Posts Tagged 'habitat restoration'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Endangered Species Spotlight on Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

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! 

Animal Rescue Update

Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles are the smallest of all the sea turtle species and are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN. “Small” is a relative term for sea turtles, as the Kemp’s can weigh as much as 80 to 100 pounds as adults, and their shell can grow to about 2 feet long. Their carapace (top shell) is usually heart-shaped and brown to grey in color.

kemp's ridley

A rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley turtle being released by National Aquarium staff.

Kemp’s ridley’s are highly migratory and seasonal visitors to Maryland waters. They can often be found in coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast, from late May to October. While here, they feed on an assortment of crabs, shellfish and jellies, and will occasionally munch on seaweed. Cooler water temperatures in the fall signal the turtles to migrate south – reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their internal body temperature is dependent on the water temperature.

kemp's ridley

One of our current rehabilitation patients munching on a blue crab.

Along the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late fall and early winter, Kemp’s can become victims of cold-stunning. Cold-stunning is effectively hypothermia (low body temperature), which causes the turtles to stop eating and ultimately become severely sick. The 2012 cold-stun season was a record for the northeast. We currently have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in rehabilitation with our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team, and both were admitted as cold-stuns.

kemp's ridley

Since being listed as an Endangered Species in 1994, the US and Mexico have worked cooperatively to protect critical nesting habitats for the Kemp’s, resulting in an increase in successful nesting and hatching. Kemp’s still face many threats, though, many of which are human-related. The good news is that YOU can help protect Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations!

Stay tuned for more features on endangered species this week! 

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Rock the Boat and Support the Chesapeake Bay TONIGHT!

Join our staff and volunteers on the USS Constellation tonight from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM for our 8th annual “Rock the Boat” fundraiser, supporting our Chesapeake Bay Initiative (CBI)!

the USS Constellation

With a $10 donation, guests are welcome on board to enjoy free tours, live music from local band Wolve, and great, sustainable food from local restaurants. Beer, wine, and soda will be available for purchase. Guests will also receive a glow in the dark mug with their donation. All proceeds support preservation and restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Tonight’s donations will help our CBI team purchase much-needed field equipment for upcoming habitat restoration projects! This event will be a great kick-off for our team who will be doing a week long tree planting  at Indian Head next week. Every year, our staff and volunteers plant a variety of Chesapeake Bay native wetland grasses, trees, and shrubs along the water’s edge to help stabilize the area, reduce the potential for erosion, and protect existing land while providing habitat for many animal species.

These funds will also help support a second habitat restoration project in March, stay tuned for details on how you can get involved!

This is a family-friendly event and all are welcome! No RSVP required; just make your $10 donation at the entrance to the ship. Come out and rock the boat for conservation!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Save the Bay!

Oysters play a critical role in the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. As natural water filters, oysters strain out plankton and other food suspended in water. They also provide a critical habitat and growing surface for a large number of other species, including fish like striped blennies, anked gobies, and skillet fish, as well as mud crabs, blue crabs, grass shrimp, and eels.

We were incredibly honored to host the “Mermaid’s Kiss Oyster Fest” benefiting the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) last night at our Baltimore venue.

During last night’s event, ORP announced its largest restoration effort on the East Coast ever. This new project will streamline large-scale efforts to improve the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay through oyster planting and water quality improvement.

Chef Karen Nicolas preparing her delicious tasting dish at last night’s Oyster Fest!

There are many ways you can help support oyster recovery: 

  • Become an oyster gardener
  • Buy local: enjoy Chesapeake Bay farmed or harvested oysters
  • Patronize restaurants that are participating in the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Shell Recycling Alliance—making sure used oyster shells go back to support restoration efforts
  • Celebrate Maryland seafood by dining out at any of the restaurants participating in the From the Bay, For the Bay event the week of October 6–13, 2012. Participating restaurants will be serving fresh, locally caught Maryland seafood and will donate a dollar for every Maryland seafood dinner sold to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to replenish the population of our native Chesapeake Bay oyster.
  • Join our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) and REI staff in our bi-annual field days at the Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. In the Fall and Spring, our team, along with an amazing group of volunteers, helps to  restore habitat,  remove debris, do trail maintenance  and plant native flowers! Since we first took ownership of this stewardship in 1999, our teams have removed more than 600,000 pieces of debris!

Thanks again to everyone who came out last night in support of our local habitats! We are one step closer to a thriving Bay!


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