Field of Fish Dreams: Is a Major League Ballpark Aquarium a Bad Idea?

Aquarium Success Factors

When I queried two professional aquarists about the Marlins ballpark matter, they brought up the topic of Gaussian noise and wondered how that might compare to the baseball game noise experience.

They also pointed out that, in their own major metropolitan public aquarium, people bang on the aquarium glass (despite signs condemning this activity), scream, take flash photographs and attempt to interact with the aquarium inhabitants as much as possible. And there's the issue of after-hours social functions, including wedding receptions, birthday parties and sleepovers, which generate much-needed revenue for aquariums.

Of course, noise isn't the only factor to consider when examining the matter of aquariums in a major league ballpark. For the project to succeed, species selection is critical.

The aquarium inhabitants should have a history of thriving in captivity and be captive raised, as opposed to being taken from the wild. They should also be native to Florida, if the Marlins hope to provide an enriching educational experience for fans and players. And there should also be dedicated and experienced staff charged with the care and maintenance of the animals and their life-support systems.

I have reservations about this initiative, but since it's so unusual and unique, it’s hard to predict success or even anticipate potential pitfalls. If the decision is made to implement the aquariums into the permanent ballpark structure, then I recommend a contingency plan in case problems such as power outages and hurricanes arise. These aquariums should not be thought of as decorative but as windows into a world of natural Floridian beauty and wonder.

Dr. Gregory A. Lewbart, MS, VMD, Dipl. ACZM, is a veterinarian and professor of aquatic animal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. Dr. Lewbart is also the author of four veterinary books and two novels, Ivory Hunters: A Novel of Extinction and Pavilion Key. Dr. Lewbart shares his Raleigh home with several pets and his wife, Diane, who also happens to be a veterinarian.

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