News and Updates

Site Selection Status

May 15, 2017

National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli dove in one Keys location, getting an underwater view.National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli dove in one Keys location, getting an underwater view.

To date, the Aquarium has visited more than 20 sites in Florida and the Caribbean, searching for the future home of its dolphin sanctuary. Members of Aquarium leadership and the marine mammal team continue to make trips to prospective sites, including areas of interest in the Florida Keys.

To evaluate these potential sites fully, we must consider 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.)

Growing Algae in Dolphin Discovery

April 15, 2017

Dolphin Discovery Exhibit at the National Aquarium.Dolphin Discovery Exhibit at the National Aquarium.

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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We welcome you to join us in this pioneering effort that will create both excitement and questions.


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