Posts Tagged 'Conservation'



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

Q&A with Photojournalist and Ocean Advocate Brian Skerry!

In advance of his special lecture at the Aquarium on March 18th, we chatted with photographer Brian Skerry about what inspired him to pursue a career in photojournalism and how his work inspires others to protect our oceans!

brian skerry photographer

What first interested you about photographing marine wildlife?
From a very young age, I was captivated by marine wildlife. There was something mysterious to me about the sea and the creatures that lived there and I had a great desire to spend time with these animals and learn more about them.

If you had to pick one subject to photograph for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
A difficult question for sure, but I think I would say sharks. For me, these animals represent the perfect blend of grace and power and I’ve never tired of photographing them.

brian skerry and shark - photography

If the folks who engaged with your photographs could take away one thing about our oceans and their future, what would you hope for it to be?
That Earth’s ocean is a very, very special place, but it needs our help to survive.

How have you seen the areas your work represents change in recent years?
I began simply wanting to make beautiful pictures of animals or places that interested me. While I still have this desire, I have seen many problems occurring in our ocean and I feel compelled to tell these stories too, as a way of effecting positive change.

brian skerry photography

How does your new book, Ocean Soul, help to further your mission to increase protection of special ocean places?
A book has a long shelf-life so it can attract new readers over time. A book like this also allows me to tell my story; my journey of ocean exploration, the animals and places I’ve seen and how I have begun to connect the dots with species and ecosystems.

Join us for Brian Skerry’s Upcoming Lecture!

What: A lecture from “Ocean Soul: A Photojournalists Journey,” book signing to follow

When: March 18, 2014 at 7 pm EST

Where: National Aquarium
A livestream will also be available online.

To purchase tickets for this event, please visit aqua.org/lectures

Bill of the Week: Education Funding

government affairs and policy update national aquarium

Did you know? Nearly 60,000 Maryland school children, teachers, and chaperones visit the National Aquarium free of charge every year through a partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

national aquarium education

Governor O’Malley’s Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget includes over $6 million in funding for 40 State Aided Educational Institutions (SAI) across the State of Maryland. The proposed grant includes $474,601 for the National Aquarium.

During the current 2014 session, our Government Affairs team has been working diligently in Annapolis to voice strong support for this important education funding and the Aquarium’s allocations within the state’s budget.

Through our partnership with MSDE, the National Aquarium provides students across the state opportunities to interact with our 17,000+ animals and geographically-diverse exhibits, all with the aim of providing an education beyond the classroom without any cost to the students or their schools.

Funding from the SAI program has offset 52 percent of the cost of our school program, making it possible to offer this program to 960 local schools, and open our doors each year to over 59,000 students, teachers, and chaperones—for free.

This funding will give 28,000 students the chance to visit the Aquarium in 2014. They will join the 2.5 million Maryland school children from every jurisdiction in the state having visited the National Aquarium since our opening in 1981.

The National Aquarium’s education program offers more than just field trips. We also have a year round continuum of extracurricular experiential programs for all ages, off-site “outdoor classroom” programs to communities and free curriculum training to over 500 teachers.

national aquarium education

The field trip experience combined with the Aquarium’s commitment to advancing the science programs in Maryland schools will help educate a future generation with an interest and passion in the environmental sciences, all the way from the tropical rain forests to the Chesapeake Bay.

sarah elfreth government affairs manager national aquarium

Lecture Re-cap: “Hope: A Plan for Our Oceans”

The most important thing that we extract from the ocean is our existence.

Last night, American oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Dr. Sylvia Earle kicked-off our spring lecture series with an amazing session titled “Hope: A Plan for Our Oceans”!

national aquarium lecture sylvia earle

Dr. Earle’s lecture focused on the concept of embracing ocean “hope spots” around the world, aquatic treasures like our own National Marine Sanctuaries. Hope spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean, Earth’s blue heart.

Here are just a few highlights from Dr. Earle’s inspirational talk: 

  • Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. It took 100 years after that for our nation to establish the first National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Sixty-four percent of the world’s oceans lie beyond national jurisdiction.
  • About half of the oceans’ coral reefs are gone. This tragedy is is due to issues like ocean acidification, habitat degradation and overfishing.
  • Since the foundation of Mission Blue in 2009, 51 hope spots have been declared worldwide. These areas give all ocean lovers and conservationists hope for the future. As Dr. Earle reminded us last night, the time to act on behalf of the ocean is now!

For those of you who weren’t able to attend or tune into our special lecture last night, a full video is available to watch here: 

Join the conversation online about the importance of marine-protected areas using #HopeSpots!

Thoughtful Thursday: The Key to Sustainable Seafood is Information

Blog-Header-ConservationExp

In this space, we’ve often discussed how our seafood choices reach far beyond the particular fish on your plate and are related to healthy ocean ecosystems, healthy economies and healthy families.  As a result of the increase in communication from organizations like us on this issue, more and more people are paying attention to the seafood they purchase. There is new consumer awareness around the link between the fish we choose to feed our families and the health of our rivers, bays and oceans.

Primary to all of these efforts to make thoughtful choices is information.  Without accurate information about how and where our seafood is caught, our efforts to protect our aquatic ecosystems can be fairly ineffective. Inadequate or wrong information can lead you to think you are supporting local fishermen when you are not.  Worse yet, it can lead to making choices that support overfishing or habitat destruction.

 Accurate information is key to seafood sustainability, and it is why the National Aquarium will be supporting the “Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act.” If passed, this legislation would ensure that seafood sold in the state is labeled with the correct species name and location of harvest – giving consumers the tools they need to make the right decisions.

In a recent study, our partners at Oceana revealed that 1 out of every 3 seafood samples they purchased were mislabeled.  Sometimes this is done intentionally to inflate the value of the fish or to hide illegal fishing practices. The problem is that even honest restaurant and market owners can mislabel their product if every step in the supply chain is not verified.

seafood fraud quiz fresh thoughts

Locally, this can have a big impact on our fishing communities. This industry is an intrinsic part of the culture of this state, and we take great pride in our local seafood, like blue crab, rockfish, oysters, etc.

Take a closer look at crabs, for example. Many Marylanders grow up eating bushels of crabs with family and friends at backyard barbecues and can recite their favorite crab cake recipe from memory. There is a bustling tourist industry that revolves around the “Maryland crab cake.”  Yet millions of pounds of crab meat are imported into Maryland every year. While just about every seafood restaurant in the state highlights their own version of the Maryland crab cake, there’s no telling if the cakes are actually being prepared with locally harvested crab meat.

Using our collective power as consumers to show support for local sustainable fishing communities, like our Maryland crabbers, will be an important step in the future success of healthy communities and ecosystems. Requiring accurate seafood labeling is an imperative part of this process.

Laura Bankey


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