Friday, March 27, 2009

New Living Coral Exhibit in Boneless Beauties

A new living coral exhibit is now open in the Boneless Beauties gallery inside the Tennessee Aquarium's Ocean Journey Building. This particular display features living coral colonies that can be found in relatively shallow waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans off the coast of southeast Asia. Every coral in this exhibit was cultured or grown by specialists who raise coral. No coral was taken from nature for this exhibit, which is an important point for everyone to understand.
We try to communicate the difference between living coral and the coral recreations found in the Secret Reef during our dive shows.
The artificial corals you see in the Secret Reef exhibit are concrete simulations made to look as close to living coral as possible. These look-a-likes are modeled after types of corals found in relatively deep waters about 110 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas in the protected area of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Representatives from the FGBNM Sanctuary and divers who have been to that area marvel at the natural look of this exhibit.
Removing ANY coral from the ocean would damage the environment.
(It would take thousands of years for these tiny animals to build the huge, boulder formations recreated in the Secret Reef.)
And today, the world's coral reefs are facing a number of challenges. In fact, a recent article in the Washington Post informs us of a scientific report which documents declines in Caribbean corals and reef fish. Read it here:

Coral reefs can be wonderfully colorful and vibrant places. After viewing this exhibit up close, check out the beautiful coral reef scenes in "Under the Sea 3D" now showing at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater.

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