John Racanelli | WYPR

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.

With a wide, thick head shaped like a double-headed hammer—one eye on each end—the scalloped hammerhead shark is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, this unusual-looking creature could disappear from our oceans if steps aren’t taken to protect it. 

Around the Chesapeake Bay area, we have a specific word for landscaping with the environment in mind: Bayscaping. This eco-friendly, holistic approach to gardening helps conserve water and prevent pollution that may otherwise end up being carried into our waterways.

Forget “Shark Hunters.” There’s a wealth of fascinating facts that rarely get told. These unbelievable creatures are more diverse and intelligent than most people realize.

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying “an albatross around your neck.” This phrase, coined by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his 1798 poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, refers to the association of the albatross with bad luck, mishap, struggle and worry.

Thirty-seven years ago, off the coast of the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin more or less worked out his theory of natural selection, a major discovery occurred.

Summer is prime time for gardening and sprucing up our lawns—but what we do to our yards impacts our waterways more than you might expect. As we go about planting this season’s flowers, trees, produce and herbs, it’s important to keep the health of our watershed in mind.

The combination of ice melting and thermal expansion in the ocean means that sea level rise is not just a possibility…it is happening now, and the only question is how fast it’s going to rise. 

Ever feel the tangle of seaweed around your ankle when wading in the water? For many beachgoers, it is enough to send them scrambling for shore.

A common decorating theme for beach houses and shore hotels, sea stars, sand dollars and sea urchins signify summer vacation.

Sand dunes, those soft summertime beach-sights that can be scaled in flip-flops and dune buggies, are coastal geology that evolve in real time.

Take a walk on your local shoreline and you might be lucky enough to spot a blue heron fishing for its next meal or sand crabs disappearing back into the sand after being exposed by a crashing wave.  But while these creatures might be the ones to catch your attention, many of our watershed’s more overlooked inhabitants are playing an equally critical role in maintaining this complex ecosystem.

The colorful Black-Eyed Susan and the sweet-smelling magnolia are just two of the many stunning flowers and trees native to the Chesapeake Bay region.

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.

The Chesapeake Bay is a playground in the summer, with people using this amazing natural resource for fishing, boating, even simply enjoying a relaxing day on the beach along its shores.

Seahorses, sea dragons and pipefish are among the most flamboyant fish in the ocean.

Oceanography and seafloor mapping have been headline news recently in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. One of the many challenges of finding the missing plane was the fact that the ocean floor has been dark, deep and remote for all of time.

Marine photographer, videographer and environmentalist Bob Talbot has been working in and around the ocean since he was a young man living along the California coastline.

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

Most of us probably believe that we do a pretty good job of picking up after ourselves, but the reality is that trash does in fact make its way into our streets, our communities, or shores, and our waterways. To help critical habitats in the Chesapeake Bay area, the National Aquarium's Conservation Team regularly hosts cleanups where Aquarium staff and volunteers pick up what others left behind.

For many parents, raising a child to appreciate the natural world is a priority. And the good news is that the cultivation of this environmental awareness can start from a very early age.

As a world-renowned marine photographer, award-winning filmmaker and dedicated environmentalist, Bob Talbot uses the power of film to advocate for the ocean.

Historically, Atlantic White Cedar forests were common to the Eastern Shore.  Over time, these trees were harvested and the swampy areas they depend on for survival were drained and replanted with fast growing loblollies as part of the forest industry to produce lumber and paper pulp. 

Far south of the Chesapeake, fringing tropical and subtropical coastlines, there exist floating forests of mangroves, whose roots grow in a luxuriant tangle at the ocean's edge.  And there, they thrive. Botanists call the 50 species of mangroves halophylic, or "salt loving."

Blue as sapphires, red as rubies and black as onyx—there are more than 100 species of beautifully colored poison dart frogs. There is even one called "the blue jeans frog," because its bottom half is the color of denim.

One of the most challenging environmental issues in communication across Maryland and in communities all over the world is polluted runoff. As solutions are considered and implemented, what is clear is that we have to do something.
 

Did you know that every species of sea turtle in US waters is endangered? Preserving these amazing and essential sea creatures is of the utmost importance.

Through the winter, woodlands and meadows are mostly quiet at night. But with the arrival of spring rains and warming temperatures, that silence is broken by loud choruses of wood frogs and spring peepers. These are the first frog species to come out of hibernation and begin the year’s amphibian breeding season.

The phrase “impervious surface” is used by city planners, developers, real estate agents, lawyers, and citizens in Maryland and beyond.

In the vastness of the ocean, there are many so-called animal to animal symbionts, seemingly odd-fellow relationships from which both species benefit. But what about symbiosis between an animal and a plant? Or more specifically, a plant-like alga called zooxanthellae?

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