Posts Tagged 'Ocean Conservation'



Giving Tuesday: Together, We Can Make a Difference

What comes after Black Friday and Cyber Monday?  Giving Tuesday – a day dedicated to supporting your favorite nonprofit organizations!

National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization with one mission: to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. In addition to giving visitors from around the world the opportunity to get up close and personal with more than 17,000 animals, we live our mission everyday through animal rescue, conservation and education.

Our impact last year, by the numbers:

  • We welcomed over 1.3 million visitors
  • Our volunteers contributed 119,648 service hours
  • Our conservation team planted 146,273 native plants and
    restored 7.9 acres of local habitat
  • Our animal rescue team cared for 28 animals (Including a green sea turtle that became the program’s 100th release!)
  • Our education programs reached 131,838 people

Everyday we are:

  • Providing over 17,000 animals the highest quality of care around
  • Monitoring 4,360 miles of coastline for stranded/injured animals
  • Finding new ways to reduce our impact on the environment!

This Giving Tuesday, we hope you’ll support the National Aquarium and our mission!

Know an Ocean Hero? Nominate Them Today!

oceana ocean heroes

Our friends at Oceana are currently asking for nominations for their annual Ocean Hero Awards – a contest celebrating individuals who go above and beyond to protection our oceans!

Nominations, for both the Junior and Adult titles, are currently open to the public and will be taken until this Friday, June 28, 2013.

After the nomination period closes this week, a team of Oceana staff will select a pool of finalists. The public will then be asked to vote for this year’s winners! Voting will take place from July 16th to July 26th. The winning Adult and Junior Ocean Heroes will be announced on July 31st. Click here to find out all the amazing things the winners will receive!

A little bit on last year’s winners…
Adult winner Captain Don Voss is owner of the Marine Cleanup Initiative, a debris collection organization that cleans up Florida’s waterways. The winner of the junior award was James Hemphill of Virginia Beach, VA. James was the president of Project Green Teens, a student-run environmental group that promotes conservation in Virginia Beach.

Partners in Ocean Conservation
At National Aquarium, we are thrilled to be partners with Oceana! Last year during our World Oceans Day celebration, Oceana’s first-ever Ocean Hero winner John Hallas joined our CEO John Racanelli for a dive at the Aquarium to promote ocean protection and conservation.

John Racanelli John Hallas diving at National Aquarium

Know someone like John Hallas or Captain Don Voss or James Hemphill? Nominate YOUR ocean hero today and tell us a bit about them in the comments section! 

James Cameron Inspires Future Generations of Explorers in Washington, DC!

You don’t have to go to space to find great exploration horizons!

Yesterday, ocean pioneer and Academy-Award winning filmmaker, James Cameron, and his submersible, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, arrived in Washington, DC!

It was the fifth stop on the DeepSea America Tour, a nation-wide trek to bring the sub to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts where it will be studied by engineering students who are building the next generation of submersible research vessels!

In Washington, the tour made two stops: first, on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of ocean research and exploration; and second, at an outdoor event for local school children. At the second event, students were invited to come see the vessel and learn more about the ocean, exploration and science. National Aquarium was honored to be asked by Cameron and his foundation to support these DC outreach efforts. Our CEO, John Racanelli, and education team were delighted to be on-site  participating in yesterday’s educational program!

Here at the Aquarium, one of the most important aspects of living our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures is engaging the community and our youth through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education topics!

We have a variety of learning programs including internships, on-site field trips, teacher workshops, after-school programs and more that provide local students the hands-on experience and knowledge they need to become the next generation of ocean explorers!

Click here to learn more about how National Aquarium is taking education beyond the classroom!

World Oceans Day Re-cap!

This weekend, we celebrated World Oceans Day in both Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD! The ocean-related festivities included everything from aquatic stilt performances to participatory art installations! We hope all of our guests enjoyed celebrating the big blue with us!

Check out this photo re-cap of our events:

Although World Oceans Day has come and gone, we encourage you all to continue to celebrate, explore and protect the ocean. Collectively, let’s take what we learned during World Oceans Day and apply it to our daily lives.

Here are five easy ways you can help the ocean: 

  1. Reduce your energy use
    Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can lead to ocean acidification, which is harmful to ocean life. You can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere by riding a bike, walking or using public transportation and by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
  2. Use less plastic
    When plastic debris ends up in the ocean, animals can mistake it for food and eat it by accident, causing animals to choke or clogging their digestive systems. You can prevent this by limiting plastic use and always disposing of trash properly. Choose reusable items such as cloth grocery bags or refillable water bottles.
  3. Cut apart six-pack rings
    The plastic rings used for soda containers can pose a threat to marine life. Creatures can get caught in the rings and sometimes are unable to free themselves. You can help save these animals by cutting apart the rings before throwing them in the trash.
  4. Conserve water
    Reducing your water use can minimize wastewater runoff into the ocean, preventing chemicals and other contaminants from damaging marine habitats. You can conserve water by taking quicker showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
  5. Eat sustainable seafood
    Overfishing can lead to an irreparable loss in certain seafood populations. To prevent this, avoid catching or eating certain species that have been exploited, such as bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass. Visit seafoodwatch.org for more sustainable seafood recommendations!

Remember, even small changes can make a WHALE of a difference! 

The Ocean, Our Planet’s Final Frontier

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In Barcelona in 2006, oceanographer Sylvia Earle received an international award for her storied career as an ocean explorer. Also honored that day was John Hanke, developer of the now-famous Earth visualization tool Google Earth. Smiling slyly, Dr. Earle commended John for creating an amazing new way to view the world, then asked, “When do you plan to finish it? You’ve done a great job with the land—‘Google Dirt.’ What about the ocean?” Thus challenged, John asked Sylvia and her team to help him fix this oversight and in early 2009, we unveiled Ocean in Google Earth, offering earthlings a global view of the ocean’s vast bathymetry.

This story illustrates a truth about how many of us think (or more accurately, don’t think) about the ocean. Though half the world’s population lives within 50 miles of a coast, the cliché “out of sight, out of mind” describes the way most of us relate to the expansive, interconnected ocean that covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of its water.

This blue planet is indeed a water planet, yet incredibly, over 90 percent of the ocean remains unexplored and unseen by humans. In a world that’s increasingly tamed and cataloged, it’s astounding to learn that until last year, only two human beings had been to the ocean’s greatest depth: Challenger Deep, off the Mariana Islands. That epic descent occurred in 1960—before we’d even ventured into space! Just last year, one more explorer made the voyage: renowned filmmaker James Cameron piloted a new craft, Deepsea Challenger, there and back. I suspect we’ll soon be treated to some spectacular footage of a world we understand less than we do the planet Mars.

Experts believe that up to two-thirds of the plant and animal species in the ocean may still await our discovery, with as many as one million species of non-bacterial sealife yet to be identified. In other words, we’ve only scratched the ocean’s surface.

Scientists, poets and philosophers have referred to the ocean as our planet’s life-support system, its blue lungs. Our air, weather, freshwater, climate and much of our food are ultimately regulated, moderated or provided by the sea’s seemingly limitless bounty. Over 2.6 billion people rely on the ocean for their primary source of protein. And we count on the ocean to absorb more than 30 percent of the climate-changing carbon dioxide (CO2) we produce.

Yet for all these benefits (called ‘ecosystem services’ by ecologists), the ocean cannot sustain our unrelenting onslaught. We put in too many bad things, take out too many good things, and reconfigure its shores, chemistry and balance. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have calculated that the ocean absorbs and stores 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere, yet it’s no secret that atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas are rising at an alarming rate and now routinely approach 400 parts per million; at this rate, we are poised to double pre-Industrial Revolution CO2 levels in the next few decades. And, in case you’re wondering, human-influenced climate change is no longer mere theory, as if it ever were. In a review of 12,000 papers published in research journals, 97 percent of the authors—atmospheric scientists who seldom agree on anything—concur that it is directly attributed to human activities.

Against this gloomy backdrop, one might ask, “What hope is there?” In my view, there’s plenty. We have never known so much about aquatic systems and the delicate interplay between them. We’ve doubled the area of our National Marine Sanctuary system over the past decade. We have a National Ocean Policy and a nascent implementation plan, the first in our nation’s history. Whether in fisheries management, ecosystem thinking or product life-cycle planning, we’re learning from our past and planning a better future.

Here at National Aquarium, we value the conservation of aquatic treasures—by which we mean habitats and inhabitants, human and non-human, individual and community. By definition, treasures are worth protecting. World Oceans Day is one way of celebrating such oceanic treasures. This year, I invite you to embrace a thought, one shared by all of us who commit our lives to the sea: the ocean matters to me and to those I love. With every drop of water you drink and every breath you take, you are connected to this complex ecosystem, whether you live on the coast, in the mountains, in a city or a desert.

Simply by existing, the ocean gives us the gift of life. It’s time we returned the favor.

Blog-Header-JohnRacanelli

Thoughtful Thursdays: Looking Past World Oceans Day

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If you ask anyone to use one word to describe the ocean, you’ll most likely hear one of the following; amazing, awesome, powerful, wonderful, hypnotic, miraculous, magical, vast, incredible, inspiring, etc. Of course, there are many, many more descriptive words for the sea, but these are the most popular – and the most emotional. They all communicate much more than a technical description. These are words that evoke deep sensitivities. Maybe it is because we know the ocean provides for us – or that we depend on it for so many things or maybe it is because we are instinctively aware of our deep connection to the ocean.

Few things are more peaceful than staring out at the ocean!

Few things are more peaceful than staring out at the ocean!

June 8th is World Oceans Day. At the National Aquarium, we will take this opportunity to talk to our guests and community about why we love the ocean and why it deserves our protection. We will also spend some time talking about the challenges that the ocean is facing, challenges like pollution, global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification and overfishing. This weekend, we’ll offer activities designed to provide ideas on ocean-friendly choices we all can make at home and we’ll invite our visitors to join us at one of our upcoming ocean conservation events. I hope you’ll be able to join us this weekend!

Plastic debris at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Shrine here in Baltimore. Plastic pollution is seriously hurting the ocean and its inhabitants!

Plastic debris at Ft. McHenry National Monument and Shrine here in Baltimore. Plastic pollution is seriously hurting the ocean and its inhabitants!

More importantly, once you go back to your normal lives next week, I’d like to ask that you continue your passion for our oceans. Take what you learned on World Oceans Day and incorporate them into your daily routines. I know this is easier said than done – so I’d like to offer some tips on how to make this easier:

  • Decide what you love most about the ocean. This could be its plants or animals, beaches, recreation opportunities or its resources!
  • Find ways you can help what you love. Research some of challenges our ocean is facing and identify those that particularly effect the thing you love the most. I.e. if you love sea turtles, you might want to work on plastics pollution, fisheries bycatch issues, nesting beach protection or endangered species conservation.
  • Decide on one thing you will change in your life that will make a positive change. Now you know you want to help reduce the amount of plastics in the ocean. You can decide if you want to help remove what is already there (participate in community cleanup events like the International Coastal Cleanup) or reduce what our society is adding to the problem by decreasing or eliminating some single-use plastics (like water bottles and disposable coffee cups) in your life.
  • Commit to making that change a permanent part of your daily routine by World Ocean’s Day 2014. Honestly, changing your daily routine is not easy. It will not happen overnight and will take significant and ongoing commitment – even for seemingly easy changes. So I’m also asking you to give yourself a break. Give yourself time to make this happen. Make a World Oceans Day Resolution! Commit to making a change this year, set a goal, mark your progress throughout the year and then, ideally, you will reach your goal by next World Oceans Day!
  • Celebrate your success and share your stories with us along the way! Give yourself a pat on the back. Committing to, working towards and ultimately hitting your goal was not easy and you deserve to feel proud. Maybe you volunteered for 3 cleanup events and helped remove 60 lbs. of trash that otherwise would have made its way into our ocean. Maybe you stopped buying bottled water and removed 365 bottles from the waste stream. Congratulations! You’re making a difference. Share your stories with us so that your successes can help inspire others to make a difference for our oceans. Warning: Helping our ocean can be addictive. I predict (and hope) that this one commitment will lead to others along the way.

The ocean is a treasure worthy of our respect and admiration. Thank you in advance for making a difference!

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Let’s Create a Sea of Social Support for the Ocean!

On June 8, organizations and communities from around the world will celebrate the Earth’s largest life-support system, the ocean. World Oceans Day, first celebrated in 2002, was established to help educate others on how much of an impact the ocean has on our lives and what we need to do to protect it!

National Aquarium is celebrating World Oceans Day with special blog posts throughout the week, featuring important issues relating to ocean conservation, and by hosting celebrations at both our Washington, DC and Baltimore venues this weekend!

As part of the festivities, we’re asking our communities online and on-site to share a photo of their best fish face and a conservation pledge to help take care of our blue planet! Get ready to pucker up!

puckerup

Throughout the week, be sure to share your photos with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #puckerup! And be sure to check back with us because we’ll be sharing some of your favorite photos/pledges! Check out some of the staff here at the Aquarium showing off their best fish faces:

Here are some simply conservation pledges you can include:

  • I pledge to conserve water. It’s as easy as shortening your shower time and turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth!
  • I pledge to use less plastic. Invest in a re-usable water bottle! Keep plastic water bottles out of the ocean and a couple of dollars in your pocket!
  • I pledge to conserve energy. Reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere by riding a bike, walking or using public transportation and by turning off the lights when you leave a room!
  • I pledge to eat only sustainable seafood. Overfishing can lead to an irreparable loss in certain seafood populations. You can prevent this by avoiding catching or eating certain species that have been exploited.
  • I pledge to learn more about the ocean and its inhabitants. It is only through continued education and exploration that we can truly have a better understanding of the ocean and how we’re impacting it.

In addition to our #puckerup campaign, we’ve also started a “Why do YOU love the ocean?” community discussion on Twitter! Do you have a favorite memory/story related to the ocean or its inhabitants? Tell the world right here!

This World Oceans Day, we want to show our blue planet a SEA of social support! The pledges we collect this week will join thousands of others collected by conservation organizations around the world!

Follow the conversations around World Oceans Day on Twitter using #oceanlove and don’t forget to PUCKER UP! 


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