Cranes, beams and things

Something “big” is happening!

This morning we began the construction of a 4-ton steel platform…at the bottom of our 16,500-gallon Wings in the Water exhibit.

This is not your typical construction job. This project requires a group of Aquarium divers and commercial divers to install very large stainless steel I-beams at the bottom of an exhibit, while underwater! For the next six to seven days, at least six divers at a time will be in the water 24 hours a day.

The main I-beam was brought into the Aquarium early this morning, lifted into the building with the help of a crane. It is 22 feet long, 14 inches wide, 32 inches tall, and weighs 2,000 pounds!

When finished, the structure will weigh 10,000 pounds. It’s a big job, but just a small part of how we care for our animals and our exhibits. More than 40 animals live in this exhibit alone, including a variety of stingrays, sharks and a green sea turtle.

Click here to see more photos of the I-beam installation, and stay tuned for more updates from our underwater construction team!

You can help us keep our exhibits up to date! Text “RESTORE” to 20222 to donate $5 toward this and other Aquarium restoration projects. With you, we make a difference.

2 Responses to “Cranes, beams and things”


  1. 1 Katie May 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Can you tell us more about what the project is for?

    • 2 National Aquarium May 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      A few years ago a crushed coral, sand substrate was added to the bottom of the exhibit to help enhance the habitat for the animals. This addition helped to improve water quality by acting as a buffer and our sting rays love to bury and forage for food in it. At that time a flow- through platform was installed to keep the sand from getting sucked into to a large filter return located on the bottom. The original platform was not sturdy enough and began to fail, so it was removed and temporarily replaced with a ring of sandbags used to keep the bottom substrate from the filters. This new structure will restore the original plan for the exhibit, and allow the animals to fully enjoy their habitat!


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