Featured Image Credit: National Aquarium
By Alice Morris
One of the world’s oldest captive dolphins has died at age 44.
Nani was one of three bottlenose dolphins brought to Baltimore in 1990 for the launch of the National Aquarium’s marine mammal pavilion.
Having lived for over four decades, Nani was the oldest of the aquarium’s Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and the only dolphin in the current colony born in the wild.
Following the closure of an aquarium in Galveston, Texas, Nani and two other dolphins were safely transferred to Baltimore almost three decades ago.
In the years since, Nani has delighted and dazzled countless visitors to the National Aquarium. She’s also given birth to several calves, two of which still live at the aquarium.
“She has always been the star,” said Dr. Brent Whitaker of the National Aquarium. “She’s had a long and incredible life with us here at the National Aquarium.”
According to aquarium officials, Nani began acting oddly on February 27th. Despite receiving immediate emergency attention, Nani died the following day.
In an e-mail statement to the aquarium’s supporters, Scott Douglas, the aquarium’s Chief Philanthropy Officer said “She was very much a member of the National Aquarium family and we are heartbroken to lose her.”
The cause of Nani’s death hasn’t been determined, but the aquarium is investigating.
Aquarium officials announced plans last June to open an ocean sanctuary for their dolphins by 2020. The aquarium said it still plans to go ahead with the sanctuary following Nani’s death.
Female bottlenose dolphins can live to be 50 years old or older, according to the NOAA Fisheries. One dolphin at an aquarium in Florida lived to be 61 years old before passing away in 2014.
Bottlenose dolphins are the most common members of the Delphinidae family and they live in warm and temperate oceans around the world.