Eileen Caro, biologist II at The Florida Aquarium, in front of The Florida Aquarium’s new gallery, MORPH’D.

By Sophia Walck

Having opened on July 1, The Florida Aquarium’s newest gallery and interactive experience, MORPH’D, offers visitors many new exhibits and species.

Part of the Aquarium’s $40 million expansion, MORPH’D features 19 exhibits and 18 species that are known for their adaptable qualities. Some of these unique species include axolotls, four-eyed fish, bird-poop frogs (yes, they look like bird poop), archerfish, paddlefish, chameleons and more.

“The paddlefish and archerfish will be a big crowd pleaser,” said Eileen Caro, biologist II at The Florida Aquarium. “Archerfish are one of the two known species to actually shoot the water to get food.”

Caro demonstrated this amazing tactic by placing some krill on a branch that hangs above the archerfish tank. Then, the fish came up to the surface and spit water to free the food stuck above. This show that the archerfish put on will surely lure in a large audience.

“They have great aim, but you’re in a splash zone standing by the tank,” Caro said.

The MORPH’D gallery also promotes interactive features to viewers, like touch screens. These interactive features depict the correlating species’ characteristics, locations and more. All of this contributes to the aquarium’s overall goal to connect humans to these unique species, helping those participating to have a better understanding of what it is they’re looking at and just how remarkable these creatures are.

“I hope that this exhibit will bring in new people, especially people in our community that maybe have never been to the aquarium or people who have just recently moved here. Hopefully, with new visitors viewing the gallery, they’ll also get to see how special the rest of our aquarium is,” stated Caro. “It’s not just an entertainment factor but also a key to opening people up to conservation and education.”

MORPH’D is just the tip of the iceberg for The Florida Aquarium’s large expansion, which will go on for the next few years. This incredible exhibit that showcases the unique adaptable qualities the animals have acquired is the first step of many to transform The Florida Aquarium.

The Florida Aquarium is located in downtown Tampa in the Channelside District at 701 Channelside Dr. For more information on this exciting new exhibit, upcoming events, tickets and all the things yet to come, visit www.flaquarium.org.

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