The Sea Life Michigan Aquarium is well on track for its grand opening, welcoming six sharks weeks in advance of Jan. 29. It will have over 5,000 aquatic animals on display when it opens and that includes two bonnethead sharks, a nurse shark and three blacknose sharks.
Transported from Florida, the sharks were welcomed by children holding up signs that read "Welcome to your new home" Jan. 8, carried by stretcher to transfer them into a saltwater tank they will call home for the next years. Given target training to get them accustomed to their new home, the sharks were all properly fed and examined to guarantee their health.
Aside from target training, aquarium staff also made several important preparations, making sure that water tanks had the right salinity levels and the right kinds of bacteria to aid in waste breakdown. Mimicking exact conditions of waters in the wild is important to the well-being of the sharks as this will help ensure they thrive in the aquarium.
To ensure optimum tank conditions, aquarium staff will also be diving weekly to clean them. All tanks are also sufficiently sized for the sharks, most especially when nurse sharks can grow up to six feet from end to end. While there's only one nurse shark in the aquarium, growing up to that length will definitely need a lot of space to swim around in.
"We've got a Great Lakes section so you can learn about all the cool animals here in Michigan and then we have various salt water exhibits, tropical and cold as well," said Luch Handel, aquarium curator.
Aside from the tanks, the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium will feature a play area for children, an interactive video theater, a video presentation theater and daily feed shows and educational talks. All exhibits will also be accompanied by digital touchpads to facilitate learning.
The Michigan Aquarium will be the seventh Sea Life facility in the United States. There are 41 other Sea Life aquariums in the world. At 35,000 square feet, the aquarium is the biggest in the state. It will also be home to a main tank with a capacity for 120,000 gallons.
A registered charity, Sea Life works around the globe to protect the oceans and all of marine life through innovative conservation campaigns, inspiring education and scientific research. Sea Life operates with a vision of a world where all important marine wildlife and habitats are conserved and respected, where plastic pollution is non-existent and fish stocks are plenty.