New exhibits, railings and lighting are among a host of exciting features in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center, thanks to recent renovations. Watch the changes to the Giant Ocean Tank unfold with this time lapse video.

 

At the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, a glass railing maximizes everyone’s view of many of the predators swimming high in the water column. Visitors can now easily recognize creatures resting on the tank’s bottom more than 24 feet below. That exceptional viewing is enhanced by a theatrical quality lighting system that is built into a beautiful, blue, reflective ceiling dome that helps to create a greater underwater ambience throughout the space. The new exhibit gallery on the same level showcases reef biodiversity and gives visitors a closer look at a hidden world filled with unique coral reef animals, like pipefish (above center) and the fascinating flying gunard (above right). Here are some more fascinating species to look for when you visit.

 

Garden Eel

Garden eels cluster their individual burrows together in colonies, where they extend out into the passing current, gracefully bobbing while they feed on passing plankton.

 

 

Long-Spined Sea Urchin

These small invertebrates creep along corals, grazing on algae that can smother corals. Their presence helps keep corals strong and healthy. The population was nearly wiped out by a fungal infection 30 years ago, and is struggling to recover in the Caribbean.

 

 

The Yawkey Coral Reef Center is named in grateful recognition of Tom and Jean Yawkey and the foundations they established.