Three new dolphins were coping well at the National Aquarium today after a five-hour plane ride from Florida last evening, said Vicki Aversa, an aquarium spokeswoman.
The dolphins, all female, were resting in an isolated pool. They will remain there for a few weeks until they are ready to move into a 1.2 million-gallon display tank in the marine mammal pavilion. The pavilion is to open in late December.
The dolphins -- Hailey, Schooner and Shiloh -- will share the tank with the three beluga whales and three other dolphins that arrived from Texas in August.
Aversa said the new dolphins are on loan from Zoovet, a California company.
The dolphins left Florida yesterday at 5 p.m. Several members of the aquarium staff accompanied them, spraying water and keeping their skins moist with cream and wet towels.
Aversa said that when she left the aquarium at 1 a.m. today "the dolphins were swimming and exploring their new accommodations."
She also said that dolphins relate well to beluga whales.
The combination of belugas and dolphins was "chosen because they do very well together in aquarium settings. They inhabit similar environments in the wild."
Aversa said the aquarium would decide at a later date whether and how to bring a seventh dolphin to Baltimore. The aquarium still holds one, which was captured in Tampa Bay a year ago. Protesters from animal-rights groups opposed the capture and the effort to move the dolphin to Baltimore. The captured dolphin is at Hawk's Cay in Marathon, Fla. Officials in Florida have refused to give a permit for the animal to be moved to Baltimore.
The aquarium staff hopes to breed the dolphins in captivity. Aversa said one of the newcomers, Shiloh, has given birth in captivity before.