As 2015 draws to a close, the National Aquarium is taking a look back at some of this year’s biggest conservation initiatives and milestones.
In an effort to uphold its mission of inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures in 2015, the National Aquarium reached two conservation milestones this year when they plant their 100,000th tree and removed their 1 millionth piece of debris. In addition, this year alone, the Aquarium restored 12.32 acres of habitat and worked with nearly 1,000 volunteers from the community and more than 1,800 students.
"It was a hugely successful year for our conservation efforts at the National Aquarium,” said Laura Bankey, National Aquarium Director of Conservation. “This year, we advanced our ongoing efforts to engage students and volunteers in innovative habitat restoration projects, developed new programs aimed at encouraging community conservation, and launched a major sustainable seafood initiative, all while furthering our own sustainability goals."
Other notable highlights of the year include:
- Embracing Solar Energy. In May, the National Aquarium partnered with Constellation to increase its renewable energy resources, including building a solar-power system in Cambridge, Maryland, designed to meet 40 percent of the organization’s annual electricity needs. With additional energy-efficient building upgrades, the Aquarium was also able to avoid the creation of nearly 4,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide this summer—the equivalent of removing about 916 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.
- First Annual East Coast Seafood Forum. In October, National Seafood Month, the Aquarium hosted the first-ever East Coast Seafood Forum. Hundreds of scientists, purveyors and economists gathered at the Aquarium to re-envision the future of sustainable seafood. Attendees participated in discussions regarding traceability, economic sustainability and aquaculture’s role in the movement.
- Poplar Island Innovation. The conservation team and volunteers returned to Poplar Island this year to help rebuild the island by planting native wetland grasses. Poplar Island recently won an Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award for its unique approach to habitat restoration.
- Inner Harbor Restoration. The National Aquarium launched a new floating wetland in the Inner Harbor this year and expanded its Biohuts program to include more Biohuts along the Aquarium’s Pier 3 and a few at Masonville Cove.
The Aquarium volunteer team represents a wide range of experience, skills and backgrounds including aquarists, divers, lab assistants, clinical veterinarians and more. The volunteers do everything from assisting at the information desk and diving to grass plantings and animal rescues, and they vary as much as their job descriptions. The majority of the volunteers are from Baltimore and the surrounding counties, but some traveled from as far away as Calif., Ariz., N.Y., N.C. and W. Va.; the youngest volunteer is 14 years old and the oldest is 95 years old; and they represent a wide range of educational levels. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the National Aquarium, visit aqua.org/care.