Archive for the 'Green Tips' Category

Thoughtful Thursdays: Give a day for the Bay!

The National Aquarium has been engaging community volunteers and students in restoring a tidal marsh adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine since 1999.  In that time, more than 4,000 citizens have planted more than 55,000 native wetland grasses and removed more than 500,000 pieces of debris! The wetland is also used as a living classroom for hundreds of local Baltimore City students each year, giving them an opportunity to see local wildlife flourishing in the middle of an urban environment and teaching them the importance of habitat conservation and clean water.

You can help continue this tradition by taking part in our upcoming Fort McHenry Field Day event!

Fort McHenry Field Day!

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Saturday, October 6, 2012

Join the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) for debris cleanup and garden and trail maintenance at Fort McHenry on October 6, 2012. Our fall field day is a part of National Public Lands Day and the International Coastal Cleanup.

Click here to register!

Our coastal wetlands need YOUR help!

Click here to find out more about upcoming conservation events! 

Pre-registration is required for all conservation events. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Please contact if you have questions or would like additional details.

A Blue View: Sustainable Seafood

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.

September 11, 2012: Sustainable Seafood

Listen to John discuss sustainable seafood in this week’s A Blue View 

Sustainable seafood: hopefully, it’s a term you’re hearing more and more lately. Similar to “buy local” and “farm to table,” it’s a term centered on a rising consciousness of what we put on our plates. After decades of extravagant eating habits and a dependence on fast food, Americans are becoming reconnected with food. We go to farmers markets. We buy local and organic. We are paying attention.

Click here to learn more about sustainable seafood.

Thoughtful Thursday: Save our finned friends!

If you love sharks, like us, you most likely have a case of Shark Week fever! Sharks have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years (since before the dinosaurs).

Although Discovery Channel’s annual event has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning sales of fin headbands and shark costumes for pets, this special week also brings the important issue of shark conservation to the forefront of people’s minds. These beautiful and amazing creatures might be scary to some, but their numbers are dwindling at an even scarier rate. As many as one-third of shark species are headed for extinction if we don’t act now.

In the 31 years the National Aquarium, Baltimore, has been open, sharks have gone from a commercial fishery the federal government declared underutilized to the brink of extinction. In that time, hammerhead shark populations in the Atlantic have decreased by nearly 93%. Since 1986, all recorded shark populations in the northwestern Atlantic, with the exception of mako sharks, have declined by more than 50%.

Scientists warn that continual overfishing of sharks has decimated the population, which cannot sustain the current rates. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30% of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

Below are just a few easy ways you can support our finned friends:

Join the Shark Week Facebook, Twitter Campaign
Show your support and join the Shark Week thunderclap. Through this online platform, shark fans can lend their voice to the cause and spread the word about protecting sharks from extinction.

Protest Shark Fin Soup
Every year, fins from tens of millions of sharks are used for this traditional, non-nutritional meal. Many species have been depleted nearly to the brink of extinction. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout the ocean’s ecosystems. Locally, the depletion of sandbar sharks has caused an increase in cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay, which threatens the oyster industry. You can help by signing the Humane Society’s No Shark Fin Pledge.

Petition to List Great White Sharks Under the Endangered Species Act 
Great white sharks are disappearing. Help U.S. West Coast great whites get the protection they need by signing the Oceana petition.

Participate in a Shark Tagging Trip
Come aboard a National Aquarium shark tagging trip! Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior. Although our 2012 trips are sold out, we encourage you to sign up for a 2013 trip! Next year’s dates will be announced in spring 2013. 

Thoughtful Thursday: Join MARP in Ocean City, MD

Today: Marine Animal Rescue Fundraiser at Seacrets

Join the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program for a fun afternoon at Seacrets: Jamaica USA! Family activities take place from 3:30–5 p.m. in the family dining area, which includes crafts, games and other activities. Free!

From 5–9 p.m., the fun takes place in Seacrets’ main stage area. Enjoy fun games and a special raffle for a behind-the-scenes experience at the National Aquarium, Baltimore! The evening’s cover is a $5 donation to the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program. Every person who gives a donation will receive a free gift!

Seacrets: Jamaica USA
117 West 49th Street
Ocean City, MD 21842

Friday: Annual Maryland Dolphin Count

The fun doesn’t stop there! This Friday, July 20, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for the Annual Maryland Dolphin Count along the Atlantic coast of Maryland.

One of the joys of going to the beach is being able to see dolphins surf in the waves. The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program works hard throughout the year to monitor and respond to marine animals off of Maryland’s coast, while educating the public about keeping our waterways safe and healthy for the animals we love so much.

Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look about dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. We have learned that bottlenose dolphins use Maryland waters as a thoroughfare for migration, summertime breeding, and feeding along the way. With the help of volunteers we will continue to gather and analyze this information and learn more about the state of our waters and the dolphin populations that are found off our coast.

The annual Dolphin Count involves spending a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out a data sheet. Aquarium staff will be stationed at the following locations:

  • 40th Street in Ocean City on the beach
  • 130th Street in Ocean City on the beach
    Click here to find out more about the Ocean City beach locations

The event is FREE and open to the public. Just look for Aquarium staff in blue shirts looking toward the water for dolphins! The count will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

As a reminder, it is always helpful to bring the following items for comfort:

  • A beach chair or blanket
  • Water to keep hydrated
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Binoculars, optional

For more information on either event, email

So, how many dolphins do you think we’ll count?

Thoughtful Thursdays: Native Garden Planting at Pier 6 Pavilion

The National Aquarium, in partnership with Rams Head and the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, recently converted an unused area of turf on the western slope of the pavilion into a native plant garden!

Before and after

This new garden will help filter runoff and provide food and habitat for local pollinators and birds, as well as educate concert-goers on how beautiful and carefree a bay-friendly garden can be. Kyle Muellhauser, owner of Rams Head and a big supporter of the National Aquarium, approached our Conservation team and asked if we would be interested in using the space for an educational display. As we discussed ideas, we focused on something that would be attractive to visitors and also could inspire them to look at their own yards in a new way.

By planting native plants at home, you are not only providing food and habitat for wildlife, you are also decreasing the amount of fertilizer, water, and time needed to create and maintain an attractive yard. We chose native, drought-tolerant plants that would add interest to the site and would need little long-term care. Included in the list of plants were black-eyed susans, Christmas ferns, tickseed, blazing stars, American holly, joe-pye weed, and bee balm.

Two staff horticulturists took the lead on the project and designed the garden. They used similar plants and ideas from our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a much more extensive version of a Maryland native garden. By choosing species that are native to this area and are proven to thrive in downtown Baltimore, we can be assured that this new garden will continue to educate visitors for years to come. The next time you attend a concert at the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, don’t forget to check out the garden to see what is in bloom and get inspired to create your own bay-friendly garden. Click here to get started with ideas!

The crew!

Thoughtful Thursdays: A Greener Cleaner

During the last few months, the National Aquarium’s Fishes department has been transitioning all of its cleaning products to eco-friendly options.

Aquarist Beth Schneble said, “As a conservation organization, we feel strongly about the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and decided to do our part by not polluting the Chesapeake Bay watershed with chemicals. Because we want to promote the use of these products, we are sharing our choices with volunteers, tour groups, interns, and other staff members who might be considering changes for the sake of the environment. The green products are just as effective as the old ones, and they are helping to minimize the amount of chemicals rinsed down the drains daily.”

For general cleaning, they use white vinegar and microfiber cloths. Here’s a quick before-and-after snapshot of the other changes they made:

Before After
Blue Dawn dish detergent Green Works dish detergent; 97% natural, many ingredients derived from plants
Standard synthetic sponges Scotch Brite Greener Clean scrubs; 50% of the
scrubbing fibers are made from agave plants;
sponges are 100% plant-based fiber and 23%
recycled material
Ajax and Tide floor
Damp mop; biodegradable and phosphate-free
floor cleaner
Windex Brillianize Plastic Cleaner (used for exhibit windows); alcohol free, ammonia free and contains no sodium
sulfate or ethylene glycol
Plastic spray bottles Recycled spray bottles made from plastic jugs. Staff
add a diluted mixture of detergent and water to
decrease the amount of soap needed to clean dishes.
The containers are reusable, and supplies last longer.

And if you’re interested in making a change at home, here’s a super-easy recipe for a DIY all-purpose cleaner, which is easier on both the environment AND your budget:

Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Pour into a spray bottle and store.

Thoughtful Thursday: 10 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day

June 8 is World Oceans Day, and we invite you to celebrate with us on Friday, through the weekend and all year round!

On Friday, reef conservationist John Halas, who was the first winner of Oceana’s Ocean Heroes contest, will join National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli to dive in two of the Aquarium’s exhibits. Come to the Aquarium this weekend for oceans of fun activities!

There’s no better place to celebrate World Oceans Day than at the National Aquarium, but if you can’t make it for a visit, don’t worry. There are plenty of other things you can do to celebrate!

10 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day (All Year Round!)

Give a bag, get a bag!

  • Recycle or donate your plastic bags.
    Many grocery stores, dog parks and animal shelters have collection points. You can also use them as small trash can liners. And this weekend you can also bring your plastic bags to the National Aquarium to trade in for a fun World Oceans Day reusable one!
  • Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.
  • Make a pledge to help protect our world’s oceans, then share it with your friends & family! An easy way to share your pledge is with our downloadable Facebook cover photo. Click on the image below to download it!

Share your pledge to help our oceans on your personal social media platforms!

  • Wash your car over a grassy area or take it to a car wash that treats or recycles their water.
  • Nominate someone who has made or is making lasting contributions to ocean conservation for Oceana’s Ocean Heroes program.
    Ocean heroes can be scientists, educators, conservationists or more! Last year’s Junior Hero was an 8-year-old girl named Sophi Bromenshenkel, who raised money for shark conservation through bake sales and lemonade stands! Oceana is accepting nominations through June 20. 

You can find fun & stylist reusable water bottles at some of your favorite places, including the National Aquarium!

  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic single-use bottles.
  • Walk, bike, carpool or utilize mass transit.
  • Create a Pinterest board sharing inspiring ocean photos, messages and links. Click here to see ours!
  • Make a meal with sustainable seafood. (And please invite us over to join…just kidding!)
  • Join a waterfront cleanup.
    Even if you’re don’t live near a beach, there are still waterfront cleanups to join. Protecting our local streams, rivers and bays is very important, because they all eventually connect to the ocean. Click here to find out about our conservation volunteer opportunities.

Together, we can make a difference. Please help us celebrate World Oceans Day and let us know how you are going to celebrate!

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