Archive for the 'Green Tips' Category

A Blue View – Importance of Sand Dunes

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

November 6: The Importance of Sand Dunes

Listen to John discuss the importance of preserving and restoring our sand dunes! 

If you regularly visit the beach in the summer, you have surely noticed the sand dunes that line the Maryland and Delaware shore.

We all know what a dune is, but how are they formed, and why are they so important (not only to the health of our coastal habitats, but for the safety and protection of our beachfront communities)? Dunes provide a natural barrier for the ocean and can slow or prevent coastal flooding, provide protection from high winds and damaging storms, and prevent saltwater from reaching inland, threatening farming and ground water supplies.

For these reasons, many coastal communities in the United States have made dune preservation and restoration a priority. The paths and fencing to keep tourists off the dunes are part of these initiatives.

Other, more aggressive restoration projects are underway at shores around the country. The National Aquarium has been particularly involved in dune restoration in Virginia Beach for several years. To learn more about our sand dune restoration efforts and how YOU can get involved, click here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Chesapeake Bay Lined Seahorses

Many people don’t realize that there is a species of seahorse that calls the Chesapeake Bay its home.  The lined seahorse, hippocampus erectus, lives in shallow eel grass beds during the summer and moves to deeper submerged aquatic vegetation during the winter.  It can typically be found in the lower to middle Chesapeake Bay and, in particularly dry years when the water is saltier, as far north as Kent Island and the Bay Bridge.

Lined Seahorse

Lined Seahorse at National Aquarium, Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Michael Bentley

The lined seahorse varies drastically in both coloration and ornamentation.  Individuals can range from a yellowish color all the way down the spectrum to a nearly black color.  Some may have intricate ornamentation on their backs and their heads.  Additionally, they can change color slightly to match their surroundings.  As with all seahorses, males carry a pouch which they use to hold their young after breeding.  Breeding itself is complicated, it includes a drawn-out ritual of dancing and clicking between the male and female.  At the end of the courtship, females deposit their eggs into the male’s pouch where they are fertilized and held until ready to be released (about 2 weeks).

Lined Seahorse

Lined seahorses vary in color, pattern and ornamentation

Seahorses as a whole are ineffective swimmers.  They only use three of their fins (two pectoral fins and one dorsal fin) to swim.  They beat these fins rapidly to provide propulsion, but it is not enough to keep them stationary in even the most gentle of currents.  It is because of this that they require something to hold on to.  For our local lined seahorses in the Chesapeake, that something is often eel grass, as well as other submerged aquatic vegetation.  These grasses are vital to the seahorses’ ability to hunt, breed and just plain survive.  Seahorses are ambush predators and so they need something to anchor themselves to while hunting.  As they hide, prehensile tails attached to the eel grass, they wait for prey to float by their snouts.

lined seahorse

Lined seahorses have very small fins, making it hard for them to swim.

Unfortunately, eel grass is in trouble in the Chesapeake Bay.  Nutrient pollution from farms, sewage and other human activities often leads to large algal blooms, which grow near the surface of the water and block light that the grasses need to grow. Additionally, destructive fishing techniques like bottom trawling can rip up huge swaths of submerged aquatic vegetation, causing wide-spread loss of habitat.  Because they are so specialized in their habitat needs, lined seahorses have little hope of successfully hunting and breeding without the grasses.  These pressures are threatening seahorses worldwide. As a result of these and other conservation pressures, it is estimated that the world’s lined seahorse population has declined by at least 30 percent in the past 10 years. We must begin to take steps to preserve the local habitat, or we risk losing this very interesting and important Chesapeake Bay species.

What you can do to help:  Reduce waste runoff, which pollutes waters like the Chesapeake Bay.  

  • Control insects using natural controls instead of pesticides. Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources.
  • Dispose of motor oil and anti-freeze through a local service station or recycling center. A one-quart container of oil disposed of at the local landfill can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water and the water home of our seahorse friends.
  • Don’t pour anything down storm drains because they lead to the bay, which connects to the ocean. Most sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants do not remove poisonous cleaners, and yard and car-wash chemicals make their way into local waterways, and, eventually, into our ocean, harming animals along the way. You wouldn’t want to swim in those chemicals, and neither do animals!
  • Learn more!
    To find out more about the lined seahorse and the troubles threatening them in our area, listen to this special seahorse edition of WYPR’s Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton

A Blue View – True Blue Crabs

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

October 30, 2012: True Blue Crabs

Listen to John discuss the importance of making sustainable seafood choices!

A true Marylander knows a crabcake, but did you know that the crabmeat you are eating could have been imported from as far away as Asia? Maryland Department of Natural Resources has launched a new program to make it easier to tell where your crabmeat came from, and to identify it as “true blue” Maryland crab meat. This is important for local industry, but it is also an important part of a larger discussion on sustainable seafood. Knowing where our food comes from can help us all make better decisions about what we eat, for our health and the health of our planet.

To learn more about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources True Blue Maryland Crab certification program, click here.

To learn about the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, determine what seafood are on the “best choices” list, and download the Seafood Watch app, click here.

To learn about Fresh Thoughts dinners at the National Aquarium, click here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Green DIY Halloween Decor

In the spirit of this upcoming weekend full of Hallowmarine fun, we’re sharing some of our team’s favorite eco-friendly, decoration ideas! Not only are these decorations a great way to use recyclable materials, they are also more cost-effective than buying traditional decorations AND the steps are simple, making this a great project for families to do together!

Floating Ghost


  • cheesecloth or old fabric cut into a 12″ x 12″ square
  • an old tree ornament (preferably a clear globe)
  • string
  • a glow stick (optional)**
  • a permanent marker


1. Draw two large oval eyes on the ornament with permanent marker.

2. If using a glowstick, activate it and place it inside the ornament. We used a shorter, thicker glow stick like this one, but the thinner variety work as well!

3. Cover the lit ornament with your fabric, if you are using an old sheet, make sure it has a small hole cut in the center of the square to fasten the string to the ornament.

4. Attach string to the ornament’s top hook and hang your ghost! These make great outdoor ornaments for trees and look great on banisters or doorways.

**Stick your activated glow sticks in the freezer to keep them glowing longer! 

Box Mummies


  • a cracker or cereal box**
  • old white fabric such as sheets or pillowcases
  • googly eyes or eyes drawn onto scrap paper
  • tape and/or hot glue


1. Tear the fabric into strips approximately three inches wide

2. Wrap the strips around the box, securing with tape or tying them together (as seen above), until the entire box is completely covered!

3.  Attach the eyes to the top half of your box mummy!

**If you use an empty box, you’ll want to put something in the bottom as a weight so your mummies don’t tip over!

Milk Gallon Ghost


  • Plastic milk jugs (washed out)
  • Scissors
  • Permanent Marker
  • A glowstick (optional)


1. Make sure your gallon is washed out and completely dry

2. Cut off the top of the milk jug, making an approximate six inch hole

3. Draw a ghoulish face on the front facet of the milk jug, opposite sides of the handle

4. Activate the glow stick and drop it in!

Join us this weekend for more exciting crafting at our Hallowmarine events in DC and Baltimore!  

5 Gyres “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” Bike Tour Events at National Aquarium!

Patches of plastic and trash cover large portions of our blue planet. The largest patch, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is estimated to cover anywhere from 270,000 to 5,800,000 square miles of ocean. These congregations of pollution exist in all five gyres or large systems of rotating ocean currents. Without immediate action, this plastic pollution will continue to do irreparable damage.

Map of five ocean gyres or large systems of rotating ocean currents

5 gyres, a conservation organization striving to end plastic pollution, is spreading the word about the five main oceanic garbage patches by biking 1,400 miles down the Atlantic coast on their “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” tour.

Tomorrow, the 5 gyres team will be hitting the streets of Baltimore, Maryland  and making a stop at National Aquarium from 5 – 6:30 PM. The team will share photographs from their journey and talk about their research on the impact of plastic pollution and what the community can do to eliminate this crippling harm to local waters and marine life. Click here to RSVP for the Baltimore event! 

As the 5 gyres team continues their Atlantic tour, they will also be making a stop at our Washington, D.C. venue on Tuesday, October 23. Click here to RSVP for the Washington, DC event! 

For additional details on 5 gyres  and these upcoming events, click here.

5 Gyres sails to the most remote regions of our oceans to research plastic density in areas where no one has before, and takes the evidence of home to engage with government, industry and concerned citizens to drive common sense solutions to plastic pollution through policy, education and sustainable business. For more information, visit

National Aquarium Celebrates Rescued Turtle Release

This morning, National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) joined the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program for a release of three rescued sea turtles. The rehabilitated turtles, Olympian, a juvenile green sea turtle; Merigo, a juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle; and Charlie, a loggerhead sea turtle, came to both facilities either sick or injured.

Olympian, a 9-pound green sea turtle, was brought to the National Aquarium MARP team after being spotted floating off the coast of New Jersey in August. Olympian was treated for over-inflated lungs and possible pneumonia in the new MARP sea turtle rehabilitation center. Staff closely monitored the turtle’s behavior, diet and health and within a few weeks, found him resting on the bottom of his tank.

marine animal rescue

National Aquarium team members joined in South Carolina to say farewell and good luck to Olympian. Photo Courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Olympian has been outfitted with a satellite transmitter that allows the Aquarium team to track the location and speed following the release. These tags help researchers learn more about sea turtle migration and travel patterns.

The public is invited to keep an eye on Olympian’s journey at:

green sea turtle

Olympian, the green sea turtle, is outfitted with a satellite transmitter & the public is invited to keep an eye on Olympian’s journey! Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium


Merigo, a 9-pound juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was brought to the South Carolina Sea Turtle Rescue Program in January with a large group of Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles found cold-stunned off the coast of Massachusetts. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles but become hypothermic when exposed to cold water temperatures for extended periods of time. Kemp’s are the most endangered and the smallest of all sea turtle species, making them particularly vulnerable to severe changes in water temperature. Merigo is the last of the original January rescue turtles group to be released.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Merigo, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, prepped and ready to be released.
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Merigo getting ready to jump in!
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Charlie, a 150-pound loggerhead sea turtle, was found by the Department of Natural Resource’s research vessel, the Lady Lisa, in June. Charlie had a stingray barb in his front flipper and a puncture wound in his neck. South Carolina’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program provided antibiotics as well as wound treatment and he has now fully recovered from his injuries.

loggerhead rescue turtle

Being a much larger turtle, it took a few people to lift Charlie! Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

loggerhead sea turtle

Charlie, a loggerhead sea turtle, ready to jump in the warm waters!
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Prior to release, all three turtles had been very active in their rehab tanks, with healthy appetites and desire for enrichment activities.

About MARP

Every year, thousands of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals and manatees become sick or injured, often due to human-related reasons. National Aquarium is part of the Northeast Stranding Network, and is responsible for responding to live sea turtle and marine mammal strandings along the nearly 7,000 miles of coastline in Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coasts.

Since 1991, the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) has responded to more than 480 animals in distress and has rehabilitated and released nearly 100 marine animals back to their natural environment. Many of these animals are endangered or threatened, so every individual introduced back into the natural environment has the opportunity to add to the genetic diversity of the species.

Research, satellite tracking and outreach education are also significant components of MARP. Every animal that is rehabilitated and released is an opportunity to raise awareness and get the public involved in helping to conserve and protect our marine resources.

YOU can help protect marine animals too! Here are some quick tips:

  • Be responsible with your litter: recycle and dispose of trash properly, including fishing line, cigarette butts, six-pack rings, plastic debris, and metal cans.
  • Never release balloons. Balloons can fall into bodies of water, where animals confuse them for food or become entangled in them.
  • If you come across a stranded marine animal in Maryland that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at 410-373-0083, or the Maryland Natural Resources Police at 1-800-628-9944.
  • Donate to MARP! Every dollar counts!
  • Visit to find out even more ways that you can help!

A Blue View: 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

October 16: Clean Water Act 

Listen to John Racanelli discuss the importance of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource.

In 1972, in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff, this principal law was passed to protect the country’s waters. The act set a national goal, “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” with interim goals that all waters be fishable and swimmable where possible.

Arguably, no environmental legislation has had as much of an influence on our daily lives and health. Thanks to the Clean Water Act, huge strides have been made to protect our health and the health of the environment.

Want to help protect your local waterways and manage water supply? Here are some easy tips to help: 

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