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.

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. 

Around the Chesapeake Bay area, we have a specific word for landscaping with the environment in mind: Bayscaping. This eco-friendly, holistic approach to gardening helps conserve water and prevent pollution that may otherwise end up being carried into our waterways.

Forget “Shark Hunters.” There’s a wealth of fascinating facts that rarely get told. These unbelievable creatures are more diverse and intelligent than most people realize.

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying “an albatross around your neck.” This phrase, coined by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his 1798 poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, refers to the association of the albatross with bad luck, mishap, struggle and worry.

Thirty-seven years ago, off the coast of the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin more or less worked out his theory of natural selection, a major discovery occurred.

Summer is prime time for gardening and sprucing up our lawns—but what we do to our yards impacts our waterways more than you might expect. As we go about planting this season’s flowers, trees, produce and herbs, it’s important to keep the health of our watershed in mind.

The combination of ice melting and thermal expansion in the ocean means that sea level rise is not just a possibility…it is happening now, and the only question is how fast it’s going to rise. 

Ever feel the tangle of seaweed around your ankle when wading in the water? For many beachgoers, it is enough to send them scrambling for shore.

A common decorating theme for beach houses and shore hotels, sea stars, sand dollars and sea urchins signify summer vacation.

Sand dunes, those soft summertime beach-sights that can be scaled in flip-flops and dune buggies, are coastal geology that evolve in real time.

Take a walk on your local shoreline and you might be lucky enough to spot a blue heron fishing for its next meal or sand crabs disappearing back into the sand after being exposed by a crashing wave.  But while these creatures might be the ones to catch your attention, many of our watershed’s more overlooked inhabitants are playing an equally critical role in maintaining this complex ecosystem.

The colorful Black-Eyed Susan and the sweet-smelling magnolia are just two of the many stunning flowers and trees native to the Chesapeake Bay region.

Its eye is the size of your head. It lives more than 3,000 feet deep in oceans around the world and is 30 feet long, yet it lacks a backbone. With eight arms and two tentacles, it is the origin of the myth of the Kraken.

The Chesapeake Bay is a playground in the summer, with people using this amazing natural resource for fishing, boating, even simply enjoying a relaxing day on the beach along its shores.