By developing an aquarium of the 21st century—one that showcases habitat-based exhibits, emerging tech and memorable experiences—we hope to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
In 1981, the National Aquarium was founded as a cornerstone of Baltimore's newly revitalized Inner Harbor. What began as a visitor attraction with a budding conservation program has evolved into a national ocean conservation organization that stewards a world-class aquarium.
Our work begins within our walls as we inspire millions of guests each year to conserve and care for Earth's aquatic treasures. Beyond the National Aquarium itself, we are finding compelling new ways to share our conservation mission with as many people as possible.
With the invaluable support of our partners—including Studio Gang, an architecture and design house; IMPACTS Research and Development, a market analytics firm; and Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architecture firm—we have developed a strategic vision to ensure the long-term impact and relevance of the National Aquarium. You can help by contacting our team to learn how you can make a difference.
This is our BLUEprint. Join us.
Our Waterfront Campus project promotes clean water in the Inner Harbor, attracts native wildlife and teaches visitors about the harbor's connection to the ocean by replicating the tidal wetlands that once existed here.
The area that's now Baltimore's Inner Harbor used to be a natural habitat of shallow mud flats fringed by tidal salt marsh grasses, surrounded by forest. It's a classic example of a shoreline that has been dredged out, paved over and built up—changed and developed in ways that inhibit the natural processes that support clean water.
When the National Aquarium installed its first 200-square-foot floating wetland in Baltimore's Inner Harbor in 2010, it was the first time this technology had been introduced into a brackish tidal system in the United States. Since then, we have refined our floating wetland design and developed a model that best fits the specific needs of the Inner Harbor.
The Aquarium's latest floating wetland successfully promotes healthy water, attracts native species, increases biodiversity and teaches visitors about wetland ecosystems. It also allows us to provide meaningful watershed experiences for Baltimore City Public Schools sixth graders through our What Lives in the Harbor education program.
And we're just getting started.
We are scaling up our floating wetlands to fill the area between Piers 3 and 4. Baltimore-based architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross has partnered with us to create a rendering of this brand-new, immersive, educational National Aquarium experience that's set to open in 2024.
National Aquarium General Curator Jack Cover talks about the plants, animals and microhabitats found on and around the National Aquarium's floating wetland prototype in the Inner Harbor, a constructed habitat that re-creates all the functions of a real tidal marsh. Also, get a sneak peek of what's to come as we prepare to install more floating wetlands in the water between Piers 3 and 4—and let guests get close and explore!
Over the years, our understanding of the needs of our Atlantic bottlenose dolphin colony has evolved significantly, and it is through this informed lens that we now look beyond our facility to provide them with the best possible lives.
In appreciation of their intellect and resilience, we continue to evolve our care to best suit the unique needs of dolphins. Our future goal for these animals is to maintain the highest standards of health and welfare, while creating a more natural, ocean water sanctuary in which they can thrive.
Dolphin Sanctuary Series
Series Dolphin Sanctuary
Through the creation of North America’s first dolphin sanctuary, the National Aquarium is introducing a new option for human care of dolphins. Learn more about our journey so far.
By establishing North America's first dolphin sanctuary, we're creating a new option for these intelligent marine mammals to thrive under human care.
The dolphins in our care have consistently demonstrated keen intellect, curiosity and adaptability. In the spirit of all they have taught us, we believe we have developed the best possible plan for their ongoing welfare. The day to implement these plans is upon us.
Today, the marine mammal team is customizing the moving and acclimation plan for the colony. Through the introduction of new stimuli, individualized training plans and comprehensive situation analysis and consultation, we are methodically building the ability of each dolphin to take this journey. Throughout this process their enduring welfare remains our top priority.
Animal Care and Rescue Center
The Animal Care and Rescue Center, located in Baltimore's historic Jonestown neighborhood, embodies our commitment to our city, its people and its future.
The ACRC more than doubles our capacity to care for off-exhibit and rescued animals, allowing us to truly live our mission to inspire and protect. It also houses state-of-the-art equipment that produces 15,000 gallons of salt water monthly, as well as space for the fabrication of intricate habitats.
This new facility is the beating heart of the National Aquarium, powering all that we do.
Guests can experience our animal welfare work as never before at the ACRC, where an enclosed overlook gallery allows them to witness the extensive work that takes place behind the scenes. Virtual education programs focusing on our animal rescue, coral restoration and exhibit fabrication work at the ACRC bring science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) concepts to life in new ways for school groups.
When a grey seal pup with bilateral fractures to her lower jaw appeared on a Delaware beach, National Aquarium Animal Rescue staff responded immediately. After long-term rehabilitation under the expert care of our staff, the seal pup—nicknamed Lily—made a full recovery and returned to her ocean home.