By Tom Lang, Executive Director
May 4, 2013 - Every so often we receive inquiries asking whether the Fresno Aquarium has plans to exhibit large ocean mammals such as whales and dolphins. It is important for people to know that we have never had plans to exhibit marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, dolphins or whales. The Fresno Aquarium project is not a for-profit commercial operation like Sea World, but rather a grassroots, community-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. We believe very strongly that large marine mammals are not suitable for exhibition, but should be protected in their natural oceanic habitats.
Our plan is for the Fresno Aquarium to be "uniquely Fresno," which means it will interpret our own central San Joaquin Valley watershed. Our exhibits will follow the journey of a drop of water from the high Sierras through our Valley, the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, out to California's coast and into the Pacific Ocean. The exhibits will be approximately 1/2 freshwater and 1/2 saltwater to illustrate that even areas far inland have significant impacts on our Global Ocean.
So, imagine native California river fish as you enter the lobby swimming through re-creations of the riparian woodlands that once stretched for up to two miles wide on both sides of the San Joaquin River. The main exhibit space will continue that journey through the watershed, the delta, out past the California coastal tide pools, exhibits of fishes from the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, finally concluding with 2 spectacular aquariums depicting endangered living coral reefs. To conserve water, all of our exhibits will re-circulate and reuse the same water over and over again through the most advanced water purification technologies available. Our goal is to breed most, if not all, of our fish and marine invertebrate life on-site in our basement larval lab to reduce or eliminate our impact on wild stocks.
We understand that people love whales and dolphins - and so do we! This is why we suggest taking the opportunity to go whale watching if you can. We also hope our focus on our own inland region and its interconnectedness to the greater aquatic world will motivate you, your family and your friends to get involved in any way possible. Our motivation for building the Fresno Aquarium is based on the pressing need for quality environmental education in our region and scientific research focused on finding answers to threats to aquatic ecosystems throughout the world.