Posts Tagged 'Atlantic coast'

A Blue View – Importance of Sand Dunes

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.

November 6: The Importance of Sand Dunes

Listen to John discuss the importance of preserving and restoring our sand dunes! 

If you regularly visit the beach in the summer, you have surely noticed the sand dunes that line the Maryland and Delaware shore.

We all know what a dune is, but how are they formed, and why are they so important (not only to the health of our coastal habitats, but for the safety and protection of our beachfront communities)? Dunes provide a natural barrier for the ocean and can slow or prevent coastal flooding, provide protection from high winds and damaging storms, and prevent saltwater from reaching inland, threatening farming and ground water supplies.

For these reasons, many coastal communities in the United States have made dune preservation and restoration a priority. The paths and fencing to keep tourists off the dunes are part of these initiatives.

Other, more aggressive restoration projects are underway at shores around the country. The National Aquarium has been particularly involved in dune restoration in Virginia Beach for several years. To learn more about our sand dune restoration efforts and how YOU can get involved, click here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Students Help to Restore Atlantic White Cedar Population

As part of this year’s Wetland Nursery Program, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) is working with schools along Maryland’s Eastern Shore to repopulate Atlantic white cedar trees.

This project teaches students sustainable methods of raising tree saplings in an indoor ‘greenhouse’ and how to transplant them into nature, with the hope that we can slowly but surely bring back the species!

Juvenile Atlantic white cedar trees

Once common in freshwater wetlands, Atlantic white cedars are now rare. Lumber from these cedars is water-resistant and highly valued for use in boats, furniture and houses. Overharvesting of this natural resource has decimated the population and the species is now on the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Watch List.

After learning about the history of Atlantic white cedars and the need to restore them, students used clippings from older trees to propagate 500 new trees and helped to re-pot 200 trees that had outgrown their planters and were ready for transfer.

Students show off their healthy juvenile Atlantic white cedars!

All year, our group of students will continue to regularly monitor the trees’ growth and, with the help of their teachers, learn more about freshwater wetlands. In the Spring, the students will join ACT! at Nassawango Creek Preserve to plant their trees.

Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the Preserve encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is home to cypress swamps and upland forests. The planting will take place in a newly cleared 8-acre plot adjacent to Nassawango Creek!

This project would not be possible without the support of our partners: The Nature Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Trust, The Munson Foundation, RBC Wealth Management, and the Chesapeake Conservation Corps.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Virginia Beach Sand Dune Restoration

Earlier this month, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) headed south to Virginia Beach for our annual sand dune restoration project. Our team, along with an amazing group of volunteers, focused their efforts on the eastern coast near the Naval Air Station Dam Neck Annex.

Virginia Beach

Beautiful day at the beach for a restoration!

Coastal sand dunes are formed by the action of sea and wind. Dunes protect the land by acting as natural barriers to salt water intrusion and sea wind erosion. The sand dune system absorbs energy of the waves and without this protection, the soft coastline would disappear rapidly. Even small disruptions in the dune system can cause salt-water infiltration into the ground water, threatening local farmlands.

Virginia Beach restoration

Although sand dunes may appear to be lifeless, in reality they are home to a multitude of species! Their importance has been acknowledged over the last years and they now are priority habitats for conservation.

Over two days, Aquarium staff partnering with Naval Air Station Dam Neck Annex planted 25,000 native grasses including American Beach Grass and Switch Grass. The Aquarium has partnered with the US Navy for the last 10 years. Big storms like Hurricane Isabel have ravaged the area in recent years, making restoration of this habitat even more of a vital need!

We can’t wait to return to Virginia Beach and continue our dune restoration at NAS Dam Neck Annex. Join us in 2013!

Can’t wait that long? Click here to find out about our upcoming conservation events!

Thoughtful Thursday: Join MARP in Ocean City, MD

Today: Marine Animal Rescue Fundraiser at Seacrets

Join the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program for a fun afternoon at Seacrets: Jamaica USA! Family activities take place from 3:30–5 p.m. in the family dining area, which includes crafts, games and other activities. Free!

From 5–9 p.m., the fun takes place in Seacrets’ main stage area. Enjoy fun games and a special raffle for a behind-the-scenes experience at the National Aquarium, Baltimore! The evening’s cover is a $5 donation to the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program. Every person who gives a donation will receive a free gift!

Seacrets: Jamaica USA
117 West 49th Street
Ocean City, MD 21842

Friday: Annual Maryland Dolphin Count

The fun doesn’t stop there! This Friday, July 20, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for the Annual Maryland Dolphin Count along the Atlantic coast of Maryland.

One of the joys of going to the beach is being able to see dolphins surf in the waves. The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program works hard throughout the year to monitor and respond to marine animals off of Maryland’s coast, while educating the public about keeping our waterways safe and healthy for the animals we love so much.

Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look about dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. We have learned that bottlenose dolphins use Maryland waters as a thoroughfare for migration, summertime breeding, and feeding along the way. With the help of volunteers we will continue to gather and analyze this information and learn more about the state of our waters and the dolphin populations that are found off our coast.

The annual Dolphin Count involves spending a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out a data sheet. Aquarium staff will be stationed at the following locations:

  • 40th Street in Ocean City on the beach
  • 130th Street in Ocean City on the beach
    Click here to find out more about the Ocean City beach locations

The event is FREE and open to the public. Just look for Aquarium staff in blue shirts looking toward the water for dolphins! The count will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

As a reminder, it is always helpful to bring the following items for comfort:

  • A beach chair or blanket
  • Water to keep hydrated
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Binoculars, optional

For more information on either event, email MARP@aqua.org.

So, how many dolphins do you think we’ll count?


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