Growing Algae in Dolphin Discovery

April 14, 2017

There’s a new addition to our dolphin exhibit—algae. And the reasons it is being allowed to take root may surprise you. Algae is a natural part of healthy ecosystems. Allowing it to grow in Dolphin Discovery will not only provide a more naturalistic environment and enrichment for the animals, but will also serve to prepare them for their new sanctuary home.

It may look dirty, but it actually isn’t. Algae is a natural part of healthy ecosystems, and it can serve as a filter. The strong photosynthesis of algae creates a large affinity for nutrients; algae can remove undesired nutrients from water. Nutrients such as ammonia, ammonium nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, iron, copper and carbon dioxide are rapidly consumed by growing seaweed.

This process has already started in the exhibit’s back habitats. The dolphin team is carefully monitoring the animals’ reaction to the algae growth, and taking the opportunity to study the growth in a non-public area.

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The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.