The National Aquarium in Baltimore is planning to create an oceanside sanctuary for dolphins. The aquarium announced the plan after long years of research and avid campaign by animal rights advocates to release the marine animals in captivity back to their natural habitat.
As per New York Times, the facility is set to build the first dolphin sanctuary in the US. Their goal is to transition the animals back to ocean and have them all moved there by 2020.
For a while, Baltimore's National Aquarium has been discussing plans on what to do with the dolphins under the facility's care following their decision to halt dolphin performances some years ago. Officials at the aquarium settled in finding a sanctuary that would finally house the highly-intelligent sea mammals. As the report indicates, a team has been formed with the task of searching for potential sanctuary sites such as in the Caribbean and Florida.
The release into the wild will be gradual as it will significantly impact the animals' transition to a new environment. The move will reportedly include a larger space for the sea creatures plus a plethora of natural stimuli to make the adjustment more manageable for the marine mammals who have been raised by their human caretakers since birth.
"Up until now, the alternatives did not include having an oceanside seawater facility that dolphins could go to and not be engaged in something like a swim program or some other kind of revenue-producing model," said National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli as quoted by People Magazine. "We've set the criteria that the needs and interests of the dolphins will come first, and that hasn't really been tried yet."
The facility officials envision a customized home for the dolphins featuring a vegetated shoreline with mangroves and sea grapes. So far, details have not yet been announced as to how the sanctuary will offer visitors a dynamic and interactive experience with the sea creatures in their new habitat.
"Emerging science and consultation with experts have convinced us that dolphins do indeed thrive when they can form social groups, have opportunities to express natural behaviors and live in a habitat as similar as possible to that for which nature so superbly designed them," Racanelli said as quoted in his Baltimore Sun op-ed.