Posts Tagged 'chesapeake'

Happy Birthday, Chesapeake!


Today we’re celebrating the 22nd birthday of Chesapeake, the first dolphin to be born here at the National Aquarium!

Chesapeake dolphin national aquarium

Chesapeake, affectionately nicknamed Chessie by our Marine Mammal team, was named in honor of the Chesapeake Bay. She is mother to our youngest dolphin, five-year-old Bayley.

Chessie is easy to identify as she is smaller in size, has a short rostrum or bottlenose and is usually paired swimming with her daughter!


Chessie is an energetic and playful animal. She loves to learn new things and interact with our Marine Mammal staff!

Join me in wishing Chesapeake a very happy birthday!

allison ginsburg national aquarium marine mammal expert

Happy Birthday, Maya!

National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday today! Born at the Aquarium on May 13, 2001, Maya, one of our female dolphins, is 12 years old today!

Atlantic bottlenose dolphin

About Maya

Gender: Female

Weight: 420 pounds

To stay healthy and happy, Maya and our other dolphins  are fed a healthy diet of fresh fish and given routine vitamins!

To stay healthy and happy, Maya and our other dolphins are fed a quality diet of fresh fish and given routine vitamins!

Family Tree: Daughter of Shiloh (dam) and Nalu (sire)

atlantic bottlenose dolphins

Maya as a calf!

How to Recognize Her: Maya is lighter in color, with a light-tipped rostrum and a very pink belly!

Trainer’s Note: Maya likes to spend a lot of her time with her half-sister Chesapeake and is very playful. She loves to show off her “fast-surfing behavior” for both the trainers and our guests!

Stop by today to see Maya play around with her sister Chesapeake! Can’t come wish her a happy birthday in person? Leave Maya a message on our Facebook page

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!

Happy Birthday, Bayley!

The National Aquarium is celebrating a birthday today – Bayley, our youngest Atlantic bottlenose dolphin born at the Aquarium on July 27, 2008, is four years old today!

About Bayely

Name meaning: Bayley was named for the Chesapeake Bay like her mom; voted by the public in a naming contest
Sex: Female

Weight: 240 pounds
Birthday:  July 27, 2008, at the National Aquarium

Bayley was born in 2008 at the National Aquarium

Family Tree: Daughter of Chesapeake (dam) and Chinook (sire)
How to Recognize: Guests can recognize Bayley because she’s the smallest of our dolphins! You can also tell by her dark eyes and straight rostrum.

You can recognize Bayley by her darker eyes

Trainer’s Note:  Bayley has become very skilled at making bubble rings that she manipulates and plays with. They are in the form of rings or even long lines, which we call “bubble snakes,” which she chases and bites at.

Bubble blowing fun!

If you can’t make it to the National Aquarium, Baltimore, today, leave your birthday wishes for Bayley in the comments section below!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Catch Crabs, Not Terrapins

Save the Terrapins

Crab feasts are a summertime tradition here in Maryland. There’s nothing like gathering around a picnic table with family and friends to spend time together, eating, drinking and picking crabs!

With Memorial Day Weekend marking the opening of Maryland’s crab feast season, the National Aquarium and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources want to remind recreational crab pot owners to obey the law and by doing so, to help save the Maryland State reptile, the diamondback terrapin.

The diamondback terrapin lives exclusively in the tidal salt marshes of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal marshes. This brackish-water habitat is also home to the blue crab.

Each year recreational crab pots unnecessarily claim the lives of terrapins. Terrapins are lured into crab pots by the same baits used to attract blue crabs. However, unlike blue crabs, terrapins must rise periodically to the surface for a breath of air. Terrapins trapped in a fully submerged crab pot will eventually die from drowning.

Waterfront property owners are legally allowed to crab with a maximum of two recreational crab pots. Maryland regulation requires that each entrance funnel of all recreational crab pots must be equipped with a with a turtle excluder called a Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD). A BRD is a gate that allows crabs to enter the pot, but keeps the larger-shelled terrapins out.

A BRD will prevent almost all terrapins from entering a crab pot.

Recreational crabbers can purchase BRDs where crab pots are sold, and some retailers sell pots that already have the device installed.

Bycatch Reduction Devices

Metal and plastic BRDs

If you are unable to locate BRDs, contact the National Aquarium Conservation Department at

Installing a Bycatch Reduction Device

Site Update: Barren Island wetland restoration project

In the spring of 2001, the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team (ACT!) set foot on Barren Island for the first time, with the goal of restoring 7 acres of wetland habitat with the help of 350 volunteers.

Although now part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Barren Island was once a thriving community that, in the early 1900s, even had its own church and local store.

In 2001, the only structure left to greet volunteers was the hunting lodge, which also appeared to be giving in to the elements. By the next year, when ACT! returned, they would be greeted by only remnants of a foundation where the lodge once stood.

Barren Island lodge disappearing

Water at the front door of the hunting lodge (photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Over the last 10 years, ACT! and our project partners have restored a total of 26 acres of wetland habitat on Barren Island.  Project partners, school students, and community volunteers have dedicated a total of 9,957 hours to rebuilding this island, creating a sanctuary for migratory birds and other native wildlife.

An island once “barren” by erosion now thrives with wildlife and vegetation. Volunteers enjoy returning to observe past sites they helped restore. When surveyed, many volunteers commented, “I never knew grasses would grow and spread so quickly!”

Each year, staff from the Aquarium and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit the island to monitor the success of the plantings. This year’s annual fall monitoring trip took place in October, when all six restoration sites were photographed. Monitoring methods generally include taking topography readings to determine if the island has gained or lost land, recording vegetation data to determine plant diversity, and taking photos to give a time-lapse snapshot of the sites.

During the 2011 monitoring trip, it was apparent the island is doing very well. Although there was some scalloping observed along the western coast between the bulkheads, much of the island has not lost land. In addition, vegetation from the 2009 restoration has spread to areas of the site that were unplanted and bare.

Barren Island before

Barren Island, August 2004

Barren Island after

Barren Island, October 2011

With their flourishing vegetation and hints of resident wildlife (fox and raccoon prints, turtle nests, horseshoe crab molts, etc.), sites have become so successful they are almost unrecognizable!

Project partners are pleased with the results of the last 10 years. As funds become available, additional areas of the island will be restored. The Barren Island restoration project is a collaboration among the National Aquarium, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Friends of Blackwater.

How many trainers does it take for a dolphin to give birth?

The marine mammal staff is busy preparing for Shiloh and Chesapeake to give birth!

We’ve mobilized a team of dedicated volunteers to assist the trainers with observations of the pregnant females and potential calves. In 2007, volunteers contributed over 1000 hours to watching the nursery group and last year’s new calf, Foster. 

These volunteers have been recruited through other areas of the aquarium and undergo additional training in order to observe the dolphin colony.  While rearing a calf is ultimately dependent on the mother, observations allow us to add more information into what researchers know about dolphin pregnancies and neonate calves. For example, in the past we have observed females in the group assuming a calf position on an expectant mother’s mammaries. Researchers believe that this may be a way to teach a new mother how to nurse a calf!

Additionally, we use observations to determine exactly when a female is going into labor. Surprisingly, there is limited published research on dolphin pregnancies. A previous research project at the National Aquarium in Baltimore did indicate that two behaviors, arching and crunching, may increase just prior to giving birth. So obviously, this is one of the behaviors that trainers and observers are looking for!

The Information technology department has worked alongside the marine mammal department to develop a recording program using Palm Pilots™. This program won an award when presented at the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Conference in 2001. This allows trainers and veterinarians to view collected information more efficiently.

Can you believe that dolphins do this in the wild without all the extra help?!

Sign up for AquaMail

Like us on Facebook!

Twitter Updates