BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore comes to life. It’s the world’s largest reproduction of a Pacific coral reef, and features some shark-toothed friends.

Jessica Kartalija has more on the breathtaking Blacktip Reef.

As the crowd looks on, one by one, blacktip sharks are welcomed to their new home in the National Aquarium’s Blacktip Reef.

“It’s quite a process of getting the sharks out of our animal care facility,” an employee said.

For the past several months, 20 blacktip sharks have been living at an off-site facility, preparing to move to the new exhibit.

“We have to make sure that they are comfortable, that they acclimate well and that they are looking great and feeding great before we introduce them to the public,” said Ashleigh Clews, senior aquarist.

Hundreds of species will join the sharks–a lengthy process that requires a lot of planning and observation.

“When you have a tank that has little tiny fish and big sharks, you want those little fish to go in first and find a secure spot. Then you put some bigger fish in, leading all the way up to the sharks,” Clews said.

“So we put silicone rubber on this and we make a mold,” an employee said.

Blacktip Reef is a complex ecosystem that looks just like the real Indo-Pacific Reef.

Kartalija: How similar is what we’re going to see at the aquarium to the natural habitat?

Employee: “I would say if you looked at a picture of the Great Barrier Reef, you’re going to say it’s spot on.”

Molds are used to create replicas of sponge and coral–3,000 different types to be exact.

It took two days to get the blacktip sharks into their new home–a 13,000 square foot tank, where visitors can get an incredible view of the world down under.


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