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Archive for Sunday, April 27, 2003

It takes a lot to re-create a Philippine reef

April 27, 2003

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Here are some facts about the new "Wild Reef" exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

  • The exhibit uses 750,000 gallons of water -- weighing 4.8 million pounds -- with 400,000 gallons in the shark tank alone.
  • The exhibit has more than 1 million animals (including the individual corals -- they're animals, remember).
  • To provide a colorful display, 85 specially fabricated corals are part of the reef (15 never before exhibited).
  • From 25 to 30 sharks (up to eight species) will swim around.
  • The exhibit's zebra sharks can grow to a length of 12 feet.
  • Because animals are more comfortable with sand from their native habitat, more than 17 tons of Philippine sand was brought in.
  • Surf's up: 1,500 gallons of seawater splash every 12 seconds in the surge habitat (a wave tank simulating where critters dwell).
  • More than 2,000 fish are in the exhibit.
  • Forty-six bags (2,600 pounds each) of Instant Ocean were used to make the seawater.
  • A Philippine reef was selected because those islands are the epicenter of ocean diversity, with 450 species of coral and 2,500 species of fish. Moving eastward, marine diversity diminishes -- for instance, 350 coral species and 1,500 fish species occupy Australia's Great Barrier Reef, but only 50 species of coral and 460 species of fish are off Hawaii's coast.

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