National Aquarium Sending Its Dolphins to Sanctuary

The National Aquarium in Baltimore announced in June that it plans to move its colony of eight dolphins from its indoor amphitheater pool to a seaside dolphin sanctuary—the nation’s first. The aquarium publicly stated two years prior that it was considering such a move. (See AWI Quarterly, summer 2014.)

Aquarium CEO John Racanelli explained: “Emerging science and consultation with experts have convinced us that dolphins … thrive when they can form social groups, have opportunities to express natural behaviors and live in a habitat as similar as possible to that for which nature so superbly designed them.”

A site selection team is currently evaluating potential locations in Florida and the Caribbean. The outdoor seawater facility will be significantly larger than the dolphins’ current living space and provide more natural stimuli for the dolphins, such as fish and marine plants. Humans would still care for the dolphins, only one of whom was born in the wild.

Transfer to the sanctuary is expected to take place by the end of 2020. “Although this decision is about a group of dolphins,” said Racanelli, “it is every bit as much about our humanity; for the way a society treats the animals with whom it shares this planet speaks volumes about us.”

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