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Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium Introduces Galleries

Visitors Will Experience Animals and Fish of the World's Oceans, Rivers, Cold Waters, Coral Reefs and the Georgia Coast

Atlanta, GA (October 20, 2005) – There is so much about the Georgia Aquarium that makes it unlike anything visitors have ever experienced before. First, there are the fish and the animals. More than 100,000 of them. No other aquarium has that many and some of the fish have never been seen before in an aquarium in North America. Then there are the gallons of water. Eight million gallons. More than six million gallons in one habitat alone. There is the facility, with 505,000 square feet of covered space. There's the music, created specifically to match the visual experience as you walk through the building, and the lighting, which somehow seems just right. But, most of all, there are the galleries. Think the Louvre meets Disney World. Or the Ritz at 20,000 leagues under the sea. The galleries are the combined visions of a team of people put into place by Aquarium benefactor Bernie Marcus. "The Georgia Aquarium was designed with both entertainment and education in mind," said benefactor Bernie Marcus. "From the very beginning, our team was composed of both `fish people' and `theatrical designers' who looked at everything from creative positioning of windows to innovative tactile concepts on the walls and the floors." Over a period of months, the team brought Marcus as many as 30 different gallery ideas. Some of the discussions became heated, as the thinkers fought for their favorites. Marcus listened to all of the ideas, and then made the final decision of what would be displayed. "The result is that the Georgia Aquarium will not look like, feel like, sound like or be like anything else in the world," Marcus said. Here is just a glimpse of what Georgia Aquarium visitors will experience. Georgia Explorer - Discover Our Coast, presented by SunTrust Banks The Georgia Coast Gallery is a highly interactive gallery with a large children's play area and touch tanks full of horseshoe crabs, sea stars, stingrays, and shrimp. Several exhibits will feature Georgia sea turtles and the fishes of Gray's Reef - the only National Marine Sanctuary off the Georgia coast. "I wanted the Georgia exhibit to be especially appealing to kids," Marcus explained. "So many of our visitors will be children from Atlanta and other cities throughout the state, and I wanted them to learn about and be able to relate to their own environment. They'll spend a lot of time in that gallery, and hopefully they will not only be entertained, but develop an appreciation for the importance of the ocean along our Georgia coastline." This gallery will also connect people with the Northern right whale, the state of Georgia's marine mammal. The most endangered whale species on the planet, these whales spend the winter in waters right off the Georgia coast, and they are featured in a video presentation in the gallery. River Scout - Freshwater Mysteries, presented by Southern Company Rivers are a source of life for animals, people and cultures throughout the world. In the River Scout Gallery, visitors will discover a wide diversity of animals found in the rivers of Africa, South America, Asia and right here in Georgia. The river is presented in a themed environment of waterfalls, logjams, and a meandering river that gives the visitor an unusual view. Most important, each visitor will come away with an appreciation of the need to protect freshwater environments everywhere. "When the team began thinking about this gallery, I encouraged them to not just improve on exhibits they had seen in other aquariums, but to bring ideas to the table that had never existed before," Marcus said. "And, they came through in ways we never imagined." The result is two of the most creative exhibit presentations in the 505,000 square foot Aquarium: a river that runs overhead of the guests, giving them a unique perspective of the water; and the combining of a variety of fish from the fresh waters of the world, not separated by individual river locations. Cold Water Quest - The Chilly Unknown, presented by Georgia-Pacific Cold ocean waters team with fishes and marine mammals in this indoor and outdoor exhibit area. Here, guests will find a vast variety of mammals. "Our goal here was to have what people relate best to - the mammals. Lots of mammals - an unusually large exhibit of them for an aquarium. We also have the fish that swim around them in the gallery," Marcus said. "I firmly believe that the more people observe and understand the animals around us, the more they will respect and appreciate them, and do their best to conserve and protect them." A certain attention getter will be the 800,000 gallon tank, in which beautiful beluga whales will draw the visitors near and entertain them as they frolic in the water. "The males came from an amusement park in Mexico City; the females are here on a breeding loan from another aquarium," Marcus explained. "I guarantee they will bring a smile to the faces of both the young and the old. I'm 76, and I can hardly pull myself away from them, they are so much fun to watch." The animals in this gallery give visitors a glimpse of the rich variety of life found in cold ocean waters. These are the same regions that support the world's major fisheries, many of which are in peril. Visitors will learn that better management of ocean resources will not only protect marine life but also guarantee sustainable fisheries for everyone. Ocean Voyager - Journey with Giants, Built by The Home Depot Visitors will feel like scuba divers in an endless blue sea, mesmerized by nearly 100,000 fish, including whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean. This ocean habitat contains more than 6 million gallons of saltwater. "We literally built the Aquarium around this habitat," Marcus explained. "It is shaped almost like an hour-glass, so that these big animals could have the ability to swim back and forth and turn, which they need to do in order to remain healthy." "We wanted the biggest fish in the biggest tank with the biggest body of water, and the biggest window we could create for people to watch it all through." The Ocean Voyager Gallery is themed to represent the diversity of marine life, and no other aquarium in the United States has ever managed the variety and size of fishes in this major exhibit. Tropical Diver - The Coral Kingdom, presented by AirTran Airways "I encourage our guests to visit this gallery last," Marcus said. "The concept of this gallery was to be peaceful and relaxing, from the fish and the beautiful tropical coral reefs within, to the lighting and the music surrounding it. It truly is a paradise under the sea." These exhibits are appropriately arranged like a gallery of living art, and visitors will be able to sit and enjoy the beauty and the solitude, unaware of and undisturbed by hundreds of other guests who may be there with them. In this gallery, visitors will walk through a hall of mesmerizing jellies, certain to hypnotize them with their movement. Also here are seahorses, fairy basslets, yellow-head jawfish, and other jewels of the sea. The living reef exhibit is large, with thousands of colorful reef fishes moving throughout. "Each of the galleries brings something special to this Aquarium," Marcus added. "I am grateful to our presenting sponsors for enabling us to offer these inspiring exhibits. They will create awareness and appreciation, and foster a greater sense of stewardship, for all inhabitants of the aquatic world." ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM The Georgia Aquarium will open to the public in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as the world's largest aquarium facility. With more than 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water, and more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species, the Georgia Aquarium is a gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium will be overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors' experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Additional information on the Georgia Aquarium can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org. For additional information contact: Donna Fleishman For the Georgia Aquarium 770-241-8252 or 404-720-8149