National Aquarium, NWF Celebrate Maryland Partnership With Earth Day Tree-Planting
Event marks first aquarium or zoo affiliate partnership; Baltimore waterfront park designated as certified wildlife habitat
The National Aquarium officially joined forces with NWF yesterday, becoming the first aquarium or zoo state affiliate of the 75-year-old organization at an Earth Day event featuring Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
During the event, Mayor Rawlings-Blake delivered remarks on the importance of the partnership and of the green initiatives taking place across the city, state and region before helping to plant a white dogwood tree in the aquarium’s new Certified Wildlife Habitat at the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park on the Inner Harbor. Visitors to NWF's Earth Day tent were given the opportunity to take home their own 'baby' trees for planting later in the year.
“It is essential that we build robust partnerships like NWF and the [National] Aquarium,” said NWF Board Chair Stephen Allinger. “We look to great things from the National Aquarium in building partnerships with aquariums and zoos all across the country, to carry the message that we must chart a much more sustainable path.”
“This new partnership…represents a really important watershed, if you will…it demonstrates just how important this is to us. National Wildlife Federation [and] Ranger Rick [are] institution(s) in this country for, I think, 75 years, and [have] affiliates throughout the country,” said National Aquarium CEO John C. Racanelli “It is one of the most important organizations for raising people’s awareness of conservation and its importance to us in this country.”
A Partnership to Serve the Chesapeake
The aquarium was first selected as the Maryland state affiliate in the fall. The partnership will link conservation efforts from Appalachia to the Chesapeake Bay as well as the Atlantic Ocean, and the speakers paid tribute to that aquatic focus.
Allinger bemoaned lack of knowledge about the hydrosphere, saying “we know a lot more about the surface area of Mars than we do about the surface area of our oceans. And in our ignorance of oceans, we’ve done tremendous damage.” Racanelli singled out the age-old assumption that the ocean is “a vast and infinite resource that could pretty much take anything we could give it and then some…and in reality, what we’re discovering is that that may not be the case.”
The emphasis on the Chesapeake and other waterways wasn't limited to words: after the ceremony and tree-planting, Mayor Rawlings-Blake gingerly introduced herself to a turtle proffered by a member of the aquarium staff.
Maryland is part of NWF’s Chesapeake Mid-Atlantic region, one of nine such regions throughout the United States. Affiliates in each region work together and with partners to advance conservation and protect the region’s unique natural treasures. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.