Health of Our Waterways
It was a good year for our local waterways! The water quality of both the Chesapeake Bay and the Inner Harbor improved in the past year.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s State of the Bay report, which is compiled every two years based on 13 health indicators, showed improvement in nine of the 13 categories. Additionally, rockfish and oyster populations continually show signs of growth in the Bay.
In our own backyard, the Inner Harbor also showed signs of improvement. There was less sewage found in the harbor, thanks in part to repairs made to broken sewage lines.
In August, we installed our newest floating wetland prototype, which is designed to promote healthy water and attract native species! This prototype, located on our Waterfront Campus, has already provided a habitat for native plants and wildlife to flourish.
Ocean and Human Health
In July, the National Aquarium—in partnership with aquariums across the country—launched the In Our Hands campaign to increase awareness of plastic pollution, and commit to reducing single-use plastics within our buildings and communities. We helped announce this commitment at the international Our Ocean conference in Malta in October.
Advancements were also made in ocean initiatives, such as 3D mapping the ocean floor! An international group of scientists, oceanographers and researchers are developing data-rich seafloor maps that include temperature, salinity, oxygen and nutrient levels. They hope this data will inform governments and aid in the protection of marine areas.
In species news, West Indian manatees were removed from endangered species list! The population growth of manatees in recent years has prompted the federal government to remove them from the endangered species list, changing their official status to “threatened.”
Education and Urban Conservation
This year, we launched a new program focused on engaging local students in the health of the harbor! Living Laboratory: What Lives in the Harbor brings middle schoolers from Baltimore City schools to help with citizen science projects, learn about the Inner Harbor's environmental health and better understand the Chesapeake Bay watershed, thanks to a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The National Aquarium is becoming a recognized resource to decision makers on key issues. In 2017 we held two educational events for the U.S. Senate Oceans Caucus, a bipartisan group that works to find common ground on legislation affecting the ocean, Great Lakes and coasts, and the communities and businesses that rely on them.
In addition to many educational programs happening on-site, we continue to partner with community leaders, residents and volunteers on community-based environmental stewardship projects, including planting wildlife gardens and cleaning up the shoreline, in neighborhoods around Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay!
We look forward to making even more progress in 2018 with the support of our partners, members and communities near and far as we continue to service our conservation mission!