Good Morning! All is well at the National Aquarium. Despite several strong wind gusts of between 60-70 mph through the night, our building and animal care facilities sustained NO damage! We are pleased to report that all of our animals and staff are safe and are getting back to their regular morning care routines. THANK YOU to our amazing, dedicated staff, especially the 21 staff who stayed overnight with our animals, and to Baltimore City Police and Fire for checking up on us and ensuring our safety. We are grateful to the community for sending us positive vibes! Hope everyone is safe this morning, and we are keeping our east coast neighbors in our thoughts today.
Our preparations for the weather began last week as our emergency team gathered managers from other essential departments such as biological programs and facilities. The larger team met to discuss our plans for the incoming storm. Many lessons were learned following our experience with Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Even though the storm wasn’t set to hit until Sunday/Monday, our team took immediate preventative actions starting on Friday, to prepare:
- Aquarium vehicles and boats were moved to high and dry areas.
- Flags and banners on our piers were taken down.
- Facilities topped off generator fuel for generator use, if needed.
- Outdoor equipment and materials, including construction items for our Blacktip Reef project, were secured or moved to safe internal areas.
- Buckets of water and ice were made and stored.
- Sufficient oxygen supplies were gathered and staged strategically throughout animal areas.
- We also worked closely with the Baltimore City Police and Fire departments. We were happy to see them frequently thought the day and night yesterday for coffee and conversation – all other Inner Harbor coffee cafes were closed.
At our Animal Care Center, our staff worked closely to determine all husbandry needs for both our quarantine animals and the Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) animals. Like at our main building, separate oxygen supplies were placed throughout the facility. Our team’s main concern were our blacktip reef sharks and stingrays destined for our new Blacktip Reef exhibit opening in summer 2013. Detailed plans for monitoring and administering sufficient oxygen for these animals were in place in the case of loss of power or life support systems. Our lizards and turtles are a bit more forgiving in these situations because they are air breathers, but our team still had plans in place for them as well to continue their comfortable, temperature controlled environments.