By Edward Cardenas
AUBURN HILLS (CBS Detroit) – Five sharks and a variety of tropical fish experienced a temperature shock Thursday as crews of trained aquarists moved the fish from a heated semi trailer and into a tank at the new SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.
The fish – which were placed in specially designed vats in the truck and watched by handlers – went from 77-degree water to the cold near-zero air temperature as they were transported into the 35,000-square-foot aquarium.
Once the sharks – which were moved by stretcher – were inside the facility the aquarists introduced them to their new home: a 120,000-gallon tank that was heated to their familiar 77-degree water.
The salt water tank is just one of the many exhibits which features creatures from the oceans and Great Lakes.
“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 Lucy Handel, curator of the SEA LIFE Michigan aquarium. “(The aquarium has) loads of different of environments for people to learn about, and really be submerged in, as well.”
Visitors will find the nurse, bonnet head and flat head sharks, among the nearly 5,000 creatures from 250 species at the new aquarium. When it opens on Jan. 29, it will be the seventh SEA LIFE center in the United States, and one of 42 in the world.
Among the other unique and interactive features of the aquarium include:
- A 180 degree underwater ocean tunnel,
- Daily educational talks and feed shows,
- Digital touchpads at each exhibit with educational information,
- Interactive Touchpools,
- Presentation video theatre,
- Children’s play area
A number of school children also attended the delivery of the fish, and were able to stand just feet from the sharks and tropical fish that were being placed in the tank.
It was a special opportunity for Emily Valdes-Fauli who brought a “I love sharks” sign and her own home-made hammerhead shark sculpture to the aquarium.
“We don’t normally get to see sharks because we don’t live by the ocean,” she said. “It is a good thing they did this so people can get involved in nature.”
The learning and educational zones help further the mission of the aquarium which is “breed, rescue, protect,” Handel said.
“We want people to take something away from their visit and not just entertained,” she said. “They are going to be immersed in an amazing environment.