Stranding Team Blog

The end of each year often affords us the opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the previous 12 months. There are memories that we might want to forget, but we are also encouraged by those we can celebrate. As we, at the Virginia Aquarium, reflect on the past year we find that we actually have quite a lot to which we can toast. It has taken teamwork and a united laser focus, but we have succeeded in staying the course of our conservation mission. Better yet, we have a few highlights that we want to share here and we invite you to celebrate with us.


528,800+ Guests

Every guest that visited the Aquarium in 2021 helped in our conservation efforts. Each entry not only provides financial support for us to stay on mission, but it also represents a potential new crusader for the conservation cause! Thank you to all who visited the Virginia Aquarium in 2021! We look forward to SEAing you again soon and we are excited for what is ahead in 2022.


Welcome Monty!

A favorite 2021 moment was the arrival of adorable Monty, our newest harbor seal. Monty came to us from Massachusetts and has settled in perfectly with the other boys on exhibit. He will be a fantastic ambassador, helping us share messages of conservation. If you have yet to meet this young man, be sure to schedule a visit to the Aquarium soon!


Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center!

The center is finally open!
Long-awaited and greatly anticipated, we have finally moved into the brand new stranding facility. Our award-winning and tirelessly-toiling Stranding Response Team is already hard at work utilizing the state-of-the-art technology as they continue their important conservation work.


270+ Stranding Responses

Speaking of our amazing Stranding Response Team, this past year staff and volunteers responded to more than 270 mammal and sea turtle strandings. This work is important, not only as they attempt to save animal lives, but because the information gathered is vital to conservation research efforts. This critical work relies on generous donations to the Virginia Aquarium Foundation. Learn how you can be a part of this mission.


25 Rehabilitated & Released

Most of the stories of individual sea turtle rehabilitation efforts do not make it to the public and there are those that do not have the hoped-for happy endings. But in 2021 we celebrated 25 sea turtle lives rehabilitated and successfully released back to the ocean! We want to thank those of you who gave financially and those who reported strandings to our hotline so we could respond quickly. From hotline calls to those who volunteer, this is a team effort.


Joined the 30x30 Conservation Initiative

Thirty by Thirty, or simply 30x30, is an initiative to designate 30% of U.S. land and waters as protected space by the year 2030. The campaign is part of a larger movement that calls for more environmental protection and the safeguarding of natural habitats worldwide. The Aquarium wholeheartedly embraces this initiative and has officially joined the efforts to push governments around the globe to protect the land and water spaces they oversee. The deadline is less than a decade away, but we always dream big.


Virginia Bans Intentional Balloon Release

After years of hard work and campaigning, the Aquarium celebrates Virginia becoming the first state in the nation to ban the intentional release of balloons. Persistently advocating before the General Assembly and through consistent educational messaging, we have strived to protect marine animals from careless and unnecessary balloon litter. Read more about this success and find balloon alternatives for your future celebrations.


Diversity Initiatives in Marine Science

Across the nation and the globe, we see strides toward social change. The Virginia Aquarium fully supports efforts to increase diversity in the field of marine science and conservation research. This year the Aquarium proudly joined the Association for Minority Zoo and Aquarium Professionals which works to increase minority representation throughout the industry. We look forward to seeing real change in the coming years.

238 Programs, Reaching 6,361 Students!

Education continues to be a cornerstone of our mission and we have never allowed anything, not even a pandemic, to stray our course. Now, at year's end, we want to celebrate our Education Team who offered hundreds of amazing programs to thousands of students in a single year. We raise a glass to our Educators and to the next generation of Conservationists! Learn more about our programs at the link below.


Cheers, to a successful 2021, a year filled with mission milestones


to continued perseverance in 2022!