Posts Tagged 'Baltimore'



Thoughtful Thursdays: Looking Past World Oceans Day

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If you ask anyone to use one word to describe the ocean, you’ll most likely hear one of the following; amazing, awesome, powerful, wonderful, hypnotic, miraculous, magical, vast, incredible, inspiring, etc. Of course, there are many, many more descriptive words for the sea, but these are the most popular – and the most emotional. They all communicate much more than a technical description. These are words that evoke deep sensitivities. Maybe it is because we know the ocean provides for us – or that we depend on it for so many things or maybe it is because we are instinctively aware of our deep connection to the ocean.

Few things are more peaceful than staring out at the ocean!

Few things are more peaceful than staring out at the ocean!

June 8th is World Oceans Day. At the National Aquarium, we will take this opportunity to talk to our guests and community about why we love the ocean and why it deserves our protection. We will also spend some time talking about the challenges that the ocean is facing, challenges like pollution, global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification and overfishing. This weekend, we’ll offer activities designed to provide ideas on ocean-friendly choices we all can make at home and we’ll invite our visitors to join us at one of our upcoming ocean conservation events. I hope you’ll be able to join us this weekend!

Plastic debris at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Shrine here in Baltimore. Plastic pollution is seriously hurting the ocean and its inhabitants!

Plastic debris at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Shrine here in Baltimore. Plastic pollution is seriously hurting the ocean and its inhabitants!

More importantly, once you go back to your normal lives next week, I’d like to ask that you continue your passion for our oceans. Take what you learned on World Oceans Day and incorporate them into your daily routines. I know this is easier said than done – so I’d like to offer some tips on how to make this easier:

  • Decide what you love most about the ocean. This could be its plants or animals, beaches, recreation opportunities or its resources!
  • Find ways you can help what you love. Research some of challenges our ocean is facing and identify those that particularly effect the thing you love the most. I.e. if you love sea turtles, you might want to work on plastics pollution, fisheries bycatch issues, nesting beach protection or endangered species conservation.
  • Decide on one thing you will change in your life that will make a positive change. Now you know you want to help reduce the amount of plastics in the ocean. You can decide if you want to help remove what is already there (participate in community cleanup events like the International Coastal Cleanup) or reduce what our society is adding to the problem by decreasing or eliminating some single-use plastics (like water bottles and disposable coffee cups) in your life.
  • Commit to making that change a permanent part of your daily routine by World Ocean’s Day 2014. Honestly, changing your daily routine is not easy. It will not happen overnight and will take significant and ongoing commitment – even for seemingly easy changes. So I’m also asking you to give yourself a break. Give yourself time to make this happen. Make a World Oceans Day Resolution! Commit to making a change this year, set a goal, mark your progress throughout the year and then, ideally, you will reach your goal by next World Oceans Day!
  • Celebrate your success and share your stories with us along the way! Give yourself a pat on the back. Committing to, working towards and ultimately hitting your goal was not easy and you deserve to feel proud. Maybe you volunteered for 3 cleanup events and helped remove 60 lbs. of trash that otherwise would have made its way into our ocean. Maybe you stopped buying bottled water and removed 365 bottles from the waste stream. Congratulations! You’re making a difference. Share your stories with us so that your successes can help inspire others to make a difference for our oceans. Warning: Helping our ocean can be addictive. I predict (and hope) that this one commitment will lead to others along the way.

The ocean is a treasure worthy of our respect and admiration. Thank you in advance for making a difference!

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Baltimore is Focused on Clean Water

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Water, and more specifically Clean Water is a major area of focus in Baltimore this week. Rightly so. We all understand that we rely on access to clean water for not only life itself, but our quality of life as well. The water that we drink and that makes up the natural systems that surround us is intricately linked to our health and well-being. It is this undeniable fact that is the focus of many events happening in our great city in these next few days.

The week started off with the unveiling of Baltimore’s Annual Healthy Harbor Report Card. The “report card” is an annual milestone report focused on the ultimate goal of making the harbor Fishable and Swimmable by 2020. The Baltimore Harbor was given a grade of C- in 2012, with most water quality indicators (dissolved oxygen, water clarity, nutrient levels, etc.) squarely in the C-D range. According to the monitoring data, the Baltimore Harbor only met water quality standards 40 percent of the time. Despite the less-than-stellar grades, we must realize that natural systems take time to “bounce back.” We cannot reverse centuries of abuse in the course of a couple of years. We are in this for the long-term after all and if we pay attention and continue to work together and take responsibility for our role in clean water, we will see our efforts pay off.

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Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the Healthy Harbor report card press conference. Photo via Blue Water Baltimore.

Mid-week, the Choose Clean Water Coalition Annual Conference will also begin right here in Baltimore. The focus of the coalition is to serve as a strong, united, effective advocate for restoring the thousands of streams and rivers flowing to the Chesapeake Bay by coordinating policy, message action and accountability for clean water at the federal, state and local levels. The National Aquarium has been a member of the coalition almost since its inception and we are excited to help host this year! More than 275 representatives from organizations and governments from all over the Chesapeake Bay watershed will learn from some of the innovative initiatives developed in our city and elsewhere. It is an important chance to share common strategies and priorities so that we can build upon the work of each other to more effectively face our challenges and ultimately help improve our local streams, rivers and the Bay.

Finally, Baltimore City, like many other jurisdictions in Maryland is considering the establishment of a stormwater utility or Water Pollution Reduction Fee. The utility will be the major topic of discussion at the June 11th City Council meeting. The purpose of the utility will be to create a sustainable model that will allow our city to finance the repair and replacement of aging stormwater pipe systems currently in place and to implement innovative and effective stormwater reduction strategies that will clean our polluted stormwater runoff before it gets to the local streams. Now is not the time to debate the need for such a utility, legally the city is required to do this or face large fines; now is the time to let our city council know that we care about clean water and healthy communities.

Again, we all understand that we rely on access to clean water for not only life itself, but our quality of life as well. The water that we drink and that makes up the natural systems that surround us is intricately linked to our health and well-being.

The activity here in Baltimore this week reaffirms the critical concept that we have the power to CHOOSE clean water. We have the power to make individual choices that improve water quality (choices centered around your home, your work, your commute). We have the power to take collective actions to ensure healthy water supplies (volunteer in community cleanup and restoration efforts, use your purchasing power to stand up for clean water, etc.). We have the power to support our local governments in their efforts to provide communities access to clean water. – or we have the power to do nothing. Which are you going to choose?

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Let the Social Madness Games Begin!

The National Aquarium is currently competing locally in the Social Madness competition and we need YOUR help!social madness

The Social Madness competition measures companies for their effective use of social media. Voting is EASY and takes less than a minute to do. The companies with the most votes will advance to the next round; please help us be one of those companies! The top local companies will go on to the national Social Madness competition!

Here’s how you can help:

Round one of this competition will end on June 17. At that time, the top 8 companies with the most votes will advance!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Promoting Environmental Education in Baltimore

Masonville Cove is an Urban Wilderness Conservation Area and environmental education center that is creating habitat and educating residents right in Baltimore City. This site was reclaimed as waterfront access through a series of community enhancements carried out by the Maryland Port Administration as mitigation for the adjacent Dredged Material Containment Facility. More than 3,000 students per year pass through the doors of the Environmental Education Center, operated by Living Classrooms Foundation since 2009; as of October, 2012 the facility is open to the public!

This week the center is hosting its annual Environmental Education Festival for area 5th grade students, and the National Aquarium will be on site to lead them in planting salt bush shrubs along a living shoreline. Nearly 200 children will split their time between educational activities and planting a collective 300 shrubs. This will help control erosion along the water as well as provide valuable habitat for the critters that call Masonville Cove home.

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Local students planting along the shoreline at Masonville Cove.

In addition to the shrubs, this living shoreline will also be the new home to four thousand marsh grasses grown as part of our Wetland Nursery program. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary Middle School have been caring for the wetland grasses in ponds on their school grounds since last fall, and finally have the chance to make them part of the restoration of their own local cove!

Now the Cove needs your help! If you want to have a hand in the restoration, join us on Saturday, June 22nd for a volunteer Field Day! Activities will include marsh grass planting and debris cleanup along the shore, as well as native garden maintenance and bird box installation. The event is family-friendly, however the minimum age is 10 and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Let’s Make Baltimore the Largest Community Wildlife Habitat along the Chesapeake Bay!

For years, Baltimore has been known as “Birdland” and now, thanks to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the National Aquarium, it’s official. Today, First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley joined leaders from NWF, National Aquarium and city officials to launch a program aimed at greening city streets, backyards, schools and places of worship.

First Lady Katie O'Malley speaking about the importance of "greening" Baltimore.

First Lady Katie O’Malley speaking about the importance of “greening” Baltimore.

“We believe that your backyard can be a place for exploring and unleashing children’s curiosity,” said Hilary Harp Falk, Regional Executive Director for National Wildlife Federation.  “Baltimore has always been a city for the birds, and we intend to work with partners in the City to create beautiful places which will offer opportunities to learn, connect and play.”

By greening the city for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, residents of Baltimore will also help to improve both air and water quality for humans. The more native plantings that are used to attract wildlife, the greater potential the city has of reaching its Healthy Harbor goals and helping to clean the Chesapeake Bay.

“As a conservation organization it is our goal to inspire people to do their part, starting here in our backyard of Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay,” said John Racanelli, National Aquarium CEO. “We are dedicated to a Healthy Harbor and we believe that can happen if we all get involved in the greening of our city.”

Did you know? Our Waterfront park is a certified wildlife habitat!

Did you know? Our Waterfront park is a certified wildlife habitat!

Community Wildlife Habitat certification will bring many organizations and individuals together to work on a common vision, and, when successful, Baltimore will achieve certification for more than 600 homes, 10 parks, and 6 schools and be recognized as one of the 60+ Community Wildlife Habitats nationwide!

In celebration of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife month in May, people across the country – from bird watchers to butterfly lovers – are joining the residents of Baltimore in transforming their gardens into havens for wildlife.  The National Wildlife Federation has also pledged to plant a tree for every Certified Wildlife Habitat during the month of May to honor its garden supporters! 


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