MYSTIC, Conn. (May 13, 2010) – This spring, changes to Mystic Aquarium’s main exhibit floor create new worlds of experience. Opening in April and May, several new exhibits allow guests to have close encounters with sharks, see jellies from around the world, learn about marine animal senses and get an up-close look at moray eels and barracuda.
“The new exhibits are fun, exciting, refreshing and a reason to visit,” said Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Sea Research Foundation, Inc. "Where else can you touch a shark? Guests will see a lot of other improvements at the aquarium, including more value for admission and membership than ever before."
Jellies: The Ocean in Motion
At the new “Jellies: The Ocean in Motion” exhibit, opening May 24, guests will be transported to a world of jellies, complete with lighting that creates the effect of moving water and a two-sided water wall, featuring streams of water trickling over hand-blown glass fish and jellies created by renowned local artist Jeffrey P’an of Prescient Studios. From the outside, the exhibit will appear to be a 20-foot tall sea nettle floating on water. Inside, five species will be on exhibit, including moon jellies, upside down jellies, sea nettles, comb jellies, which appear to have electrical currents running through them, and blue-spotted, or lagoon, jellies. Species in this ever-changing exhibit will vary throughout the year.
“Jellies have always been a favorite with guests,” said Dr. Tracy Romano, senior vice president of research and zoological operations at Sea Research. “This exhibit was designed to showcase many types – from big to small and even some local species – while displaying their grace and unique swimming patterns.”
At the new “Shark Encounters” exhibit guests can walk right up and touch the backs of white-spotted bamboo sharks as they glide by. The shallow pool allows for easy reach of these docile, bottom-dwelling sharks. The pool houses six sharks, all one to three feet in length.
“Conservation of sharks is an important issue right now. Some populations have declined as much as 80 percent in recent years,” said Dr. Romano. “This exhibit provides a great opportunity for guests to cultivate a bond with these animals while learning about the threats various species are facing in the wild.”
Opening on May 21, “ Sense-Sational Seas ” is an aquarium-wide exhibit designed to let guests experience the sights, sounds and textures of the oceans as marine creatures do. At kiosks throughout the main exhibit floor, guests will see like a fish sees, hear the mysterious sounds of fish grunts, popping shrimp and more, and touch shark “skin”. Outside, they can hear beluga whale vocalizations at the “ Arctic Coast ” exhibit; compare the calls of various types of penguins to the African penguins that reside in the Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Exhibit; and learn how seals and sea lions use their whiskers as sensory devices at the “ Pribilof Islands ” exhibit.
Moray Eels and Barracuda
The moray eels and barracuda exhibit, which opened in February, houses 40 purplemouth moray eels, four green moray eels and 20 barracuda. A model of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Duane, which was intentionally sunk off the coast of the Florida Keys to create an artificial reef, serves as a hiding spot for the eels while showing how artificial habitats can help marine life flourish. Children can crawl into the adjacent Kids’ Cave for an up-close look at the exhibit, with only glass separating them from the eels and barracuda.
Other recent additions to the main exhibit floor include “Predators of the Reef”, featuring active black-tip reef sharks, colorful queen triggerfish and giant grouper, and a large transparent tank that provides 360-degree views of exotic Indo-Pacific reef fish.
For more information on these and other exhibits at Mystic Aquarium, visit http://www.mysticaquarium.org/
About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Learning are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.
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