Posts Tagged 'wetlands'

Re-cap: Wetland Restoration in New York

Last week, our conservation staff traveled to upstate New York to engage students in local wetland restoration projects. Two schools, Chenango Forks High School and Ridge Road Elementary School, participated in a modified version of our Wetland Nursery program.

ny wetland restoration

For the students who live in the northern end of the watershed, it can be difficult to understand the connection between their community and the Chesapeake Bay. But after learning about and caring for different kinds of wetland plants, the students began to see how wetlands in their area can help clean-up waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

A total of 95 students from Chenango Forks High School and Chenango Forks Elementary School planted 1,500 freshwater wetland plants in a swamp on their school’s property. Additionally, the students removed four trash bags of invasive plants to make room for the native species.
Thirty-two students from Ridge Road Elementary School planted 1,500 freshwater wetland plants in a vernal pond at Tanglewood Nature Center. Afterwards, they took a tour of the Nature Center and the beautiful property around it.

ny wetland restoration

The Wetland Nursery Program aims to create a lasting connection between students and the Chesapeake Bay. By raising wetland plants and helping to restore a local wetland, students become invested in the health of the ecosystem and feel a closer connection to their watershed.
The students’ hard work did not go unnoticed; check out the local news channel’s coverage of the planting event.

A special thank you to our partners on this project: Elmira Corning Community Foundation, the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and Tanglewood Nature Center!

 

Terrapins Go Back to School!

As children from across Maryland head back to school, students from 32 schools are welcoming baby turtles to their classrooms!

Through the National Aquarium’s Terrapins in the Classroom program, hatchling diamondback turtles are collected from Poplar Island and placed in schools across the state. This year’s terrapins hatched in late July and early August. Aquarium staff cared for them until they began to eat regularly. This week and next week, the terrapins are being delivered to their new schools!

A terrapin hatchling

Students are charged with collecting growth data on the terrapins, observing their behavior, and researching their natural history. Along the way, they learn basic husbandry (animal care) skills and gain a unique connection to the Chesapeake Bay. At the end of the school year, students will release their terrapin back on Poplar Island.

Last school year, Matthew Floyd, an eighth grader from Lime Kiln Middle School, made a special connection with the terrapin at his school. Nicknamed “Leo” by the students, the terrapin was a key component of the school’s special education program. Every day Matt made sure to stop by to check on Leo and feed him. Matt’s experience with Leo taught him about how his actions can impact the environment. “We humans are finally learning from our mistakes, and that means everyone’s happy, including our animal friends,” he said.

This school year, hundreds of students, just like Matt, will develop a meaningful connection with their terrapin. Through this hands-on approach to conservation, the Terrapins in the Classroom program hopes to inspire life-long environmental stewardship.

Students get a closer look at a baby terrapin

The good news is there are many ways that you, too, can help diamondback terrapins! You can do your part by protecting wetlands, helping to ensure trash does not end up in our waterways, and practicing terrapin-safe crabbing!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Students Restoring Wetlands

Recently, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) traveled to Snow Hill, MD, to help restore a rare freshwater wetland at Nassawango Creek Preserve. Through an ongoing partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Worchester County schools, local students and community volunteers planted 700 Atlantic white cedar saplings and 700 shortleaf pine trees in two days.

The students have spent the last year caring for and monitoring the Atlantic white cedar trees in their schoolyard. In the fall, the students repotted the saplings and placed them in their schools’ wet frame pond. Throughout the year, they have watered the trees and monitored their growth. Under the students’ care, the trees flourished and this month were ready to be planted!

Nasswango Creek Preserve, the restoration site, encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Through controlled burns, regular planting events, and other best management practices, The Nature Conservancy hopes to restore the freshwater wetlands that once dominated the Preserve. Students also had the opportunity to experience another rare habitat within the preserve when they planted the shortleaf pine trees among ancient sand dunes.

With beautiful weather and dozens of eager volunteers, the project finished ahead of schedule! The students enjoyed planting the trees they had raised and were amazed to see their trees at home in their natural habitat.

Volunteers clean up Fort McHenry Wetland

Together, what can 83 volunteers accomplish on a Saturday morning?

In just four hours on Saturday, September 24, these volunteers, along with the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), removed 23,839 pieces of debris from the Fort McHenry Wetland in support of National Public Lands Day and the International Coastal Cleanup.

“Before I went through this experience, I never knew there was so much trash out there,” was one volunteer’s response to the overwhelming sight of the Patapsco River shoreline.

Fort McHenry Before Cleanup

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a well-visited piece of history for both Baltimore residents and out-of-town visitors. The Fort McHenry Wetland, located adjacent to the Fort, can be seen from the popular walking path. As one of the very few living shorelines in Baltimore City, the 8-acre Fort McHenry Wetland is well functioning, doing exactly what it’s meant to do: remove excess nutrients from the water; provide habitat for local wildlife; and filter the marine debris that is carried in from the tide. Since 1998, ACT! has hosted multiple community-supported debris cleanups here.

Fort McHenry After Cleanup

Volunteers have dedicated 250 hours to remove the urban debris (aka trash) and maintain the butterfly and rain gardens located on the site. Partners for this event included the Steinweg Baltimore, Maryland Port Administration, REI, Royal Bank of Canada, Constellation Energy, Maryland Environmental Trust, Toyota, and the National Park Service. To participate in a future Fort McHenry Field Day or another ACT! event, sign up to receive the Aquarium’s Conservation e-newsletter, and we’ll let you know about upcoming conservation events.

Why does the harbor water smell?

The water in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is giving off a very fishy odor. Wondering why? If nutrient levels are high enough, warming waters can sustain increased numbers of microscopic plants or algae.  Nutrient runoff from our recent spring rains fueled a brown algae bloom in the inner harbor giving the water a mahogany color last week. Algae has a short life span, and as it dies oxygen is consumed and is no longer available for other organisms in the water column.  At this point, fish and other animals that cannot escape the low oxygen zones die.  These are commonly referred to as “dead zones” which cause fish kills, and the bad smell over the weekend. The bacteria then devours the dead fish killed by oxygen depletion, fueling more bad odors.

Some animals, like jellies require very little oxygen and manage to live through these dead zone events. This is part of the reason jellies populations are thriving in bodies of water around the world.

These excess nutrients that cause the algae blooms can come from a variety of sources including fertilizer, storm fort-mchenry-cleanup-webwater runoff, and even atmospheric deposition.  So what can be done about it?  The National Aquarium is actively working to improve the water quality of the Bay by restoring vital habitats like tidal wetlands.  These habitats remove excess nutrients, help prevent flooding and provide important habitat to the animals that live there.  You can volunteer – check it out!


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