Sneak Peek at the National Aquarium’s latest exhibit, The Blacktip Reef

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The glass barrier is a newer and safer feature that allows even the smallest guests a prime viewing spot.

What was once a gray exhibit filled with gray animals has been transformed into a great coral reef of color, light and movement located deep in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. It’s all part of the Blacktip Reef Exhibit at the National Aquarium, and Baltimoreans are in for a treat when it opens July 10. The new exhibit is really an experience, with visitors able to use educational technology to identify each organism inside the 260,000 gallon tank. Viewers can see demonstrations (thanks to the new diving platform) as well as feedings.

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Up-close view of the synthetic coral. The reef is an exact replica of the real reefs in the Indo-Pacific and is hollow to cover the piping underneath. 

The coral is what makes the difference; the previous exhibit consisted of a sparse, sandy bottom and now it is filled with beautiful, colorful coral. The coral is synthetic, but as close to the real thing as you can get.  It is modeled after a real reef in the Indo-Pacific, but as opposed to live coral, it is flexible and not vulnerable to breakage by clumsy divers.

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The coral in the shallow waters will attract the types of organisms that typically dwell in shallow water in the wild. 

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The diving platform is a new feature that will be used for demonstrations. 

The exhibit will be home to a school of black tip reef sharks, rays, as well as 60 other varieties of fish and, of course, the fan favorite, Calypso, a 500-pound sea turtle. The animals all need to assimilate into their new environment and will be introduced slowly, one species at a time. (Calypso first, because she is the diva of the bunch.)

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View from inside the cave. 

The National Aquarium strives to inspire its guests to respect earth’s waters after experiencing the Blacktip Reef Exhibit. It’s a must-see educational experience and, for many, the closest they will get to seeing a coral reef.  The exhibit can be seen from all levels of the aquarium and  will open to the public Wednesday, July 10 at 9 AM.



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  1. An excellent and informative article on the new displays at the Baltimore Aquarium..It should inspire all who read it to go investigate ,and learn about LIFE under the sea, right here in Baltimore ….! Congratulations to the writer ..!

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