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Georgia Aquarium
Children view a whale shark in one of the tanks at the new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
(Georgia Aquarium/AP Wide World)

The Biggest Fish Tank
By Gail Hennessey

Monday, November 28—What's the size of a football field, holds 8 million gallons of water, and is shaped like a ship breaking though a huge wave? It's the largest aquarium in the world, and it opened just last week.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta contains more than 100,000 different kinds of underwater life forms. Most of the marine life was shipped from fish farms in Asia. Other creatures came from faraway zoos and aquariums. Two male Beluga whales, named Casper and Niko, were rescued from a tiny tank underneath a roller coaster ride in Mexico City.

The aquarium is the first outside Asia to hold sharks. Ralph and Norton are about 13 and 15 feet long, but they'll grow to about the size of school buses. The whale sharks aren't a threat to their fellow swimmers—they're "filter feeders," which means they strain tiny morsels of food from the water for their meals.

Visitors can stare at the fish from below, inside a 100-foot viewing tunnel, or from the side, through 23-foot-high windows.

"There are lots of interactive exhibits where you can feed shrimp, horseshoe crabs, etc.," aquarium spokesperson Dave Santucci told Scholastic News. "You can get face-to-face with penguins and teethy piranhas by popping your head into 3-D window spaces."

The aquarium's 60 habitats on display include freshwater exhibits from rivers of Asia, South America, and Africa. There's also a "4-D" movie theater, which shows movies with 3-D animation and special seat effects.

To maintain all the marine life, the aquarium has a huge veterinary clinic. A food preparation center prepares hundreds of pounds of food each day for the aquarium's residents.

"The goal of the Georgia Aquarium is to be the world's most engaging experience and for kids and adults to learn more about the aquatic world—and the need to conserve and protect it," said Santucci.


The Georgia Aquarium
Want to learn more about the Georgia Aquarium? Visit the official Web site for fun facts and information!

Endangered Species
Check out our Scholastic News Special Report to learn about endangered species and the importance of conservation.

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