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'Shipwrecks Alive!' Exhibit Set to Open Thursday

Updated: 07/01/2014 10:41 PM
Created: 07/01/2014 5:13 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

After years of planning and months of building, the Great Lakes Aquarium is finally ready to show off their new, massive saltwater exhibit.

'Shipwrecks Alive!' opens Thursday, but Eyewitness News got a sneak peek behind the scenes before the exhibit is open to the public.

Emily Bowen with the aquarium's education department says they've built the exhibit to make it feel like you're underwater.

"We sort of put a little spin on scuba diving, so you can almost pretend you're underwater and you're scuba diving in the Truk Lagoon or in the Mediterranean or in Lake Superior," she said.

Jay Walker, the aquarium's Director of Operations, and his team have been busy getting it all together.

"Basically through the last part of the winter and into spring we've pretty much been non-stop working on things," Walker explained.

Over the past year, the aquarium has collected hundreds of saltwater fish, which span every color of the rainbow. They also have some pretty unique-looking critters, such as puffer fish, sting rays, and even sharks.

"We have a zebra shark which is really this unique animal, she's 5-feet long and about 30 pounds," said Walker.

The exhibit shows off some pretty neat fish, but the exhibit is also about interactive learning and education.

"The shipwreck story is really a story of a habitat and that is the big thing for us," said Walker.

Walker said that story not only explains how or why a ship sinks, but then what happens underwater and how the ship decays or becomes a home for sea life.

The exhibit highlights the shipwreck story through three different lenses. One tank shows what happens to a wreck in the Pacific Ocean, the other tank portrays an ancient wreck in the Mediterranean, and a model stern and salvaged staircase of the S.S. America represents the Great Lakes.

The S.S. America is a wreck that sits in Lake Superior's Isle Royale National Park.

The new exhibit opens to the public Thursday, July 3.

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