On June 24, we welcomed the arrival of a puffin hatchling! This was just the second successful puffin chick to hatch at the National Aquarium. During breeding season, puffins lay only one egg in a clutch. If that egg is crushed or infertile, they may replace the egg, but generally puffins lay just one egg and raise one chick a year.
The Atlantic puffin hatched after a 37-day incubation period. During that time, the parents–named Victor and Vixen–took turns incubating the egg by nestling it between their body and wing to keep it warm. Upon hatching, the chick weighed just 40 grams. For the first month, the parents cared for the chick in their burrow, while the Aquarium aviculturists monitored the chick’s growth and health carefully.
It is always best to keep young animals with their parents whenever possible. In this case, the parents did a great job helping the young chick grow and learn how to be a puffin! After one month, the chick weighed more than 350 grams and was eating 10-15 fish a day.
Continue reading ‘Name our new puffin chick!’
From Ken Howell: Curator of Rain Forest exhibits
We are very excited to announce a new addition to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!
Earlier in September, during the daily check-up of our two-toed sloths, we found that Rose had given birth to an infant. The infant, approximately 8 inches long at birth, was born fully haired and already has its trademark claws. The baby sloth is actively clinging and crawling about on its mom, and looks strong and healthy.
This birth of a baby sloth, the first for the Aquarium, was certainly a ‘hoped for’ event but wasn’t planned. Despite the fact that the two-toed sloth is fairly common, many of its most basic life history facts are still a mystery. The discrepancy is due to the fact that actual mating is rarely observed.
Continue reading ‘From the Curator: A baby in the Rain Forest!’
Baby swell sharks have begun to hatch at the National Aquarium in DC. This year the aquarists were watching over six fertilized eggs, and three have hatched this summer. The fourth and fifth are expected shortly, and the sixth still has a few months of gestation.
The picture to the right shows the latest three in their isolation basket. The swell shark is so-named because it pumps water into its stomach, causing its body to swell up. It is nocturnal, and grows to approximately three feet.
Be sure to visit www.nationalaquarium.com to learn more about all of the fascinating creatures living at the National Aquarium in DC!
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is proud to announce the pregnancy of two bottlenose dolphins! Chesapeake and Shiloh are both expected to give birth in August.
Director of Animal Health Leigh Clayton works closely with the Marine Mammal team to manage the well being of the dolphins at the Aquarium. Leigh and her staff utilize ultrasounds to confirm pregnancy in dolphins. Blood hormone values (specifically progesterone) are also measured routinely and are often the first indication that an animal may be pregnant.
However, progesterone levels also increase during ovulation and may remain elevated for weeks after a normal ovulation. In addition, pseudopregnancy is possible in dolphins and hormone levels may remain elevated as if the animal is pregnant, but no fetus is present. Ultrasound is the only way to reliably confirm pregnancy. The gestational sac can be visualized as early as 4 weeks after conception and fetal heartbeat and skeletal structures can be seen as early as 6 weeks, though in our setting these are more typically seen at 8 weeks. When a pregnancy is suspected, the veterinarians and trainers work together to obtain ultrasound exams on the animals every 1-2 weeks.
Please continue visiting WaterLog for the latest updates from the Marine Mammal team as the Aquarium prepares for the births of two calves!
Southern stingray pups are born in the Wings in the Water exhibit on a regular basis. Our divers quickly catch the newborns and move them to a behind-the- scenes area so they don’t end up as food for the larger rays. These juveniles are shipped to other accredited institutions around the country.
Southern stingrays have a gestation period of about six months. The eggs hatch within the mother’s body, and the pups, up to ten in a litter, average 9.5 inches across at birth and their “wings” are curled up – like crepes.