The National Aquarium is a 33-year-old conservation organization with one mission: to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.
Everyday, we live our mission through our exhibits, conservation in the field, education and animal rescue!
As 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to share some of our favorite conservation moments from the past year:
Maryland Shark Fin Bill
In May, Maryland became the first state on the East Coast to prohibit the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins!
Maryland’s new law is helping to curb the unjust killing of approximately 100 million sharks every year. Our legislative and conservation teams worked very closely with state officials on this important bill.
Over the last year, we were excited to see Maryland, Delaware and New York join California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington in granting sharks this crucial protection.
Animal Rescue Team’s 100th Release
In June, our Animal Rescue team reached an exciting milestone – their 100th release!
As #100, a green sea turtle named Willard, made his way to the water, our team was able to reflect on the last twenty years of care, ’round the clock rescue and treatment, and releases.
Each of the animals that we’ve cared for over the years, from a pygmy sperm whale to seals and sea turtles, has an incredible story. There’s no better triumph for our team than their return into the wild!
The Sea Turtle Trek
In April, our Animal Rescue team joined their colleagues from the New England Aquarium to transport and release 52 endangered sea turtles off the coast of Florida.
The 1,200 mile road trip was lovingly named the “Sea Turtle Trek.” The entire journey, filled with lots of driving and midnight stops to pick up turtles from other institutions along the East Coast, could only be described as a labor of love.
Did you miss out on our live updates from the road? Check them out here!
Our First-Ever Chief Conservation Officer
In July, Eric Schwaab joined the National Aquarium as our first-ever Chief Conservation Officer! This newly-created position has been developed to lead our efforts in becoming a national leader in aquatic conservation and environmental stewardship.
“We are committed to telling the conservation story more effectively…we want to use these exhibits to inspire greater appreciation and conservation action, among visitors, throughout the community and even among those who have not yet visited here in Baltimore” – Eric Schwaab
Want to get more insight into Eric’s future plans for the National Aquarium? Check out our interview with him here!
James Cameron Visits Washington, DC
In June, ocean pioneer and Academy-Award winning filmmaker, James Cameron, visited the nation’s capital as part of his DeepSea America Tour.
The purpose of this nation-wide trek, with his submersible the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, was to inspire future generations of ocean explorers!
Our CEO John Racanelli and education team were delighted to be on-site during Cameron’s stop to engage the community in STEM education.
The Endangered Species Act Turns 40!
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Enacted by Congress in 1973, this legislation provides protection for species that are endangered or threatened and conserves the habitats their survival depends upon.[youtube http://youtu.be/DojGPBV4U0w]
Zoos and Aquariums, including National Aquarium, work closely with the federal government to both conserve habitats and raise public awareness of these amazing species.
In the last few decades, the Act has successfully prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species it protects – making it one of the most effective conservation laws in our nation’s history!
Masonville Cove Becomes First Urban Widlife Refuge
In September, the US Fish & Wildlife Service named Masonville Cove the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge.
This new initiative is an effort to make more of our country’s beautiful, natural areas accessible to all populations, especially urban ones!
Ultimately, the goal is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.