National Aquarium visitors will soon have a chance to get up close and personal with blacktip reef sharks, stingrays, a giant green sea turtle and other marine life, as well as the vibrant activity of an entire coral reef ecosystem when the highly-anticipated Blacktip Reef exhibit opens at the Inner Harbor on Wednesday, July 10th.
One of the nation’s most comprehensive recreations of an Indo-Pacific reef, the exhibit will be the new centerpiece at one of Maryland’s top tourist attractions.
The new exhibit will feature a school of sleek and fast-moving blacktip reef sharks, known for the distinctive and prominent black tips on their fins. With 15 other major marine life species, more than 60 additional varieties of fish and one integrated, self-contained ecosystem in a 260,000-gallon immersion-like exhibit, a trip to the National Aquarium will be the closest way to experience an environment of sharks and an endangered coral ecosystem without traveling thousands of miles.
“As our name implies, creating exhibits and programs that are indeed national – in scope, importance and impact – is a significant part of our work. Blacktip Reef is an excellent example of this,” said John Racanelli, National Aquarium CEO. “It captures the beauty and mystery of an Indo-Pacific coral reef while conveying a compelling message about the urgent need to protect both the habitat and its diverse inhabitants. This is the first in an ambitious series of innovations here at the National Aquarium, all of which underscore our commitment to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.”
The $12.5 million coral reef exhibit is the first stage of a project to renew and refresh the National Aquarium at Baltimore, which draws more than 1.4 million visitors each year.
In addition to the blacktip reef sharks, the exhibit’s new attractions – including 5-foot wide whiprays and the camouflaged ornate wobbegong sharks – will be joined by existing aquarium favorites such as Calypso, the 500-pound green sea turtle, and the beloved zebra sharks Zeke and Zoe.
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