On the Coral Reef


Exhibit Highlights

Pacific Coral Reef

This six-part coral reef system-fore reef, back reef, lagoon, mangrove, refugeum and algal scrubber-is home to more than 400 animal and plant species constantly vying for living space and habitat in this dynamic community.

Fore Reef

The high-energy zone. Waves from the open ocean hit here first, creating the most surge or water movement. The light is dimmest here because of the water's depth and the waves creating bubbles that temporarily create shade. Animals must be strong swimmers or must instinctively make their homes in darker waters to live here.

Back Reef

The activity zone. More species of animals live here than anywhere else in the reef. The environment is brighter and the water shallower than is the case in the fore reef, providing an ideal home for many coral reef animals.


The calmest part. There is little wave action here and light levels are at the highest intensity. The lagoon's calm, shallow waters provide a stable environment for a unique group of plants and animals.


The natural breeding ground and nursery. In this transitional area between land and aquatic ecosystems, there are fluctuating levels of light and calm waters. The long sea grasses and mangrove tree roots provide plenty of hiding places that make this an ideal environment for sea horses.


The refugeum is the manmade nursery of our coral reef. In this area, predators are kept out to allow a safe place for baby animals to mature.

Algal Scrubber

A biological filter. Ocean coral reefs rely on plants, bacteria and algae to clean the seawater of waste and to supply oxygen. In our system, algae are grown on screens and act as a natural filter for our coral reef community. This natural filtration system is one of only a few public exhibits in the United States.

Interactive Computer Stations

The inquisitive visitor can access in-depth information on the creatures living in the coral reef system. You can also learn about maintenance and conservation efforts via two computer stations with customized programs. Colorful images, video clips, sound effects and audio narration make this quest for knowledge fun for all ages.

Underwater Cameras Station

Underwater video cameras provide a new view of the drama and beauty of marine life in the SeaScape aquarium. Using a pad of buttons, you can choose which camera's view to observe on a large, color monitor.

Video Microscope Station

Step into a marine biologist's shoes by operating a video microscope. Mounted slides show marine plant and animal specimens on a video screen. Living samples from the aquarium are available for the curious.

Play Submarine

A yellow submarine invites children to learn about buoyancy and pretend they are exploring the sea floor with spotlights.

World Exploration Kiosks and Map

See a map of the whole world on the wall, and then go in-depth with Google Earth on three hands-on computer kiosks. Explore the highest mountains to the deepest depths of the sea to make discoveries about this incredible planet we live on!

See Like a Fish

Two periscopes mounted inside a larger-than-life model clownfish head allow you to view the world as if your eyes were on the sides of your head.

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