Posts Tagged 'invasive species'

Animal Updates – June 14

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community, so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Panther grouper in our Hiding exhibit! 

Our panther group is making our Hiding exhibit his new home (after being moved from another exhibit to accommodate his rapid growth in the last year).

panther grouper

Also known as the humpback grouper, this fish is native to the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific. Habitat degradation has seriously threatened the survival of this species in recent years. As a result, the panther grouper has been listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Q&A with Chef Chris Becker

About next week’s featured Fresh Thoughts chef, Chris Becker of Fleet Street Kitchen

A Baltimore native and veteran of several of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants, Chef Chris maintains deep

chef-chris-becker

relationships with local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. His contemporary American cuisine at Fleet Street Kitchen is defined in conjunction with the seasonal produce of Cunningham Farms, the restaurant owner’s farm in Cockeysville.

A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, Chef Chris spent time in the kitchens at The Brass Elephant, Linwoods, and The Wine Market in Locust Point. He was noted as one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine and identified as one of “Ten Professionals Under 30 to Watch” by the b newspaper.

At Fleet Street Kitchen, Chef Chris combines both traditional and modern techniques, creating elegant dishes that reflect his intense devotion to his craft.

Can’t wait for next week’s dinner? We chatted with Chris about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region: 

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?

Because I’m new to Maryland seafood, I’m really excited to start using soft-shell crab, which is one of Maryland’s local sustainable seafood products. It’s a really interesting ingredient and very versatile in the way it can be presented, so I’m sure you’ll see it on the menu at Fleet Street Kitchen soon.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?

I think more and more chefs are becoming conscientious about sustainable seafood and this in change is influencing our guests to think about it as well. Because we’re by the Chesapeake Bay, I think it’s easier for people to make the connection between how we fish and the seafood we serve. People are definitely appreciating it more. At Fleet Street Kitchen, we make sure all of our seafood choices are based off the Seafood Watch list and only select the seafood listed as “Good” or “Good Alternative.”

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?

All the great product that’s not sustainable makes it difficult. There’s some great tasting seafood that is overfished. We recently had to stop using monkfish, because it is now in the red on the Seafood Watch List. It’s unfortunate, but it it makes me more creative and exposes people to different types of fish that perhaps they wouldn’t necessarily try.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?

Lionfish & Snakehead. Both are invasive species that are threatening key ecosystems. Lionfish are damaging coral reef ecosystems across the oceans and are actually a great tasting fish. It’d be great to see more of it on Baltimore menus. Snakehead are doing the same here in the Chesapeake Bay. There has been a lot of great press about using snakehead in restaurants. I’m definitely hoping to use both at Fleet Street Kitchen.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …

My hope is to pass along Fleet Street Kitchen’s passion for sustainable seafood and for people to make the connection between the way seafood is harvested and what is on their plate. It’s also important for people to know that they can ask if a fish is sustainable in a restaurant. This lets a restaurant’s chef and staff know that there’s a demand for conscientious ingredients. Most restaurants will appreciate this, even if they aren’t currently serving sustainable products.

To learn more about our sustainable seafood program and other conservation initiatives, click here

A Blue View: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

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 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 13, 2013: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews discuss 
the threat lionfish pose to the health of our oceans.

Since 1992, when Pacific lionfish were first sighted in South Florida waters, this fish has become widely established all along the southeast United States and the Caribbean Sea, even being spotted as far north as New York. These distinctive looking fish—red and white striped with long pectoral fins and needle-like dorsal fins, have profoundly impacted the health of the ecosystems where they now reside.

So, how were these species introduced into local waters? Ashleigh Clews, a senior aquarist at the Aquarium, says it’s likely that the species was first introduced by home aquarium owners. Although these fish are popular in the trade, they often outgrow their tanks and will sometimes prey on other fish.

There was an estimated population boom of 700 percent between 2004 and 2008 in invaded areas. This presence of lionfish in the Atlantic is causing many problems. They’re eating native fish and crustaceans and destroying native habitats and ecosystems. Additionally, with no real predators and an average spawn rate of close to 2 million eggs a year, this species shows no sign of disappearing on its own.

Conservationists and researchers are working to address this growing problem through a variety of initiatives, including raising awareness of lionfish as a sustainable seafood option!

Have you ever eaten lionfish? Tell us about your experience in the comments! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Invasive Species Spotlight

As National Invasive Species Awareness Week draws to a close, we’re dedicating today’s “Thoughtful Thursday” post to an invasive fish found in our local waters – the northern snakehead.

snakehead

This species is native to China and parts of Korea. It first appeared in the U.S. as an invasive species in Crofton, Maryland in 2002, and now can be found throughout the east coast, from New York to Florida.

Experts believe that snakeheads (also referred to as “frankenfish”) were introduced into our waterways by home aquarium owners and through the live fish food trade.

snakehead

How snakeheads are negatively impacting our native ecosystems: 

  • These fish compete with native species for food. As snakehead populations continue to grow in U.S. waters, their predatory nature will continue to “knock out” a wide array of native species.
  • They are passing diseases onto other fish.
  • Snakeheads are air-breathers capable of on-land migration. This means that their reach to new waterways is virtually limitless! Researchers are now reporting that the species is slowly making their way out west, wreaking havoc on ecosystems as they go.

What’s being done (and what YOU can do) to help manage the population: 

  • Learn more!
    National Aquarium and like-minded organizations are working to raise awareness of this species. Our DC venue actually has a snakehead on exhibit to make visitors aware of its invasive status!
  • Fish responsibly!
    Both local and federal government agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are working together to manage current populations and prevent future introductions of the fish into native environments. If captured, it is now illegal to release snakehead back into native waters.
  • Eat it to beat it!
    Local restaurants are beginning to use snakehead as a sustainable seafood option! They were also the featured ingredient for one of the Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinners!

Have you ever experimented with cooking an invasive species? Tell us about it in the comments!

A Blue View: The Truth About Invasive Species

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 6, 2013: The Truth About Invasive Species 

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews
discuss the impact that invasive species of plants
and animals 
have on our ecosystems. 

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising consciousness about invasive plants and animals and their effects on our environment and our economy.

In recent years, exotic species like lionfish, burmese pythons, zebra mussels and snakehead have had an increasing presence in local our waterways and oceans. With no natural predators in these new environments, these animals essentially wreak havoc on entire ecosystems. Once these intense habitat alterations and ecosystem degradations take place, it is very hard to reverse those effects.

In addition to environmental toll, invasive species cost billions of dollars every year in prevention, control and management.

What we can all do to protect native species: 

  • Prevention - A majority of invasive species end up in our waterways and oceans because of human release. Whether it’s the release of unwanted pets or the use of bait fish in their non-native area, these human introductions CAN be prevented through increased awareness! 
  • Early Detection and Response - Get a better sense of which species in your area are “nonindigenous” and invasive so that you can report them when spotted!


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