The National Aquarium in Baltimore is considering shutting its popular dolphin exhibit, after 23 years in residence.
Two years ago, the aquarium stopped its dolphin show, and instead allowing the public to watch the dolphins swim in their Dolphin Discovery exhibit. The eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins currently live in a space designed for shows, not for freely swimming about. Additionally, the facilities are over twenty years old, so they need a serious face lift.
Aquarium CEO John Racanelli said, "Our dolphins are doing great here at the National Aquarium. That said, they have been here for 23 years. Their facility is going to need a complete makeover in the years to come and we want to make sure what we do is right both for the dolphins and for the guests that we serve.”
One option is to release the dolphins to a sanctuary, essentially shuttering the aquarium's most popular attraction. Some argue that would be better for the dolphins, but the non-profit organization would lose a valuable asset and a teaching tool for young people.
This change is coming as part of the National Aquarium "BLUEprint," a plan to assess the future of the aquarium and it's role in the area. This plan also aims to put in a wetland, and considering the fate of the recently shuttered D.C. location. Aquarium officials have not yet come to a decision about the BLUEprint, though whatever they decide will take about ten years to implement.
While the potential sanctuary or exhibit space is being built, the public may just have to settle for a dolphin cam.