Atlantic Coral Reef
Descend through a bustling Caribbean reef home to hundreds of fishes.
Guests get the underwater experience without getting wet! Surrounded by hundreds of tropical fishes, guests can explore all levels of this replicated Atlantic reef. Schools of surgeonfish seemingly escort visitors as they descend, while graysby groupers and an elusive green moray eel peer out from shadowy caverns. Thirteen feet below the water's surface, sand tilefish build gravel burrows and jackknife fish sift through the tiny pebbles looking for leftover food.
gallons of water
The thousands of pounds of coral in Atlantic Coral Reef would be able to support a thriving and complex ecosystem ... if it were real. The artificial structures, though, mean Animal Care staff must supply everything the fish need. Reefs in the ocean, however, manage on their own, supporting a staggering number of creatures. In fact, about 25% of all fishes rely on reefs at some point in their lives, whether for food or shelter. With reefs facing increasing threats from climate change, many organizations, including the National Aquarium, are involved in reef restoration efforts. In time, live rescued corals like those in our Building habitat may help revive Florida's barrier reefs, restoring them to what guests see here in the fabricated Atlantic Coral Reef.
Atlantic Coral Reef gives guests the opportunity to observe life in a vibrant, submerged ecosystem. The bustle of the reef can be seen from many landings throughout the exhibit, from the steep cliff walls to the open, sandy stretches. Some fish prefer to hunker down in their caves while others keep a good swimming pace as they travel through the habitat.
Learn more about the residents of Atlantic Coral Reef.
With ocean habitats facing many pressures, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched a larval rearing program in 2019. AZA institutions, like the Aquarium, participate in breeding and aquaculture projects instead of acquiring new fish from these ecosystems. Currently, the smallmouth grunts in Atlantic Coral Reef come from this sustainable source. Different species will be added to this and other exhibits as the project expands.
Certified scuba divers are welcome to take a dip in Atlantic Coral Reef by signing up for the Guest Diver Program. Take the opportunity to visit the Caribbean while staying right here in Baltimore.