“I don’t think you create visions; I think you discover them.”… It’s always been in my mind, that a significant key part of our role has been to evolve the way people relate to the ocean and aquatic places. It’s always been a conservation focus.” ~ John Racanelli
The U.S. National Aquarium in Baltimore began a revolutionary discussion last year: Should they retire their captive dolphins to a marine sanctuary? CEO John Racanelli embarked on an ambitious ‘BLUE print process’ to re-evaluate what the aquarium is, does, and stands for. Reinventing a 160-year-old business model is an audacious undertaking, but in light of changing societal mores and changing ocean issues, it was essential, and created many new opportunities firsthand. As John says “If our audience is changing, how can we afford not to change?
“we exist to change the way humanity views and cares for the ocean that sustains us”
A passionate advocate for the ocean, John Racanelli serves as chief executive officer of the National Aquarium, where he immerses himself in pursuing the Aquarium’s non-profit mission to inspire marine conservation and sustainability of the world’s aquatic treasures. As CEO, John strives to drive conservation action worldwide, ensure the success of one of the nation’s leading aquarium enterprises, and fundamentally change the way the world views the ocean and marine eco-systems. “[Our vision is]: we exist to change the way humanity views and cares for the ocean that sustains us.”
“We need to be a place that is setting a standard for this century we’re now well into that is breaking down some of the barriers between the natural world that most Americans … are getting increasingly more disassociated from … I want to be part of the movement that gets people back to understanding how important the natural environment is to them and how much they are a part of that environment. That’s all part of trying to be more than an attraction and trying to really set new standards and bringing us back to the why. Why are we doing this? It’s way beyond a single species. It’s about ecosystems and habitats.
More than 1.5 million people annually visit the Aquarium’s venues in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC, while millions more are touched by the Aquarium’s marine education programs, outreach activities, social media campaigns and conservation initiatives. John says “We’re not an aquarium that shows off great habitat exhibits. We’re an organization that is working to change the way humanity views the ocean and cares for it and [make people] understand that it gives us life.” “We want to teach people that the aquarium is an asset that they’re going to utilize throughout their life.”
“diving is a way for me to see a world that entrances me.”
“When I think about the dive industry … For me, diving is a calling. I wonder if there’s a way to make diving be more of a calling for those who are coming in to it new. For me, diving is a way for me to see a world that entrances me.”
To follow more of the Ocean Sustainability programs that John has developed for the National Aquarium and to hear John’s entire interview join us at the Blue Ocean Summit 2015: John Racanelli or explore what the National Aquarium has to offer.
Our third speaker is Doug McNeese who has been passionately devoted to scuba diving and creating educational programs for divers for his entire professional life. To read Doug’s article go to: Ocean Profiles: Doug McNeese