Posts Tagged 'Endangered Species'



Endangered Species Week: The Bog Turtle

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Meet the Bog Turtle.

bog turtle

The bog turtle is the smallest species of turtle found in the United States (and one of the smallest species of turtle in the world)! Easy identified by the orange blotches found on either side of its head, this turtle gets its name from the areas of moist, soggy ground within wetlands known as “bogs.”

Bog turtles are only commonly found throughout the Northeast coast and, unfortunately, populations have been seriously impacted by the effects of climate change. Erratic weather patterns, in particular, throw a wrench in the fragile balance between these turtles and their habitat. Other major factors for their population decline include habitat loss, due to human construction and development, as well as a high demand for the pet trade.

This species was granted protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1997 – at which time, the northern population of bog turtles (from New York to Maryland) had declined by 50 percent.

Currently, the total number of bog turtles found in the United States is unknown. The estimated range is only between 2,500 and 10,000 turtles.

Want to help the bog turtle? Join us at our next habitat restoration event!

Stay tuned for more Endangered Species Week features! 

#SeaTurtleTrek Update – Back to the Big Blue!

The #SeaTurtleTrek release was a great success! 

After leaving Baltimore last night and driving through the night, our team and staff from New England Aquarium made it to the beach in Florida with 52 endangered sea turtles.

Welcome to Florida

Upon their arrival in Jacksonville, health samples were taken from each turtle.

Soon, it was time for the big beach release! The turtles were released by group in the following order: South Carolina Aquarium, Virginia Aquarium, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, National Marine Life Center, University of New England, National Aquarium and finally, New England Aquarium!

Thanks to everyone for the messages of support over the last few days, they meant a lot to the whole trek team!

#SeaTurtleTrek Update – And They’re Off!

The team from New England Aquarium arrived in Baltimore this evening ready to pick up our rehabilitated sea turtles and journey onto Florida for release!

Chet, a Kemp's ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

Chet, a Kemp’s ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

As we continue to travel down the East Coast, more turtles from our organization partners are being slated for release! Our teams will be making additional stops at Virginia Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium to pick up additional turtles.

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Prior to New England’s arrival, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team did final examinations of each turtle, placed them in their respective transport crates and covered them in a water-based lubricant to keep the turtles happy and feeling good during the 1,200 mile trek down to Jacksonville, Florida.

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Want to see where the team is on their journey? Follow their live updates on Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr and Instagram using #SeaTurtleTrek  and/or check out this satellite map that’s tracking their progress:

Click on this map to pull up the trek's current geo-location!

Click on this map to pull up the trek’s current geo-location!

Stay tuned for more #SeaTurtleTrek updates from the road! 

National Aquarium at the TEDxDeExtinction Conference!

On March 15th, researchers and theorists from around the world gathered at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC to discuss the real possibility of bringing species like the woolly mammoth, the passenger pigeon and the Cuban red macaw back from extinction. This first-ever TEDxDeExtinction conference was considered to be the global introduction to a new field in conservation biology, “de-extinction.” By closely examining the DNA of museum specimens, this emerging field of scientists hopes to incorporate the genes responsible for certain traits of the extinct species into the genome of a similar species.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TQ8TlUxiqgY]

During Friday’s talk, National Aquarium staff and our blue hyacinth macaw, Margaret, were on hand to talk to the 500+ attendees about the immediate changes we can make as a global society to PREVENT species extinction. As exciting as this new concept is, scientists have also voiced concern that de-extinction will distract from the conservation of species like the hyacinth macaw.

TED prize winner Sylvia Earle stopped by to say hello to Margaret during Friday's event.

TED prize winner Sylvia Earle stopped by to say hello to Margaret during Friday’s event.

Native to the Patanal region of South America, hyacinth macaws are an endangered species. Similar to the Cuban red macaw – one of the species being discussed on stage as a candidate for de-extinction – habitat loss, local hunting practices and the pet trade are all factors contributing to the decline of hyacinth macaw populations in the wild. Unfortunately, more than a century after the extinction of the Cuban red macaw, birds like Margaret are still facing these human-imposed challenges to survival.

Margaret, now 24 years old, came to our organization from a private home. As is the case with many exotic pets, pet owners under-estimate size (from head to the tip of her tail, Margaret is about 3 ft. long!) and cost of care and eventually, can no longer care for the animal. Luckily, Margaret’s previous owner worked with the Aquarium to find her a good home. Margaret is now an advocate for the preservation of her species and others like her!

Stay tuned for more updates on TEDxDeExtinction! 

Scientists Gather in Baltimore for International Sea Turtle Symposium

Sea turtles have been an integral part of ecosystems for more than 60 million years and, this week, National Aquarium will be co-hosting the 33rd Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation to make sure they stay that way.

More than 1,000 scientists and conservationists from 75 countries are expected to attend the symposium presented by the International Sea Turtle Society.

The theme for this year’s symposium is “Connections” and will include discussions around sea turtle biology, research and conservation, marine turtle ecological interactions, coastal communities, collaborative research, community-based conservation and more. Outreach and educational activities planned for the symposium will highlight the presence of sea turtles in the Chesapeake Bay and the myriad of environmental issues impacting the watershed.

Being located on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest watershed on the east coast and an important foraging area for some sea turtle species, National Aquarium is deeply invested in the cause. The need for sea turtle conservation action is urgent. It is going to take many people from many countries across the world to save these species.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest watershed on the east coast and home to more than 300 species of aquatic animal.

This year has been an extraordinarily busy sea turtle stranding season with a record of more than 200 reported strandings so far from along the east coast. As part of the Northeast Stranding Network, National Aquarium is responsible for responding to live sea turtle and marine mammal strandings along the nearly 4,300 miles of coastline in Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coasts.

Your support has been critical to the continued work of our MARP team to rescue and rehabilitate turtles, including this loggerhead hatchling!

Early in the stranding season, National Aquarium rescued this loggerhead hatchling.

Although Maryland has not seen many local turtle strandings, National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program is working closely with other institutions like New England Aquarium to take on many of the turtle patients. With successful releases earlier this month, the animal rescue team continues to work with these other institutions to provide rehabilitation.

Olympian making his way back into the open ocean!

Every patient release is cause for celebration! As was the case with Olympian, a green sea turtle rehabilitated at the Aquarium last year.

All sea turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: cold-stunning; destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes.

The Symposium will kick off with a Welcome Social on Monday, February 4 at National Aquarium and will run through Friday, February 8 at the Marriott Waterfront. The exhibit/vendor area will be open to the public on specific days.  In addition to on-site sessions and presentations, this year the event will also go off-site into the local Baltimore community, providing teacher and educator workshops, live streaming of special sessions to local schools and universities as well as a sea turtle art contest in Baltimore City schools. On Tuesday, students from four Baltimore City schools and one Baltimore County school will have the opportunity learn more about the importance of turtles at special Q&A sessions with sea turtle experts. Click here to download a full event program.

National Aquarium staff and experts will be present at many of the symposium’s events this week and would love to see you there! For more information on registration, click here.

Can’t join us in person? You can still participate online by submitting your questions to us in the comments section! If you could ask a sea turtle expert something, what would you want to know?

Hey, you just met me, and I’m a baby, but I’m too lazy, so name me, maybe?

baby sloth

Hello, my name is…

Baby Sloth Naming Contest to Coincide with International Sloth Day

In honor of International Sloth Day on October 20, National Aquarium will launch a naming contest for the Linne’s two-toed sloth born in Baltimore in late August.  This baby is the newest addition to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit and the first born to Ivy, one of the four sloths in the exhibit, is the third sloth born at National Aquarium, Baltimore.

CLICK HERE TO SUGGEST A NAME! 

The public is invited to visit www.aqua.org/slothcontest between now and November 1 to submit name suggestions.  A panel of National Aquarium staff will review and consider all entries.  Then, from November 2 to 15, the public can vote on one of four names selected by the panel. The winning name will be announced on the morning of November 16!

International Sloth Day aims to bring awareness to illegal trafficking and the mistreatment of sloths in Central and South America. The AIUNA foundation, the starters of International Sloth Day rehabilitate sloths that have been injured by power lines, hit by cars or sold illegally and release them back into the wild.

linne's two toed sloth

Ivy and baby

The Linne’s two-toed sloth is currently not threatened however other species of sloth, such as the maned three-toed sloth and pygmy three-toed sloth are endangered. The sloths at National Aquarium, Baltimore help to inform people of the plight of all sloths from threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation of forests as well as to inspire conservation, protection and welfare of these and other animals. Forest fragmentation forces sloths to come to the ground to travel to additional food trees. On the ground, they become easy prey for dogs and humans. Additionally, many sloths are either killed or injured when trying to cross roadways, others are electrocuted by overhead electrical lines.

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection at National Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007 from a private captive breeder in South Florida. The other two sloths, Howie and Xeno, were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

Ivy and her new infant are free roaming in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Photos and video of the baby and mother sloth are available on the Aquarium’s WATERblog here: http://ow.ly/ey0uG.

And don’t forget to click here to suggest a name! 

Thoughtful Thursday: Save our finned friends!

If you love sharks, like us, you most likely have a case of Shark Week fever! Sharks have been swimming in the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years (since before the dinosaurs).

Although Discovery Channel’s annual event has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning sales of fin headbands and shark costumes for pets, this special week also brings the important issue of shark conservation to the forefront of people’s minds. These beautiful and amazing creatures might be scary to some, but their numbers are dwindling at an even scarier rate. As many as one-third of shark species are headed for extinction if we don’t act now.

In the 31 years the National Aquarium, Baltimore, has been open, sharks have gone from a commercial fishery the federal government declared underutilized to the brink of extinction. In that time, hammerhead shark populations in the Atlantic have decreased by nearly 93%. Since 1986, all recorded shark populations in the northwestern Atlantic, with the exception of mako sharks, have declined by more than 50%.

Scientists warn that continual overfishing of sharks has decimated the population, which cannot sustain the current rates. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30% of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

Below are just a few easy ways you can support our finned friends:

Join the Shark Week Facebook, Twitter Campaign
Show your support and join the Shark Week thunderclap. Through this online platform, shark fans can lend their voice to the cause and spread the word about protecting sharks from extinction.

Protest Shark Fin Soup
Every year, fins from tens of millions of sharks are used for this traditional, non-nutritional meal. Many species have been depleted nearly to the brink of extinction. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout the ocean’s ecosystems. Locally, the depletion of sandbar sharks has caused an increase in cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay, which threatens the oyster industry. You can help by signing the Humane Society’s No Shark Fin Pledge.

Petition to List Great White Sharks Under the Endangered Species Act 
Great white sharks are disappearing. Help U.S. West Coast great whites get the protection they need by signing the Oceana petition.

Participate in a Shark Tagging Trip
Come aboard a National Aquarium shark tagging trip! Tagging sharks provides scientists with information on stock identity, migration and abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior. Although our 2012 trips are sold out, we encourage you to sign up for a 2013 trip! Next year’s dates will be announced in spring 2013. 


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