Posts Tagged 'habitat'

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! 

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! 

Restoring valuable habitats

Thanks to the support of our hard-working volunteers, 2009 has been incredibly productive for the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team.  Throughout the year, 4 large-scale planting events translated into 10 critical acres restored – that’s 144,000 plants that will provide valuable habitat and help to slow shoreline erosion! 

Our restoration projects took us to many beautiful areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay.  The planting season kicked off just outside of Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  In May, fifty-two volunteers and 90 students joined us on Barren Island to plant 3 acres of restored offshore habitat, created from repurposed dredge material.  The marsh grasses we provided are a huge part of the recipe that turns dredge material into viable wetland habitat, making it possible to rebuild islands that have dramatically eroded over the last century. 

Poplar Island is a similar restoration project off of Tilghman Island MD, in the central region of the Bay.  Dredge material is again being used to rebuild the severely eroded Island to its original 1000 acres.  The Aquarium Conservation Team, along with 268 volunteers and students, planted 3 acres of wetland grasses on the island in June.  As more dredge material is brought in and settles into plant-able areas, the National Aquarium will continue to return to the island to be a part of the restoration process.  The next Poplar Island planting project is expected to take place in the summer of 2011. 

Click here to learn more about Poplar Island and the beneficial use of dredge material.

Continue reading ‘Restoring valuable habitats’


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 236 other followers