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.
Parents Sentenced in Drowning Death of Toddler
The parents of a northwestern Wisconsin toddler who drowned after wandering away from home in 2012 have been sentenced. Thomas Williams will serve jail time followed by probation, while Jenna Danish will be on probation.
Powerful Business Groups Object to Wis. Road Taxes
A coalition of powerful business groups in Wisconsin are coming out against a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker's Department of Transportation that would increase taxes and fees by more than $750 million.
Bentleyville Opening Weekend Draws Large Crowd
One of the Christmas City of the North's favorite holiday traditions, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, officially kicked off Saturday night with more than 15,000 visitors. The man behind Bentleyville, and its unofficial "mayor" Nathan Bentley says bringing the holiday light display to Bayfront Festival Park every year is about community...
Weekend Anchor Laurie Stribling Says Goodbye
Weekend Anchor Laurie Stribling had her last show Sunday night. Before she left, we took a look at some of the highlights during her time in the Northland.
Junior League Gives Back Through Festival of Trees
The Junior League of Duluth helped give back to the community while also lending a hand to local small businesses this weekend.