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M AGA ZI N E O F T H E N AT I O N A L AQ UA R I U M • S U M M E R 2 010


Aquarium PLANTs Floating Wetland Island May Improve Baltimore Inner Harbor Water Quality

Aquarium Announces Exciting New PartnershiP Cruising Toward a Cleaner Energy Future with Chevrolet

Executive Director: David M. Pittenger


Dolphin Talk Aquarium experts and scientist colleagues share the latest in marine mammal research

COLUMNS 3 Helping Hands Aquarium testifies about attraction animals 4 Top Topic Former Baltimore brownfield to become public park 5 Partnership Power Chevrolet hybrid to transport rescued marine mammals



Baltimore, MD Chief Operating Officer: Paula Schaedlich

Washington, DC Executive Director: Robert A. Ramin

September Entry Hours:

Friday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday- Thursday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

October Entry Hours:

4-D Theater Show Times

Shows daily. Please check for times.

September 7-October Dolphin Show Times*

Monday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.; 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Membership Office Hours:

Friday: 11:30 a.m.; 1:30, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday: 11:30 a.m.; 1:30, 3:30

Main Aquarium .........................202-482-2826 Information ..............................202-482-2825 Membership Services .............. 410-659-4230 Volunteer Services ...................202-482-0852 Birthday Parties........................ 202-482-2782 Rent our DC Facility................202-207-5060 Website

Friday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

and 5 p.m.

November-December Entry Hours:

3:30 and 5 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

You may tour the Aquarium for 90 minutes after the last entry time. Visit for specific entry times of the day(s) you plan to visit. Membership Office Hours:

Weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Advanced Member Ticket Sales .................................410-727-FISH Annual Giving ............................410-576-8678 Aquadopt ......................................410-576-8840 Corporate Membership .............410-576-3866 Main Aquarium ...........................410-576-3800 Membership Services ................ 410-659-4230 Program Registration ................410-727-FISH Special Gifts, Estate Planning ...........................410-576-8535 TDD/TTY ................................. 410-625-0720 Volunteer Services ......................410-576-3886 Website

Entry Hours: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. You may tour the Aquarium for 30 minutes after the last entry time.

October 11, Columbus Day: 11:30 a.m.; 1:30,

November-December Dolphin Show Times*

Shows daily. Please check for times.

14 Spotlight Shine Seal release joined by thousands of followers


15 Stewardship Stories Former Aquarium intern becomes DC assistant curator

ROMANCING THE CORAL The importance of coral reefs to aquatic ecosystems

IN EVERY ISSUE 2 From the Executive Director 10 Places to Be Kids Club

Immersion Tours

Gallery Tour Dolphin Encounter Breakfast with the Dolphins Sharks! Behind-the-Scenes Tour Little Explorers Tour: Stripes and Polka Dots Guest Diver Program Sleepover with the Sharks Dolphin Sleepover Visit to learn more. Special Occasions

Tours are a great way to celebrate a special occasion. For specialized tours and larger tour groups, please contact us at 410-576-8822 or e-mail us at

* Dolphin show times are subject to change. Please visit for schedule updates.

9 Education Environment New Aquarium sleepover combines facts and fun

16 Membership Matters Aquarium charter members share their early memories 18 Green News Floating island may clean up harbor water 19 Guest Column Chris Karpf, U.S. Coast Guard 20 Reaching Out An eventful tradition in conservation

Daily Animal Encounters* Lunchtime with the Sharks

Monday, Wednesday and Saturday: 2 p.m. FREE with Aquarium Admission

Bottom Left Photo: © Tom Pfeifer

Lunchtime with the Piranhas

Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday: 2 p.m. FREE with Aquarium Admission Lunchtime with the Alligators

Friday: 2 p.m. FREE with Aquarium Admission

Tracey Lynn Shifflett EDITOR:

MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM A copy of the National Aquarium’s financial statement is available upon written request. Documents filed in accordance with the Maryland Charitable Organizations Solicitation Act may be obtained from the Maryland Secretary of State.

* Daily animal encounters are subject to change without notice.

© 2010 National Aquarium

CFC # 11251

MCC # 4099

Lindsay Elder, Kim Leslie, Tom Pfeifer, Mike Sheehan, Tracey Lynn Shifflett CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:


Jocelyn Anderson Soly


George Grall

By printing on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks and wind power, the Aquarium saved the following resources: Trees 42

fully grown

Energy 27 million BTU

Greenhouse Gas 4,586 pounds XX%

Cert no. XXX-XXX-000


Water 19,207 gallons

Solid Waste 2,605 pounds

Impact estimates were made using the Environmental Defense Calculator.

From the Executive Director

about the celebration events, promotions and activities.

David M. Pittenger Executive Director National Aquarium



he steamy days of summer passed quickly this year! It seems one day schools were closing for the summer, then suddenly it’s time for fireworks at the Inner Harbor, the Dolphin Count in Ocean City, Maryland, and another blockbuster Shark Week in Washington; now, just like that it’s Labor Day weekend.

N ATI O N A L AQ UA R I UM BOA R D 2010-2011

The end of summer marked a major milestone for the National Aquarium. August 8th was the start of our 30th year in operation in Baltimore, and we are planning a year of major celebration! Sign up for AquaMail at to be among the first to hear


Anniversaries can be about the past, but we are celebrating the future. We take pride in our being a trusted voice in aquatic conservation, animal care and education. We now commit to using that trusted voice to expand our reach and do even more. I am proud to introduce a new initiative of the National Aquarium: the National Aquarium Conservation Center which will focus on field research and advocacy of aquatic species and environments. The programs of this new entity will raise our profile to a truly national level and give us means to tackle pressing conservation issues that impact the aquatic environment. The work of the Conservation Center has already begun, with studies and partnerships underway that will help us protect vital ecosystems; increase our understanding of mercury levels in wild and captive dolphins; quantify sediment contamination in the Inner Harbor; protect spotted eagle rays; and promote ecologically sound aquaculture.

Sarasota, Monterey, Chicago and Boston, and examining how we can advocate for formal protections of our aquatic world. There is one more change that I have announced, and this one with a bit of a heavy heart. After 15 years as executive director and nearly 30 years with the National Aquarium, I have decided it is time to turn this great institution over to new leadership. I will be with you for at least another Watermarks issue while the new leader is brought on board. It has been personally and professionally gratifying to work with a great team of colleagues (paid and unpaid) to steer this organization and the Aquarium has returned tenfold whatever I have contributed. Thank you for your involvement in the National Aquarium. Whether you have been with us for 30 years or for three months, your partnership matters and we are grateful for your involvement. We look ahead to this 30th year with excitement and confidence!

Much of the work lies ahead. We are exploring initiatives with our sister institutions in

NATIONAL AQUARIUM INSTITUTE Ms. Renée Bronfein Ades Dr. Carole C. Baldwin Mr. Michael J. Batza, Jr. Mr. Mark Bearman The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Mr. Neal D. Borden Mr. Karl S. Bourdeau Mr. David R. Bowen Mr. James Bowers Dr. Torrey C. Brown Mr. Marc Bunting Ms. Ivy Burg Mr. Robert E. Carter Dr. Martin Chalfie Mr. Howard P. Colhoun


Mr. James L. Connaughton The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings Mr. Wayne K. Curry Mr. James M. Dale Mrs. Jane W. I. Droppa Mr. Michael Dunmyer Mr. Mark Edward Ms. Ann T. Gallant Mr. Andrew L. Good Mrs. Mary R. Graul Mr. Randall M. Griffin Mr. Scott Gudes Mr. Frank A. Gunther, Jr. Mr. Charles T. Hopkins

Mr. Richard E. Hug Mr. Jonas Jacobson Mr. Mohannad F. Jishi Mr. Orlan M. Johnson Mr. Charles E. Knudsen, III Mr. Marty Madden Dr. Kumar Mahadevan The Honorable Brian K. McHale Mr. Roger McManus Mr. Robert J. Neuman, Jr. Mr. William D. Norton Mr. Damian C. O’Doherty Ms. Marianela Peralta Mr. B. Dwight Perry

Mr. Donald S. Pettit Mr. Charles A. Phillips Mr. David M. Pittenger Mr. J. Scott Plank Ms. Diana Ramsay Ms. Jennifer W. Reynolds Chair Elect Mr. K. Lee Riley, Jr. Mr. William R. Roberts Chair Mr. Thomas E. Robinson Mr. W. Charles Rogers, III Mr. Mark Rovner Mr. Mark Sapperstein The Honorable William Donald Schaefer

Mr. Jim Seay Mrs. Nina Selin Mr. John D. Shulman Ms. Anna L. Smith Mr. Steven W. Smith Ms. Tamika Langley- Tremaglio Mr. Kenneth H. Trout Ms. C. Elizabeth Wagner Ms. Rhoda M. Washington Mr. Peter S. Welles Mr. Otto Wolff Dr. Daniel A. Wubah

Helping Hands

M EANINGFUL EDUCATION Aquarium weighs in on federal hearing involving attraction animals



n April 27, the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife of the U.S. Congressional Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing entitled, Marine Mammals in Captivity: What Constitutes Meaning ful Public Education? The hearing followed a tragic accidental death of an orca trainer at Sea World in Orlando, and the release of The Cove, an independent documentary film that has prompted scrutiny of zoo and aquarium education programs and the handling of marine mammals on public display. Another significant launching point for the hearing was the recent announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of its plans to revise the Marine Mammal Protection Act regulations, including those related to public display of marine mammals. The NMFS of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the federal agency responsible for managing wild animal populations and issuing permits related to acquiring marine mammals for public display. The congressional hearing examined the provisions, implementation, and enforcement of the statutory requirement that all marine mammal public display facilities have meaningful education or conservation programs. The National Aquarium took this as an outstanding opportunity to discuss its leading role in effective education, research, and conservation of marine mammals.

David Pittenger, executive director of the National Aquarium, entered written testimony into the congressional record. The Aquarium’s Baltimore location houses up to 600 species of aquatic life, including Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. In his testimony, Pittenger explained that “through research, science-based education programs, and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of stranded marine animals, the National Aquarium teaches respect for wildlife. It inspires people to take action toward preserving aquatic habitats, including that of dolphins.” Additionally, Pittenger explained that by integrating research into science-based education programs, aquariums “emphasize the fundamental lesson that everything we do on land affects the health of our oceans.” As an example of the Aquarium’s commitment to action, Pittenger highlighted the Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP), explaining that it “provides humane care and treatment of injured, ill or out-of-habitat marine animals and supports the development and dissemination of new knowledge about these animals to support the conservation of wild species.” Since its beginning, MARP has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 87 marine animals. In oral testimony at the hearing, Jim Maddy, President and CEO of the Aquarium’s accrediting body, the Association of Zoos and

Aquariums (AZA), pointed to the role of AZA-accredited institutions as “centers for conservation volunteerism [that offer] the public extraordinary ways to discover connections to their environment, while teaching them how they too can make a difference.” Maddy stressed that all AZA members are held strictly accountable to provide the world’s highest standard of care to all the animals in their collections, while also delivering topquality conservation and education programs. Following the hearing, Pittenger was optimistic about next steps. “The Aquarium’s mission is to protect aquatic animals and their habitat, while educating others to do the same,” he said. “We support any effort that protects them. If future decisions are made from the stance that public education regarding marine mammals and conservation is crucial for their sustainability in the wild, any congressional action will only strengthen marine mammal protection.”

Lindsay Elder works with the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network, and has been writing about marine fisheries management and policy for two years. Her focus is forging connections with science and communities to better manage and protect coastal and marine resources.



Partnership Power

Top Topic

“I am grateful to the National Aquarium for its role in this exciting project in South Baltimore,” said City Mayor Stephanie RawlingsBlake. “The waterfront park on remediated property will bring an ecosystem back to life, and attract people to live, learn and play in South Baltimore.” Following her remarks at the celebratory event, the Mayor took the first handful of grass seed and blew it across the newly turned soil to enthusiastic applause from city and state officials, media members and Aquarium staff.

R E C L AIMING THE WATERFRON T National Aquarium remediates brownfield, plants seeds for public park



dumping ground for I-95 debris is on the road to recovery. By next spring, a 12.5-acre brownfield site on the banks of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in Baltimore will be transformed into a publicly accessible waterfront park, thanks to a partnership between the National Aquarium Center for Conservation and Baltimore City. “We are pleased to return this to a place of respite and enjoyment of the natural world,” Dave Pittenger, executive director of the National Aquarium, told gathered dignitaries and guests at a May 10 remediation celebration. “We hope that it’s a place where people can strengthen their connection to their Chesapeake Bay birthright.” The Aquarium purchased the site in 2007, obtained the funding and oversaw the cleanup. The city will develop the park. Native plants, trails, a pier and four overlook areas where people can sit and view the Patapsco River will be among the park’s amenities. The trails eventually will link downtown Baltimore to the waterfront via the Gwynn’s Falls hiking and biking trail.



The brownfield was created by filling a shallow flat in the river with construction and demolition debris from various projects around the city, including construction of Interstate 95. A $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and sale of an eight-acre portion of the site allowed the Aquarium to begin the remediation work, the first step in a phased development of the property. The Aquarium hired Potts & Callahan, Inc. last fall to oversee the remediation work. All illegally dumped debris, trash and invasive grasses were removed—more than 7,500 tons of debris and hazardous materials—and certified clean soil was spread across the entire site. Native grasses were planted to stabilize the soil. Repairs were made to the damaged shoreline and a vegetated swale was installed to manage storm water. The final pieces of the project will include asphalt repairs to the existing parking area and the construction of a small visitor parking lot with landscaping.

This is not the first remediation project undertaken by the National Aquarium, as William Roberts, chairman of the National Aquarium board, reminded the attendees who came out to support the project. “The National Aquarium has conservation at its core and has been actively engaged in habitat restoration, rebuilding tidal wetlands, strengthening eroding shorelines and reestablishing islands around Chesapeake Bay for the last decade,” Roberts said. “Closer to home you may have visited the tidal wetlands at Fort McHenry and Masonville Cove that are maintained with the help of schoolchildren who visit, get their hands muddy, and make the kind of connections that create lasting enthusiasm for the environment. We hope that this Middle Branch location will offer the same opportunity for connection, recreation and environmental appreciation.” “Before the turn of the last century,” Pittenger concluded, “this waterfront was a popular recreation area where people came to picnic, to enjoy the Patapsco River and convene with nature.” By next spring, it will be again. Top: City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joins

Aquarium leaders in planting the park’s first grass seeds. Photo: © Tracey Brown Photography

Tom Pfeifer wrote and edited for newspapers in Southern California for 15 years. He now concentrates on federal legislative communications and freelance writing projects.

T H E N AT I O N A L A Q U A R I U M & C H E V R O L E T Teaming up for aquatic rescue missions

On June 19, three endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were treated like “diplomats of the sea” as they were escorted from Baltimore to Point Lookout State Park at the southern tip of Maryland in a new 2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid—the new Official Conservation Vehicle of the National Aquarium.


he event marked the first of many animal rescue efforts that will take place as part of the ongoing partnership between the National Aquarium and Chevrolet. “Chevrolet and the National Aquarium share the goal of inspiring individuals to make thoughtful choices that ensure healthier oceans and waterways for our community and around the world,” says Chevrolet Sales and Marketing Manager Dan Adamcheck. “Providing a Silverado Hybrid for the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) allows our team to help save seriously ill animals, as well as fuel!”

The turtles came to the National Aquarium in January from New England and Delaware, suffering from cases of cold stunning—the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia. After six months of rehabilitation by MARP, the turtles, named Marshall, Patterson and Hampden, were returned to their ocean home. Already cruising as fast as a Silverado, Marshall (the only turtle fitted with a temporary satellite tag) has traveled more than 200 miles since the release.

The Silverado was chosen for its eco-friendliness, but also for its dependability. MARP and the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) spend a great deal of time on the road responding to stranded animals, releasing animals back to their natural habitat and traveling to habitat restoration sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The need for an environmentally responsible and dependable vehicle is critical. GM plant manager William Tiger explains that the two-mode hybrid technology delivers the best performance and efficiency Chevrolet has to offer in a hybrid vehicle. Tiger has a lot to do with that, as his Allison Transmission plant in White Marsh, Maryland is the only GM manufacturing site on the eastern seaboard. The 470,000 square foot plant sits on 65 acres of land north of Baltimore, and has the capacity to dispatch as many as 40,000 of the company’s transmissions per year. Tiger says the regenerative technology of hybrids such as the Silverado is uniquely green, as it packs an electric motor into the transmission to form a single-drive unit. “It’s a patented GM formula

that we first developed for commuter buses,” he explains. “It’s self-charging, so it conserves energy. And conserving energy isn’t just environmentally friendly, it’s simply good business sense.” It’s good green business sense for both of these local organizations. “Our rescue team responds to animal strandings all over the state of Maryland, which includes nearly 7,000 miles of shoreline. Our Silverado Hybrid allows us to fulfill a dual mission of rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick and stranded animals, while maximizing fuel efficiency and minimizing our environmental impact. It’s a win-win scenario for our teams,” says Jennifer Dittmar, MARP’s stranding coordinator. With the help of Chevrolet’s hybrid trucks, the National Aquarium is now cruising to a cleaner energy future!

Top: GM Plant Manager Bill Tiger assists in “Marshall’s”

release. The temporary satellite tag data shows the turtle has already traveled more than 200 miles since its June release. Photo: © Pat Venturino Learn more:




Aquarium dolphins “blow” on request, and now scientists have learned that “breath” contains DNA.

Bottom Photo: Courtesy of Georgetown University



The three most common types of learning are visual, auditory and kinesthetic, or “tactile.” If you learn more about dolphins by reading this article aloud, then you’re probably an auditory learner. If you learn more about dolphins by watching their behaviors at the National Aquarium, then you may be a visual learner. And if you learn more about dolphins kinesthetically, perhaps you should pursue a career in marine biology. Scientists discover a lot about dolphins and other marine mammals by employing all of these learning techniques inside the National Aquarium and in waters all over the world.

“Learning from animals can be challenging in the wild,” says Dr. Diana Reiss of Hunter College, a research associate for the Aquarium. “We can lose track of them, or their external stimuli may change, thereby altering their responses. When we observe animals in a zoo or aquarium, we become familiar with their social groups and can more accurately track cognitive trends.” But Reiss stresses the importance of combining field research with animals in residence, saying that one is inconclusive without the other. “Zoos and aquariums are valuable components of cohesive scientific studies,” she says. “Longitudinal studies of aquarium dolphins allow us to examine the long-term behaviors of these intelligent, complex animals, but it isn’t until we marry that information with field work that we complete the picture.” This is why scientists such as Reiss come from all over the country to observe National Aquarium dolphins and work with our team of animal experts. “We are committed to learning from our dolphins and sharing that information with visitors and the scientific community so that we can be proper stewards for them and for wild populations,” says Sue Hunter, the Aquarium’s director of animal programs. “Seeing these social animals and providing scientific evidence of their cognitive and psychological abilities tells us a great deal about how we can advocate for them and the health of their environment,” concurs Reiss.



WHAT WE LEARN BY WATCHING Reiss has been working with the National Aquarium’s dolphins for almost 10 years. Her study on dolphins’ ability to recognize their own image in a mirror (the only other non-human previously known to be capable of this was the great ape) is lauded as a real breakthrough in complex cognition. Reiss has also revealed that dolphins are sufficiently focused and intelligent to create their own play devices. Referred to as “Bubble Play,” dolphins manipulate bubbles to entertain themselves, often hollowing them so they can swim through. “I like to work with things the dolphins will find interesting,” she explains. “When we introduce something new to their world, and they interact with it naturally, we observe their full capacity for sensory and behavioral learning.”

WHAT WE LEARN BY LISTENING Dolphins emit a series of clicks, whistles, squeaks and jaw pops that many scientists believe to be a form of communication. They have not clearly determined why dolphins emit sounds, but research is helping them understand the circumstances that evoke them. “Dolphins use constellations of signals under the water,” explains Reiss. “While following them in the ocean, it’s difficult to determine if they’re doing it with intention of ‘telling’ something to another dolphin. Their sounds carry far and in that setting it’s possible they are communicating, with another animal not visible to us.” “What we learn in long-term involvement with specific groups of animals is the differentials they apply in repetitive circumstances and/or with the same dolphin,” she says. Reiss also points out that since several of the National Aquarium dolphins extend from the same family tree, they’ve found that dolphins, just as humans, interact and communicate differently with offspring than with other dolphins. The difference may be as slight as the pitch, tone or length of a dolphin’s “signature whistle” —considered by some to be as distinctive to the emitting dolphin as a human voice—but Reiss says she, Hunter and their teams have found that the usage is consistent. “We are still trying to determine if the whistles imply identity or if they’re simply indicative of social structures, but identifying those circumstances is a breakthrough,” says Reiss.

The Aquarium dolphins have helped with another important discovery. Professor Janet Mann, Ph.D. of Georgetown University, her students and Dr. Celine Frere of University of Queensland have been collecting “blow” (dolphin breath) at the Aquarium and from wild dolphins in Australia for the last two years, and have developed a method for extracting DNA from it. “Humans discard cells all the time,” she explains. “Until now, no one has found a way to get biological data from cetaceans in such a non-invasive way.” As part of the Aquarium’s Our Ocean Planet dolphin show, a volunteer is asked to blow on a pinwheel to demonstrate human lung power. After the pinwheel makes an impressive number of rounds, the host holds a frisbee over the dolphin’s blowhole and signals it to blow: the frisbee sails over the pool. Mann says the dolphin’s ability to blow on request was a huge boon to the study. “Collecting DNA samples in the wild is tricky, but at the Aquarium, we just held a test tube over the dolphin’s blow hole and asked it to blow,” she says. Mann and her colleagues’ groundbreaking data that “perfectly matches” the DNA from blow with the same dolphins’ blood samples will be published on August 25, 2010. “Above and beyond everything we’ve learned by watching, listening to and working with these amazing animals is what we need to do to support their wild populations,” says Reiss. “The National Aquarium team and the scientists who come here to work with these animals are contributing to the body of knowledge that is used to advocate for wild dolphin populations around the world,” adds Hunter. “And the more information we gain, the more informed our actions on their behalf,” concludes Reiss.



Education Environment

Chesapeake eats 26 pounds of fish per day. Holy mackerel.

MARINE MAMMALS 101 New immersion tour combines an Aquarium sleepover with environmental science


hen we ask people what was the best part of their visit to the Aquarium, the most common answers juxtapose the awe that animals inspire with the surprise of something learned about that animal from a sign, presentation or staff member. This is because we are most likely to retain information when our interest is piqued. Animals unfailingly capture our interest, imagination and attention, so there is always something to learn at the National Aquarium!

Purchase tickets at

See the facing page to learn about our dolphin-themed Immersion Tours!


it’s just You

and them.

A 45-minute aquatic adventure featuring America’s Aquatic Treasures.

14th and Constitution, NW • Washington, DC


discover dolphins.

Research periodically published by the National Aquarium’s accrediting body, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), examines public perceptions of the role zoos and aquariums serve as educational resources for communities. In addition to affirming the positive influence such institutions have on conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in visitors, this research consistently shows that “the public places a high value on [the Aquarium’s] role in teaching children about the natural world, respect for living

creatures, and as a place for parents and children to discover new things together.” Learning to respect and protect natural resources is part of a visit to the Aquarium, but it’s through specialized programs that our education and conservation teams develop that visitors truly become immersed in lessons on animal-centric and environmental topics. Some of these programs captivate younger generations of environmental stewards with fun activities that bring them nose-to-fin with our animals, while others bring families together to get the inside scoop on Aquarium life. Referred to as “Immersion Tours,” these behind-the-scenes experiences include guided tours, classroom and lab lessons, and even sleepovers inside the Aquarium! New this summer, a sleepover with the Aquarium’s dolphins takes visitors on an action-packed journey from the dolphin amphitheatre, to the Aquarium classroom, to a special underwater viewing area that allows

them to say “goodnight” to the dolphins before hunkering down in sleeping bags for the evening. Somewhere along the way, they find time for dinner and a 4-D movie. There is even a catwalk over the shark tank, for the bravest of explorers! “Immersion tours are educational adventures that allow everyone to experience the Aquarium from an insider’s point of view,” says Wendy Shepard, immersion tour manager for the Aquarium. “The programs take advantage of the many learning opportunities all around the Aquarium, and the smaller groups forge stronger connections between our visitors and Aquarium animals and staff.” The new Dolphin Sleepover also means a 6:30 a.m. wake-up call from these mischievous mammals. “When the dolphins are just waking up, they’re ready to interact with people,” laughs Shepard. Rise and shine! Why Zoos & Aquariums Matter Handbook (ed. 2008)


Dive beneath the surface and discover a world behind the glass that is full of surprises. Visit for a complete list of programs, dates and non-member pricing. Call 410-576-3833 for reservations. Gallery Tour – $41.95 adults; $40.95

Sleepover with the Sharks – $84.95;

Dolphin Encounter – $185 participant; $59

Shark Tour – $35.95 adults; $34.95 seniors (60+); $26.95 children (8-11); Visit for dates.

Breakfast with the Dolphins – $24.95; September 4; October 2; December 19

NEW! Dolphin Sleepover – $84.95;

seniors (60+); $34.95 children (5-11) Visit for dates. observer; September 5, 11, 19, 25; October 3, 9, 10, 17, 23, 24; November 7, 13, 14, 21, 28; December 12, 20, 26, 27

September 3, 17, 24; October 1, 15, 22, 29; November 5, 19, 26; December 3, 17

October 8; November 12; December 10

*All pricing listed above is for members only. Visit for non-member pricing.





SEPTEMBER 28: Celebrate sensible and scrumptious seafood choices while enjoying our coveted view of the Inner Harbor. Join us for a delicious dinner and cooking demonstration by Chef Timothy Dean of Top Chef, Season Seven. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 6:30-9 p.m.;

PLACES TO BE September

8: Toddler Programs (MD, DC) – Every Tuesday (DC) and Wednesday (MD) morning in September is a special story time for tots! Learn about amazing underwater creatures and their habitats, from sharks and seahorses, to turtles and more. National Aquarium; 10 a.m.;; 9: Lecture: Through the Eyes of Animals (MD) – During this Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series event, scientist, inventor and filmmaker Greg Marshall takes attendees on a swim through world oceans, from an animal’s point of view! National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 7-9 p.m.; members: $15 adults; $10 children (ages 8-15); non-members: $25 adults; $15 children (ages 8-15); 410-727-FISH; 11: Deaf Awareness Day (MD) – Sign language interpreters narrate our public presentations including dolphin shows, animal feedings and dive programs. Deaf advocacy group representatives will be available to meet with visitors and discuss their community activities. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.;, 410-659-4291 19: Cultural Series, Latino Heritage (DC) – Celebrate Latino heritage with special programming. National Aquarium, Washington, DC; 10 a.m.-3 p.m; FREE with admission; 25: Fort McHenry Field Day (MD) – The Aquarium is recruiting volunteers for debris clean-up and trail maintenance at the wetland adjacent to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.



Get Inspired! Join Aquarium team members for a casual discussion about our programs and services, and learn first-hand about our excellence in animal care and leadership in educational and conservation initiatives.

Oceans of Inspiration National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD September 15; November 17; December 17; 8:30-9:30 a.m.; 410-576-8535;



1: Cultural Series, Latino Heritage (MD) – Celebrate Latino heritage with special programming. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD 5-9 p.m.; FREE with admission (last ticket sold at 8 p.m.);

3-6: Virginia Beach Sand Dune Restoration (VA) – Join the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) and help plant native grasses and restore sand dunes along the ocean front. Transportation is not included. Due to Navy base restrictions, volunteers must be US citizens. Free to all, registration is required. To receive your registration packet, call 410-576-3851.;

2: Breakfast with the Dolphins (MD) – Start your day with a continental breakfast and an insider’s look at our dolphins, including an interactive program with our dolphins and trainers. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 9-10:30 a.m.; members: $24.95; non-members: $44.95 adults; $39.95 children (up to age 11);

America’s Aquatic Treasures National Aquarium, Washington, DC September 24; October 29; November 19; December 17; 9:30-10:30 a.m.; 202-210-9459;,

Volunteers must register and be at least 14 years old. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.;; 410-576-3851; 25: Morning with the Puffins: Curator Talk (MD) – Explore our newly renovated puffin exhibit and learn more about its feathered occupants during a morning talk with one of our respected curators. Light breakfast fare will be provided and included in the price. Reservations are required, please call 410-727-FISH. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 7:45-9 a.m.; members: $8 (children under 3 are free); non-members: $30 (includes Aquarium entry)

6: Tots & Tales (MD) – Every Wednesday morning in October is a special story time for tots! Learn about amazing underwater creatures and their habitats, from sharks and seahorses, to turtles and more. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 10 a.m.;; 13: Date Night (MD) – Enjoy a night out while exploring the Aquarium after hours in a crowd-free setting. Beer, wine, appetizers and Aquarium admission included in price. Must be 21 or over. Reservations required. Purchase tickets at National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 7-10 p.m.; couple: $80 for member couples, $125 for non-member couples; individual: $65; 21-23: Indian Head Riparian Buffer Restoration – Help the Aquarium and the Department of the Navy create a riparian buffer along the Potomac River. Free to all, but registration is required. 410-576-3851;;

5: Cultural Series, Native Cultures (MD) – Celebrate native cultures with special programming. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD 5 - 9 p.m. (last ticket sold at 8 p.m.); 9: Members Only Evening (MD) – The Aquarium will keep its doors open late so that our valued members have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing and crowd-free visit. Space is limited. FREE for members, but reservations are required. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 6-9 p.m; 410-727-FISH

Additional Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Dining Series Events will take place November 16, 2010 and January 25, 2011.

ONLINE CONNECTIONS There’s always something new on the Aquarium’s website! Check out some of the recently added content and features, and connect with us at How is the National Aquarium helping the animals affected by the oil spill in the Gulf? Rescued animals: Track Hastings the seal and Marshall the sea turtle at: Shop the Aquarium’s online store: Watch trailers of shows playing in the 4-D Immersion Theater, including the new Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure: Meet the team in Washington, DC:

December 4-5: Dollar Day Weekend (MD) – A tradition since the Aquarium opened in 1981: $1 admission from 10 a.m. until tickets sell out. Limited availability. No advance sales. No dolphin shows. 4-D Immersion Theater sold separately. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 5: Cultural Series, World Holiday Traditions (MD) – Celebrate holiday traditions from around the world with special programming. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; 5 9 p.m. (last ticket sold at 8 p.m.);

Fridays After Five (MD) Prices take a dive, Fridays after five from September 10, 2010 to March 25, 2011! Visit our Baltimore, MD location Fridays after 5 p.m. and receive admission for just $8. And, during the months of September and October we’re rolling back to 1981. Visit Fridays after 5 p.m. for just $5 in honor of our 30th year anniversay. National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD;

SHOWING DAILY THROUGH NOVEMBER 12 © 2010 Viacom International. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.



Romancing THE CORAL

tanks and, with the help of some light aeration, they find a spot to settle and grow. “They particularly like the grooves, but when we have enough of them they cover the entire bottom of the tank,” adds Neal. “How they do their thing in the wild is how we try to raise them here. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”

New Aquarium exhibit could lead to healthier coral reefs

Enough success that the next step is to try to replicate the technique in the wild. An early test of returning settled Elkhorn larvae and replanting them on a Puerto Rican reef in 2008 was victorious. A NOAA grant and other funding will allow SECORE to partner with the Curacao Sea Aquarium in the Netherlands Antilles to build a field station at the Aquarium for the express purpose of reestablishing and monitoring new corals.



However, with oil from Deepwater Horizon still present throughout the Gulf of Mexico, there is a question if replenishing coral colonies now makes sense.

coral was

once one of the most abundant species of coral in the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. In the last 30 years, approximately 90 percent of it has been lost, due to disease, environmental factors and human activity. The survival and reproductive success of Elkhorn coral is so diminished that it was the first coral species to be listed under the Endangered

Species Act (2006). And while many aquariums exhibit an abundance of hard corals species from the Pacific, not a lot of Atlantic coral, such as Elkhorn, is part of live exhibits. But Elkhorn coral populations could be taking a positive turn, thanks to SECORE, a nonprofit, international partnership of public aquariums and coral scientists that includes the National Aquarium. The goal of SECORE (SExual COral REproduction) is to preserve coral reefs through coral breeding and reef restoration. Founded



in 2001 by marine biologists Dr. Dirk Petersen and Michaël Laterveer of Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands, its mission spread quickly across Europe, the United States and Canada and, most recently, to Singapore.

to viable adult coral colonies for display. “The exhibit we just finished is based on Buckhorn, which is a reef in the Buck Island Reef National Monument in Saint Croix,” Neal said.

As a member of Project SECORE, for the past five years the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, has been helping to perfect human-assisted sexual reproduction of elkhorn coral. The benefit for visitors to the Washington location is to view one of the few exhibits of Elkhorn coral in an aquarium setting.

In the wild, coral use a number of sexual and asexual techniques to reproduce, depending on the species. Until 2005, except for the rare and random settlement inside the aquarium via larval release from a coral, the only methods of reproduction available were fragging, the physical breaking off of a piece of a coral to start an independent colony, and the asexual division of a polyp. “Fragging produces a clone genetically identical to its parent. The advantage sexual reproduction has is genetic diversity,” explains Neal. “The greater the genetic diversity of a species, the more resistant it is to disease and the more it can adapt to changes in its environment.”

The Buck Island exhibit, which opened in May, is the culmination of perfecting spawn collection techniques in the wild and growing the coral to maturity in a laboratory. These techniques are being groomed for equal success in the wild, explains Leah Neal, an aquarist at the National Aquarium (DC) and scientists hope to reseed Caribbean beds with a genetically diversified coral able to sustain itself. Working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), SECORE was able to obtain the necessary permits to collect sexually produced coral spawn. The larvae were brought back to participating aquariums to be settled and raised

SECORE’s goal is to enhance that genetic diversity and build sustainable colonies. For Atlantic coral, that diversity is particularly critical. “Caribbean and Atlantic corals are not as diverse as Pacific corals, which diverged evolutionarily millions of years ago,” said Andrew Pulver, assistant curator for the National Aquarium. “It is just a much smaller group of animal species that are much more susceptible

to environmental changes due to their limited quantity and distribution in the oceans.” Early approaches to capturing Elkhorn spawn were creative, said Andy Dehart, director of biological programs at the National Aquarium (DC). A former intern, Mitch Carl, now the aquarium curator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, introduced Dehart to SECORE. As a result, Dehart attended SECORE’s second workshop on sexual reproduction techniques in 2006 in Puerto Rico. This was the first workshop with Elkhorn corals. Unfortunately, the teams’ research equipment did not work in the high surge environment of the Puerto Rico reefs. Foregoing traditional collecting supplies, the creative team of underwater experts strung pantyhose across tennis rackets and took to the waters to capture Elkhorn spawn. “We essentially cleaned a local store out of tennis rackets,” he laughs. Over the years Dehart says the team has refined the process to include specialty tanks that hold the eggs and sperm in a naturally suspended state until fertilization is complete in the field. Once fertilized, the larvae are shipped to small tanks at the aquarium with specially designed, grooved ceramic tiles. The spawn are released into the settling

“I think we have to be very sensitive to reintroducing coral to the wild until we know what the long-term impact of the spill is going to be,” says Dehart. The aquarium is also working with the Coral Restoration Foundation to sexually replicate another Caribbean coral, the Staghorn. The foundation already has been successful in establishing a Staghorn nursery off the coast of Florida, Dehart said, and is interested in the sexual reproduction techniques SECORE has established.

EVERY TURTLE COUNTS The National Aquarium is working with partners in the East Coast Stranding Network and Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida to be prepared to rescue and rehabilitate animals injured in the Gulf oil spill. The Aquarium expects to be among those called upon to assist with sea turtles. There are only seven species of sea turtles in the world, and all of them are endangered or threatened. This man-made disaster has the potential to be devastating to these fragile animals. “Animals and oil are coming ashore now in significant numbers and response efforts must be coordinated, far-reaching and long term.,” Dave Pittenger, Executive Director, National Aquarium, said at a June 14 press conference. Held at the Aquarium, the event showcased Maryland U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a National Aquarium board member, who have toured the Gulf Coast to assess the ecological damage. Visit and get involved!

“In this industry, it’s very much like a family,” concludes Dehart. “We stay in touch with colleagues and friends and talk constantly about new trends and techniques.” The result is new exhibits and new techniques, benefitting both the health of the underwater ecosystem and the curiosity of those who visit aquariums to be entertained and educated. Top Photo: © Andy Dehart, National Aquarium

Tom Pfeifer wrote and edited for newspapers in Southern California for 15 years. He now concentrates on federal legislative communications and freelance writing projects.



Stewardship Stories

CAREER GOALS Former Aquarium intern becomes assistant curator of DC venue

Spotlight Shine BY MIKE SHEEHAN


Growing up in Harford County, Maryland, Andrew Pulver always wanted to work at the National Aquarium. Never losing focus on that goal, he made it happen 10 years ago when he applied to be an Aquarium intern for a college semester.

Aquarium donor joins release caravan to the Eastern shore

At 7:48 a.m. on May 13, the National Aquarium’s Twitter account read: “Hastings requested a bathroom break.”


hat break took place just beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, more than three hours after the day had begun for a group of National Aquarium employees and Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) volunteers taking Hastings, a rehabilitated seal, from Baltimore to his Atlantic Ocean home. More than 5500 Twitter followers, along with 12,000 Facebook fans, joined the caravan online during the Aquarium’s first live social media event, but one special member of the troop physically caught up with it at this juncture. “I was driving to Ocean City for the release when I saw a cop car leading a procession. When I noticed that it was accompanied by a white van with the Aquarium logo, I followed until they stopped,” said Irene Crowe. “I raced over and asked ‘Do you have Hastings with you?’ I joined the line all the way to the shore. What a way to travel!”

Hastings had Crowe to thank for his renewed good health and return to sea. It was a generous donation from her Pettus-Crowe Foundation that supported the MARP team with critical medication and the satellite tag that temporarily follows his safe return, after the seal was found wounded and severely dehydrated on the Ocean City beach in January. “I was honored to be part of Hastings’ recovery and release into his own world. What a thrill to



open his crate and see him resolutely thumping toward the sea. The image of his head cresting a huge wave is one I will not easily forget,” enthused Crowe.

IC: I went on a whale-watching expedition and some little ones came right up to the boat, while the mother whale looked on with a kind but watchful eye. It was an extraordinary moment of communication that made me realize how much we can learn from animals.

About Me NA: What was the best advice you ever received?

Working with the Aquarium National Aquarium (NA): If someone asks you about your relationship with the National Aquarium, what do you say? Irene Crowe (IC): I share the admiration I have for the Aquarium’s work, just as a friend and an Aquarium staff member did when they told me about this young seal in need of medical help. Their passion was infectious and I was delighted to get involved. NA: Is it important to you that the National Aquarium is a leading voice on conservation? IC: The Aquarium combines high level medical and technical expertise with a great concern for aquatic life. Today, when mankind’s destruction of animals and environments is so widespread, it is particularly important to have such a splendid example of human compassion. NA: The Aquarium inspires people to enjoy, respect and protect the aquatic world through transforming experiences. Do you have a transforming experience you would like to share?

IC: Years ago, I was laboring over a drastic career change. I looked at my two Basset hounds, who seemingly conveyed a simple philosophy: ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously.’ Great advice ever after. NA: What is your greatest accomplishment? IC: Helping low-income minority women create their own HIV/AIDS education programs at the beginning of the pandemic.

Irene Crowe resides in Maryland with her husband and two beloved Basset hounds.

Center Photo: © Pat Venturino Join the Aquarium online: Your tax-deductible donation contribution helps us to preserve and protect aquatic life: Text ACT to 20222 to donate $5 to MARP Standard message and data rates apply.


wo years later, after graduating with degrees in marine biology and environmental science, Pulver gained a second internship awarded by the Aquarium to two promising students per year. He learned the basics of the job and was able to build on his formal education with hands-on experience. Those internships led Andrew down the career path he’d determined as a young boy.

He joined the National Aquarium as a fulltime staff member in March 2002, working as an aquarist trainee in the Baltimore location for nearly five years, and eventually became part of DC’s aquarist team. His early contributions to the DC venue involved transforming its exhibits into naturalistic habitats with quality life support systems, acquiring new animal species and managing the water quality laboratory. He continued growing with the nation’s first public aquarium, and recently became its assistant curator. These days, Pulver manages to keep his hands wet maintaining the DC shark exhibit, including hosting public feeding demonstrations of its leopard, swell and horn sharks. July was a busy month for Pulver and the sharks. Shark Weekend, a two-day celebratory and educational event, consistently draws the DC venue’s highest attendance of the year. It’s positioned to precede the Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week programming, for which Andy Dehart, DC director of biological programs, acts as an expert consultant. “Andy is

a shark advocate, educating people on how vital these animals are to aquatic ecosystems,” says Pulver, “Our Shark Weekend is an extension of that public awareness outreach.” In addition to special shark-feeding presentations and lectures, Pulver notes that Shark Weekend events are fun for the whole family. “There are puppet shows and scavenger hunts,” he says, “but the highlight is always the ‘fossil dig,’ which is a sandbox salted with shark’s teeth that kids find and keep.” Pulver fabricated the sandbox as one of his first DC projects. The summer will continue to be busy for Pulver. As a licensed boat captain, he is the DC field manager for the Aquarium’s Bahamas Conservation programs, which focus on Invasive Lionfish and Mooring Buoy Installation. He also hopes to provide more support for the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) in its field projects around the Chesapeake Bay. He says these events are among the most inspiring of his job. “The team’s passion for saving the bay and engaging others in environmental stewardship is contagious. They’re making a difference every day.” Andrew’s journey from intern to his key role on the DC team has been everything he hoped it would be when he was a boy. “I was allowed to follow any area I had interest in, which really helped me champion my skills and expand my experience,” he says.

In fact, Pulver was surprised at the entirely new set of skills he obtained while working on the DC venue’s makeover in 2007. “I became a carpenter, a plumber and an electrician,” he laughs. “As a new homeowner, I have a long list of projects, so those skills have come in handy!” Mike Sheehan has been a full-time freelance writer for 13 years, specializing in health education and personal finance. In the corporate world, Mike was vice president of Communications for Blue Shield of New Jersey, responsible for corporate advertising, marketing communications and public relations, including Blue Shield’s health-education program. Photo: © Ken Stanek; Discovery Channel’s Shark Week premiered in August:



Membership Matters

Arlene & Burt Falke

Irva & Roger Gabin


Docent Class of 1981

An Aquarium Love Connection

When you meet Arlene Falke, you quickly learn two things: She has an extraordinarily large heart, and she devotes a large portion of it to finned, furred and feathered friends. As a member of the National Aquarium’s first class of docents, and an Aquarium member for nearly 30 years, her heart led her on an educational and inspirational journey.

In 1981, as Mayor Schaeffer and Baltimore City officials were tackling the final construction and logistical plans surrounding the grand opening of the National Aquarium, three local residents were as yet unaware how Maryland’s number-one tourist attraction would impact the rest of their lives. Nearly 30 years later, at a recent exclusive event, three National Aquarium charter members shared their stories with Watermarks...

“In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I couldn’t wait for another Jacques Cousteau television special,” says Falke. “I bought all the books and marveled at the wonders to which he introduced me. Imagine how excited I was to learn that Baltimore was going to build an aquarium and that it would need volunteers!”

“What do you consider a couple?” asked Roger Gabin. Without missing a beat, the Aquarium staff member deadpanned, “Two consenting adults.” “We officially became a ‘couple’ on our first date!” laughs Gabin. On that morning in 1981, Gabin thought he was just taking a nice girl out to the newly opened Aquarium on their first date. With the intention of saving a little money on the admission price, he purchased an Aquarium membership as a ‘couple” for himself and Irva Nachlas.

Aquarium charter members remember the early years

She ended up feeling as if she’d joined a Cousteau expedition as she underwent the intense docent training classes in a church on Charles Street prior to the aquarium opening. “Then, there was only the Pier 3 building, and docents had to learn the names and a little biology about every animal on all five levels.” Falke says she also had to be prepared for visitor questions about the new facility. “I was quizzed on everything from tank dimensions to how we make our own salt water,” she marvels. All the studying certainly helped Falke as she greeted and guided visitors on opening day, wearing her white blouse, blue scarf and new identification badge (which she still has). But her favorite question was one she didn’t learn in class: “Visitors would ask how I got this great job! And they were right, it really was great!”


Nearly thirty years of marriage and two sons later, Roger and Irva are among the most recognizable of the Aquarium’s charter members, attending member events and reliving their first date and early courtship. They often bring their sons, Joe and Bernie, sharing tales about them as youngsters. With stories about everything from tantrums in Aquarium elevators to Aquarium conservation events at Fort McHenry, it’s easy to tell the aquarium is a big part of the Gable family history. “As members, we got Watermarks in the mail. But Roger ensured it came to his address, so he could use it as an excuse to call me,” laughs Irva. “Yes, but my plan worked! By the time our membership expired, we were already engaged so we could renew as an ‘official couple,’” Roger quips back.

CELEBRATING OUR AQUATIC WORLD Join us for special events throughout the year as we celebrate our history and look forward to our future. Visit for details.




Green News

F L O ATING A GREEN IDEA Aquarium works with partners to improve Inner Harbor water quality



f visitors to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor could see below the surface of the water, they would see an abundance of aquatic life, from bluefish and blue crabs to dozens of other species. They survive there despite the extremely poor water quality in the Harbor, which can often lead to fish kills and algal blooms. In an effort to upgrade that water quality, Laura Bankey, conservation manager of the National Aquarium, is working with local partners on an innovative approach to improving the harbor’s ecology and providing a better environment for aquatic animals. “Floating islands could reinvigorate harbor water,” she notes. “They will provide food and habitat for wildlife, while absorbing the excess nutrients in the harbor that can cause oxygen-depleting algal blooms.” Because of its built-up urban environment, Baltimore is not a candidate for the kind of wetlands restoration that has successfully been used in other water-quality improvement projects. The floating island project is an alternative approach to cleaning up the Harbor. The concept is part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative launched by the Waterfront Partnership, a group that includes the National Aquarium and Baltimore City. “Being able to work with our partners on a project like this is exciting,” says Bankey. “Improving the ecology of the harbor is so important to those who live and visit here, and the Aquarium is glad to be a part of a pilot team that is offering a naturalistic solution that has visual appeal and will also produce vital environmental data about the impact of floating islands on water quality.” Bankey explains the area that is now Baltimore City was once a thriving tidal marsh.



The floating island concept is an attempt to bring back some of the benefits that the living, vibrant wetlands that once were here provided. “We want to see if floating islands can be a cost-efficient, low-maintenance way to improve water quality and provide a better habitat for the creatures that live in the Harbor,” she explains. The first two floating islands, installed in August in a combined celebratory event with Waterfront Partnership, each contain as many as 600 planting holes that are filled with marsh hibiscus and spartina plugs, among other flora species. The island closest to the Aquarium is approximately 200 square feet and is secured close to the northwest corner of a diagonal footbridge between Piers 3 and 4. Aquarium

volunteers and students working through its ecological educational programs planted the salt-marsh species on this island prior to the public installation event. “The plants will grow from spring to fall. Once they stop growing, we’ll cut them back to prevent the plants from releasing storedup nutrients, such as nitrogen, back into the Harbor,” explains Bankey. The Aquarium will spend two years collecting data to evaluate one island’s effect on water quality, and the Maryland Department of the Environment (which cleared the island for installation) will remain closely related to the project as it matures. Floating islands have been successful in closed systems, but they haven’t been tried in open, brackish water like the Harbor. “If the islands have a positive effect on harbor habitat, we may install more. But the first step is evaluating the good environmental science that will come out of this pilot project.” concludes Bankey.

Guest Column

NATIONAL AQUARIUM & THE U.S. COAST GUARD Working together to protect and respect marine mammals BY CHRIS KARPF

The United States Coast Guard is a military, multi-mission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security and one of the nation’s five armed services. Its core roles are to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America’s coasts, ports and inland waterways.

Donate now:

M Plants attract and sustain insect populations

Plants and insects attract songbirds

Plants provide wildlife habitat and aesthetic beauty Island surface provides wildlife habitat

Water Line

Island material and root systems provide valuable surface area for beneficial microbes to proliferate and pull pollutants from the water

Water Line

Island shade and roots provide cover and allow fish to thrive

Root systems pull problematic nutrients out of the water through hydroponics

aritime safety, security, mobility and defense are the key components of the U.S. Coast Guard mission. Partnering with like-minded organizations that protect natural resources and promote environmental stewardship strengthens our effectiveness. We have been partnering with the National Aquarium since 1998 to safeguard local marine life and educate the public on marine safety. The Coast Guard is always ready to respond to calls for help at sea, which includes distressed animals. We often receive calls about animals that are displaced, beached or cresting due to environmental conditions, injury or sickness. While the animals themselves are primarily under the purview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and related federal and state agencies, it takes many people to coordinate an animal’s rescue. Working to ensure the safe harbor of all involved and maintaining accessible waterways is our responsibility.

The Aquarium is a member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network that responds to marine animal distress calls on the east coast, so Station Ocean City counts the Aquarium among our first responders. Whether the call comes in directly to us or through the stranding network, the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) has consistently provided an open line of communication and gathered a strong network of supporters to help these animals. This summer, the Fifth District Coast Guard Units that secure the Mid-Atlantic region’s marine transportation system have coordinated with the Aquarium to oversee the rescue of four animals in need: a harbor seal and three Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. The harbor seal was rescued from the Ocean City beach in January. It was suffering from a wound in its side and severe dehydration, among related ailments, so we contacted Jennifer Dittmar, MARP’s stranding coordinator.

Within a matter of hours, Dittmar organized the seal’s recovery and transported it to Baltimore. She kept the Ocean City team apprised of the seal’s progress during its more than four months of treatment. In May, when it was time for the healthier animal to return home, Dittmar worked with us to provide a secure area along the beach and the waterway during the release. Our boats controlled the surrounding waterways, and our members were stationed on shore to communicate with the water team. It was already peak tourist season in Ocean City, so we were vigilant in keeping boaters away to ensure unimpeded passage for the animal until it swam a safe distance from shore. This July, we also continued the tradition of participating in the Aquarium’s dolphin count in Ocean City, MD. There are many logistical elements leading up to this event, and the day itself can be a long one, as we guide participants along nearly 30 nautical miles of coast from Delaware to Virginia in search of dorsal fins. We are impressed at how the Aquarium engages the community in this exercise of marine mammal conservation. We applaud the National Aquarium’s work on behalf of aquatic life, and look forward to more successful missions together. Chris Karpf is a 1st Class Boatswain Mate, in the U.S. Coast Guard. He has been the prime contact between the National Aquarium and Coast Guard Station Ocean City for 8 years, and now has embarked on new adventures at Station Chincoteague.




Reaching Out visiting children learned which objects sink or float in a special education program called “Don’t Teach Your Trash to Swim!” and award-winning author Susan Stockdale read from, and signed, her latest book Fabulous Fishes. Baltimore added its Tots & Tales tradition to the fun, holding special Dr. Seuss storytelling circles, children’s music and photo opportunities with Nickelodeon favorite, Diego, who was celebrating the launch of Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure: Catch That Robot Butterfly 4-D movie experience at the Baltimore venue. “Uniting so many of our summer initiatives with Beyond the Boardwalk inspired us to be even more creative about pulling environmental messages into entertaining family-friendly programs,” says Hughes.

S C H OOLING THE FISH Aquarium combines literary milestone with eco-celebrations BY KIM LESLIE

“One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish, Black fish, Blue fish, Old fish, New fish.” And they were all swimming around both National Aquarium locations this summer, as children of all ages learned how small changes at home can impact the health of such fish.


uring the National Aquarium’s monthlong Beyond the Boardwalk event, visitors in Baltimore and DC celebrated our big, blue planet and the 50th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’ beloved One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

“Beyond the Boardwalk evolved from Ocean Awareness Days, a series of community events developed by the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) and held in Ocean City, MD,” says Eve Hughes, visitor programs coordinator at the Aquarium. “Historically, Ocean Awareness Days focused solely on marine animal health issues. Beyond the Boardwalk expands on those messages and helps make the connection between ocean health and the actions we take in our own homes,” she explains. “It’s important for us to



be aware of human impact every day—not just while we’re enjoying the beach or water activities.” Kicking off the series of events with World Oceans Day on June 8, both National Aquarium venues were awash with paper One Fish crowns adorning the heads of guests showing their support. Families gathered at special events with crafts and games and close encounters with several animals commonly found in Chesapeake Bay watersheds, such as horseshoe crabs and juvenile moon jellies. With the common denominator of environmental education, each aquarium developed engaging programs for its visitors. In DC, the Aquarium’s walls boasted art from DC Capitol City Charter School students, as

The series culminated in an all-day Summer Fun Festival in DC and Baltimore at the end of June. Baltimore visitors learned about turbidity and other water quality parameters, the importance of oysters in the bay, and sustainable seafood from MARP and the Aquarium Conservation Team, Aquarium on Wheels, and several guests. There was also celebratory face painting, live music and craft stations so little enthusiasts could create their own masterpieces to take home. Meanwhile, National Aquarium, Washington, DC took the opportunity to engage folks in the most devestating environmental occurance in recent history by hosting a very special fundraising event, “Cocktails for Critters,” to support animal relief efforts in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For visitors unable to attend any of the functions in the two cities, National Aquarium animals and staff members created a special video tribute to One Fish, Two Fish on its YouTube channel: Dr. Suess would be proud!

Kim Leslie has been a freelance writer for five years, most recently specializing in recycling and corporate responsibility. Photo: © Ken Stanek;

Marjorie Lynn Bank LECTURE SERIES

The Fall/Winter 2010 edition of Watermarks will get kids back to school and the whole family ready for the holiday season. Look for: • Generation Green Aquarium education and conservation experts share fun tips and tools for engaging the next generation in environmental stewardship • Sherman’s Lagoon Learn how Jim Toomey’s cartoon ambassador, Sherman the Shark, is teaching kids about shark conservation and ocean health. • Holiday Gift Guide Beautiful, aquatic gifts for the animal lover in your family. From stuffed animals to fine jewelry and home accent pieces, is the place to shop this holiday season.

THROUGH THE EYES OF ANIMALS The Revelations of the Crittercam® September 9, 2010; 7 - 9 p.m National Geographic explorer, inventor and Emmy Award-winner Greg Marshall has dedicated 20 years to studying, exploring and documenting ocean life. On one expedition, he discovered a small suckerfish attached to a large shark and became intrigued with the unique perspective this little fish must have on its “ride along.” His revolutionary invention, the Crittercam®, has given scientists worldwide an unprecedented look into the animal world.

WELCOM E PUFFLING! On June 24, the National Aquarium welcomed an Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) chick to the Sea Cliffs exhibit. Weighing 40 grams, the chick hatched after a 37-day incubation period and is being cared for in a burrow by its parents.

Sharing this breakthrough technology and extraordinary highlights from his awardwinning wildlife and conservation films, Marshall takes us on an unbelievable journey through world oceans—from an animal’s point of view! Visit to register and get more information.

National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD; Lyn P. Meyerhoff Auditorium Members: $15 adults, $10 children (ages 8-15) Non-members: $25 adults; $15 children (ages 8-15) Code: MARSHALL Also, join Greg for a kids’ photo workshop on Sunday, September 12 as part of the National Aquarium’s World Animal Day event celebrations.

The chick is doing so well that we may soon be asking your help to choose its name! Keep checking Waterlog ( for updates.

Learn more:


Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Baltimore, MD Permit No. 7625

501 East Pratt Street • Baltimore, MD 21202 410-576-3800 • Return Service Requested


RAISE DOUGH! National Aquarium and UNO Chicago Grill announce an exciting new partnership! Each time you visit a participating UNO Chicago Grill,

20% of your bill will support the Aquarium’s conservation and education programs.

Voucher required upon purchase. Visit to print your voucher and to learn more about this winning combination.

Summer 2010 Watermarks  

Magazine of the National Aquarium.

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