Posts Tagged 'maryland'



2012 Annual Maryland Dolphin Count Recap

The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team was joined by volunteers on Friday, July 20, for the 15th Annual Maryland Dolphin Count. This year, 31 dolphins were sighted.

Three dolphins swimming near Ocean City, MD
Credit: John Soule

More than 100 volunteers of all ages came out between 9–11 a.m. to help record dolphin sightings at two locations in Ocean City, MD — beaches on 40th Street and 130th Street. Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look at dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. Looking at the population numbers over the years can help to determine the health of the coastal ecosystem as well as the abundance of prey.

Volunteers helping to count dolphins on 40th Street in Ocean City, MD

During the 2011 dolphin count, 107 dolphins were recorded, which is relatively normal. This year’s count is lower and is likely a result of several factors, including the weather, bigger swells and food availability.

“The National Aquarium team is incredibly thankful to all the volunteers who joined us for this year’s Dolphin Count,” said Jennifer Dittmar, Marine Animal Rescue Program Stranding Coordinator.

The evening before the annual count, a fundraiser was held at Seacrets: Jamaica USA, which raised $2,000 for MARP.

For more information on MARP and how the general public can assist with rescue efforts, visit aqua.org/care.

Thoughtful Thursday: Join MARP in Ocean City, MD

Today: Marine Animal Rescue Fundraiser at Seacrets

Join the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program for a fun afternoon at Seacrets: Jamaica USA! Family activities take place from 3:30–5 p.m. in the family dining area, which includes crafts, games and other activities. Free!

From 5–9 p.m., the fun takes place in Seacrets’ main stage area. Enjoy fun games and a special raffle for a behind-the-scenes experience at the National Aquarium, Baltimore! The evening’s cover is a $5 donation to the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program. Every person who gives a donation will receive a free gift!

Seacrets: Jamaica USA
117 West 49th Street
Ocean City, MD 21842

Friday: Annual Maryland Dolphin Count

The fun doesn’t stop there! This Friday, July 20, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for the Annual Maryland Dolphin Count along the Atlantic coast of Maryland.

One of the joys of going to the beach is being able to see dolphins surf in the waves. The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program works hard throughout the year to monitor and respond to marine animals off of Maryland’s coast, while educating the public about keeping our waterways safe and healthy for the animals we love so much.

Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look about dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. We have learned that bottlenose dolphins use Maryland waters as a thoroughfare for migration, summertime breeding, and feeding along the way. With the help of volunteers we will continue to gather and analyze this information and learn more about the state of our waters and the dolphin populations that are found off our coast.

The annual Dolphin Count involves spending a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out a data sheet. Aquarium staff will be stationed at the following locations:

  • 40th Street in Ocean City on the beach
  • 130th Street in Ocean City on the beach
    Click here to find out more about the Ocean City beach locations

The event is FREE and open to the public. Just look for Aquarium staff in blue shirts looking toward the water for dolphins! The count will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

As a reminder, it is always helpful to bring the following items for comfort:

  • A beach chair or blanket
  • Water to keep hydrated
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Binoculars, optional

For more information on either event, email MARP@aqua.org.

So, how many dolphins do you think we’ll count?

Thoughtful Thursday: More than 4,000 ft of restored shoreline at Indian Head

The Aquarium Conservation Team spent most of June at Naval Support Facility Indian Head and Stump Neck Annex (Indian Head, MD). Over a period of 11 days, volunteers planted 45,897 native wetland grasses along the Potomac River, restoring more than 4,000 feet of shoreline!

Spring and early summer are ideal times for planting wetland grasses in the mid-Atlantic region, so Aquarium staff and partners worked through record-high temperatures to complete the job! Volunteers from the Maryland Conservation Corps, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Appalachian Mountain Club, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, and the community hand-planted nine different species of grass.

Our volunteers aren’t afraid to get dirty

The National Aquarium has partnered with NSF Indian Head since 2008, restoring sections of shoreline each year. During this spring’s event, Aquarium staff monitored older wetland areas, and found them in full bloom and thriving.

After the planting is complete; look at all those grasses!

Want to join us? The Aquarium Conservation Team will return in the fall of 2012 to complete Phase Two of the shoreline restoration by planting the upland portion with trees and shrubs. We need your help! Dates for the fall planting will be announced in August. Be sure to check here for registration details.

MARP Makes Connections at OC Shark Tournament

On June 15 and 16, the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team joined several other partners at the Ocean City Shark Tournament at the OC Fishing Center in west Ocean City, Maryland.

Mark Sampson, the tournament director and a partner and friend of the National Aquarium, stresses the importance of conservation and reminds participants each year of safe fishing practices. Every year prior to the tournament, Mark provides a clinic at the OC Fishing Center to discuss shark identification, safe handling, release, and rigging techniques.

The MARP team pulled out all the stops, giving visitors access to walk through a 56-foot inflatable replica of a sei whale. These whales are seen in our waters off the coast of Maryland, as they use our warmer waters as a thoroughfare. Our volunteers constructed this amazing whale with the help of Damon Pla, who has graciously donated his time and artistic expertise to these beautiful artwork displays and the skeleton along the inside of the ever-popular sei whale.

Sei whale and leatherback turtle art

Sei whale and leatherback turtle art

Visitors of all ages took the opportunity to learn more about these animals, as well as others, when they ventured into the “belly” of the whale. There was not one person who did not come out smiling, and with a little bit more knowledge about this particular species.

Kids walking in sei whale

Kids walking in the sei whale

The tournament was a success, even though the weather was not very cooperative while fishermen were out on the water. On Friday, one boat braved the heavy winds and high seas until they decided to turn back around at noon. They did turn in a release report, however, which included a sandbar and spinner shark.

On Saturday, eight out of 11 boats went out into the 15-20-knot winds and 5-foot-high waves. Early morning showed promise, with several spinner sharks being recorded and released, and by the end of the day, seven teams had caught and released 22 sharks.

Overall, 44 sharks were caught and released, which included six mako, 13 sandbar or dusky, 21 spinner, two hammerhead, and two tiger; none of which were brought in for weigh-in at the dock. The only fish brought in to the docks throughout the entire tournament were three bluefish.

MARP volunteer Rob Filip talking with a family

MARP volunteer Rob Filip talking with a family

Although this is our first year to join the festivities at the OC Shark Tournament, we do hope that this continues for future years!

Interested in tag-and-release shark fishing? Join our annual shark tagging trip! During this trip, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for a day of shark tagging off the coast of Ocean City, MD. Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Native Garden Planting at Pier 6 Pavilion

The National Aquarium, in partnership with Rams Head and the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, recently converted an unused area of turf on the western slope of the pavilion into a native plant garden!

Before and after

This new garden will help filter runoff and provide food and habitat for local pollinators and birds, as well as educate concert-goers on how beautiful and carefree a bay-friendly garden can be. Kyle Muellhauser, owner of Rams Head and a big supporter of the National Aquarium, approached our Conservation team and asked if we would be interested in using the space for an educational display. As we discussed ideas, we focused on something that would be attractive to visitors and also could inspire them to look at their own yards in a new way.

By planting native plants at home, you are not only providing food and habitat for wildlife, you are also decreasing the amount of fertilizer, water, and time needed to create and maintain an attractive yard. We chose native, drought-tolerant plants that would add interest to the site and would need little long-term care. Included in the list of plants were black-eyed susans, Christmas ferns, tickseed, blazing stars, American holly, joe-pye weed, and bee balm.

Two staff horticulturists took the lead on the project and designed the garden. They used similar plants and ideas from our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a much more extensive version of a Maryland native garden. By choosing species that are native to this area and are proven to thrive in downtown Baltimore, we can be assured that this new garden will continue to educate visitors for years to come. The next time you attend a concert at the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, don’t forget to check out the garden to see what is in bloom and get inspired to create your own bay-friendly garden. Click here to get started with ideas!

The crew!



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