Aquarium Prepares To Open Oddwater

April 29, 2008

The new exhibit combines marine biology and art

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is preparing to open Oddwater, a new exhibit, Memorial Day weekend. As the name implies, Oddwater offers encounters with strange marine life. Oddwater will take a look at some of the most bizarre life forms in the ocean and show how their unusual adaptations help them survive. As opening day draws near, animals arrive, holding areas and habitats are prepared and the exhibit is taking shape.

“Our goal with Oddwater was 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 has now developed into an extraordinary mixed media exhibit.”

Colorful blown art glass, created by artists at The Edge Art Gallery, has been placed inside the tanks 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.”

The idea of Oddwater is to offer an experience that will educate, entertain and enlighten visitors about life forms and sub aquatic landscapes most people never see. The exhibit will demonstrate how extreme 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. Oddwater will take a look at these and many other ocean life forms, showing visitors how their unusual and sometimes bizarre adaptations help them survive.

As visitors enter Oddwater, they will see a giant screen showing video footage of the most peculiar marine life forms of all, which also happen to be the most inaccessible. Throughout the exhibit will be digital images and colorful murals painted by artist Michael Cole.

Oddwater’s interactive components will include a sting ray touch pool where visitors will be encouraged to touch sting rays, which are harmless when their barbs are trimmed. A crawl through tank will offer a close look at “lookdowns,” a silvery, round fish with a blunt forehead. Interactive audio stations throughout the exhibit will allow visitors to hear details about Oddwater species.

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 of what we will be sharing with our guests beginning Memorial Day Weekend!”

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 Hillman, Jr. Foundation, Jackson Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable trust, Trust Management Services and Siletz Tribal Contribution Fund, which provided funds for interactive graphics.