Volunteer Field Trip: National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center

Posted on April 25, 2019 by

A blog post from JMM Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis. To read more posts from Wendy, click here.


One of the benefits of being a volunteer at the JMM is the opportunity to go on field trips with fellow volunteers.  Our last field trip was to visit our new neighbor, the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center.

Did you ever wonder where the fish and marine mammals from the National Aquarium go when they need to take a break from constantly being on display to all the visitors on Baltimore’s Pier 4?  Or where the fish and marine mammals are cared for when ill or before they are integrated with others at the National Aquarium?  They go to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center in Jonestown, the same neighborhood where the Jewish Museum of Maryland is located.

To develop awareness of the JMM neighbors and just for the fun of it, the JMM volunteers walked the three blocks from the JMM to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center on April 8th.   We received a wonderful morning tour of the immaculately clean facilities.  There were rooms with multiple tanks that reminded me of above ground swimming pools except these tanks were populated by fish or marine mammals and were attached to elaborate pipes and filters.

They also had windows which allowed us a view of the inhabitants and gave the inhabitants a view of us.  It was fascinating to see how a fish was trained to swim to a specific colored ball.  Using that training, the staff could monitor the amount of food eaten and they could also easily get the fish’s attention when they needed to physically exam him.  Talking about examining the fish, we went to a lab where, with a plastic fish, we learned how a fish could be anesthetized and examined out of the water.

This facility is also where the elaborate National Aquarium displays are created.  From a video we learned about the many considerations needed to be taken into account when designing the displays, such as making the displays lifelike but not toxic if the marine animals nibbles on it thinking it is the real deal.

Now, as I drive by the red brick building of the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center on my way to JMM, I have a better understanding of what goes on there.  Maybe you too will arrange a tour of the center and hopefully, combine your visit there with a visit to our wonderful Jewish Museum of Maryland.

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