Experiential Wonder

The Texas State Aquarium is proud to present its gripping upcoming exhibit, “Tentacles”!

By: Andrea Bolt

The mystery deepens as the light darkens and the water chills in the Texas State Aquarium’s upcoming “Tentacles” exhibit! Visitors will have the opportunity to enter a fascinating underwater world full of color-changing cuttlefish, jaw-dropping jellies, cephalopods and one gripping giant Pacific octopus.

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In the darker depths of the ocean lurk many of these charismatic species that are characterized as being quick-change artists and expert hunters. “Tentacles” will take the place of our long-standing “Floating Phantoms” exhibit and expand upon the experiential wonder jellies provide visitors.

Included in the exciting new space will be a nursery, which will allow visitors to watch the birth and growth cycles of egg casings and juvenile cephalopods and jellies. In addition to teaching visitors about the lifecycle of these creatures, the nursery is also a vehicle to convey the importance of sustainability, because this nursery allows the aquarium to maintain a sustainable jelly population.

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Another exciting aspect of “Tentacles” will be a jelly touch pool. All of the aquarium’s interactive touch exhibit areas are staffed with educators and interpreters, giving visitors of all ages a unique experience of safely touching and holding animals while learning more about them and their importance in our world’s oceans.

The specific species inhabiting “Tentacles” will include:

• Blubber jellyfish
• Atlantic and Pacific sea nettles
• Cannonball jellyfish
• Moon jellyfish
• Upside-down jellyfish
• Chamber nautilus and flamboyant cuttlefish
• Giant Pacific octopus

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Nautilus, cuttlefish and octopus all belong to the cephalopod family. Also known as marine mollusks, related to snails and slugs, these animals are found in the world’s ocean and at all depths. They can be less than an inch to more than 50 feet in size, and they can range in appearance from being ghostly transparent to displaying a bright rainbow of vibrant colors. Bonding these animals together is a shared anatomy that includes a head and eyes, mantle and siphon, arms, tentacles, beak and radula.

Besides the amazing animals “Tentacles” teaches about, the aquarium hopes visitors walk away with an important conservation message. Because the mission of the Texas State Aquarium is to engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas and support wildlife conservation, the “Tentacles” exhibit aims to educate guests about an important environmental issue: marine debris and its harmful effects on coastal birds and marine animals such as dolphins and sea turtles.

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The aquarium’s sea turtles are incorporated into “Tentacles” for a very important reason: In order to make the takeaway conservation message more meaningful and impactful, “Tentacles” helps to show how sea turtles are very susceptible to ingestion and entanglement in plastic marine debris. A littered plastic bag can easily be mistaken by a sea turtle or other animals as a jellyfish, and can lead to harmful consequences for the animal. It is important that each person plays a part in making sure such an item never comes to be debris in the first place.

The Texas State Aquarium’s gripping new exhibit, “Tentacles,” will descend upon Corpus Christi early this summer!

The Texas State Aquarium is located at 2701 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Corpus Christi, Texas.
For more information, call 361-881-1200, email mermaid@txstateaq.org or visit www.texasstateaquarium.org.

Photos courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

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