent. This forked tongue is also used to avoid predators and to help male snakes locate female snakes during the breeding season.

Like other reptiles, snakes are ectotherms, meaning they control their internal body temperature from heat derived from an external source. When cold, they move into the sun; when hot, they move into the shade. Extreme heat or cold can kill them. In winter, snakes hibernate in areas below the frostline, and their dens can be found in narrow crevices in rocks, under trees and wood piles, and occasionally in basements. When snakes bask in the sun—like on those early days of spring—people are often faced with an animal they aren’t comfortable seeing up close.

It’s when snakes seem to encroach on our human space—like our yards or roadways—that many people get distressed, and they often take drastic action to get rid of snakes without thinking about the consequences. After all, snake populations are vital to maintaining balance in our ecosystems, helping to effectively control the population of small mammals, like mice and rats, and also serving as a valuable food source for hawks and other predators.

Here in Maryland, we have 27 species and subspecies of snakes. Of these, only two are venomous, the timber rattlesnake and the northern copperhead. Neither is aggressive unless provoked, preferring instead to remain motionless and blend into their environment. Two species are endangered, but all native snakes in Maryland are protected under the state’s Endangered Species Conservation Act. This means that native snakes cannot be killed, possessed, bred, or sold without acquiring the proper permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

This spring, if you see a snake, don’t run in the opposite direction. Instead, reach for your camera. DNR’s Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project, also known as MARA, is conducting a five-year program, using data collected by people to create a current distribution map of Maryland reptiles and amphibians. If you see a snake or amphibian, simply take a photograph of it, record the location, and e-mail it to the DNR.

This information helps the DNR to develop conservation strategies for native species so snakes and humans can live peacefully together.

Want to learn more about different snake species found around the world? Join us in Washington, DC for our annual Reptile & Amphibian day

A Blue View: Menhaden Makes a Splash

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

January 23, 2013: Menhaden Makes a Splash 

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance
of protecting the “most important fish in the sea.”

 

At first glance, the menhaden is not a glamorous fish – it’s not one that is brilliantly colored or one that you would find on a restaurant menu.

Also known as “bunker”, “pogy” or “bugmouth”, this bony, oily fish, is a humble fish. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the menhaden. The menhaden has several critical roles for countless creatures under the sea, leading some to refer to it as “the most important fish in the sea.”

menhaden

Late last year, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made history by voting to limit the catch of this critical species of fish. By putting a catch limit on menhaden, the ASMFC has given conservationists hope that enough fish can stay in the water to fulfill their ecological role.


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