Posts Tagged 'thanksgiving'

Week of Thanks: Laura Bankey on Urban Wildlife!

In the spirit of the holiday, our experts are sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Our fourth “Week of Thanks” post comes from the Aquarium’s Director of Conservation, Laura Bankey

As always, I am grateful to the many volunteers, students, and partners we’ve worked with this year – all working together with the common goal of protecting and restoring the animals and habitats that are vital to the health of our region.

This year, a unique focus has been directed towards wildlife and habitats within our urban boundaries. A new recognition is being placed on our shared space, our shared resources and the need to manage both with care for the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

In particular, the National Aquarium partnered with others in two major efforts this year to help improve and model the restoration and protection of urban wildlife habitat.

Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership: In September of this year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) launched a new initiative to engage urban communities in wildlife conservation, and officially designated Masonville Cove as the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge.

Masonville Cove

With 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, FWS identified the need to find innovative ways to share its mission with an expanded audience. This new Refuge system works with conservation organizations, like the National Aquarium, already on the ground in these urban areas to give many more Americans the opportunity to grow up with a real connection to the outdoors and wildlife. Masonville Cove was the first of eight partnerships announced this year.

Community Wildlife Habitat Certification: In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, the National Aquarium announced a joint effort to certify the city of Baltimore as a Community Wildlife Habitat. This program aims to provide food, shelter, cover and water to local and migrating urban wildlife. The community certification uses the same backyard habitat improvement practices and applies them on a city-wide scale, allowing for much greater impact and improved resources for birds, pollinators, etc.

national aquarium certified wildlife habitat

In Jim Sterba’s book, Nature Wars, he asserts “it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals, birds and trees in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history.” This is primarily due to the obvious increase in human population of this region over the past 400 years, and not so obviously, to the improved protection and management of natural areas within the same region.

If we value the new connections we can make to wildlife in these urban centers, we need to recognize our responsibility in creating a shared space that benefits both the human and animal communities. This year, I’m thankful to say that with the help of our partners and volunteers, National Aquarium has made many great strides in that direction!

I hope that others will continue to join us in making these important connections with wildlife to urban populations!

Week of Thanks: Jenn Dittmar on Rescue Partners!

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, our experts (and animal residents) will be sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Our third “Week of Thanks” post comes from the Aquarium’s Manager of Animal Rescue, Jenn Dittmar

This year, I am most thankful for the collaborative relationships that allow us to respond to marine animals in need, and properly rehabilitate and release them! Our team is grateful to be part of a network of stranding response and rehabilitation facilities – which jointly cover the Northeast Atlantic coast – that work together to accomplish a common goal. This effort could not be more evident in the last year, as many of the animals we have responded to and rehabilitated were part of a larger group effort. It really does take a village!

Together, our network has been able to accomplish some amazing things this year! Here are just a few highlights:

In December of 2012, our friends at New England Aquarium were facing a severe cold-stun season for sea turtles. They reached out to us for help, and we answered by admitting 3 green sea turtles, 3 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, and 7 loggerheads. This same friendship came into play in January of 2013, when we partnered together to transport 32 sea turtles to Jacksonville, Florida. The trip was long and tiring, but in the end, nothing will ever replace the gratification of sending healthy turtles back into the wild. It was such a memorable trip, we turned around and made the same trek, just 3 months later! This time, we transported and released a record breaking 52 sea turtles, which included turtles from 8 sea turtle rehabilitation facilities from New York to South Carolina.

seaturtletrek release national aquarium new england aquarium

After caring for a higher-than-normal influx of patients in 2012, our team was able to celebrate a huge milestone – the release of our 100th animal! We were excited to share this special day with our partners over at the National Marine Life Center!

national aquarium 100th release

Number 100 looking healthy and ready to journey back into the ocean!

All of this brings us to our current cold-stun sea turtle season. Due to a rapid drop in water temperature, our partners to the north have already seen an influx of sea turtle strandings. Last week, we shared that our team has admitted Maverick and Iceman, two Kemp’s ridleys that stranded along New Jersey, rescued by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. We have also just admitted a cold-stunned green sea turtle from Ocean City, Maryland yesterday, who was found and rescued by the US Coast Guard Station AND an additional 8 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridleys from the New England Aquarium that arrived late last night. All 10 of the Kemp’s are stable and eating, but will remain in rehab for several months.

national aquarium animal rescue

I am very thankful for the opportunity to be part of a truly amazing network of organizations, staff, and volunteers that support stranding response and the rehabilitation of these incredible animals!

Week of Thanks: Heather Doggett on Our Visitors!

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, our experts (and animal residents) will be sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Our second “Week of Thanks” post comes from the Aquarium’s Director of Visitor Programs, Heather Doggett

I am most thankful for the hundreds of thousands of children and families that visit the National Aquarium each year. This gratefulness stems from seeing families appreciate and connect with marine animals in our exhibits and then hearing how communities are banding together to bring about changes to our environment that would have been impossible to impact alone.

national aquarium education

For me, it may be as simple as seeing a family carefully recycling and composting in our Harbor Market Kitchen or simple talking with a fellow mom about the little choices we each make to better our planet for our kids and our ocean!

I am always surprised and delighted to see how families show their love of nature in many surprising ways. I’m not alone though, here’s what the other members of our team are thankful for:

“I am thankful that I am able to witness guest’s reactions to seeing new animals and hearing new facts. I feel like just by being there to witness someone watching a blacktip reef shark glide by for the first time, I am able to share in their excitement.”

 - Megan Moore, Visitor Programs Manager

“I am thankful for our guests for so many reasons! Watching the families bond together over the beauty of the aquatic world is definitely one of my favorite things! The smile on a child’s face because they are in awe of the animals we have here at our facility puts a smile on my face! We hopefully are making memories for children and their families that last a lifetime and inspire them to participate in conservation actions to help the animals they love so much. Hopefully we are fostering an appreciation for the aquatic world that the whole family can be a part of!”

- Maria Madero, Education Specialist

What are YOU thankful for this year? Tell us in the comments section!

Week of Thanks: Holly Bourbon on Blacktip Reef

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, our experts (and animal residents) will be sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Our first “Week of Thanks” post comes from the Aquarium’s Curator of Fishes, Holly Bourbon

This year, I’m extremely thankful for the successful opening of our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef.

blacktip reef sharks

As I’m sure you can imagine, the process of opening an exhibit (especially one with hundreds of animals) involves a tremendous amount of planning and work. Over the course of the last year, my team and I have:

  • Transported animals out of the old exhibit space
  • Received and cared for a variety of species, including 20 juvenile blacktip reef sharks
  • Monitored the creation and execution of the new exhibit space, ensuring it was a perfect replica of a reef habitat
  • Successfully introduced 700+ animals into their new home!

While the grand opening of Blacktip Reef back in August was a huge milestone, we’re still hard at work every day making sure that all of our animals are happy and healthy as they continue adjusting to this brand-new environment.

national aquarium fish introduction

My introduction of a slingjaw wrasse into Blacktip Reef in July!

New exhibits require a lot of time and work. I’m thankful that we’ve all had the opportunity to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our guests and learn a lot about our new neighbors in the process!

Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the process, start-to-finish, of creating Blacktip Reef:

What are YOU thankful for this year? Tell us in the comments section!

From our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

We have tons to be thankful for this year…From safely making it through Hurricane Sandy, to the many dedicated staff and volunteers who care for our animals and guests every day, and the millions of visitors who make connections with the aquatic world each year.

We are incredibly grateful to our members and the many donors who have helped us continue to achieve our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and the excitement coming in 2013 with the opening of Blacktip Reef. We thank everyone who has made a personal commitment to conserve and protect our blue planet, and for the essential and critical work being done by our conservation team and the volunteers that support them.

In the spirit of the holiday, we asked some of our staff in Washington, DC and Baltimore what they are giving thanks for this year: 

Liz on-set with one of our budding TV stars!

Liz Evans, Manager of  Animal Training

“I am thankful to be able to look out my office window and see waterfowl enjoying the floating wetlands. I am also thankful to be a new homeowner and looking forward to BayScaping my new yard with native plants!”

Brian Weiner, Email, Online Media & Web Development Specialist

“This year I am thankful for my health, wealth, friends, and family. I am also very thankful for my Grandmother’s homemade stuffing. It has changed my life.”

Emma held onto a baby gator during a taping with NBC Universal

Emma Connor, Marketing Manager for National Aquarium, Washington, DC

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to learn about and interact with animals on a regular basis. I think it’s safe to say that not many marketing gigs have that added perk! While I really marketing all of the wonderful and unique species that live at our Washington, DC, venue, it can also be a welcome change to spend some quality time with a critter after talking budget and attendance all day!”

Beth Scnheble, Aquarist

“I am extremely thankful to work with such amazing and fascinating animals that inspire me not only to work harder to provide them the best care I can, but also spread the word to our guests about their conservation and how important it is to ensure we as a society are doing what we can to preserve these incredible creatures for generations to come.”

Andrew Pulver, Animal Care Center and Marine Operations Manager

“Healthy animals and fabulous co-workers!”

Deb hanging out with one of our golden lion tamarins.

Debra Dial, Senior Aviculturist

“I am thankful to enjoy warm, flower-blooming, shorts-wearing, rain forest weather year-round! I am also grateful for this year’s bird hatchings and the knowledge that we have gained from each.”

Scott Barr, Consignment Sales Coordinator

“This year, I am thankful for the National Aquarium’s conservation paid time off!  It’s great to be part of an organization leading the conservation charge by spreading the message and actually taking

Scott used his conservation day to help rehab at Indian Head!

action.  As a lifelong Maryland resident, I know the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and the need to improve its health.  It’s rewarding to work within an organization that does more than just talk about the problems; spending a day outside planting bay grasses or repairing sand dunes is just plain fun, and the value to the bay makes it a worthwhile endeavor – getting paid while doing it is a windfall!”

John Seyjaget, Curator of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

 “We are thankful for baby ackies, star finches and gouldian  finches hatched this year!!! And of course our knob tailed geckos!”

Jenny Hamilton, Chair of Internal Conservation Committee

“I am thankful for my husband, my family, and my friends more than anything; they are my true source of joy. I am thankful for my coworkers; they are really, really good big-hearted people who relentlessly try to inspire others to care about the greater good. I am thankful for cranberry bread and changing leaves and walks with my dog.

And, for this kid:

I’m thankful there are other recycling weirdos out there. Together, we will keep our world clean! Polluters Beware!

Again, from our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! 


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