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The walk-through tank features more than 200 colorful fish.

'Pacific Coral Reef' Exhibit Now Open

Children explore the Pacific Coral Reef. Photo by Patricia Grossman/ABQ BioPark.

April 8, 2013

The new Pacific Coral Reef exhibit at the Aquarium opened on Friday, April 12 with more than 200 brilliantly colored fish.

Butterflyfish, angelfish, puffers and surgeonfish transform the old Eel Cave into a vibrant walk-through reef. Guests can immerse themselves in this exhibit where nearly 80 different species of fish dip, dive and glide. Bright artificial corals add color and texture. Signs share the stories of people who depend on coral reefs, which are facing serious threats worldwide. (The eels and groupers are now in the Shark Tank.)

"Coral reefs are vanishing treasures due to overfishing, pollution and climate change," said Holly Casman, Aquarium Manager. "We hope Aquarium guests are inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Coral Reef and our other coral exhibits. We also want them to understand reefs are disappearing - these vital ecosystems are in deep trouble - and our actions matter when it comes to protecting the reefs that remain."

Coral reefs provide humans with goods and services worth $172 to $375 billion each year. Millions of people depend on reefs for food, industries like fishing and tourism, and protection from ocean storm surges. The decline of coral reefs will have a devastating impact, and scientists project that all coral reefs will be seriously threatened by 2050, if current trends in climate change, pollution and overfishing continue. Some marine biologists fear that reefs will die out within a human generation.

In the Aquarium Theater, guests can enjoy Coral Sea Dreaming each day Friday-Sunday, April 12-14. Afterwards, it will play each Tuesday as part of the regular rotation. Award-winning cinematographer David Hannan captured its high-definition sequences during thousands of dives on the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia and the reefs of Papua New Guinea's Coral Triangle. The DVD is available for purchase in the Aquarium Gift Shop.

The exhibit was funded by the New Mexico BioPark Society, thanks in large part to a contribution from the Frank D. Gorham, Jr. and Marie Kelly Gorham Charitable Foundation. As diving enthusiasts and ocean advocates, Mark and Ingrid Gorham are great supporters of the Aquarium.The exhibit transformation cost about $25,000 and is part of NMBPS’s “Nuture Your Love of Nature” Capital Campaign. The funding paid for fish, new artificial corals, new signs, new lighting, materials and additional fabrication staff.

The exhibit and film are included with regular admission. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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