Posts Tagged 'national aquarium in baltimore'



Happy World Octopus Day!

Did you know? Today is (the 10th annual) World Octopus Day!

Octopuses (yes, THAT is the correct plural of octopus) are cephalopods – a class name derived from the Greek word cephalopoda, meaning “head-feet.” These incredibly unique animals are characterized by their bilateral symmetry, a body shape that primarily includes a large head and set of arms or tentacles.

Out of the 800 identified living species of cephalopods, 300 of those species are octopuses! Here at the Aquarium, we have a giant Pacific octopus on exhibit. We spoke to Aquarist Katie Webster about what it’s like to care for it:

Octopuses are among the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom. In total, an octopus has 500 million neurons, located in both its brain and throughout its arms. In addition to grabbing onto prey and climbing rocky underwater structures, an octopus uses its suckers to taste and sense.

Check out this awesome infographic to learn even more about these incredible animals: 

national aquarium octopus infographic

Animal Updates – October 4

More than 17,000 animals representing more than 750 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!

Meet our Queensland Grouper!

Our Queensland grouper, Bertha, is one of Blacktip Reef’s most distinguishable new residents! Since being introduced to her new home, Bertha has been happily exploring the nooks and crannies the reef – she especially loves the deep dive area!

national aquarium queensland grouper

Found in the warm waters of the Pacific, this large fish preys upon quite a variety of animals, including small sharks, rays, sea turtles, smaller fish, crabs and even spiny lobsters!

Measuring up to 9 feet in length and weighing around 800 pounds, Queensland groupers are the largest of reef bony fish species in the world! Apart from their sheer size, these fish can be easily recognized by their blotchy patterning and light yellow fins.

Check out this amazing footage of a giant Queensland grouper found off the coast of Heron Island (part of the Great Barrier Reef):

Did you know? Queensland groupers (like most other grouper species) are protogynous hermaphrodites! They start their lives as females and later will change sex once they hit sexual maturity.

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

Happy 25th Birthday, Margaret!

National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday today: Margaret, our blue hyacinth macaw, is turning 25!

With the help of our Animal Programs staff, Margaret started her day off with a special enrichment surprise:

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws are one of the largest species of parrot – they are typically 40 inches in length and can have a wingspan of up to 5 feet! They’re on of the few species of parrot that can even mimic human speech. Margaret can say “Hello” (and she loves to say it a lot!) and is learning to say her name!

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Did you know? Hyacinth macaws have beaks specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world, the Brazil nut!

In addition to a powerful beak, Margaret has some pretty powerful and nimble feet that help her climb trees, hold food and even play with toys (or in today’s case, rip through a present box filled with newspaper and treats!).

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws can be found in parts of Brazil, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. Unlike most parrots that prefer tropical rain forest habitats, this species of macaw usually makes its home in lightly forested areas such as palm swamps and flooded grasslands! At the Aquarium, you can see Margaret during our Animal Encounters throughout the day.

Can’t stop by in person to wish Margaret a happy birthday? Leave her a note in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Animal Update – September 27

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

Bi-color parrotfish in Blacktip Reef

Did you know? Bi-color parrotfish sleep in bubbles of slime. Before finding their sleeping spot within the reef for the night, the parrotfish spins a cocoon around its body. The slimy bubble protects the parrotfish from nighttime predators by hiding its scent!

national aquarium bicolor parrotfish

Parrotfish get their name from their beak-like teeth and bright coloration. They use their “beaks” to eat the algae that grows on and around coral.

When the coral rock has travel through the parrotfish’s digestive system (which extracts the needed nutrients from the algae), it comes out as sand! A large bi-color parrotfish can produce up to 2,200 pounds of sand per year!

This species is found throughout the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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

Federal Government Donates Confiscated Coral to the National Aquarium

A shipment of illegally imported corals intercepted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been donated to the National Aquarium.

The corals are being used as educational tools in our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, as well as for the Aquarium’s conservation outreach efforts, school science programs and fabrication templates.

blacktip reef education cart
The shipment, containing 20 pieces of Seriatopora hystrix (commonly known as birdsnest coral) and 22 pieces of Pocillopora damicornis (sometimes referred to as cauliflower coral), was intercepted by CBP at the port of Tampa, Florida. The corals were cut from the reefs off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Coral reefs are being threatened by human and environmental factors. Most species of coral are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and require foreign permits. This international agreement between governments ensures that international trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. CITES consists of 178 country signatories that protect species like coral worldwide.

As the nation’s border agency, CBP works closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that laws protecting endangered species are enforced at every US port of entry.

Corals play a critical role in the ecosystem as they provide spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding  habitats for marine species, protect against shoreline erosion and provide local benefits for fishing and tourism industries.

These authentic coral pieces have become important tools for our educators, who able to bring coral reefs to life for thousands of visitors every day! We’re able to show visitors the beauty of coral and the important role that corals play in our world!


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