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Our Dolphins Embrace Change

Over the past few months, our marine mammal and animal health teams have been hard at work preparing our dolphins for their eventual relocation to our sanctuary.

Published November 06, 2017

Our dolphins continue to embrace change. As intelligent, social animals, they enjoy new challenges and working with our marine mammal team to prepare for transition to their new, environmentally-rich home. 


Site Selection Update 
In the year since we announced our plans for a dolphin sanctuary, members of Aquarium leadership and our marine mammal team have visited more than 20 sites in Florida and the Caribbean.  
To evaluate potential sites, these teams are considering the following:

  • The environmental appropriateness of a site (natural stimuli, exemplary water quality, a fitting climate, etc.)
  • Community interest in the sanctuary
  • Potential for high levels of environmental protection and ability to achieve proper permitting
  • Workforce-related considerations (housing, livability, family and health care, etc.)

We will update our community, supporters and followers when we have more to share about our progress in Baltimore and at the future site of our sanctuary. 

Environmental Changes 

In preparation for their new sanctuary home, we added a new addition to our dolphin exhibit – algae. 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 relocation.

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. 
This process has already started in the exhibit’s back habitats. The dolphin team is carefully monitoring the animals’ reaction to the algae growth. 

Enrichment Changes 

Our marine mammal team is working closely with our animal health team and outside experts to introduce new activities into our dolphins’ routines to prepare them for the relocation process and the new environment they’ll find at the sanctuary. 

Tune in to watch our marine mammal team explain some of these new activities on Facebook Live


Social Changes 

In February of 2017, Nani, the matriarch of our bottlenose dolphin colony, passed away. At 46 years old, Nani was an incredibly nurturing member of the family—both to her dolphin relatives and the people who cared for her.

Since Nani’s passing, our staff has closely observed the colony’s response and social changes. The colony continues to exhibit behaviors consistent with fission-fusion, a social organization observed in many group-living species where groups merge (fusion) or split (fission) based on gender and age. Our colony now spends most of their days together, both males and females, in preparation for their new sanctuary environment. 

Through continued observation from our staff, the social dynamics of our colony will be a crucial marker in the success of their transition and acclimation to our future sanctuary.

Follow our sanctuary journey by signing up for updates here! 

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