Newport Aquarium Unveils Underwater World of Weirdness - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Newport Aquarium Unveils Underwater World of Weirdness

Aquarium Unveils Underwater World of Weirdness
Newly Renovated Gallery Combines the Bizarre with the Beautiful

Newport, Ky. — A fish that walks. Creatures with electrified mouths. A fish with horns. Crabs that can grow legs up to 10 feet long. They all have two things in common. They're weird and they're going on display at Newport Aquarium.

Some of the strangest and the most magnificent marine animals are paired together in the brand new Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery, opening May 28 at Newport Aquarium.

The Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery was one of the original exhibit areas when the Aquarium opened in 1999. With new technology, new display cases and new animals available, biologists at Newport Aquarium completely reconstructed and expanded the gallery to be bigger and more bizarre than ever. It's filled with over 20 species of the world's most weird and wonderful aquatic animals.

One of the most popular features of the old gallery is back and displayed better than ever. A Giant Pacific octopus is on display in a new multi-dimensional, 360 degree, see-through aquarium where it can demonstrate its amazing ability to squeeze into exceptionally small areas.

The Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery also features sea horses, frogfish and yellow boxfish, among many other species, in nearly 12,000-gallons of water. Visitors will also marvel at the Japanese spider crabs that usually dwell in the dark cold waters of Asia and are rarely seen.

Those are just a few of the weird creatures that are showcased with some of the most exotic and beautiful fish in the world, including stunning discus and cardinal tetras.

"We set out to create an underwater world of weirdness that we think the whole family will enjoy," said Chris Pierson, husbandry director for the Aquarium. "Each animal you meet is stranger or more beautiful than the one before it."

Pierson said that every detail, down to the eye-level of the new tanks, was considered in the complete gallery renovation.

"We intentionally placed some of the tanks at a lower level, so that they're at just the right height for a child to make a discovery, even before his parents or caregivers do," Pierson said.

Some other gallery improvements include:

• Increased space

• The ability to showcase more species

• A variety of tank sizes and shapes

• Better viewing angles

• Improved gallery layout to accommodate more guests

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the giant Pacific octopus display. Essentially two tanks, the display allows the octopus to travel through tubes to change its location. Visitors will have unprecedented views of the amazing creature and be able to marvel at every detail, including the more than 1,800 suction cups on its tentacles. The octopus display greets visitors as they enter from the Shore Gallery, just past the Virtual Shark Cage.

On the wall to the right as visitors enter is the display of spiny lobsters. Giant spider crabs are located behind the Octopus tank in the center of the gallery. The sea horses are displayed with brilliant coral in a tank that allows guests to get very close to these popular oddities. Watch as they appear to "gallop" as they swim around the tank.

Other species featured in the new Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery include: 

• Grunt sculpins

• Pacific spiny lumpsuckers

• Turtle crabs

• Painted greenlings

• Decorated war bonnets

• Spotted garden eels

• Yellow boxfish

• Elephant nose fish 

The Gallery was renovated with energy-conservation in mind. In addition to the latest water pump technologies, all of the lighting in the area is LED-based, the most efficient lighting system in the world. Over 95 percent of the tank lighting is LED-based as well. (Some tanks require other types of light for the animals' survival.)

The newly renovated Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery joins the Jellyfish Gallery, Frog Bog and Shark Central as the newest exhibits at Newport Aquarium, one of the premier attractions in the region.

Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year. Extended summer hours begin on May 28 and last until Sept. 4, during which the Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

For more information on Newport Aquarium or for tickets and directions, visit www.newportaquarium.com.

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