The saltwater gallery — which will be named closer to opening — will feature floor-to-ceiling acrylic windows for optimal viewing of shark species that might include hammerheads, sand tiger sharks and sandbar sharks.
“I think there is a high likelihood we’ll see those iconic species. Everyone recognizes a hammerhead, right?” Coco said.
The Georgia Aquarium opened in November 2005 and retains its bragging rights as the largest aquarium in the U.S.
It already includes areas spotlighting sea lions, whale sharks, dolphins and penguins, and the new exhibit will provide animal interactions as well.
“I think in a general sense everyone likes animal interactions,” Coco said. ”I think the shark area could drive home the impact of sharks in terms of overcoming fears.”
Coco said the aquarium team is currently examining how the construction and “1 million gallons” expansion might affect the animals currently living in the aquatic venue.
“As we get closer to the construction timetable, the animal team will weigh in,” and decide what preventive measures might need to be taken, he said. Unlike past projects, such as the AT&T Dolphin Celebration in 2011, the majority of the expansion work is taking place farther south than most of the animal spaces.
The Georgia Aquarium Expansion 2020 will begin construction in April. Among the changes will be a new shark gallery, a new entrance that extends onto the plaza and increased animal interactions.
Georgia Aquarium will, for the first time in its existence, seek funding for these upcoming upgrades. The nonprofit organization is currently in discussion with “partners and philanthropic” friends; a portion of ticket proceeds fund research and conservation efforts, as well as operating costs and enhancements, such as Expansion 2020.
On Monday, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill that will provide the aquarium with $4.5 million in tax breaks in the form of sales tax exemptions on construction costs. The bill now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.
IN OTHER GEORGIA AQUARIUM NEWS:
People 2 People January 22, 2018