The largest aquarium in the United States is getting bigger. Georgia Aquarium has revealed expansion plans for a new gallery featuring sharks—one of the most misunderstood species in the ocean—to open in late fall of 2020. An extension of the Aquarium’s conservation and education efforts, the new experience will help guests have a deeper appreciation for the important role sharks serve in the oceans and inspire them to join conservation efforts to protect our oceans.
The project, Expansion 2020, is a major addition to the Western hemisphere’s largest aquarium featuring a shark habitat and redesigned entry.
“We have always done things big, and 12 years after our opening we are still holding true to that,” said Joseph Handy, president and chief operating officer of Georgia Aquarium. “This new expansion will enhance our guests’ experience as soon as they enter the Aquarium and will spotlight an all-new gallery with awe-inspiring species of sharks. We can safely say, Georgia, you’re going to need a bigger aquarium!”
The saltwater gallery will feature floor to ceiling acrylic windows to give guests an up-close and personal view of the animals. A name for the gallery will be released closer to opening. Potential shark species under consideration include hammerheads, sand tiger sharks, and sandbar sharks.
Additionally, a number of animal interactions are in the works for the new exhibit, which will give guests the opportunity to get even closer to some of these fascinating animals. Once finalized, more details on these interactions will be released.
The Aquarium’s focus is to provide a fresh perspective on the vital role sharks play in our oceans’ health. Sharks face many challenges like overfishing and habitat degradation. Humans pose the biggest threat to sharks and through this new engaging exhibit, guests will learn more about these apex predators and their importance to our ocean.
The expansion will add tens of thousands of square feet to the Aquarium that also includes extending the main entrance out into the plaza. Construction will begin in April and a temporary entrance will open in September for guests during construction.
“This will be one of our largest exhibits and one of the largest expansions we’ve done in our history. We are proud of our continued commitment to our guests and to the city of Atlanta,” said Mike Leven, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Aquarium. “We look forward to the opening of the exhibit and bringing the ocean even closer to our guests.”
For the first time in its existence, Georgia Aquarium will be seeking funding for its newest addition. The Aquarium is in discussion with key partners and philanthropic friends that will hopefully join the Aquarium on this significant endeavor. As a non-profit organization, portions of ticket proceeds go towards Georgia Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts, operating, and important enhancements like Expansion 2020 to bring educational resources and new opportunities to Aquarium guests.
More information on Expansion 2020 will be available throughout the year and as construction gets underway at georgiaaquarium.org.