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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.

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