A Blue View | WYPR

A Blue View

Tuesdays 5:44 PM

A Blue View, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.  From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.


When Captain John Smith first explored the Patapsco River in 1608, it was ringed by natural wetlands that provided habitat to native wildlife and filtered the water. It may be hard to imagine, but before Baltimore became a thriving seaport, the Inner Harbor was likely a vibrant wetland, its surface adorned with green vegetation.


Manatees made headlines this winter when a group of them, including a mother and calf, became marooned in a Florida storm drain and had to be rescued by marine biologists with backhoes and earth-moving equipment. Why such heavy machinery?


Inspired by the water mills of Baltimore’s industrial past, the Water Wheel harnesses the power of the Jones Falls River to turn the wheel and lift trash and debris in to a dumpster barge.


Gardeners in Maryland know that most trees in our temperate climate don't like having wet feet. And water that's salty? Forget about it. Around here, having tree roots submerged in saltwater is guaranteed to kill off your landscaping.


When you think of an animal that purrs, grunts, croaks or hums, I’ll bet it’s not a fish. But, I’ll let you in on a secret: More than 150 species of fish on the East Coast of the U.S. are what scientists call “somniferous.” They make noise. Lots of it.


Many residents of the Chesapeake Bay region have felt the sting of a sea nettle at least once in their life—sometimes an unfortunate consequence of the activities we enjoy on our waterways.


What animals do you think exhibit the most kaleidoscopic variety of colors and patterns in the wildest diversity of forms in the animal kingdom? Tropical birds? Rain forest frogs? Well, move over toucans; and hop aside, poison-dart frogs. Because the prize for the most flamboyant group of animals out there has to go to the 3,000 species that make up the sub-class called nudibranchs.


In the vastness of the ocean, there are many so-called animal to animal symbionts, seemingly odd-fellow relationships from which both species benefit. The movie Finding Nemo made famous one such partnership, that of the clownfish and anemone.


  It makes sense that the public is fascinated by sharks. In storytelling, they are compelling characters, if not scientifically accurate all the time.  There’s one shark species that has gained attention in recent years—the prehistoric megalodon.

Seal sightings are rare for even the most frequent beach-goers to the Mid-Atlantic shore. In a typical year, about 20 are spotted in Ocean City, Maryland.


  In the popular cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Plankton is a tiny troublemaker who fantasizes about someday taking over the world. Well, according to the scientists who study these microscopic migrators, they may already have.


  Many of us have a romantic image of fishing: a weather-beaten waterman aboard a small fishing boat, hauling in a handmade rope net as a sou’wester approaches. Outside our beloved Chesapeake Bay, that romantic image—and the era it evokes—is mostly gone.

Most parents of young children know a thing or two about clownfish. These adorable orange- and white-striped fish rocketed to stardom in the animated classic Finding Nemo, which featured an adventurous clownfish hero.

Thousands of feet beneath the surface of the ocean, animals live, even thrive, in conditions that are impossible for most of us to even imagine. Our blue planet is indeed a water planet, yet incredibly, over 90 percent of the ocean remains unexplored and unseen by humans. 

The ocean food web is much more than the dramatic clash of sharks devouring marine mammals and large fish. While many of us know that the ocean food web is complex, it’s easy to focus on the apex predators at the top.

Sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are colorful, intricate ecosystems—among the most incredible natural wonders in the world.

All animals have their own unique ways of surviving winter’s harsh conditions. Some—like certain species of fish, birds and insects—simply move, migrating south for the warmer climate. Others are equipped with the natural insulation of fur or feathers. Many hibernate, wakening only when the weather has warmed up.

A lot of us take water for granted. We simply turn on a faucet, and there it is, in seemingly endless supply.

This world of ours can be a dangerous place—and for many undersea creatures, camouflage means the difference between life and death.

Over 100 million American adults live with chronic pain—more than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. It is a significant public health problem.

In the ocean’s deepest reaches, sunlight cannot penetrate, and yet, there is light. From softly glowing to dazzlingly brilliant, it is not the light of humans and their machines.

Imagine if the air you breathed changed your behavior. You may become reckless or disoriented, even see or hear less effectively.

With a multiplicity of thin wafer-white triangles, each one dangerous and serrated, we know a top predator when we see one.

The life cycle and migratory patterns of eels had scientists stumped until relatively recently. Aristotle once theorized that these long, thin fish were spontaneously generated from the mud of river bottoms. Pliny the Elder thought they developed from adult eel skin that had rubbed off against rocks.

When most of us think of volcanoes, we think of mountains, rising and looming over flat plateaus. Cone-shaped and spewing burning ash and molten rock in flows of hot orange-red rock.

Hidden beneath the waves, elusive visitors to the Chesapeake Bay comb the seafloor for fish, crustaceans and stingrays. These Mid-Atlantic guests often go unnoticed by watershed residents, who might actually be surprised to learn of their presence.

Today, the osprey is one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most iconic creatures, right up there with blue crabs, blue herons and oysters, but that wasn’t always the case. This North American raptor, nicknamed the “fish hawk,” once faced dangerous population declines, recovering only after the federal government intervened.

With eight arms, a bulbous head, thousands of suckers, a tongue covered in teeth, and three hearts, the octopus is like something out of a science fiction movie. And the more you know about these creatures, the stranger they seem.

When it comes to biodiversity of plants and animals, the number of species typically increases as you move from the colder temperate zone to the warm tropics. The epicenter of salamander diversity, however, exists much further from the Equator—in fact, it’s here.

With a wide, thick head shaped like a double-headed hammer—one eye on each end—the scalloped hammerhead shark is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, this unusual-looking creature could disappear from our oceans if steps aren’t taken to protect it.