Blacktip Reef Update: One Month Left To Go!

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! 


9 Responses to “Blacktip Reef Update: One Month Left To Go!”

  1. 1 caitlin June 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Can’t wait! When do members get a sneak peak?

  2. 5 Deborah A Martin June 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    The shark reef sounds fantastic for shark lovers! The sea turtle, rays, and various shark species sound fantastic! Good luck to all who are working so hard to get the shark reef up and running!

  3. 7 Rachel Billings June 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Is this going to be up and ready by July 24th?

    • 8 National Aquarium July 8, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thanks for the question, Rachel! Thanks for your interest in our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef!

      As we’re sure you understand, the process of opening an exhibit with a living collection is largely guided by the needs of our animals. Though we had planned to open our exhibit on July 10, we’ve decided to give the 1,200 residents of Blacktip Reef more time to become acclimated to their new home. Our dedicated team is working hard to create an exhibit that both inspires our visitors and meets our high standards of excellence in animal care.

      The introduction of our 500+ pound green sea turtle Calypso to the exhibit last week marked the first of many exciting milestones leading up to Blacktip Reef’s grand opening later this summer!

      We hope that you can stop by soon to see the reef in action!

  1. 1 Blacktip Reef Featured on “The List!” | National Aquarium - WATERblog Trackback on June 21, 2013 at 5:03 pm

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