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Giant shark tank forms centrepiece of Georgia Aquarium expansion

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The US’s largest Aquarium has revealed details about its major expansion plan, with a new saltwater gallery home to a variety of different sharks at its heart.

The Georgia Aquarium first announced the plans in February, naming PGAV Destinations as lead architect on the project, which will cover 41,000sq ft (3,809sq m) and is slated to open in 2020.

In a new release, aquarium president and CEO, Joesph Handy, said the new development would spotlight “the awe-inspiring species of shark”, taking a line from Jaws and adding that Georgia is “going to need a bigger aquarium”, to house the sea creatures.

Called Expansion 2020, the plan features the new shark habitat and a redesigned entrance. The saltwater gallery will feature floor to ceiling acrylic windows, giving guests an up-close and personal view of the aquarium’s sharks. According to the aquarium, potential shark species under consideration include hammerheads, sand tiger sharks, and sandbar sharks.

As an additional feature to the new tank, the aquarium says it is working on a “number of animal interactions” for the new exhibit, with details to be finalised and revealed in the near future.

“Our focus is to provide a fresh perspective on the vital role sharks play in our oceans’ health,” said a statement from Georgia Aquarium.

“Sharks face many challenges, like overfishing and habitat degradation. Humans pose the biggest threat to sharks and through this new engaging exhibit, guests will learn more about these apex predators and their importance to our ocean.”

Construction work is scheduled to start next month, with a temporary guest entrance opening in September while the main entrance is extended out onto the aquarium’s plaza.

A 2016 study by the Central Atlanta Progress reported that Georgia Aquarium has contributed US$1.9bn (£1.4bn, €1.7bn) to the economy since opening in 2005 and credited the attraction as being a driver for the development of the downtown Atlanta area where it is located. The aquarium is currently in discussions with partners and philanthropists to raise funds for the multi-million dollar development.

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The US’s largest aquarium has revealed details about its major expansion plan, with a new saltwater gallery home to a variety of different sharks at its heart.
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