Posts Tagged 'ft. mchenry'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Looking Past World Oceans Day

Blog-Header-ConservationExp

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!

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Thoughtful Thursdays: REI Grant Award for Environmental Stewardship

The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) was recently granted $10,000 dollars by REI for environmental stewardship!

As part of their community outreach program, REI supports nonprofit partners that focus on both environmental conservation and promoting active volunteerism through grant funding. REI first began supporting National Aquarium’s education and conservation efforts in 2003. They have long been a great supporter of our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Please join us in thanking them for their generous and continued support!

REI have been on-site at many of our conservation events!

REI have been on-site at many of our conservation events!

This grant will help support our conservation efforts at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Located here in Baltimore, the wetlands surrounding Ft. McHenry are home to a diverse array of wildlife including hundreds of species of birds, reptiles like box turtles and diamondback terrapins, and aquatic animals like juvenile blue crabs and small fish.

Since taking over stewardship of the area in 1999, staff and volunteers with ACT! have collected nearly 600,000 pieces of debris from the area. In addition to seasonal cleanups, our field days at Ft. McHenry include trail maintenance, light construction, or planting native flowers in our rain and butterfly gardens.

A volunteer picking up debris along the shoreline at Ft. McHenry

A volunteer picking up debris along the shoreline at Ft. McHenry

REI first began supporting National Aquarium’s education and conservation efforts in 2003. They have long been a great supporter of our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Please join us in thanking them for their generous and continued support!

Want to get involved with our Ft. McHenry initiative? Join us at our fall field day!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Supporting Urban Parks!

For more than a decade, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) of staff and volunteers has worked to restore habitat for wildlife and maintain the trails at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore.

fort mchenry before and after

Together, we’ve collected more than 600,000 pieces of debris! Our efforts at Fort McHenry are about more than just cleanup! Our work there includes everything from trail maintenance and light construction to planting native flowers and butterfly gardens.

All of these efforts add up to create a valuable green space in the heart of Baltimore City that is utilized by hundreds of species of birds, reptiles like box turtles and diamondback terrapins, and aquatic critters like juvenile blue crabs and small fish!

As part of a partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association and ioby, our cleanup at Fort McHenry has been selected as an urban park project worth crowdfunding! The term crowdfunding refers to a collective effort by individuals to financially support a certain initiative online.  Click here to support our efforts to restore habitat for wildlife, remove debris and maintain the trails at this National Monument!

The goal of this partnership is to finally take the support and advocacy for national parks into the digital age. We’re proud to be a community partner for this pilot program and can only hope that this is one of MANY crowdfunding projects we see across the country. The beauty of programs like this is that even if you can’t literally get your hands dirty, you can still contribute to causes YOU believe in!

Already supported our crowdfunding page on ioby’s site? About to? Help us spread the word online! Share this link on your Facebook page or on Twitter using #UrbanParksIOBY! 

Inspiring Conservation in the Classroom and in the Community

National Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. We incorporate this mission into every aspect of our organization’s work, both inside the building and outside in the community. Here’s a look at some of the many ways we work with the community to conserve:

Local students (from elementary school through college) are involved in a wide variety of programs including our Wetland Nursery and Terrapins in the Classroom programs. Community volunteers assist in cleaning up debris and planting native grasses and trees at several wetland restoration areas.

The Wetland Nursery program involves students potting and caring for wetland plants and trees in wet frame ponds, throughout the school year. A few schools have an extended wet frame pond system linking their ponds to a tank with striped bass.

Students learn valuable planting and resource management skills by building wetland nurseries from scratch!

Students learn valuable planting and resource management skills by building wetland nurseries from scratch!

At the end of the school year, the students travel to sites around the Chesapeake Bay watershed to plant the grasses and trees and release the fish into tributaries. Teachers utilize the plants and fish as teaching tools in lessons as they track their growth and study the model as an example of actual wetland processes.

Our Terrapins in the Classroom program gives hatchling diamond-back terrapins a head start on life in the wild by having students raise them in the classroom. Caring for the terrapins becomes an important part of student life, as one student reflected, “Thank you very much for allowing us to be a major influence in Leo’s life. We have prepared him for the new journey he will embark on.”

A terrapin hatchling

This terrapin hatchling will be released later this year and tracked by the class that took care of it!

Teachers and students track the growth of their terrapin and study the brackish wetland habitats where they are naturally found, linking the impact climate change is having on these areas and the future of these reptiles.

In addition to working closely with students and the local education system, the Aquarium’s conservation department held restoration plantings reaching as far south as Virginia Beach and as close as Baltimore City.

The Masonville Cove shoreline after our summer planting!

The Masonville Cove shoreline after our summer planting!

Along the Patapsco River at Masonville Cove, approximately 100 volunteers came out to plant a half acre with 21,000 native wetland grasses, creating a fringe wetland. This increased the amount of wilderness habitat in the surrounding area, which is largely urban and industrial.

At the nearby Fort McHenry wetland, over 200 species of birds have been counted over the years and they will now benefit from the added habitat in the area. We have been picking up marine debris for over 10 years at this wetland area…it’s one of our most popular volunteer events!

Volunteers out on the beach restoring sand dunes!

Volunteers out on the beach restoring sand dunes!

Sand dunes were restored along the Virginia coastline, as volunteers planted two species of dune grasses along a stretch of coastline at a naval base. During two separate plantings this year, 55,000 grasses were spread over an acre and a half of dunes. Dune fencing was installed to protect the new grasses and give them time to establish a healthy root system, protecting the dunes from eroding or breaching during hurricanes or other strong storms.

Another restoration planting occurred on a naval base just outside of Washington, DC. Almost 46,000 wetland plants and 2,000 trees were planted during separate events along the Potomac River. Since 2008, over 87,000 wetland grasses and trees have been planted at this location!

Conservation Highlights in 2012 by the Numbers:

  • 760 community volunteers
  • 10 acres of wildlife habitat restored
  • 122,597 native grasses and trees planted
  • 21,000 pieces of debris collected and removed
  • 1,642 school children participated in wetland restoration

Thoughtful Thursdays: Save the Bay!

Oysters play a critical role in the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. As natural water filters, oysters strain out plankton and other food suspended in water. They also provide a critical habitat and growing surface for a large number of other species, including fish like striped blennies, anked gobies, and skillet fish, as well as mud crabs, blue crabs, grass shrimp, and eels.

We were incredibly honored to host the “Mermaid’s Kiss Oyster Fest” benefiting the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) last night at our Baltimore venue.

During last night’s event, ORP announced its largest restoration effort on the East Coast ever. This new project will streamline large-scale efforts to improve the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay through oyster planting and water quality improvement.

Chef Karen Nicolas preparing her delicious tasting dish at last night’s Oyster Fest!

There are many ways you can help support oyster recovery: 

  • Become an oyster gardener
  • Buy local: enjoy Chesapeake Bay farmed or harvested oysters
  • Patronize restaurants that are participating in the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Shell Recycling Alliance—making sure used oyster shells go back to support restoration efforts
  • Celebrate Maryland seafood by dining out at any of the restaurants participating in the From the Bay, For the Bay event the week of October 6–13, 2012. Participating restaurants will be serving fresh, locally caught Maryland seafood and will donate a dollar for every Maryland seafood dinner sold to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to replenish the population of our native Chesapeake Bay oyster.
  • Join our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) and REI staff in our bi-annual field days at the Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. In the Fall and Spring, our team, along with an amazing group of volunteers, helps to  restore habitat,  remove debris, do trail maintenance  and plant native flowers! Since we first took ownership of this stewardship in 1999, our teams have removed more than 600,000 pieces of debris!

Thanks again to everyone who came out last night in support of our local habitats! We are one step closer to a thriving Bay!


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