Miami's Seaquarium: No Oil Yet, But Worries Aplenty The Gulf oil spill is hundreds of miles away, but South Florida's marine-park home for dancing dolphins and killer whales is preparing for the worst. The Seaquarium draws its water from Biscayne Bay, and operators are readying alternate sources and oil/gas separators to protect their sea creatures.
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Miami's Seaquarium: No Oil Yet, But Worries Aplenty

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Miami's Seaquarium: No Oil Yet, But Worries Aplenty

Miami's Seaquarium: No Oil Yet, But Worries Aplenty

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And we still don't know how far and wide that oil spill in the Gulf will spread. The threat is forcing many to make contingency plans. NPR's Greg Allen reports about the worries at a big tourist destination in Miami, the Seaquarium.

GREG ALLEN: Unidentified Woman: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, once again, the (unintelligible) is open.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

ALLEN: Several times a day, visitors can watch dolphin, killer whale and sea lion shows. General Manager Andrew Hertz says the Seaquarium - perched on Virginia Key in the middle of Biscayne Bay - enjoys advantages other aquariums and marine parks, like Sea World, don't have.

ANDREW HERTZ: We pull our water for our animals straight out of the bay and we filter it, and we give them clean water. But the quality of our water is only as good as the quality of the bay.

ALLEN: But Seaquarium officials say a change in current, wind patterns or the arrival of a hurricane could instantly change that, polluting the water the marine park's 1,000 birds, mammals and fish depend on.

EINAR GUSTAFSON: I take in 10,000 gallons a minute, 24 hours a day.

ALLEN: Einar Gustafson is Seaquarium's park services director and the man who's now scrambling to develop a plan to safeguard the cleanliness of its seawater.

GUSTAFSON: We're looking at wells to augment our water supply. We're looking at oil-water separators. There's lot of different options in there.

ALLEN: General manager Andrew Hertz says the park's most vulnerable animals are its fish, like the rays swimming in one of its outside tanks.

HERTZ: We've got a spotted eagle ray right here coming by, and then we've got some southern sting rays in here. And they look like fairly hardy animals. But these guys are reliant on the cleanliness of this water for their oxygen.

ALLEN: Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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