Posts Tagged 'coral reefs'



Animal Update – January 4

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!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Longsnout seahorses

We have added two new Caribbean longsnout seahorses to our National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks gallery!

longsnout seahorse

Did you know this species of seahorse only reach a maximum size of six inches?  Their small size allows them to explore even the slimmest crevices of reefs! This is where they search of food and find coral pieces to anchor on for rest and protection.

longsnout seahorses

As with other seahorse species, when longsnout seahorses mate the female deposits her eggs into a pouch in the male’s belly. The male is then responsible for carrying the eggs until they hatch and the male is ready to give birth to the live young!

longsnout seahorse

Both males and females are typically a yellow color, with flecks of brown and black (allowing them to blend into their reef habitats). This camouflage coloration along with their bony body allows the longsnout seahorse to have very few predators.

Unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are still seriously threatened by habitat loss!

Can’t get enough of these beautiful creatures? Download this month’s customized, free wallpapers of the lined seahorse to your computer, mobile device and/or social platform! 

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Update – December 14

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!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Bicolor Parrotfish

We have a new bicolor parrotfish in our American Samoa exhibit!

bicolor parrotfish

Did you know? Before going to sleep, this species of parrotfish spins a cocoon around its body to hide its scent from potential predators!

Parrotfish get their name from their beak-like teeth and vibrant coloration. Some species, like the bicolor parrotfish, can grow to be up to three feet in length!

They use their “beak” to eat the algae that grows on coral. The parrotfish bites off pieces of coral from the reef, pulverizing it in order to digest the algae growing inside and then excreting the limestone rock. Much of the sand in the areas where parrotfish are found is actually the coral they excrete.

This fun little video explains this “sand making” process: 

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

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! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Climate Change is Killing our Coral Reefs

A Majority of Coral Reefs Will Be Damaged By 2030 Due to Rising Greenhouse Gases

The negative impacts of climate change have been widely reported. Temparatures continue to steadily rise, weather patterns are increasingly erratic and greenhouse gas emissions are causing alarming rates of CO2 to linger in our atmospheres. The ecosystem in the most immediate danger of total degradation from this changes is the ocean.

Orange mushroom and other various corals

Specifically, climate change impacts are wreaking havoc on our coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise, mass bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and impossible to contain. The CO2 that lingers in the air above ground is also being absorbed into the ocean, altering the sea water chemistry in a process called ocean acidification.

“Think about putting your blue jeans in the laundry and putting in too much bleach. Well, they come out white. That’s what happens to these corals. All these beautiful colors of this coral that you’re looking at … now what you would see is a field of white,” said Brent Whitaker, National Aquarium Director of Biological Programs .

A vibrant sun polyp coral

The bleaching of coral reefs is usually brought on by unusually warm waters and stress. Shallow-water reefs, like those along our Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, have been particularly harmed by prolonged periods of warmth – an estimated 16 percent of those reefs have been killed worldwide.

Queen Angel fish in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit

After closely montioring the effects these changes are having on ocean life, scientists have determined the rate at which the damage is happening. At least 70 percent of coral reefs are projected to suffer from degradation by 2030 without a dramatic change to carbon emissions, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

There is so much that we can do to protect our blue planet. To learn more about the National Aquarium’s efforts to preserve our coral reef ecosystems and how you can get involved, click here.

Rainforests of the sea

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives advanced an important ocean-related conservation measure called the Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2009 (H.R. 860). The amendments will bolster America’s coral reef conservation efforts by promoting international cooperation to protect coral reefs and codifying the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. 

You probably know corals for their beauty! But do you know why they are so important? Coral reefs are integral components of tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems.  They protect shorelines from incoming storms, provide habitat for innumerable species of fish and invertebrates, and generate important tourism revenues for many coastal countries.  But like many ocean habitats, they are becoming increasingly threatened by growing coastal populations and a variety of human activities. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) introduced the bill, and stated that “coral reefs are truly the ‘rainforests of the sea.’  That statement couldn’t be more true.Secore Picture

The National Aquarium is involved in coral reef conservation project called SECORE, a unique initiative that is addressing coral conservation issues by bringing together public aquariums and zoos and marine scientists to share knowledge and practical skills in coral husbandry and coral research. The National Aquarium’s DC venue has been a key partner in the SECORE project for 4 years. In 2008, staffers ventured out on a research and collection trip, and they are currently propagating coral polyps at the facility.

You can see wonderful coral exhibits at the National Aquarium’s DC venue.  And if you believe in this issue, please write your elected officials and urge them to support this crucial bill that will help preserve our rainforests of the sea. Click here for more information.


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers