BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Big changes are coming to the National Aquarium. The main open water tank in the center of the building will soon close. A $12 million new shark tank will be put in its place.
But before it’s drained, Mike Schuh was invited down for one last look around.
The place nicknamed “The Ray Tray” still attracts very important people.
“I like the stingrays,” one little girl said.
WJZ was there for a last look at what’s officially called “Wings in the Water.” But it was just get an invitation to see. It was to swim.
Mike Schuh describes his underwater adventure:
“Unreal, a shark here. Giant ray slides by there, then there’s this guy circling. Look here. Lead aquarist Leah Neal suggests we pull out some food. Watch their mouth parts transform …Wow. Divers in the water mean food. We’re nudged and bumped. Here’s my turn. He gums my fingers. It’s a little freaky. A small ray tries some salad before taking a taste of our camera. But Calypso? Lettuce is to her liking. She’s within arm’s reach. I can hear her chew. I feel lucky and thankful. You know those big underwater windows, this is what we look like to the fish.”
Remember, the aquarium used to be just one building.
“You know we have some exhibits that are old,” said Tim Pula, planning director.
The 31-year-old tank needs big repairs. The pumps and pipes that keep the animals alive need to go.
As long as millions are going to be spent anyway, it’s time to upgrade everything.
“You can’t keep showing people the same thing over and over and over again,” Pula said.
Most of the 37 animals here will go to other aquariums.
Some rays and, of course, Calypso the sea turtle will stay.
Coming a year from now: sharks and lots of them, but that’s a different story.
So farewell old friend. May your facelift add years to your life.
That tank will close after Labor Day. The new black tail shark exhibit opens a year from now.