John Racanelli

Host, A Blue View

As chief executive officer, John Racanelli leads a team of 600 full and part-time employees and 1,000 volunteers in pursuing the National Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.  More than 1.5 million people annually visit the Aquarium’s venue in Baltimore, Maryland, while millions more are touched by the Aquarium’s education programs, outreach activities, social media campaigns and conservation initiatives.

A passionate advocate for the ocean, 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 aquatic systems.

John joined the National Aquarium in July 2011 after 10 years as president of Racanelli Partners, Inc. The San Francisco-based consulting firm served the needs of nonprofit leaders nationally and globally, focusing on cultural and conservation organizations including Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Surfrider Foundation.

After co-founding Mission Blue with author and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, John assisted her in developing and launching Google Ocean, Google’s most significant enhancement of Google Earth, the most popular earth visualization tool in existence.

Prior to founding his firm, John spent 16 years in leadership positions at U.S. aquariums. He was the first CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where he built the facility, team and vision for Tampa Bay’s leading cultural attraction.  He also served for nine years on the leadership team of the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium as its vice president of marketing and development, joining the aquarium a year before its opening. While in college, John began his career as a diver and aquarist, an experience that he credits with giving him great appreciation for the work of everyone on the aquarium team.

Fluent in Spanish, John holds a degree in strategic management from Dominican University of California. He is a SCUBA diver, open-water swimmer, sailor and surfer. His weekly radio show and podcast on WYPR public radio, “A Blue View,” explores important issues related to the aquatic world. John and his family are proud residents of Canton, Baltimore’s historic waterfront district.

Large, silvery-brown, snout-nosed, scute-covered, prehistoric-looking Atlantic sturgeon have been swimming the seas and coming up East Coast rivers to breed since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

You’d have to drive from California to New York and back—TWICE—to fully appreciate the distance traveled by the gray whale every year. This species takes the credit for longest migration route of any mammal, traveling 12,000 miles from the icy waters of the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja, Mexico, and back again.


We have five senses; ask any schoolchild and they can rattle them off on the fingers of one hand: hearing, taste, smell, touch and sight.

When it comes to biodiversity, the Amazon is practically unrivaled. Spanning 6.7 million square kilometers, this South American region is twice the size of India and houses at least 10 percent of the world’s known species. Twelve hundred new species of plants and vertebrates were discovered between 1999 and 2009 alone.


Tridacna gigas, the giant clam of the Indo-Pacific, is the largest bivalve mollusk on Earth and the world's only sun-powered clam. It hosts a thick layer of zooxanthellae in its tissues and gets up to 90 percent of its nutrition from their photosynthesis.

Where does your seafood come from? You may be thinking about your favorite restaurant or your local grocery store. But the fact is, some seafood takes a circuitous route to get from the sea to your plate, and along the way can get a little, well, lost.

Its eye is the size of your head. It lives more than 3,000 feet deep in oceans around the world and is 30 feet long, yet it lacks a backbone. With eight arms and two tentacles, it is the origin of the myth of the Kraken.

We talk a lot about being “sustainable,” but what does it really mean? Tj Tate, director of sustainable seafood at the National Aquarium, is here today to talk about this sometimes misunderstood term, and what it means in the seafood industry.

More than 170,000 square miles of U.S. marine and Great Lakes waters are preserved through national marine sanctuaries. There are 14 of them scattered around the country, from Washington State to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa.

When it comes to biodiversity of plants and animals, the number of species typically increases as you move from the colder temperate zone to the warm tropics. The epicenter of salamander diversity, however, exists much further from the Equator—in fact, it’s here.