Site Selection Update: Climate Change

May 22, 2019

A recent NPR article titled "At Baltimore’s National Aquarium, Climate Change Presents Challenges Inside and Out" explores how climate change is creating site-selection challenges for our upcoming Dolphin Sanctuary - and keeping our Animal Rescue staff increasingly busy.

Three years ago, the National Aquarium in Baltimore made a big announcement. After a public backlash against marine animal parks brought on by the documentary Blackfish, the aquarium decided to move its prized pod of dolphins to a first-of-its-kind sanctuary.
They set a 2020 deadline to find the perfect spot either off the coast of Florida or in the Caribbean — one where the water is warm, the area is protected and the climate is calm.
But now, that 2020 move is no longer realistic, according to John Racanelli, the aquarium's CEO. And that's due in large part to a factor beyond its control: climate change.
Of the more than 50 sites the aquarium has surveyed, so far not one has been deemed safe enough from things like fierce storms and algal blooms, both projected to worsen as temperatures rise.
"There's big pieces of it that you just can't predict," says Leigh Clayton, vice president of animal care and welfare at the aquarium. "We're looking at precedents. How often do areas get hit by hurricanes, where do the hurricanes tend to go to land, what has historical damage been?"
"The reality is we really don't know," Clayton says. "We're all just figuring this out."

Read the rest of the article here.

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