Posts Tagged 'Maryland Department of Natural Resources'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Becoming a “Master Naturalist”

On February 2, the National Aquarium and Living Classrooms Foundation welcomed 18 new trainees into the Maryland Master Naturalist Program. Volunteers from the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) and the Friends of Masonville Cove will work collaboratively to sharpen their outdoor skills and boost their knowledge of Maryland’s natural environment. The program’s mission is to engage citizens as stewards of Maryland’s natural ecosystems and resources through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities.

Throughout the program, Master Naturalist trainees will learn about various environmental topics in Maryland, specifically tailored to our coastal plains region and the Chesapeake Bay. Topics include ecology, flora and fauna, natural history, interpretation, and many more.

Master naturalists students learning how to properly identify local species of fish.

Master naturalist students learning how to properly identify local species of fish.

Upon completion of their training, Master Naturalists pledge to complete 40 hours of conservation-related volunteer work per year! The extensive training will give them the skills and knowledge to interpret natural settings for members of the public and hopefully inspire our community to conserve our natural resources.

Thus far, our volunteers have learned about interpretation, ecology, botany, science, and fish. Instructors range from nonprofit professionals, to Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists, to biology professors from local universities. During the botany training, students learned about common plants in Maryland and how to identify them, and why all of the different Maryland species of plants are important. Perhaps most importantly, they discussed the common invasive plant species in Maryland, and how to help manage them. Trainees closely examined flowers to learn about plant parts, which can be useful when following a field guide to identify flora in the field.

The Aquarium’s first class of Master Naturalists will graduate in May and plans are in the works to host another training session in 2014! For more updates on our many conservation initiatives, click here to sign up for our Aquamail newsletter!

MARP Caring for Rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling and Nest

Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is currently caring for a rescued loggerhead sea turtle nest of 160 eggs and one live hatchling found on the north end of Assateague Island National Seashore.

baby loggerhead turtle

Baby loggerhead turtle hatchling and egg

The nest, which had been incubating in the sand since the end of July, was excavated by MARP and staff from the National Park Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources late last month before the arrival of high winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy.

turtle eggs

Rescue staff examining eggs during the excavation

The area off Maryland’s eastern shore never has had a confirmed viable sea turtle nest until now. Our MARP team is working closely with various representatives from North Carolina that are experienced with sea turtle nest incubation and hatchlings, including North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Aquarium, and NC State University, to determine the needs of the nest.

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs being documented

The live turtle hatchling is swimming strongly and enjoying supervised deep dives to build endurance. The baby has become stronger and stronger every day and recently reached a milestone by enjoying its first overnight swim. The MARP team is closely monitoring its health while providing antibiotics as a precaution.

baby turtle

The baby turtle is enjoying supervised swims to build up its strength!

loggerhead turtle hatchling

Loggerhead turtle hatchling

The turtle nest was found in sand that was approximately 66 degrees; low temperatures lessen the success rate of turtle nests. Following the arrival of the nest, our team has raised the temperature of the nest to 80 degrees. The eggs require time, moisture and heat, which the MARP team is providing at our off-site Animal Care Center. So far, there is no activity from the nest itself but we are monitoring it closely. According to North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, the hatch success of loggerhead sea turtle nests in North Carolina is about 75%. Unfortunately, nests laid at higher latitudes have a decreased chance of hatch success, which is due to lower temperatures and increased incubation time.

turtle nest

The area where this turtle nest was found is much colder than the typical turtle nest.

The average incubation time for a loggerhead nest in warmer climates is 70 days. Due to the colder temperatures, nests in the Maryland area require more time, not hatching for more than 100 days. Last year, a nest was found in Delaware that did not hatch until day 109. Information from these nests is being collected and evaluated by the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service, to aid in drafting sea turtle nesting guidelines for Maryland.

turtle rescue

The Marine Animal Rescue Program team continues to care for the young hatchling at our off-site Animal Care Center

National Aquarium team members hope to rehabilitate the young turtle hatchling to a point where it is strong enough to be released. They plan to release it into warmer waters in conjunction with North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission and North Carolina Aquarium.

Stay tuned to hear more about this rescue here on our WATERblog!

A Blue View – True Blue Crabs

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.

October 30, 2012: True Blue Crabs

Listen to John discuss the importance of making sustainable seafood choices!

A true Marylander knows a crabcake, but did you know that the crabmeat you are eating could have been imported from as far away as Asia? Maryland Department of Natural Resources has launched a new program to make it easier to tell where your crabmeat came from, and to identify it as “true blue” Maryland crab meat. This is important for local industry, but it is also an important part of a larger discussion on sustainable seafood. Knowing where our food comes from can help us all make better decisions about what we eat, for our health and the health of our planet.

To learn more about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources True Blue Maryland Crab certification program, click here.

To learn about the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, determine what seafood are on the “best choices” list, and download the Seafood Watch app, click here.

To learn about Fresh Thoughts dinners at the National Aquarium, click here.


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