Starting in the spring of 2017, visitors to the Texas State Aquarium will be able to embark on incredible expeditions to discover wildlife endemic to the Caribbean in the aquarium’s new gallery, the Caribbean Journey. The Caribbean Journey will take guests on an adventure passing through terrestrial and marine ecosystems over the course of the three-level expansion.
The exhibits in the Caribbean Journey are being designed to transport visitors to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, which is located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This biologically diverse region of Mexico is significant as the home of some of the world’s longest underground rivers, as well as the world’s second largest barrier reef.
Guests will begin their Caribbean journeys on the third floor of the new gallery, which will immerse them in the tropical jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. As guests travel through the exhibits and down to the second and first levels of the gallery, they will notice a transition in scenery from tropical rainforests to coastal shores and eventually to coral reefs and the open sea.
Some of the species on exhibit in the Caribbean Journey will include alligators, crocodiles, iguanas, flamingos, and a variety of tropical birds and fish. One of the most anticipated exhibits is the 400,000-gallon shark aquarium, which will be 18-feet-deep and will be visible from both above and below the surface. The underwater viewing panel will span an impressive 65-feet in width. The aquarium has also discussed plans to make the exhibits as interactive and hands-on as possible.
Beyond animal exhibits, the 65,000-square-foot Caribbean Journey building will also include a 100-seat 4-D theater, which will be the first of its kind in south Texas. The building will also include space for hosting of special events.
In addition to providing guests with novel opportunities to connect with native wildlife, the aquarium hopes that the Caribbean Journey will provide additional resources that will allow for the expansion of the aquarium’s animal rescue, rehabilitation, and release programs.
This highly-anticipated $50-million project is the aquarium’s largest expansion in its 25-year history, and its opening will mark the completion of the final phases of the aquarium’s current master plan. Construction of the Caribbean Journey has been progressing along nicely, and the aquarium expects that the main concrete frame of the building will be complete by the end of this spring.