Blacktip Reef Update: Habitat Creation

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!

While our construction crew is busy renovating the 200,000-gallon exhibit space for Blacktip Reef, designers and contractors are hard at work creating exact replicas of corals found in the Indo-Pacific. Their primary goal is to ensure that everything from habitat fabrication to assembly and installation is held to the highest standard of authenticity. Watch this video to see the team in action:

The process of designing and building an expansive reef habitat for our animals is both a science and an art! Exhibitors spent months researching the species of coral found in Indo-Pacific reefs, then creating molds and hand-sculpting each piece of rock coral. Our team has to create corals that look real and are also completely safe for our animals.

Why not use real corals for our new exhibit?

Live corals require constant and intense amounts of light and take years to grow. Artificial corals are easier to maintain and repair over the years. Additionally, by crafting each piece of coral that will go into our new exhibit, designers have complete control over the look and shape of Blacktip Reef.

The end product will be a colorful and rich marine habitat perfect for both our animals and our guests to explore and enjoy!

Stay tuned for more Blacktip Reef updates! 

5 Responses to “Blacktip Reef Update: Habitat Creation”


  1. 1 Chris April 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I must say that I don’t even know what a black tip reef shark is.. I’m excited to see what is to come of this. It does kind of suck that the reef couldn’t be real and has to be fake.. but I guess I know what you mean about taking care of it with UV. Awesome post here as usual guys!

    • 2 National Aquarium April 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks Chris!! We’re excited too! And yes, we of course would love to care for live coral, but the exhibit space just wouldn’t allow it. We think you’ll enjoy the replicated coral just as much! Hope to see you at the opening!


  1. 1 National Aquarium News 2013 » National Aquarium in Baltimore Trackback on March 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm
  2. 2 Choose Our Limited Edition Blacktip Reef Admission Tickets! | National Aquarium | WATERblog Trackback on May 22, 2013 at 9:15 am
  3. 3 Blacktip Reef Update: One Month Left To Go! | National Aquarium | WATERblog Trackback on June 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

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