Posts Tagged 'national aquarium washington dc'



Important News Regarding the National Aquarium, Washington, DC

As members of our online community, we would like to share some important news with you regarding the National Aquarium, Washington, DC.

Due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce building, our DC facility will be closing on September 30, 2013. The General Services Administration (GSA) requires us to vacate our current space in the building by March 2014.

This September 30 closing date allows us to meet GSA’s March deadline using a timeline that accommodates our main priority: the needs of our animals and staff. Our collection of more than 1,500 animals will be transitioned to new homes at either National Aquarium, Baltimore, or at other accredited aquariums.

Here at the National Aquarium, we value our DC venue’s rich history as the nation’s first public aquarium, and we are committed to maintaining a presence in the capital, where a public aquarium has existed since the late 1800s. A task force of National Aquarium Board members is exploring opportunities and funding options that would support this goal. The closure of our DC venue will not impact the operation of National Aquarium, Baltimore.

Established in 1873, the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, first opened its doors to visitors in 1885 with a collection of 180 species of fish, reptiles and other aquatic animals.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at social@aqua.org.

We’d like to thank our amazing online community for their continued support of the National Aquarium and our mission.

Amazing Experience Sweepstakes Winners Meet Our Loggerhead!

In December of 2012, as part of our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes, Darren Brooks from Williamsburg, Virginia won the chance to go behind-the-scenes and meet our baby loggerhead turtle at National Aquarium, Washington, DC!

Meet our baby loggerhead turtle, Brownie!

Our baby loggerhead turtle!

Recently, Darren and his family came on-site to meet our loggerhead, learn a bit more about the species and give the little one a name! After observing our baby sea turtle on exhibit, everyone went behind-the-scenes to actually meet the turtle and learn a bit more about him from our Aquarist Dana. Darren and his fiancee Denise decided to name the loggerhead ‘Brownie,’ after it’s sweet personality and love of food!

During their meet and greet with Brownie, Darren and his family also had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about our participation in the Loggerhead Head Start Program. Run by the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll, this program gives baby sea turtles a better chance at survival in the wild. Sea turtle hatchlings found stranded far from the ocean, spend time in aquariums where they can safely grow. After being given a clean bill of health and an extra boost of nutrition, they are tagged and released back to the ocean!

Brownie will spend two years at National Aquarium and then released off the coast of North Carolina!

Stay tuned for more stories on our Amazing Experience Sweepstakes winners!

A Blue View: Snakes In Our Backyards

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.

In a two-part interview series with Dr. Kat Hadfield, Associate Veterinarian at National Aquarium, CEO John Racanelli discusses the endangered status of the world’s seven species of sea turtle and how organizations like the Aquarium and working to save them.

February 20, 2013: Snakes In Our Backyards

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss snakes
and their bad reputation with humans.

As spring approaches, the stray warm, sunny day is going to start waking up our natural world from its winter sleep. Grass will grow, buds will burst from trees and shrubs, birds will migrate, and yes, snakes will come out of hibernation.

For many, the thought of a snake basking in the sunshine on their driveway is enough to send them running for the moving boxes. There’s no doubt about it, snakes—often thought of as creepy, crawly, slimy, and scaly—have an undeservedly bad reputation. Yet these creatures fill a critical role in our environment, and they’re pretty amazing animals, too.

Did you know that some snakes, despite their lack of legs, can climb trees and cave walls in search of food? Or that all snakes can swim, with some, like the water snake, able to dive beneath the surface to feed on fish and frogs? Some species even have infrared heat receptors, allowing them to find prey in the dark.

The emerald tree boa is just one species of snake that makes its home up in the trees!

The emerald tree boa is just one species of snake that makes its home up in the trees!

Snakes are uniquely designed to locate their prey. Though they don’t hear very well, they pick up vibrations from the ground. When snakes stick out their forked tongues, they actually smell the air, using the two-prong shape to establish a direction. “Odor” molecules caught on a snake’s tongue are translated by something called a Jacobson’s Organ in the roof of its mouth, so snakes literally taste the scent. This forked tongue is also used to avoid predators and to help male snakes locate female snakes during the breeding season.

Like other reptiles, snakes are ectotherms, meaning they control their internal body temperature from heat derived from an external source. When cold, they move into the sun; when hot, they move into the shade. Extreme heat or cold can kill them. In winter, snakes hibernate in areas below the frostline, and their dens can be found in narrow crevices in rocks, under trees and wood piles, and occasionally in basements. When snakes bask in the sun—like on those early days of spring—people are often faced with an animal they aren’t comfortable seeing up close.

It’s when snakes seem to encroach on our human space—like our yards or roadways—that many people get distressed, and they often take drastic action to get rid of snakes without thinking about the consequences. After all, snake populations are vital to maintaining balance in our ecosystems, helping to effectively control the population of small mammals, like mice and rats, and also serving as a valuable food source for hawks and other predators.

Here in Maryland, we have 27 species and subspecies of snakes. Of these, only two are venomous, the timber rattlesnake and the northern copperhead. Neither is aggressive unless provoked, preferring instead to remain motionless and blend into their environment. Two species are endangered, but all native snakes in Maryland are protected under the state’s Endangered Species Conservation Act. This means that native snakes cannot be killed, possessed, bred, or sold without acquiring the proper permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

This spring, if you see a snake, don’t run in the opposite direction. Instead, reach for your camera. DNR’s Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project, also known as MARA, is conducting a five-year program, using data collected by people to create a current distribution map of Maryland reptiles and amphibians. If you see a snake or amphibian, simply take a photograph of it, record the location, and e-mail it to the DNR.

This information helps the DNR to develop conservation strategies for native species so snakes and humans can live peacefully together.

Want to learn more about different snake species found around the world? Join us in Washington, DC for our annual Reptile & Amphibian day

Animal Update – February 8

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!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Baby Giant Pacific Octopus!

We have a new giant Pacific octopus on exhibit! Currently the size of a softball, this species can grow to weigh up to 90 lbs! In fact, they are the largest species of octopus in the world.

baby octopus

Found in the coastal regions of the North Pacific, the giant Pacific octopus is highly intelligent and adaptable, making them a hard catch for predators.

These masters of camouflage can quickly change the color and texture of their skin to match the background. By rapidly drawing water into the mantle and expelling it through the tube-like siphon, they can jet themselves backward, away from danger.

Once this juvenile matures a bit, our staff will begin regular enrichment exercises to encourage cognitive thinking.

octopus enrichment

Aquarist Morgan Denney facilitating an enrichment with our giant Pacific octopus in Baltimore!

One exercise involves giving the octopus a container with food inside. The octopus opens the container quickly, using more than 1,800 suction cups that help it locate and taste the item inside.

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

Animal Update – January 25

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!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Habitat Adjustment for Lobsters, Toby and Larry!

Last year, our Washington, DC venue welcomed two rare, brightly-colored lobsters into their collection. Toby, a blue lobster found off the Maryland coast, resides in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuaries exhibit.

Like most of his species, Toby likes to spend his time nestled under rock formations. In the wild, this behavior helps protect the lobster from possible predators.

Toby

This week, staff dove in this exhibit to create similar “habitat spots” for our second lobster, Larry, a bright orange lobster donated to the Aquarium by a local market. Lobsters can be quite territorial, so to prevent any aggression between our two, we’ve provided them each their own space within the habitat! Visitors will be able to see Larry on exhibit in the next few weeks!

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

Animal Update – January 11

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 visits. 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!

AnimalUpdated_DC


Our freshwater exhibit welcomed some new additions this week!

Brown bullhead catfish

Also referred to as a “mud cat,” this species thrives in lakes and ponds with muddy conditions.

bullhead catfish

The bullhead catfish is an opportunistic bottom feeder. Their diet consists mostly of insects, leeches, snails, fish, and clams.

Previously only found in the United States, the bullhead catfish has become a global invasive species (they are especially harmful to freshwater ecosystems in Europe, Chile and parts of New Zealand).

Greenside darter

A greenside darter was added to our Northern Streams gallery. The greenside is the largest of the darter genus, reaching a standard length of approximately five inches.

greenside darter

 This species is commonly found in large creeks and medium-sized rivers across North America. They can even be spotted swimming along the Potomac River!

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

Animal Update – January 4

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!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Longsnout seahorses

We have added two new Caribbean longsnout seahorses to our National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks gallery!

longsnout seahorse

Did you know this species of seahorse only reach a maximum size of six inches?  Their small size allows them to explore even the slimmest crevices of reefs! This is where they search of food and find coral pieces to anchor on for rest and protection.

longsnout seahorses

As with other seahorse species, when longsnout seahorses mate the female deposits her eggs into a pouch in the male’s belly. The male is then responsible for carrying the eggs until they hatch and the male is ready to give birth to the live young!

longsnout seahorse

Both males and females are typically a yellow color, with flecks of brown and black (allowing them to blend into their reef habitats). This camouflage coloration along with their bony body allows the longsnout seahorse to have very few predators.

Unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are still seriously threatened by habitat loss!

Can’t get enough of these beautiful creatures? Download this month’s customized, free wallpapers of the lined seahorse to your computer, mobile device and/or social platform! 

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


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