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Blacktip Reef Update: One Month Left To Go!

Published June 10, 2013

We cannot wait for our new exhibit, Blacktip Reef, to open in summer of 2013! This coral-filled exhibit, replicating an Indo-Pacific ocean habitat, will feature 15 exciting species including blacktip reef sharks, reticulated whiptail rays and ornate wobbegong sharks. It will also be the new home for some of our most beloved animals, including our 400-pound green sea turtle Calypso and zebra sharks Zeke and Zoe. Guests will be able to experience this lively reef from many vantage points, including a new floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window that allows you to virtually step inside the exhibit.

It's a long journey to opening day. Between animal transports, exhibit demolition, new construction and habitat fabrication, there are a lot of updates as we get closer to this summer. As we continue to build the future home of Blacktip Reef, get the latest on what's new right here on our WATERblog!

It has been a very busy couple of months for our biological programs and exhibit teams as we continue to bring together all of the elements of our Blacktip Reef exhibit! Since our last video update, all of the coral pieces have been hand-installed into the exhibit. These coral pieces have each been carefully crafted to represent coral found in Indo-Pacific reefs. For more on how we created these pieces, check out "Aquarium Sculptors Create Coral For Conservation Awareness" - a piece that recently-aired on NPR's All Things Considered.

blacktip reef coral installation

The design of our reef is truly unique in that it incorporates many micro-habitat areas that can be commonly found in wild reef ecosystems. These micro-habitats will be important homes for our smaller species of fish, which will naturally be looking for protection from larger fish and our blacktip reef sharks.

This wider shot depicts a greater portion of the reef, before water was added to the exhibit.

The deep dive portion of Blacktip Reef, before water was added to the exhibit.

In the last few weeks, salt water has been added to the exhibit space and the lid that was previously covering the construction area has been removed. Guests visiting the Aquarium can now get a sneak peek of Blacktip Reef and see our crews at work!

blacktip reef national aquarium

An aerial view of Blacktip Reef after the removal of the construction lid.

Divers are currently taking their first dips into the exhibit, familiarizing themselves with the space as well as checking our life-support and other critical systems for proper function. At the end of this month, our biological programs staff will begin introducing our animals into their new home, starting with the one and only Calypso (our 500+ pound green sea turtle)!

Calypso is enjoying plenty of brussel sprouts behind-the-scenes, but can't wait to explore her new home!

Calypso is enjoying plenty of brussel sprouts behind-the-scenes, but can't wait to explore her new home!

Stay tuned for more updates on animal introductions and don't forget to check out Blacktip Reef when it opens July 10th! 
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