Posts Tagged 'baltimore aquarium'



Animal Update – November 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!

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

animal update

Long-spined sea urchins

We have two new long-spined sea urchins in our Surviving Through Adaptation exhibitSea urchins provide a safe home for species like the Banggai cardinalfish. A threatened species found only in the waters of the Banggai islands in Indonesia, the cardinalfish retreat among the spines of the sea urchin when threatened.

Linkia sea stars

We have two new sea stars in our Pacific Coral Reef exhibit. Relatives to the sea urchin, sea stars are invertebrates and echinoderms (meaning they have calcified, spiny skin).

Sea stars have an amazing ability to regenerate arms when they are severed, or an arm could potentially grow a new body in some species.

They have many tube feet extending from the ventral surface. The tube feet allow locomotion via suction created by an internal water-driven hydraulic system.

What’s your favorite species of invertebrate? Tell us in the comments section! 

Hello, my name is … CAMDEN!

Following two weeks of voting as part of our baby sloth naming contest, today we’re happy to say we have a winning name – Camden. More than 4,000 votes were cast with over 1,000 cast for the winning name, submitted as homage to the city and to Baltimore’s winning baseball season.

Last month, as part of the naming contest, we invited the public to submit names for the sloth. After reviewing and considering all 1,726 submitted entries Iris, Camden, Waylay, Izzy and Luna were selected by a panel of National Aquarium staff from various departments.

baby sloth

Camden has been excitingly trying solid foods with Mom Ivy for the last month!

During the next two weeks of public voting, we saw an overwhelming support for all of the names. Luna was the runner up with 915 votes and Izzy came in third place with almost 850 votes.

Camden is the third sloth born at National Aquarium and the first born to Ivy, one of the four sloths in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

In honor of Camden’s arrival, we are asking the public to continue to support the sloths and rain forest collection through donations that can be made at aqua.org/donate.

Camden will stay close to Ivy for at least the next few months, but is starting to feel comfortable moving away from Mom’s stomach to better explore its surroundings.

Our naming contest was launched in honor of International Sloth Day, which aims to bring awareness to illegal trafficking and the mistreatment of sloths in Central and South America. The AIUNA foundation, the starters of International Sloth Day, rehabilitate sloths that have been injured by power lines, hit by cars or sold illegally and release them back into the wild.

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection here at National Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007 from a private captive breeder in South Florida. The other two sloths, Howie and Xeno, were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

The Linne’s two-toed sloth is currently not threatened however other species of sloth, such as the maned three-toed sloth and pygmy three-toed sloth are endangered. The sloths at National Aquarium, Baltimore help to inform people of the plight of all sloths from threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation of forests as well as to inspire conservation, protection and welfare of these and other animals.

Thanks to Jessica Nelson, our senior herpetologist in the Rain Forest, for these amazing new photos of Ivy and Camden!

Thanks to everyone who helped us name our baby! 

A Message of Thanks to Service Members and Their Families

Every day, we give thanks to members of the military that help to protect our Aquarium family and our precious community. On this day, it is especially poignant to recognize those that have and continue to risk their lives for our safety and freedom.

Our Aquariums, located in the nation’s capital and in Baltimore, give us the unique opportunity to interact with a diverse group of military families, including those of our own Veteran staff members. In the last year, we’ve been so honored to take part in the Maryland Center for Veteran Education and Training program, employing service members and helping families get back on their feet.

We would like to extend an invite to all service members and their families to come visit us any day in Washington, DC and Baltimore with special admission rates:

In Washington: Military personnel members can display their identification to receive a discounted admission of $8.95

In Baltimore: So that we can offer a deeper discount, the National Aquarium provides discounted tickets to military bases in the region through our consignment ticket program. If you are in the service, we encourage you to check with your local MWR for discounted tickets for you and your family.

In recognition of Veterans Day, this Sunday our Washington, DC venue will be presenting any service members visiting a small token of our gratitude.

From all of us here at National Aquarium, thank you for all that you do!

Iris? Camden? Luna? The final choices are in – help us name our baby sloth!

Following two weeks of accepting name suggestions as part of a naming contest for the Linne’s two-toed sloth born in Baltimore in late August, today we are announcing the following names for final consideration:

  • Iris – In honor of the beautiful flower
  • Camden – In honor of the city it was born in, Baltimore, and the winning baseball season
  • Waylay – Meaning surprise, like the baby was for Ivy
  • Izzy – Submitted by a teacher on behalf of a Frederick County Public Schools elementary class that selected the name
  • Luna – Meaning moon in Spanish

A panel of National Aquarium staff from various departments, including those from our rain forest exhibit where the baby sloth resides, reviewed and considered all 1,726 entries that were submitted for the baby sloth, the third born at National Aquarium. Although the panel was originally tasked with selecting four names, they were overwhelmed by the amount of incredible responses and decided to include one more option!

Visit www.aqua.org/slothcontest between now and November 15 to vote on your favorite name!

This baby is the newest addition to the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and the first born to Ivy, one of the four sloths in the exhibit. After votes are tallied, the winning name will be announced on the morning of November 16.

Ivy with her baby

The naming contest launched October 18 in honor of International Sloth Day, which aims to bring awareness to illegal trafficking and the mistreatment of sloths in Central and South America. The AIUNA foundation, the starters of International Sloth Day rehabilitate sloths that have been injured by power lines, hit by cars or sold illegally and release them back into the wild.

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection at National Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007 from a private captive breeder in South Florida. The other two sloths, Howie and Xeno, were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

The Linne’s two-toed sloth is currently not threatened however other species of sloth, such as the maned three-toed sloth and pygmy three-toed sloth are endangered. The sloths at National Aquarium, Baltimore help to inform people of the plight of all sloths from threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation of forests as well as to inspire conservation, protection and welfare of these and other animals.

Click here to vote on your favorite name for our baby! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Chesapeake Bay Lined Seahorses

Many people don’t realize that there is a species of seahorse that calls the Chesapeake Bay its home.  The lined seahorse, hippocampus erectus, lives in shallow eel grass beds during the summer and moves to deeper submerged aquatic vegetation during the winter.  It can typically be found in the lower to middle Chesapeake Bay and, in particularly dry years when the water is saltier, as far north as Kent Island and the Bay Bridge.

Lined Seahorse

Lined Seahorse at National Aquarium, Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Michael Bentley

The lined seahorse varies drastically in both coloration and ornamentation.  Individuals can range from a yellowish color all the way down the spectrum to a nearly black color.  Some may have intricate ornamentation on their backs and their heads.  Additionally, they can change color slightly to match their surroundings.  As with all seahorses, males carry a pouch which they use to hold their young after breeding.  Breeding itself is complicated, it includes a drawn-out ritual of dancing and clicking between the male and female.  At the end of the courtship, females deposit their eggs into the male’s pouch where they are fertilized and held until ready to be released (about 2 weeks).

Lined Seahorse

Lined seahorses vary in color, pattern and ornamentation

Seahorses as a whole are ineffective swimmers.  They only use three of their fins (two pectoral fins and one dorsal fin) to swim.  They beat these fins rapidly to provide propulsion, but it is not enough to keep them stationary in even the most gentle of currents.  It is because of this that they require something to hold on to.  For our local lined seahorses in the Chesapeake, that something is often eel grass, as well as other submerged aquatic vegetation.  These grasses are vital to the seahorses’ ability to hunt, breed and just plain survive.  Seahorses are ambush predators and so they need something to anchor themselves to while hunting.  As they hide, prehensile tails attached to the eel grass, they wait for prey to float by their snouts.

lined seahorse

Lined seahorses have very small fins, making it hard for them to swim.

Unfortunately, eel grass is in trouble in the Chesapeake Bay.  Nutrient pollution from farms, sewage and other human activities often leads to large algal blooms, which grow near the surface of the water and block light that the grasses need to grow. Additionally, destructive fishing techniques like bottom trawling can rip up huge swaths of submerged aquatic vegetation, causing wide-spread loss of habitat.  Because they are so specialized in their habitat needs, lined seahorses have little hope of successfully hunting and breeding without the grasses.  These pressures are threatening seahorses worldwide. As a result of these and other conservation pressures, it is estimated that the world’s lined seahorse population has declined by at least 30 percent in the past 10 years. We must begin to take steps to preserve the local habitat, or we risk losing this very interesting and important Chesapeake Bay species.

What you can do to help:  Reduce waste runoff, which pollutes waters like the Chesapeake Bay.  

  • Control insects using natural controls instead of pesticides. Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources.
  • Dispose of motor oil and anti-freeze through a local service station or recycling center. A one-quart container of oil disposed of at the local landfill can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water and the water home of our seahorse friends.
  • Don’t pour anything down storm drains because they lead to the bay, which connects to the ocean. Most sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants do not remove poisonous cleaners, and yard and car-wash chemicals make their way into local waterways, and, eventually, into our ocean, harming animals along the way. You wouldn’t want to swim in those chemicals, and neither do animals!
  • Learn more!
    To find out more about the lined seahorse and the troubles threatening them in our area, listen to this special seahorse edition of WYPR’s Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton

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