Posts Tagged 'south america'

Animal Updates – April 19

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!

Amazon Tree Boa on exhibit! 

Our juvenile Amazon tree boa has been very active on exhibit lately!

amazon tree boa

Adult Amazon tree boas can reach up to 6.5 feet in length. Found throughout South America, this species of tree boa is a nocturnal predator. Currently in its juvenile “yellow phase,” these snakes change color once they reach adulthood.

animal update

Silver-beaked Tanagers on exhibit! 

Six silver-beaked tanagers are now on exhibit in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest! These tanagers are well-known for their deep crimson hue and striking beak.

silver beaked tanager

The silver-beaked tanager ranges from Colombia to Bolivia and along the east coast including Brazil, Paraguay and as far south as Argentina. Although this species is not currently listed as threatened, the destruction of their habitat for industrial/agricultural gain could put them at risk in the near future.

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

Animal Updates – March 1

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!

Juvenile hogfish in the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit! 

This large and colorful fish is native to the Western Atlantic coral reef systems from as far north as Nova Scotia in Canada, to Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and northern South America. The hogfish gets its name from its very long “pig-like” snout that it uses to root through the sandy bottoms of shallow ocean areas in search of mollusks, crabs, and sea urchins.

This is one of the juvenile hogfish now on exhibit in our Atlantic Coral Reef!

This is one of the juvenile hogfish now on exhibit in our Atlantic Coral Reef!

 The hogfish is a bright red-orange, and can grow up to 3 feet long. It typically forms social groups consisting of one male that will mate with and protect several females in its territory.

An adult hogfish

An adult hogfish

 Unfortunately, this unique species is listed as Vulnerable due to significant population declines caused by spearfishing practices, especially in the Caribbean.

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

Hey, you just met me, and I’m a baby, but I’m too lazy, so name me, maybe?

baby sloth

Hello, my name is…

Baby Sloth Naming Contest to Coincide with International Sloth Day

In honor of International Sloth Day on October 20, National Aquarium will launch a naming contest for the Linne’s two-toed sloth born in Baltimore in late August.  This baby is the newest addition to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit and the first born to Ivy, one of the four sloths in the exhibit, is the third sloth born at National Aquarium, Baltimore.

CLICK HERE TO SUGGEST A NAME! 

The public is invited to visit www.aqua.org/slothcontest between now and November 1 to submit name suggestions.  A panel of National Aquarium staff will review and consider all entries.  Then, from November 2 to 15, the public can vote on one of four names selected by the panel. The winning name will be announced on the morning of November 16!

International Sloth Day aims to bring awareness to illegal trafficking and the mistreatment of sloths in Central and South America. The AIUNA foundation, the starters of International Sloth Day rehabilitate sloths that have been injured by power lines, hit by cars or sold illegally and release them back into the wild.

linne's two toed sloth

Ivy and baby

The Linne’s two-toed sloth is currently not threatened however other species of sloth, such as the maned three-toed sloth and pygmy three-toed sloth are endangered. The sloths at National Aquarium, Baltimore help to inform people of the plight of all sloths from threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation of forests as well as to inspire conservation, protection and welfare of these and other animals. Forest fragmentation forces sloths to come to the ground to travel to additional food trees. On the ground, they become easy prey for dogs and humans. Additionally, many sloths are either killed or injured when trying to cross roadways, others are electrocuted by overhead electrical lines.

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection at National Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007 from a private captive breeder in South Florida. The other two sloths, Howie and Xeno, were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

Ivy and her new infant are free roaming in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Photos and video of the baby and mother sloth are available on the Aquarium’s WATERblog here: http://ow.ly/ey0uG.

And don’t forget to click here to suggest a name! 

Welcome our new baby sloth!

We are so proud to welcome a new addition to the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit – a Linne’s two-toed sloth was born in late August! The baby is the first born to Ivy, one of the four sloths in the exhibit, and is the third sloth born at National Aquarium.

During a daily routine checkup, National Aquarium staff observed Ivy carrying a newborn. The baby was born fully haired and already had its trademark claws! Staff are keeping a close eye on the two and have spotted the baby actively nursing. Upon initial observations, the baby sloth seems strong and healthy, and is actively clinging and crawling about on its mom. Animal care staff suspects the baby will continue to cling to its mother for the first several weeks of life. Sloths can remain dependant on their mothers for up to a year. As time goes on, the young sloth will begin exploring its immediate surroundings and eating solid foods.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24–30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection at National Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007 from a private captive breeder in South Florida. The other two sloths, Howie and Xeno, were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

“Despite the fact that the two-toed sloth is a fairly common animal, many of its most basic behaviors are still a mystery because they are rarely observed,” commented Ken Howell, curator of Rain Forest Exhibits at National Aquarium. “We’re thrilled to welcome the new baby to our family and we hope that it will increase awareness and interest in this group of most unusual mammals.”

Ivy and her new infant are free roaming in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit and will be particularly good at hiding in the trees for at least a few weeks.

Stay tuned for more updates about our newest addition! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Paiche, the Peruvian behemoth

From Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes Curator John Seyjaget: 

Last week, I journeyed to Peru with two friends of the National Aquarium, Chef Xavier Deshayes and Kelly Morris, in search of  the South American Arapaima gigas, a behemoth of a fish that lives in the Amazon. As the largest freshwater fish in the world, this giant can reach a maximum size of 2 meters and 200 kg.

The South American Arapaima gigas or paiche, as it is commonly called in Peru

My journey took me some 4,268 miles from the Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, to Newark, NJ, to Lima, Peru, and finally to Yurimaguas, a remote village on the banks of the Huallaga River, part of the Amazon River Basin. Transportation along the way included planes, buses, cars, and rickshaws.

Peruvian rickshaws

The fish we were there to see is the Arapaima, commonly known as paiche, an apex predator in the Amazon. The paiche belongs to a group of fish called bony tongues, and is the largest of the seven types of bony tongues worldwide (there are three in Australia, one in Africa, and three in South America).

The paiche is unique in many ways. It is a fossil record—this fish dates back to more than 65 million years unchanged by evolution. And it breathes air! The paiche must surface every 15–20 minutes to gulp air, which it processes in its swim bladder to extract its oxygen needs. The paiche is also a buccal incubator, which means that after the female lays eggs and they hatch, the male picks up and keeps the babies in his mouth for the first 4–6 weeks while they grow.

Paiche is revered as a local delicacy. The fish flesh is white, thick, and tender. It is high in collagen and is therefore great for grilling, searing, and frying. Although illegal to fish in Peru, paiche is still hunted by the river villagers. Villagers claim that the flesh of the paiche is better than beef.

The local wild paiche is now on the endangered species list because of overfishing. Farming the paiche not only creates a profitable export product, but also creates jobs, provides a food source for the local people, and relieves hunting pressure on local wild paiche populations. It also allows the seeding of natural habitats with captive-raised specimens to assure the growth of the wild populations.

The farm we visited has more than 130 ponds holding more than 100,000 paiches each, including 100 adult breeding pairs.

Paiche farm pond

The farm feeds these fish organic foods made from bycatch squid with no chemical additives. The adult fish reproduce in captivity without the aid of hormones or any chemical manipulation.

The fish produced here are harvested at 18 months of age, when they are about 1 meter long. They are caught in seine nets and taken to a processing plant nearby where they are processed and frozen. Almost none of the fish is wasted. Besides the flesh of the fish, the heads are skeletonized and used for museum and educational artifacts, the scales are used for nail files, and the bony tongues for medicinal purposes. The fish produced here is exported to Europe and the United States.

Holding a large paiche

So why did we travel all this way to see a fish farm? Today’s food needs are putting a lot of pressure on our natural resources, forcing environment degradation and species extirpation and extinction, sometimes resulting in an ecosystem collapse. The National Aquarium hosts Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood events at both our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues. The Fresh Thoughts initiative looks at resource sustainability, and presents sustainable seafood alternatives to our guests. If individual consumers support sustainable seafood choices, we can make a difference in fish populations and the health of our oceans worldwide.

Chef Xavier, executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building, creates the menus for the Washington, DC, Fresh Thoughts events. To advance the Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts initiative, Chef Xavier asked that I accompany him to Peru to see firsthand the sustainable aquaculture of this fish.

Chef Xavier

Although the farm is productive, shows green potential and is sustainable, as an Aquarium curator, I was more impressed with the breeding and husbandry success of this species and the scale to which it is done. I look forward to exploring similar sustainable aquaculture!

You can taste the results of this journey for yourself at the Fresh Thoughts dinner on Wednesday, April 25, when Chef Xavier will serve up delicious paiche. Learn more and make a reservation here.


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