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A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Aquarium’s New Blacktip Reef Exhibit

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WJZ's Mary Bubala swims with Calypso, the 500-pound green sea turtle. Calypso is featured in the National Aquarium's new Blacktip Reef exhibit. (Credit: National Aquarium).

WJZ’s Mary Bubala swims with Calypso, the 500-pound green sea turtle. Calypso is featured in the National Aquarium’s new Blacktip Reef exhibit. (Credit: National Aquarium).

Mary Bubala 370x278 Mary Bubala
Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A big day at the National Aquarium. It is the grand opening of the much anticipated Blacktip Reef exhibit.

Mary Bubala got up close and personal with one creature that often steals the show–Calypso.

The new exhibit is breathtaking, especially under water. I had a chance to go in and go under and see the reef and Calypso up close.

The 260,000 gallon saltwater Indo-Pacific reef is about to be invaded!

“The most important thing I needed to know before I got in is that the sharks, they’re not in yet!” Bubala said.

For now, the Blacktip Reef is just 4,000 pieces of artificial coral, a few small tropical fish, Calypso the 500-pound sea turtle, and me, ready for an underwater adventure!

Along with snorkeling, we’re going to dive under. Holly Bourbon, the curator of fishes and dive safety officer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, is my instructor and guide.

“As we go under today, what should we be looking for?” I asked.

“I would just sort of float around, be calm so that the fish will sort of come around and look at you, and you get to see Calypso, which is an added bonus,” Bourbon said.

We’re off, and headed below the surface. It is a rare, stunning, up-close view of what the Great Barrier Reef would look like.

Almost right away, we run into Calypso, the National Aquarium’s beloved mascot. I have an amazing encounter with the gentle giant.

She seems at home already in her new surroundings, floating peacefully in the water and not seeming to mind the company.

Calypso had a few days to adjust before the big fish joined her.

“The sharks are not in the exhibit yet, but when they get in the water, you’ll still have divers come through here?” I asked.

“Yes. For our safety, we are going to feed them first thing in the morning from the surface,” said Bourbon.

But below, as I dove in and said “Hello,” visitors were getting a real sense of what it’s like to be at sea level as glass walls bump out right into the water, bringing the beautiful replica coral into view without having to get wet.

Getting to touch and see Calypso in her habitat is definitely amazing. Divers go into the reef on a daily basis.

Calypso is sharing the giant tank with 20 Blacktip sharks.

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