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.

The great white shark has long been feared as one of the sea’s deadliest apex predators. At an average of 15 feet in length, weighing up to 5,000 pounds and sporting about 300 serrated teeth, it’s no wonder these creatures have a notorious reputation.

Cascading tendrils of blue-green tentacles and a translucent, neon bell give the Portuguese man-of-war its otherworldly appearance.


Sharks have earned a nasty reputation for being vicious, human-hungry predators of the seas. The fact that some of them average 15 feet in length, weigh up to 5,000 pounds and have mouths lined with up to 300 razor-sharp teeth doesn’t do much to fight the stigma.

For many, summer means cookouts, beach trips, park trips and other kinds of outdoor activities, but for many urban kids, nature's very much an unknown quantity. In fact, the notion of the great outdoors is changing-and with it, what it means to be out in nature.


For some people this is a life philosophy; for oceanographers, it describes the very dynamics of our global ocean.