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Moody Gardens reveals first glimpse at Caribbean exhibit

Part of $37 million renovation

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GALVESTON – Guests will be able to journey to new depths this summer as Moody Gardens provided a preview of its newly enhanced Aquarium Pyramid Caribbean Exhibit featuring a shipwreck scene, vibrant coral ecosystem and marine life sanctuaries.

Moody Gardens offered a sneak peek of improvements made in the Caribbean Exhibit Tuesday, including The Pride, a 19th century rum-runner shipwreck replica, loosely based on the vessel sailed by famed Galveston pirate Jean Lafitte.

The replica arrived at Moody Gardens in about 75 individual pieces.

"Our diving team spent two days putting together the ship. It really was like working on a puzzle," said Jake Emmert, Moody Gardens dive safety officer. Each piece arrived labeled and steps were outlined in a manual that divers used to put together the ship. "Each day, we were under water for about seven hours. Cumulatively, divers spent 68.5 hours under water."

Enhancements to the Caribbean Exhibit are part of a multi-phased $37 million Aquarium Pyramid renovation, giving guests an awe-inspiring experience complemented with conservation messages that underscore the vital importance of the oceans.

"Our Caribbean Exhibit is one of the largest tropical marine exhibits in the country. We wanted to focus on that area and felt the shipwreck was a focal point for the marine life and for our guests," Moody Gardens Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker said. "This creates a tie to Galveston, the early history of the island and its pirate romance."

The enhanced exhibit transports guests to the Caribbean with breathtaking views of shallow and deep coral reefs and the marine life that call them home. New lighting highlights both the vibrant coral ecosystem and the mysterious pelagic communities that mingle throughout the Caribbean Island chain.

Guests are completely immersed as the Caribbean Exhibit showcases the impressive diversity of species present in the closest tropical sea. Sharks, reef fish, snappers, eels, rays and other tropical fish swim overhead as guests walk through the tunnel in this one million-gallon exhibit, giving them the sense of diving in the Caribbean.

New artificial coral will be added to the exhibit, along with additional tropical marine life. As part of Moody Gardens’ commitment to education and conservation of the earth and its oceans, the aquarium uses artificial coral - made of non-toxic materials from molds of natural coral - in its exhibits.

Also new are in-water presentations by Moody Gardens divers, who will now be able to take and answer questions while in the exhibit.

Renovations will offer guests a spectacular aquarium experience including a new Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig Exhibit, Mangrove Exhibit, Caribbean Exhibit Touch Tank area and the new Flower Garden Banks Exhibit.

Moody Gardens will unveil enhancements made to the Aquarium Pyramid to the public with a grand reveal May 27.

New exhibits will not only inspire visitor interest and empathy, but also connect visitors to specific ocean habitats. Visitors will travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the South Atlantic, the South Pacific, the North Pacific and the Caribbean. Each ocean exhibit will highlight different marine sanctuaries and different aspects of our relationship to the seas.

The addition of jellyfish and tropical penguins will also be among the surprises for guests upon completion in May 2017 as this renovation further establishes the Aquarium Pyramid as the most diverse aquarium on the Gulf Coast.

To track progress of renovations, and for more information, visit moodygardens.org or call 800-582-4673.