Posts Tagged 'spring'

Animal Updates – March 30

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 WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Reef Scorpionfish 
We’ve added three Reef Scorpionfish to our Caribbean Camouflage exhibit.

Most scorpion fishes live on or near the bottom. They lie in crevices, in caves and under overhangs. This type of scorpionfish can change its color to better match its surroundings. For example, if it’s near sand, it will camouflage to look like sand while if it’s near red rocks, it will change its coloration to match the rocks. Thus he can blend in with its surroundings and go unnoticed by its prey.

Spring Blooms 
Our Cochliostema odoratissimum is currently in bloom in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.

This large herbaceous plant is a tank-epiphyte, meaning the leaves form pockets at their bases to collect and store water. The leaves later absorb the water through small leaf hairs called trichromes. This characteristic gives this plant a very bromeliad-like appearance, making this species sometimes called false bromeliad; however, because this plant is rare in cultivation it has no scientifically recognized common name.

The leaves of the plant can grow in-excess of 1 meter in length and grow in a rosette, meaning its stem does not elongate and is comprised of overlapping leaf bases. The flowers erupt from clusters that form on the top of stalks, originating from the base of the leaf whorls. These clusters each produce a couple dozen flowers and must be hand pollinated in cultivation in order to produce fruit. The flowers have a deep blue to purple coloration and are highly fragrant.

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

Celebrate the songs of spring

Mother Nature has subtle ways of reminding us that winter is quickly coming to an end. The trees are beginning to bud, and early bulbs are peeking through the earth where just a few weeks ago snow was piled high. Mother Nature is also telling us to listen. Do you hear the birds and frogs singing? Yes, frogs. They are quite good singers!

Frogs are emerging to announce the new season. Each winter frogs go into hibernation. Wood frogs actually freeze, but do not die. As the temperature drops, a wood frog will bury itself. It stops breathing, its heart stops beating, and the water in its body turns to ice. Come spring, these frogs are the first to emerge, as early as February and March, even with ice still on the ponds. Listen for the males calling. It sounds something like quacking or clucking.

The spring peepers are the next group to begin their chorus, and they are extremely vocal. This small frog, the size of a thumb nail, can produce sounds louder than a vacuum cleaner. An entire chorus of peepers (120dB) can top the decibel level of a rock concert (115 dB)! Though nocturnal, the peeper gets its name from its call. It peeps once a second!

Continue reading ‘Celebrate the songs of spring’

Spring cleaning and greening

Spring is here! Flowers are in bloom, grass is getting greener, and the water warming- but is it getting cleaner?conservationplantingblog

As stated the EPA’s annual Chesapeake Bay report, the Bay Barometer, despite small successes in certain parts of the ecosystem and specific geographic areas, the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay did not improve in 2008. The Bay continues to have poor water quality, degraded habitats and low populations of many species of fish and shellfish. Based on these three areas, the overall health averaged 38 percent, with 100 percent representing a fully restored ecosystem.

As we hear all of the time, one of the greatest challenges to restoration is continued population growth and development, which destroys forests, wetlands and other natural areas. The impact of human activity is overwhelming nature and offsetting cleanup efforts.

Almost 17 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The actions that residents take everyday affect nature and impact the health of local creeks, streams and rivers, and ultimately the Bay. As you set off to enjoy the season and the outdoors,  remember what you can be doing to help protect our waters and the animals that inhabit them:

  • Pick up after your pet
  • Use phosphorus-free dish detergent
  • Volunteer for a watershed group (like the National Aquarium)
  • Drive your car less
  • Don’t fertilize your lawn
  • Plant native trees and shrubs
  • Install a rain barrel and rain garden

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