Oddwater Opens!

May 23, 2008

The new exhibit combines art and marine biology

The Oregon Coast Aquarium's newest changing exhibit, Oddwater takes a look at some of the most bizarre life forms in the ocean and shows how their unusual adaptations help them survive. The exhibit combines marine biology and art with blown glass inside the displays and life-size murals of the ocean’s larger oddities.

Oddwater offers an experience that educates, entertains and enlightens visitors about life forms and sub aquatic landscapes most people never see. The exhibit demonstrates how changing environments require specialized adaptations, resulting in strange appearances in some species. Among the species featured in Oddwater is the chambered nautilus, noticed for its unusual movement using jet propulsion. The lion fish is a fatal beauty to unsuspecting prey. The pufferfishes appear to smile at you! Oddwater takes a look at these and many other ocean life forms, showing visitors how their unusual and sometimes bizarre adaptations help them survive.

“Our goal with Oddwater is to create a fresh, illuminative, and somewhat odd look that we haven't seen before,” said Jim Burke, Aquarium Director of Animal Husbandry. “The concept originated well over a year ago from two members of the Animal Husbandry Team, Kevin Clifford and Warren Shead, and evolved into an extraordinary mixed media exhibit.”

Colorful blown art glass pieces, created by artists at The Edge Art Gallery in South Beach, are inside all of the displays, complementing the strange creatures of Oddwater. “We have created a stunning and educational fusion of two very different things, art and aquaria,” said Burke. “The glass art was created specifically for each display based on the actual habitat structures and the requirements of the animals.”

Oddwater’s interactive components include a sting ray touch pool where visitors are encouraged to touch sting rays, which are harmless when their barbs are trimmed. A crawl-through tank offers a close look at “lookdowns,” a silvery fish with a blunt forehead. Interactive audio stations throughout the exhibit allow visitors to hear details about Oddwater species. The Bioluminescent Theater shows a film called “Secret Lights of the Sea,” telling about about animals that make their own light, a chemical reaction, called bioluminescence. Throughout the exhibit are digital images and colorful murals painted by artist Michael Cole.

The animals for this exhibit were chosen by the staff because of their interesting adaptations, their distinctness or their oddness, according to Burke. “It is great to be part of this innovative effort and we are very proud to share it with our guests!”

The Aquarium gratefully acknowledges the major sponsors and friends of Oddwater. Major sponsors include Fred Meyer, Inc. and Spirit Mountain Community Fund. Friends of the exhibit include Georgia Pacific Foundation, Inc., Jeanette Bertea Hennings Foundation, Henry Lea Hillman, Jr. Foundation, The Jackson Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, Trust Management Services, LLC and Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, which provided funds for interactive graphics.