Chesapeake Bay


Through pioneering science and partnerships with like-minded organizations worldwide, the National Aquarium is committed to conducting conservation research necessary to understand, interpret and explain aquatic ecosystems and to advocate for ocean health. Current projects include:

Assessing Chronic Natural Resource Damages From BP Oil Spill

The National Aquarium, in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University, is conducting research in the Gulf of Mexico to determine long-term effects on aquatic organisms in this ecosystem.

Baltimore Harbor Project

In an effort to help lawmakers make informed decisions, the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Environment and Mote Marine Laboratory are working to correlate DNA damage in benthic organisms to organic contaminant levels in sediments in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Chesapeake Bay Initiative

Through our conservation initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the National Aquarium recruits volunteers and partners with government agencies, schools, corporations and community service organizations to restore and protect tidal wetlands and other vital habitats in the Bay area. Additionally, the National Aquarium monitors the progress of these sites continually, collecting topographic, vegetation and fish use data. This data is shared with federal partners to help improve their design of future projects.

Mercury (Hg) Fate and Transport in Aquatic Ecosystems

The National Aquarium and Johns Hopkins University have jointly funded a postdoctoral fellow for two years to conduct research to determine how mercury bioaccumulates in aquatic ecosystems. The results of this research will enable the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advance its efforts in developing ambient water-quality criteria for methylmercury.

Mercury (Hg) in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins

This toxic metal is thought to adversely impact populations of dolphins and porpoises throughout the world. The National Aquarium, Johns Hopkins University, the Chicago Zoological Society and Mote Marine Laboratory are working together to track mercury through the food chain using the resident dolphin population in Sarasota Bay, Florida. The outcome of this project will be the development of models to demonstrate how mercury bioaccumulates at different levels in the food chain and eventually in dolphins.

Mercury (Hg) in Captive Bottlenose Dolphins

The National Aquarium and Johns Hopkins University are looking at levels of mercury and methylmercury in fish that are fed to captive dolphins at the National Aquarium, as well as looking at levels of mercury species in captive dolphin tissues. This information will enable us to modify the diet of these dolphins, if necessary, to reduce mercury intake.

Spotted Eagle Ray Research

Spotted eagle rays are threatened or near-threatened, yet little is known about their basic biology. Researchers are tagging and tracking spotted eagle rays that routinely migrate in and out of Sarasota Bay, Florida, annually to determine their distribution, identify important foraging sites and investigate additional physiological information. Scientists will study blood samples from these animals to learn more about spotted eagle ray biology and reproduction. Collaborators are the National Aquarium and Mote Marine Laboratory.

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