ATLANTA (March 29, 2016) - Georgia Aquarium has opened a new touch pool that offers guests an exciting way to learn more about some of the animals found at the Aquarium. The 6,000-gallon touch pool is designed to be accessible for visitors of all ages and physical abilities, and presents a new opportunity for guests to interact with various species of sharks and rays, which can live hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

Animals featured in the touch pool include cownose rays and Atlantic rays, both of which can also be seen in our Ocean Voyager gallery built by the Home Depot, and two blotched fantail ray pups, which are among the first of its species to be successfully born in human care in North America. Bonnethead sharks will be introduced to the exhibit in the coming weeks as the animals acclimate to their surroundings.

The newest touch pool, located on the second floor of the Aquarium at the end of the Aquanaut Adventure gallery, was designed with guest experience in mind and features unique aspects. There is a shorter perimeter around the edges of the pool, offering more accessibility for children and guests who are confined to wheelchairs, and viewing panels along perimeter edges to provide better views of our sharks and rays from all angles.

There a several considerations that go into designing a touch pool in order to accommodate guests, staff and provide the best care for animals. Chris Coco, director of fish and invertebrates at Georgia Aquarium, stressed the importance of including a long swimming distance for rays to glide and deeper areas toward the back of the touch pool to provide wide areas for the animals to turn and change direction. Bonnethead sharks, which have eyes located near the sides of their heads, will benefit from this design as they intermittently cruise the shallow and deeper areas of the exhibit. The touch pool is also filtered continuously to remove animal waste products. This particular touch pool is filtered approximately every 40 minutes, which is one of the highest turnover rates for this type of filtration system.

Follow Georgia Aquarium on Facebook and Twitter for updates and photos of the new touch pool, and other exciting news. For additional information on all of the exciting new additions that can be experienced at Georgia Aquarium, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org

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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that contains more than 10 million gallons of water and has the largest collection of aquatic animals. Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to be a scientific institution that entertains and educates, features exhibits and programs of the highest standards, and offers engaging and exciting guest experiences that promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org