Posts Tagged 'chesapeake bay'

A Blue View: World Water Day

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.

March 20, 2013: The Streams of Maryland

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss the important role
freshwater plays in the survival of all living things!

Held annually on March 22, the United Nation’s World Water Day brings attention to the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Globally, freshwater accessibility is critical for the survival of all living things, yet it is a significantly threatened resource. In Maryland, our own freshwater streams and rivers need our help as they run to the largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay.

Even if you don’t live on the water, the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which encompasses more than 64,000 square miles to six states and the District of Columbia, affects each of us every day. More than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers weave through the Chesapeake’s vast watershed. In fact, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, we all live within 15 minutes of a stream, making freshwater health not just a Maryland issue, but a backyard issue as well!

Healthy streams are organically balanced, with enough oxygen to support life. Decaying plants and animal waste provide a balanced amount of nutrients, and the water is not too acid or too alkaline. In these healthy streams, runoff is kept to a minimum, and chemicals from farms, factories, and residential areas do not make their way into the stream. Countless species rely on healthy freshwater ecosystems to thrive. Fish, snakes, turtles, frogs, invertebrates…DNR states that Maryland is home to more than 100 species of fish, 20 species of salamander, and 10 species of turtle, just to name a few stream-dwellers.


The diamondback terrapin is just one of the many species of reptiles that rely on Maryland waterways!

In a recent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), just 45 percent of sampled streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed were rated fair, good, or excellent. As outlined in the EPA’s Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the goal is to improve the health of the watershed so that 70 percent of sampled streams measure fair or better by 2025.

To help increase our understanding of stream health, DNR coordinates a team of volunteers who collect important stream quality data across the state. This program, called Stream Waders, is the volunteer component of the Maryland Biological Stream Survey. The use of these volunteers allows more streams to be sampled, giving a big-picture view of Maryland’s waterways. Volunteers participate in a one-day training session, then spend a couple days in March or April collecting aquatic invertebrate samples from stream beds.

The study of aquatic invertebrates, such as mayflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies, is instrumental in the analysis of streams. Because invertebrates vary in their sensitivity to pollutants, a healthy stream has both sensitive and tolerant invertebrate species while an unhealthy one would have only pollution-tolerant species. Ultimately, the Stream Waders data is used in DNR reports and is available for review on their website.

In our daily lives, each of us can take steps to help keep our community streams healthy. Take a walk along a nearby stream and properly dispose of trash you find along its banks. Limit pesticide use in your yard so that it doesn’t make its way into freshwater supplies. Many local organizations host stream cleanups or wetland restoration events, so volunteer your time. Even just one day a year can make a real difference to a stream in your community.

Take action to keep our streams today by joining our Conservation team at one of our upcoming cleanups

Happy Birthday, Chesapeake!

National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday! Chesapeake, one of our female dolphins, born at the Aquarium on March 7, 1992, is 21 years old today!

Guests can recognize Chesapeake by her short rostrum!

Guests can recognize Chesapeake by her short rostrum!

About Chesapeake

Name meaning: She was the first of dolphin to be born at the Aquarium, so our trainers decided to name her in honor of the Chesapeake Bay!

Gender: Female

Weight: 380 pounds

Chesapeake with her calf Bayley shortly after her birth!

Chesapeake with her calf Bayley shortly after her birth!

Family Tree: Daughter of Shiloh (dam) and Akai (sire), mother to our youngest dolphin, Bayley!

How to Recognize Her: Chesapeake’s body is shorter overall and plump! Guests can recognize her by her short rostrum and slight under bite!


Chesapeake has a shorter overall body than the rest of our dolphins!

Trainer’s Note: Chesapeake is very energetic! She does a lot of high-energy behaviors like flips, breaches and porpoising! She eats about 39 pounds of fish a day!

Can’t come wish Chesapeake a Happy Birthday in person this weekend? Leave her a message on this interactive well wisher wall or on our Facebook page

Better yet, spend some one-on-one time with our birthday girl and her friends during our Dolphin Mornings behind-the-scenes immersion tour THIS Saturday, March 9!

MPT Feature Program: The Great Aquarium Treasure Hunt

Throughout 2012, National Aquarium staff worked closely with Maryland Public Television to film and produce an educational, 30-minute special, “The Great Aquarium Treasure Hunt!”

Tune in to watch the program at 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013!

“The Great Aquarium Treasure Hunt”
This educational, live-action, family program follows the fictional students of South Town Middle school on their class field trip through the National Aquarium! But this time there’s a catch – Science Teacher Mr. Hedgeman has turned it into a Treasure Hunt!

The great aquarium treasure hunt with MPT at National Aquarium - Dewey and Trevor

Join Dewey and Trevor on a wild exploration of the National Aquarium, home to thousands of species of marine life!

Throughout their journey, the students meet and learn from National Aquarium experts.  They explore marine life of the Chesapeake Bay, go “down under” to visit the crocodiles of Australia, discover the frogs in an indoor rain forest and submerge into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for an up-close look at the array of deep sea life from sharks to rays to dolphins.

In the end, Dewey and Trevor will explore the entire aquarium, but can they be the first team to have all the answers before it’s too late? Tune in to find out!

Check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the filming below! 

A special thanks to all National Aquarium staff who were involved in the filming, especially our amazing on-screen stars: Allison, Beth, Jessica, Kyle and Andy!

In addition to airing on MPT, the program will be played at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital through its internal cable systems in patient rooms and waiting rooms.

Major funding for The Great Aquarium Treasure Hunt is provided by LifeBridge Health.

Don’t forget to tune in to MPT for the premiere of “The Great Aquarium Treasure Hunt” at 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013!

Calling All Students! Do You Have a Passion for Conservation?

National Aquarium announces an exciting paid opportunity for undergraduate students interested in the conservation sciences!

Starting in summer 2013, we will host four students for an eight-week hands-on program focused on Chesapeake Bay ecology and marine mammal conservation. This program helps foster the students’ understanding, appreciation and stewardship of our local aquatic habitats (and the plants and animals they support!). Our hope is that by exposing students to these experiences, it will inspire them to pursue a future career in the conservation sciences.

Interns will be fully immersed in the field throughout the program!

Interns will be fully immersed in the field throughout the program!

The Aquarium is actively involved in conservation educationapplied restoration of habitats and preservation of marine animal species and provides a unique platform for student involvement.  Students are encouraged to participate in all facets of habitat restoration and animal rehabilitation and release.

Students are given the opportunity to assist on important conservation trips, like our annual shark tagging.

Students are given the opportunity to assist on important conservation trips, like our annual shark tagging.

Our chosen participants will also have the opportunity to work with Aquarium partners also actively engaged in conservation, research and management issues.  These issues involve a variety of state, local and federal government and non-government organizations.  Students will have the opportunity to make very important contacts within the conservation field.

In addition to being paid for their time in the program, students will also be offered housing in a nearby facility.  Applications are being accepted now! Please contact the Conservation Department at 410-659-4274 or for an application packet.  The deadline for applications is March 15, 2013. 

A Blue View: The Environment Up Close at the 2013 Maryland General Assembly

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.

January 15, 2013: The Start of the Maryland General Assembly

Listen to John discuss the important environmental legislation that will be debated during this session of the Maryland General Assembly. *

The 433rd legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly opened on January 9, and with it, several environmental issues that will shape the future of life in Maryland are being debated.

Issues like shark finning, plastic consumption, hydraulic fracturing and wind energy affect the people of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed every day, and the quality of life in our state going forward.

Our government affairs team will be hard at work in Annapolis this year to advocate on behalf of these environmental initiatives.

Want to stay up to date on National Aquarium’s legislative efforts?  CLICK HERE to sign up for e-mail updates!

*Editor’s note: The audio and script for this week’s A Blue View incorrectly referred to 2013’s legislative session as the 429th. It is the 433rd.

A Crucial Moment for “The Most Important Fish in the Sea”

UPDATE: On Friday, regulators voted to limit the catch of this crucial Atlantic species by 20 percent. The conservation community has celebrated this vote as an important first step towards the end of overfishing of this important little fish, the Atlantic menhaden.

Menhaden are reflective of so many other critical species of fish that need to stay in the water to “fulfill their ecological role.”

To read more on Friday’s vote, check out this article from The New York Times.

In the marine ecosystems from Maine to Florida, one little silver fish, the menhaden, serves as a critical food source for wildlife like whales, dolphins, sharks, eagles and even other fish like tuna, cod and striped bass.

Menhaden fishPhoto courtesy of Pew

Menhaden fish
Photo courtesy of Pew Environment Group

This fish is referred to as “the most important fish in the sea” by researchers, yet overfishing is causing the overall population of menhaden to plummet at historic rates.

According to the Pew Environment Group, more menhaden are now being caught than any other fish along the Eastern seaboard, including in areas like the Chesapeake Bay where a majority of the catch comes from.

Every year,  more than 410 million pounds of these fish are plucked from the Atlantic to be used in everything from fertilizer and pet food to feed for farm animals and farm-raised fish. Menhaden are also used in dietary supplements, as a high source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies suggest that the rapid decrease in the number of available menhaden will soon have a crippling impact on East Coast’s marine food web and commercial and recreational fishing industries that fish cod and striped bass.

Species like the tarpon will suffer without enough menhaden, their primary source of food!

Species like the tarpon will suffer without enough menhaden, their primary source of food!

On December 14, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is set to cast crucial votes on the management and monitoring of menhaden fishing stocks.

Without a coast-wide catch limit, the species has little chance for recovery.

Join the conversation and show your support for menhaden by using #menhaden on Twitter and/or share this blog post with your friends on Facebook

From our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

We have tons to be thankful for this year…From safely making it through Hurricane Sandy, to the many dedicated staff and volunteers who care for our animals and guests every day, and the millions of visitors who make connections with the aquatic world each year.

We are incredibly grateful to our members and the many donors who have helped us continue to achieve our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and the excitement coming in 2013 with the opening of Blacktip Reef. We thank everyone who has made a personal commitment to conserve and protect our blue planet, and for the essential and critical work being done by our conservation team and the volunteers that support them.

In the spirit of the holiday, we asked some of our staff in Washington, DC and Baltimore what they are giving thanks for this year: 

Liz on-set with one of our budding TV stars!

Liz Evans, Manager of  Animal Training

“I am thankful to be able to look out my office window and see waterfowl enjoying the floating wetlands. I am also thankful to be a new homeowner and looking forward to BayScaping my new yard with native plants!”

Brian Weiner, Email, Online Media & Web Development Specialist

“This year I am thankful for my health, wealth, friends, and family. I am also very thankful for my Grandmother’s homemade stuffing. It has changed my life.”

Emma held onto a baby gator during a taping with NBC Universal

Emma Connor, Marketing Manager for National Aquarium, Washington, DC

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to learn about and interact with animals on a regular basis. I think it’s safe to say that not many marketing gigs have that added perk! While I really marketing all of the wonderful and unique species that live at our Washington, DC, venue, it can also be a welcome change to spend some quality time with a critter after talking budget and attendance all day!”

Beth Scnheble, Aquarist

“I am extremely thankful to work with such amazing and fascinating animals that inspire me not only to work harder to provide them the best care I can, but also spread the word to our guests about their conservation and how important it is to ensure we as a society are doing what we can to preserve these incredible creatures for generations to come.”

Andrew Pulver, Animal Care Center and Marine Operations Manager

“Healthy animals and fabulous co-workers!”

Deb hanging out with one of our golden lion tamarins.

Debra Dial, Senior Aviculturist

“I am thankful to enjoy warm, flower-blooming, shorts-wearing, rain forest weather year-round! I am also grateful for this year’s bird hatchings and the knowledge that we have gained from each.”

Scott Barr, Consignment Sales Coordinator

“This year, I am thankful for the National Aquarium’s conservation paid time off!  It’s great to be part of an organization leading the conservation charge by spreading the message and actually taking

Scott used his conservation day to help rehab at Indian Head!

action.  As a lifelong Maryland resident, I know the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and the need to improve its health.  It’s rewarding to work within an organization that does more than just talk about the problems; spending a day outside planting bay grasses or repairing sand dunes is just plain fun, and the value to the bay makes it a worthwhile endeavor – getting paid while doing it is a windfall!”

John Seyjaget, Curator of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

 “We are thankful for baby ackies, star finches and gouldian  finches hatched this year!!! And of course our knob tailed geckos!”

Jenny Hamilton, Chair of Internal Conservation Committee

“I am thankful for my husband, my family, and my friends more than anything; they are my true source of joy. I am thankful for my coworkers; they are really, really good big-hearted people who relentlessly try to inspire others to care about the greater good. I am thankful for cranberry bread and changing leaves and walks with my dog.

And, for this kid:

I’m thankful there are other recycling weirdos out there. Together, we will keep our world clean! Polluters Beware!

Again, from our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! 

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