D.C. Aquarium inhabitants move to Charm City

Photo: National Aquarium

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The D.C. Aquarium, which has been located in the Department of Commerce Building since 1932, closed its doors on Sept. 30. The staff is now working to move the 2,500 inhabitants to other aquariums. About 1,700 of the animals are moving to Baltimore’s National Aquarium.

The South American electric eel packs a punch of almost 700 volts of electricity, similar to that of a third rail of the Metro. As caregivers removed the eel from its tank Wednesday, they took extra precautions.

“Our guys had on rubber gloves and we basically, instead of using a net with mesh on it, we used a plastic bag. [We] got him into the plastic bag and worked it that way and didn’t have to handle the animal too much and get in the water,” says Jay Bradley, curator of the D.C. Aquarium. “With the precautions we took I don’t think anybody was in danger whatsoever.”

Among the other hundreds of fish moved Wednesday, teams also moved an alligator gar, a large freshwater fish they trained for over a month to swim onto a stretcher.

“It actually went really well,” Bradley says. “He guided right over into the net, over the side and into the transport.”

A trip up I-95 can be stressful for anyone, so teams closely monitored the oxygen, temperature and pH of the water as they traveled.

“People who see water pouring out of the box truck might question what we’re doing,” says Andrew Pulver, Animal Care Center curator.

The animals will be quarantined for about two weeks at the National Aquarium’s offsite Animal Care Center in Baltimore.

“Quarantine is usually 45 to 90 days, but these animals are already part of the National Aquarium system,” Pulver says.

The team will be moving the rest of the animals over the next few months with a goal of turning the space back over to the Commerce Building in March.