Posts Tagged 'national aquarium'



It’s a … SLOTH! Meet the Rain Forest’s Newest Addition!

We’re are excited to announce the birth of Scout, our newest Linne’s two-toed sloth!

national aquarium baby sloth announcement

The newest arrival to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest is the second baby born to Ivy, one of the five sloths in the exhibit. Scout is the fourth sloth born at the National Aquarium!

To celebrate the birth of Scout, we have set up a baby registry at aqua.org/babysloth. Here, fans of Scout can make a donation to help purchase such items as vegetables and fruit, micro-chipping and the baby’s monthly checkup – items that are essential to the care and survival of Scout!

“Our team is thrilled to welcome another baby sloth to our Rain Forest habitat,” said Ken Howell, Curator of the Upland Tropical Rain Forest. “It is an honor to work with these incredible animals and inspire our guests to learn more about the ways they can protect them.”

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection here at the Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007. Howie and Xeno were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively. And most recently, Camden, was born at National Aquarium in 2012.

national aquarium baby sloth scout

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.

To give Ivy and her baby proper time to bond, our staff is closely observing mom and baby from a distance. This means we haven’t gathered the newborn’s weight and height measurements or been able to determine gender. Staff has estimated, based on records from other baby sloths its age, that Scout weighs approximately 450 grams and is approximately 30 cm long.

Stay tuned for more updates on baby Scout in the coming weeks! 

Animal Updates – December 13

national aquarium animal update

Bird Wrasse in Displaying Gallery!

A bird wrasse was just added to our Displaying gallery!

national aquarium bird wrasse

The bird wrasse (Gomphosus varius) is reef fish native to the Indo-Pacific. This species, also known as the birdfish or green birdmouth wrasse, is easily recognized by its elongated, snout-like mouth, which it only grows as it reaches adulthood.

Bird wrasse fish prefer to make their homes in the lagoon and/or seaward areas within coral reef habitats.

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

Saltwater Science at the National Aquarium

Just add salt? Not quite. Here’s the inside story on how we get our water just right: 

As vibrant fish residents swim gracefully in their aquatic habitats at the National Aquarium, the most important element of their exhibit homes – the water – often goes unnoticed.

national aquarium clown triggerfish

In total, more than 2 million gallons of water are perpetually pumped, filtered and re-pumped within the Aquarium’s nearly 200 water systems. For perspective, the average bathtub holds 50 gallons of water, making the National Aquarium’s water content roughly equal to 40,000 bathtubs!

Maintaining the quality of these millions of gallons of water is essential for healthy animals, and it is through the tireless work of dedicated aquarists and laboratory and life-support staff that we can provide the highest quality of water to the thousands of marine animals that call the Aquarium home.

Testing the Water

In every high school across the country, chemistry teachers illustrate water’s elemental simplicity by connection to Hs to one O. Sustaining life at the Aquarium, however, as in the oceans, is infinitely more complex. Salinity (the amount of salt), dissolved oxygen (the “air” fish absorb through their gills) and nitrates (waste product) all affect water chemistry.

That chemical balance, in turn, affects those plans and animals on exhibit, as well as fungi and bacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Presenting a healthy environment by maintaining the absolute best water quality for each and every exhibit and backup tank requires a well-coordinated effort between staff across departments.

Each morning, aquarists, under the guidance of water quality expert Kim Gaeta, extract samples from select exhibit spaces. Those samples are then labeled and deliver to the lab, where they are test for ammonia, nitrite and salinity, as well as pH and alkalinity. If there’s a noticeable imbalance, staff, under the watchful eye of Laboratory Services Department supervisor Jill Arnold, diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution.

The Right Water

Nearly all of the water in our exhibits is homemade seawater. The National Aquarium, like most Aquariums, manufactures its own. The millions of gallons circulating through the exhibits are a combination of Baltimore City water and a house blend of salts.

Consequently, these salt solutions affect the pH, dissolved oxygen levels and hardness of the seawater, based on their own specific chemistry. Tons of salt is shipped to the Aquarium every year to be used in the manufacturing process. At a cost of about 7 cents per gallon, we spend roughly $150,000 every year to manufacture seawater.

“The Aquarium utilizes a variety of food-grade salts to prepare artificial seawater, using our proprietary formulation developed by our chemist,” says Arnold. “Our goal is to mimic natural ocean waters as closely as possible,” guaranteeing all of our animals a healthy place to call home!

Our hand-crafted saltwater is just one of the many things we do everyday to give our animals the best quality of care possible. Here’s how YOU can support our efforts this holiday season! 

Animal Updates – December 6

national aquarium animal update

Banded Moray Eel in Surviving Through Adaptation

A banded moray eel can now be seen in our Surviving Through Adaptation gallery!

national aquarium moray eel

Did you know? There are over 200 species of moray eel! Known for their serpentine appearance, morays use their long, dorsal fin to navigate through water.

These eels are fairly secretive animals. They prefer to spend most of their day hidden in crevices within their coral reef homes.

Raccoon Butterflyfish in Pacific Coral Reef 

A raccoon butterflyfish has been added to our Pacific Coral Reef exhibit!

national aquarium raccoon butterflyfish

The raccoon butterflyfish gets its name from the black “raccoon-like” mask that covers its eyes!

This reef species can be found in both the Indo-Pacific and Southeast Atlantic. Their diet usually consists of a combination of benthic invertebrates (like tube worms) and algae

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

Create New Family Traditions This Holiday Season!

Blog-Header-FamiliesExpertU

Winter – just hearing that word makes us reach for a warm mug of hot cocoa and dig out our scarves and wool mittens!

Spending time in nature with your child during this chilly time is a surprisingly fun way to defeat the winter doldrums. So, this holiday season, create a new family tradition by bundling up in layers and venturing out together to discover the quiet wonders of winter.

With your help, your child will notice the little changes that winter brings:

  • Staying Warm: As you zip up your coat and throw on a scarf, point out the change in temperature and how it’s colder now. Ask if your child can see their breath! Around your neighborhood, you’ll see that many of the animals grow a thicker coat in the winter (squirrels and raccoons) to stay warm. Point out the local birds that “puff up” their feathers to trap warm air close to their bodies like a built-in jacket.
  • Super Sleuth: Winter walks are a great time to play “I Spy”. Now that trees and plants have dropped their leaves, it’s much easier to find bird nests, animal burrows or woodpecker nest cavities.
  • Birds on the Move: Point out any local birds you see and ask your child if they are the same birds that they saw this summer. Odds are, some of your favorites may have migrated to warmer weather for the winter and new species may have come from up north.
  • A Flashlight Safari: Now that darkness comes earlier this time of year, there is a unique chance to experience your neighborhood in a new way. Join your child on a flashlight tour of your backyard or neighborhood. Listen carefully for new sounds, discover interesting insects that gather near porch lights and watch for little eyes shining back at you!
  • DIY Decor: Many trees in our neighborhoods have dropped their leaves and your child may notice that they look different. At home, collect fallen leaves, pods or seeds and incorporate these into your holiday decorating!

Want to learn more about family holiday traditions from around the world? Join us for our Cultural Series celebration tonight!

Blog-Header-HeatherDoggett

Thoughtful Thursday: The Endangered Species Act Turns 40

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted by Congress in December of 1973. Its goal is to provide protection for species that are endangered or threatened and conserve the habitats their survival depends upon.

A species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or significant portion of its range and threatened if it is likely to become an endangered species in the near future. Currently, there are over 2,000 species listed under the ESA. The efforts to protect these animals are administered by two federal agencies: the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Zoos and Aquariums, including the National Aquarium, work closely with these agencies to both conserve habitats and raise public awareness of these species. Their continued survival is a large part of our organization’s mission. Here are just a few of the threatened/endangered species that call the Aquarium home:

In the last few decades, the Act has successfully prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species it protects – making it one of the most effective conservation laws in our nation’s history! Check out this video looking back on the last 40 years of the ESA:

[youtube http://youtu.be/DojGPBV4U0w]

While there are many successes we should be celebrating today, there’s still a lot of work to be done in protecting species from decline and inspiring our next generation of conservationists.

Here’s how YOU can support our efforts to conserve and protect these amazing animals!

Animal Rescue Update: Turtle Season Is In Full Swing

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Cold-stun season for sea turtles is in full swing in the Northeast. Our stranding partners in Massachusetts and New Jersey have already seen an influx of admittance due to the rapid drop in water temperatures in our region.

Over the last week, our team has admitted 12 turtles for rehabilitation. We received 8 Kemp’s ridley turtles from New England Aquarium, 2 Kemp’s ridleys and 1 green sea turtle from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center and 1 green sea turtle that stranded off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland.

Meet some of the new crew (named for various Top Gun characters!): 

These turtles are suffering from a range of ailments, including: pneumonia, joint infections, gastrointestinal irregularity, lacerations and abrasions. Each turtle is being treated with antibiotics, supplements and fluids. We’re happy to report that most of our patients are eating on their own!

As you can imagine, our team has been very busy caring for our current turtle patients and preparing for the possibility of receiving more turtles in the very near future. Stay tuned for more updates!


National Aquarium Animal Rescue team helps countless animals in need every year! Here’s how YOU can help support our efforts this holiday season! 

Animal Rescue Expert


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