From September 10 to 16, Baltimore became the centerpiece for the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a celebration of Maryland’s maritime history and commemoration of its contributions to the defense and heritage of the nation, including the birth of our national anthem. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer took a timely break from exploring Atlantic submarine canyons to be available for the events and to provide a backdrop to highlight NOAA’s leadership across ocean issues.
During the week-long celebration, NOAA and the National Aquarium in Baltimore co-hosted a range of events. One such event was a meeting to discuss the value and relevance of ocean exploration to NOAA and the nation. Event participants initiated planning for a 2015 National Ocean Exploration Forum to be held at the National Aquarium.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) and Maryland Sea Grant convened a workshop focused on the current and future state of science in the mid-Atlantic undersea canyons. Participants from federal, state, and academic groups discussed results of field work by NOAA and partners in the region with some of the shared data collected just three days prior to the meeting. Following the workshop, MARCO adopted a Course of Action to consider and develop recommendations to strengthen federal protection of submarine canyon habitats.
Other highlights included:
- Okeanos Explorer tours for more than 2,000 members of the public and an additional 18 group tours for key friends in the region, including partners such as the National Aquarium, Bureau for Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Naval Academy, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, and Sea Grant;
- Presence of NOAA Research Vessel Bay Hydro II, NOAA’s primary platform to survey the Chesapeake Bay;
- A Google+ Hangout hosted by the National Aquarium featuring both NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and our colleagues on the Ocean Exploration Trust’s Exploration Vessel Nautilus; and
- A pier-side tent with National Aquarium exhibits and activities for children, including special appearances by Captain Barnacles and Kwazi Kitten of The Octonauts.