More than 60 species are on display in the
Shedd Aquarium's new exhibit, A Home on the Great Lakes, but
arguably the most exciting are the prehistoric sturgeon fish.
One hand washing and two fingers separate families from
experiencing the Sturgeon Touch pool and feeling the skin of the
prehistoric fish. As the three sturgeons slowly swim by for
attention, families gently reach into the pool with bright smiles
and curious laughs.
Danielle Brown, a Shedd Aquarium member and former Chicago
resident, brought her family from Michigan to see the new exhibit.
While she describes the exhibit as a nice addition to the aquarium,
her daughter Enola couldn't stop talking about the sturgeons.
"The sturgeons were hard and slimy," Enola says. "I really liked
touching them because they were so big and old. My grandma thought
they felt like velvet."
Shedd executives called for the renovations to the Local Waters
gallery with the idea of having an immersive experience to better
connect families with the lakes. The exhibit now includes the touch
pool, digital information screens and a lighthouse-shaped story
booth that allows guests to share their favorite memories of the
"The purpose of the Great Lakes exhibit is to connect visitors
to the animals in the lakes and with each other," says Roger
Germann, Shedd's executive vice president. "Research shows that
kids are becoming more disconnected to nature, so we focused on
making this an interactive learning experience for all
While visitors experience the fascinating freshwater habitat,
they also come face-to-face with the wildlife endangering the Great
Lakes. The Asian carp are not very colorful but are massive in
size, which is almost enough to distract you from the fact that
they are harmful to the stability of both the Illinois River system
and the Great Lakes' ecosystems.
Despite the lack of colorful or flashy wildlife, knowing that
these animals live in our backyard is what makes them cool. Eve
Barrs, an aquarist at Shedd, says she hopes kids leave the exhibit
inspired to do something to protect local waters.
This exhibit and the sturgeon touch are included in admission.
For information on the exhibit and the aquarium, visit the Shedd's
website at sheddaquarium.org.
Lindsey is Chicago Parent's summer 2013 intern. She is a senior at Ball State University.
See more of Lindsey's stories here.
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