CONCORD, N.C. – NBC Charlotte was invited to tour the area’s largest aquarium, which is currently under construction at the Concord Mills Mall. Sea Life Charlotte-Concord will house 5,000 creatures including sharks, stingrays, seahorses, octopi, and jellyfish. The main attraction is a 117,000 gallon, 180-degree ocean tunnel.
James Whitely is a part of the construction team building the tank. He believes walking through the tunnel will be a thrill for visitors. “Once you’re in this tunnel, you’ll be able to see the creatures swimming,” he says, “swimming all over your head [and] down below.”
Visitors will also be encouraged to hold a crab, touch a starfish or corral and explore a shipwreck. The goal, according to displays curator David Cochran, is to feel like you’re immersed in an underwater world.
“[With] the amount of discovery that’s always going on, and the really neat animals that live there,” he says, “[there’s] an appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our natural world.”
Sea Life says it’s committed to marine conservation, including beach cleanups. A classroom and a “conservation cove” will educate visitors on the many challenges facing ocean life all over the world.
The aquarium is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014. Pre-sale opening tickets are available online at a discounted price of $16 at www.visitsealife.com.