Posts Tagged 'spring cleaning'

Spring Cleaning: It Even Happens in the Ocean!

It’s official – Spring has sprung! For many, this is a time to reset, refresh and reorganize. For our oceanic counterparts, it’s just another Tuesday…

Many pairs of sea creatures enjoy “spring cleaning” all year long through a great interaction known as symbiosis in which different species  take advantage of each other to achieve a specific goal. Most of these types of cleaning relationships are examples of mutualism, meaning both parties benefit from the relationship. One animal gets nutrition via a guaranteed food source, while the other is left cleaner and healthier.

In celebration of the Spring season, meet some of the ocean’s most popular cleaners: 

Cleaner shrimp are some of the tidiest animals around. They use their claws to remove parasites, algae and dead tissue from a variety of fish species.

Banded Coral Shrimp

Forming groups of about 25, the shrimp will perform “rocking dances” or swish their antennae back and forth to attract clients and let them know they are ready to clean. Some species will even crawl inside the mouths of larger fish to remove any parasites hiding inside.

Yellow tangs and sea turtles make fantastic partners. Yellow tangs group together to eagerly await the arrival of a sea turtle, and with it, their dinner.

yellow tangs

The tang eats algae and parasites from turtle’s skin, a safe and convenient spot to feed. The turtle’s shell is cleaned, making it healthier and smoother. As a result, the turtle can swim more easily throughout the ocean.

Cleaner wrasses are  hygiene-conscious fish that form cleaning units, beckoning clients by swimming up and down. Their role as ocean disinfectants contributes to their survival.

cleaner wrasse

Larger fish refrain from eating the wrasses, as they know their ability to remove parasites and keep them clean is more valuable than becoming a momentary food source.

Mola mola, also known as sunfish, look out of this world. They can grow to be thousands pounds, and can carry up to 40 different kinds of parasites!

mola mola

When the sunfish feels the urgent need to remove any parasitic problems, they head to the nearest kelp bed where both gobies AND seagulls are around and ready to provide relief.

 

A Blue View: Bayscaping!

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.

April 3, 2013: Bayscaping

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance
of conservation-minded landscaping!

For many of us, spring means we can get our hands dirty. We bring out the mowers and the yard tools, head to the nurseries to buy seeds or plants for the garden, and enjoy spending our weekends outdoors working in the yard.

Increasingly in our region, a conservation-minded landscaping trend is taking hold. Sometimes called “bayscaping” here in the Mid-Atlantic, conservation landscaping incorporates sustainable strategies. The goal is to create an outdoor environment that reduces pollution and helps combat the contaminants that run into the Chesapeake Bay every day.

According to Blue Water Baltimore, Americans use 5 million tons of fertilizer and more than 70 million pounds of pesticides every year. Many times, these treatments are over-applied or applied at the wrong time, and they run off into our waterways.

To minimize the use of these types of garden treatments, one of the first things you can do is eliminate invasive plant species and instead incorporate native plants into your yard. Native plants are those that are naturally present in your region, while non-native species have been brought to the region at some point in history. Because native plants are uniquely adapted to a particular region, they don’t require as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides to be healthy. If you do find it necessary to use pesticides in your yard, first try alternatives, such as horticultural soaps. Pesticides not only kill the pests, but they harm other inhabitants of your yard as well.

Another key goal of bayscaping is the establishment of your green space as a dynamic wildlife habitat. According to the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, minimizing the amount of lawn and replacing it with layers of plants—including trees, shrubs, and perennials—make yards wildlife friendly by providing a variety of shelter. Less lawn also means less mowing, which is another environmental plus. It’s also important to provide year-round water and food sources for your yard inhabitants.

Incorporating bayscaping strategies may mean that your yard doesn’t look like your neighbor’s, but that’s not a bad thing. Take the opportunity to educate them about sustainable landscaping practices. You may start a neighborhood trend that the Chesapeake Bay will thank you for!

Once your yard is bayscaped, there are several certification programs that will validate your conservation efforts. To achieve Bay-Wise certification, a Master Gardener will assess your property and give your yard a score. You can also create a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat by providing appropriate shelter, food, and water for the animals in your yard!


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