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The colorful new exhibit will spotlight three types of swamps and its life forms
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is preparing to open its new changing exhibit, Swampland, Memorial Day weekend. The opening coincides with the beginning of summer hours for the Aquarium, 9 am – 6 pm. Swampland will be a colorful immersive experience, with elaborate mural work replicating three different types of swamps. Exotic creatures will inhabit a replicated South American swamp of the Pantanal, a Florida mangrove swamp and a southeastern U.S. cypress swamp.
Reptiles, amphibians, fishes, birds and mammals live in swamps. A 16 foot anaconda and a 6-foot alligator will be among the inhabitants. Feeding an anaconda, one of the largest species of snake, will require two people and a specific feeding protocol, due to its enormous size and strength. Not a known man-eater, the anaconda is a snake that nevertheless could have the potential to be dangerous. Other animals in Swampland include piranhas, red tail boas, a large alligator snapping turtle, and tropical fish that use mangrove roots as nurseries.
Using a narrative style of interpretation with a storybook format, Swampland will weave a tale about how vital swamps are to our global environment. The exhibit will explain the differences between three types of swamps and the role of animals in these ecosystems. Interpretive text tells the story of how swamps differ from other types of wetlands and how the plants and animals have adapted to fit into the ecosystem, filling their own special niche.
Visitors entering Swampland will notice an abundance of color and murals created by Aquarium artist Michael Cole. The mural work covers every wall that portrays the native habitats of each animal, complete with replicated cypress and mangrove trees. The anaconda will be first because it is an “apex” species, at the top of the food chain. The food chain is an integral part of the Swampland story.
Interactive components include a crawl-through tank where visitors can “swim with the piranhas, ” a crawl-through simulated alligator burrow, a flip lid activity where visitors can guess what animals made the illustrated tracks and a naturalist tent where children can record their own observations. People can walk through oversized mangrove roots and see a close-up look at how they act as the swamp’s “nursery” by protecting small animals from predators.
The goal of Swampland is to show how swamps, bogs and wetlands are complex ecosystems that provide essential habitat for wildlife and perform vital functions that benefit all living things. These ecosystems act as a buffer from ocean swells, provide water purification, protection for small animals, wildlife habitat and groundwater storage. By showing how swamps play a key role in the health of the planet, and letting people know what they can do to help, the Oregon Coast Aquarium hopes that Swampland will fascinate and inspire visitors to conserve our swamps and wetlands.
Many of the animals in Swampland will come from Brad’s World Reptiles in Corvallis. Brad’s World Reptiles develops professional large-scale, live-animal educational programs, interactive exhibits, and stage shows as an attraction and entertainment at events. Brad Tylman, proprietor, said their mission is to provide the opportunity to learn about, view and even touch some of the most beautiful and exotic animals on the planet. For more information visit Brad’s World Reptiles web site at: www.bradsworldreptiles.com
The Oregon Coast Aquarium gratefully acknowledges Swampland sponsors: Fred Meyer, Meyer Memorial Trust, Juliet Ashby Hillman Foundation, Summer Lea Hillman Foundation, Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, Jackson Foundation, and Wheeler Foundation and 127 individuals who donated to Swampland.
Image: The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, has the strongest known bite of any living animal