Posts Tagged 'maryland'



Animal Update – November 9

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

Baby Burrfish

We’ve added three tiny striped burrfish to our Coastal Beach gallery in the Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit!

burrfish

These fish usually grow to 10 inches long but, because the new ones we’ve added are juveniles, they are closer to 2-4 inches!

striped burrfish

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

Animal Update – November 2

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

Margined Madtoms

We have two margined madtom catfish Noturus insignis in our Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit. These fish were transferred from their home at National Aquarium, Washington DC to their new home here in Baltimore!

This species of catfish is commonly found in rocky riffles and small rivers throughout the Atlantic slope, from southern Quebec to Georgia.

While this species is more common in the United States, it is considered threatened in Canada.

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

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

National Aquarium Awarded RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant

National Aquarium, Baltimore received a RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant to fund its Chesapeake Bay Initiative (CBI). The $130,000 USD grant represents the largest grant ever received from a corporation that is specifically designated to support the Aquarium’s conservation efforts. National Aquarium’s Chesapeake Bay Initiative (CBI) is a nationally recognized program that fosters partnerships with local communities to protect and restore habitats in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Each year, CBI recruits hundreds of citizen volunteers and local students to engage in restoring tidal habitats through planting events.

RBC donation to National Aquarium

RBC Wealth Management CEO John Taft presenting donation check to National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli

Wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay are being lost at an alarming rate as a result of coastal development, rising sea levels, and damage from non-native species. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an estimated 10,500 acres have been lost in the last 150 years along the middle-eastern portion alone. CBI helps restore and protect wetland habitats, increasing public awareness of watershed issues and providing watershed stewardship actions for citizen volunteers, youth, and community groups.

Grant funding will be focused in three areas – urban restoration and stewardship programs to improve water quality in tributaries to the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay; forest restoration and student education projects at Nassawango Creek Nature Preserve; and the Terrapin in the Classroom project, which takes place in 30 Maryland schools and at an Aquarium restoration site on Poplar Island.

National Aquarium is one of 30 organizations from five countries that are being awarded grants for programs that help protect watersheds and improve access to clean drinking water. RBC’s 2012 grant recipients work on a wide range of projects involving water restoration, conservation, management and education.

National Aquarium has worked in partnership with RBC Wealth Management and the RBC Blue Water Project since 2009.  It was the recipient of three Community Action Grants that helped to support conservation projects at Poplar Island, Fort McHenry, and Westport Academy.

The Leadership Grant was formally presented by RBC Wealth Management CEO John Taft at a private event hosted by RBC Wealth Management at the National Aquarium on September 20, 2012. Taft is the author of Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street, which explores the importance of stewardship as a core principle.

Click here to find out more about National Aquarium’s Chesapeake Bay Initiative! 

Thoughtful Thursday: No Reason to Be Crabby

Great news for crab-lovers: A new report on the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population shows a blue crab stock that has reached sustainable levels and is not overfished.

The report from the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee shows a sustainable number of adult females and the largest number of juveniles counted in 20 years. The rebound we’ve seen in population numbers over the last decade is likely thanks to stricter harvesting regulations put in place, particularly on the harvest of female blue crabs.

Blue crab

A female blue crab is distinguishable by the red-orange tips of her claws

So enjoy your crab feasts this summer! And we’ve got a great one you should know about…

Come out and support the National Aquarium by attending B&O Brasserie and Hotel Monaco’s Third Annual Crab Bash on Tuesday, August 7. The claws will come out as award-winning chefs from around the region cook off against each other in search of the Best Crab Dish.

10 chefs, 10 different crab dishes, 10 different cocktails, live music and a great time to be had at the Crab Bash!

Join a panel of local celebrity judges in sampling and voting for your favorite crab dish from chefs. One chef will be awarded a “People’s Choice” award, which will be based solely on the votes of attendees, and one chef will be awarded a trophy for “Best in Show” by the celebrity panel—plus bragging rights for the year.

For an admission fee of $50 per person, guests are invited to watch the chefs battle it out, sample the chefs’ dishes, and enjoy samples of cocktails created specifically for each dish by a member of the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild.  Admission also includes a raffle ticket with the chance to win a variety of prizes including tickets to National Aquarium, Kimpton animal-print robes, a gift certificate to B&O American Brasserie, and a one-night stay at a Kimpton Hotel.

The event benefits the National Aquarium, so get your inner crab out of its shell and be there! Get your tickets here.


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