Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Opens New Invasive Species Exhibit and Upgraded Touch Pool

The Georgia Aquarium is excited to announce a new lionfish exhibit and upgraded touch pool located within the Georgia Explorer Gallery, presented by Sun Trust. Lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), which are native to the sub-tropical and tropical Indo-Pacific regions, are an invasive species that are being released into ocean waters from which they did not originate, including areas off the coast of Georgia. There is increasing concern among fisheries scientists that lionfish, having no natural enemies off the coast of Georgia, may adversely impact native fish populations. In addition, this fish has venomous spines and may pose a danger to divers and anglers alike.

Through a grant with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Georgia Aquarium is working to increase awareness and management of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest near-shore, live-bottom reefs of the southeastern United States. Scientists at NOAA have been conducting research on the invasive lionfish to better understand distribution, density, life history, temperature tolerances and genetics. The Aquarium's new 1,000-gallon exhibit will feature more than 40 lionfish, ranging in length from 5-9 inches.

The new touch pool features lower, kid-friendly and ADA-accessible walls so that everyone can enjoy the aquatic life.

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