Archive for the 'News' Category

Here’s to a Star-Spangled Summer!

We’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and “The Star-Spangled Banner” with the launch of a new, limited-edition program here at National Aquarium, Star-Spangled Friday Nights!

star spangled friday nights

Kicking off July 11th, guests who enter the Aquarium after 5:00 pm will enjoy a special admission price of $18.12 on Friday evenings!

Our star-spangled nights will include themed scavenger hunts and animal encounters! Snacks and beverages, including beer and wine, will also be available for purchase.

Also in celebration of the anniversary, we will be kicking off our fall line-up of the Marjorie Lynn Bank lecture series with a special panel titled “The Battle of Baltimore: How Our Harbor Helped Define America” on September 10th. The lecture will bring historians and authors together to discuss the significant role the Inner Harbor played in the War of 1812.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research vessel, the Okeanos Explorer, will also be docked on Pier 4 and open to visitors from September 10-16th!

For more information about all things star-spangled here at the Aquarium, visit aqua.org/summer.

Animal Rescue Update: Cold-Stunned Turtles Released!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

On June 21st, the National Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center jointly released sea turtles from this year’s cold-stun season!

Throughout their stay with the National Aquarium, each of the turtles we released had a different reason for being in rehabilitation, and a different path to recovery.

Let’s take a closer look at Maverick, Charlie, and Tombstone:

Maverick was one of the season’s first Kemp’s ridley patients in November 2013.  He was a cold-stun off of the New Jersey coastline.  Upon arrival here in Baltimore, our husbandry and veterinary staff put Maverick on antibiotics and monitored a shell fracture that we found under all of the algae on his carapace (top part of the shell).

Maverick

Maverick being released yesterday!

After just a couple months, the fracture was starting to stabilize and rejoin at the base of the carapace.  At an entry weight of 1.04kg, we are proud to say that Maverick has put on weight and is currently 2.58kg, eating about 38g of capelin, blue crabs, squid, and shrimp per day.

Charlie, also a Kemp’s ridley, was one of the more intensive cases for our team this year. During his initial exams here in Baltimore, we discovered a small mass near Charlie’s heart. At the time we found the mass, Charlie had also begun to refuse food, and became increasingly lethargic. Husbandry and Veterinary staff put all of their effort into finding out why this mass had developed and how to treat it.

Charlie

Charlie making his way to the water during yesterday’s release!

We started an innovative form of baby aspirin therapy, and the mass started to decrease in size. Earlier this month, our vet staff cleared Charlie for release. We could not be more proud of how far he has come!

Tombstone, who joined our ranks from Cape Cod, presented an interesting housing situation for our team. Tombstone started his rehabilitation with two other pool-mates, and staff noticed that he would float at the surface of the water, another turtle would take the midline of water, and the third would rest and eat along the bottom.  To ensure that the turtles are able to forage and swim properly out in the wild, we didn’t want to further encourage floating at the surface, so we transferred Tombstone to a separate pool by himself.

Tombstone

Tombstone being released at Point Lookout State Park!

Between battling the current and chasing food, he finally learned to dive to the bottom and look more comfortable in the water, exhibiting more normal behaviors!

Stay tuned for more updates on our remaining sea turtle patients! 

national aquarium animal rescue expert

Conservation Update: Big News Out of the “Our Ocean” Conference

President Obama’s newest executive order, announced earlier today at the Our Ocean conference in Washington, DC, will go a long way towards protecting our oceans.

Primary areas of focus are increasing marine-protected areas, fighting illegal fishing practices worldwide and supporting sustainably-caught seafood.

We applaud these efforts and encourage everyone to support the work of international, national, local governments and conservation organizations in our efforts to create a healthy ocean – for all of us.

For more on the Department of State’s first-ever Our Ocean conference, click here

Laura Bankey

An Exciting Week for Ocean Conservation

This is an exciting time for the National Aquarium to be stepping up its engagement in the ocean conservation arena.  We are fortunate to be a part of several special events this month calling national and international attention to some very important issues.

National Aquarium is proud to have sponsored and be participating in Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2014, an event that promotes dialogue among all sectors of the ocean community and with the public around critical current issues. After three days of inspiring conversation, we look forward to being a part of the next steps as we help improve ocean health, protect special ocean places, ensure sustainable fisheries and plan for new uses like renewable energy production.  We applaud our partners at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for hosting another great ocean conservation event.

The momentum continues, and I am pleased to have been invited to represent the National Aquarium at the Department of State’s Our Ocean Conference next week. More than ever, our ocean conservation challenges require work at the international scale.  Protecting ocean health, managing migratory fish stocks and ensuring sustainable fisheries increasingly require coordination among countries and local communities around the globe.

Focused on the key pillars of Sustainable Fisheries, Marine Pollution, and Ocean Acidification, the conference will convene an international audience around pressing environmental issues.  Many of these same issues are also at the forefront of the National Aquarium’s conservation priorities.  This meeting of the minds aims to develop innovative solutions to some of the oceans’ biggest problems.

[youtube http://youtu.be/sOifRu6WdXs]

To highlight the forward-thinking solutions being sought, the event kicks-off this weekend with a Fishackathon.  Along with three other sites across the US, National Aquarium will convene hackers, coders, and other IT specialists to work on solutions to fisheries management problems in developing countries.  We are delighted to be a host site to facilitate the use of modern technology to address sustainable fishery issues in this new and exciting way.

I will not be the only National Aquarium presence at Our Oceans Conference – volunteer youth from our Climate Change Interpreters high school program will be assisting NOAA staff at the Science on a Sphere station in the expo hall.  Delegates from around the world will be able to learn how the National Aquarium uses this technology to engage our guests in active and solution-focused conversations around climate change.  In the past four years over 350 high school volunteers have become skilled in these communication techniques.  We are proud to have these outstanding young people represent our organization!

The Our Ocean Conference may be by invitation only, but engaging in ocean conservation is not.   Make your voice heard through social media campaigns or public comments on environmental legislation.  Or, take direct action by pledging to make a change in the things that each of us does daily in support of our oceans.  Volunteering for a a local conservation project, energy conservation, Bay friendly landscaping and wise seafood choices are just a few of the things each of us can do to support conservation of our oceans. To learn more about opportunities to take action, click here 

Eric-Schwaab

 

 

 

Turtle Tuesday: An MRI Scan For Blade

Blog-Header-AnimalExpertUpd

Participating in the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. As you probably already know, the National Aquarium is part of a stranding response network that encompasses the North East region of the United States. Many of the turtles we handle initially are found as “cold stunned” along Cape Cod beaches in Massachusetts.

New England Aquarium stabilizes animals and rehabilitates many, but often reaches out to partner organizations such as us for assistance. This was the case for one of the animals currently in our care, Blade, who came to us last December.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

Blade initially had a large fracture of the upper and lower shell (carapace and plastron) that healed nicely over the first two months of rehabilitation. After initially improving, Blade started to decline significantly in mid-February. Diagnostics showed he was septic (systemic bacterial infection) with a resistant strain of Enterococcus bacteria.

His front flipper digit joints began to swell and it appeared he had bacterial infections developing in them and he stopped using his front limbs. This is very rare in sea turtles; normally digit infections don’t impact their swimming ability.

Radiographs and a CT scan showed the shoulder joints were infected as well. Biopsy and cultures confirmed the joint infection was due to the same bacteria found in the blood.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

After aggressive antibiotic therapy and general supportive care, we were able to resolve the sepsis and distal limb infections and he showed some improvement in strength, but remained unusually quiet and weak and refused to use the front limbs. A physical therapy program was started to improve limb motion.

In order to check for bacterial abscesses in his organs and brain, we took Blade for an MRI scan at Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake. There were was no evidence of organ or brain abscesses found on MRI, although the shoulder joints were abnormal, as expected.

**Photos courtesy of Red Leash Photography

In the last month, Blade has continued to improve clinically and we are planning to do an arthroscopy to remove abnormal and potentially infected tissue from the shoulder joints. Our ultimate goal is to get Blade to a point where we can be released.

Stay tuned for more updates on Blade as his rehabilitation continues!

national aquarium Leigh Clayton

Animal Update – June 6

national aquarium animal update

Purple Tang in Surviving Through Adaptation

The purple tang’s coloration ranges from a light violet to a deep blue. They can be easily recognized by the small dark spots that appear on their face!

purple tang

Did you know? These vibrantly colored tangs can be found throughout the coral reefs of the Red Sea. Tangs are generally quite active swimmers and primarily graze on algae!

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

A Delicate Balance: Inside the Jellies Lab

Described as mesmerizing, beautiful, even otherworldly, jellies are unique in the animal kingdom. Not technically fish, they have no heart, brain, blood or bones and are 95 percent water.

Most closely related to corals and anemones, their pulsing translucent bod­ies drift an unchoreographed dance based mostly on water currents, not choice.

The full life cycle of these incredible animals actually takes place at the Aquarium, as baby jellies grow up and are cultured by skilled aquarists in what is referred to as the jellies lab.

Bringing Up Jelly

Jennie Janssen, Manager of Changing Exhibits, is in charge of the jellies lab, located on Pier 5 in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, and Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance on Pier 4 inside the National Aquarium.

Janssen and her team of aquarists are responsible for many species, includ­ing moon jellies, lion’s mane jellies and Atlantic sea nettles.

In the lab, the Jellies team cares for a community of jellies, raising them until they are large enough to go on exhibit. Sometimes there are hundreds of babies being cul­tured, at other times as few as five or six.

During a visit to Jellies Invasion, guests can sometimes see what look like baby jellies pulsing alongside the adults, but in fact they are more like teenagers. Jelly babies are extremely small, developing from tiny polyps (resembling small sea anemones) that attach to the inside of their exhibits.

Polyps are collected from exhibit walls and viewing windows and allowed to attach to petri dishes in the lab. There, they are fed, kept clean and encouraged to strobilate, releasing free-swimming ephyrae. At just 2 millimeters, these ephyrae are easy to miss, except by those with a trained eye.

moon jelly polyps

Once the ephyrae are released, they ride the water flow into a larger container where they grow until they are big enough to be put on exhibit.

There’s No Place Like Home

While specific jelly species have different exhibit needs, they are generally cared for in the same ways. Jellies eat zooplankton, small fish and other jellies in the wild. Jellies at the Aquarium eat brine shrimp, grown by the Jellies team, two or three times per day. As the jellies grow, their food gets larger as well.

A precise balance of water flow, salinity and tem­perature is critical to a viable jelly-breed­ing program, and sophisticated water measurement technology allows aquarists to keep careful watch over the conditions.

jellies lab behind the scenes

The size and shape of the tank, in addition to the direction and speed of water flow, are important in ensuring the jellies don’t rub against the walls or become tangled. The aquarists on staff are constantly tweaking the instruments and engineering the tanks to make sure that flow is perfect for these drifters.

In fact, Janssen says that getting that water flow rate just right is one of the hallmarks of a great jelly aquarist. And the Aquarium’s Jellies team is among the best. Not only do aquarium-raised jellies appear on exhibit here in Baltimore, but many are sent to other aquariums for their exhibits…kind of like a jellies invasion!


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