From boldly-colored fish to dreamlike patterns of wrasses and tangs, the Shedd Aquarium’s new special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, aims to bring visitors closer to the stunning and surprising spectrum of shapes, sizes, movement, patterns and colors that exist within the aquatic animal world to inspire the notion of “beauty worth saving.”
Presented by Citadel, the exhibit opens to the public on Friday, May 25.
Featuring over a thousand animals representing 100 species from across the globe, including eels that ribbon, shrimp that can break glass, sea jellies that pulse and fish that swim backwards, Underwater Beauty welcomes guests with a water wall feature and showcases five distinct rooms, each designed to astound the senses and showcase a unique feature or form of beauty under the water’s surface. Several interactive stations also engage guests with colors, patterns and movement of the nature world.
Exhibit Room Features Include
Shimmer: Guests embark on their underwater journey in this first room, encountering hundreds of shimmering Atlantic false herrings (Harengula clupeola) and becoming mesmerized by the school of fish moving together in unison. They will discover the mesmerizing and intriguing light that these fish reflect underwater.
Colors: In the next room, Underwater Beauty celebrates the bold, vibrant spectrum of colors in a living rainbow of fishes – from ruby reds to luscious green plants and the deep violet of purple sea urchins (Stronglyocentrotus purpuratus). Multicolored lights drench guests while displays interpret how colors benefit aquatic life: corals and rock flower anemones (Phymanthus crucifer) reflect beautiful colors of light to help them thrive and grow; and peacock mantis shrimps (Odontodactylus scyllarus) can see colors humans can’t observe.
Patterns: Busy and beautiful patterns dominate some of the most charismatic and recognizable aquatic creatures. This high-energy space showcases some of the most incredible displays of pattern and the purposes they serve. Discover how black stripes allow animals like the zebra pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) to hide in plain sight, how an inky-black spot on the tail of the four-eyed butterflyfish(Chaetodon capistratus) can deceive predators, and how pattern changes on a Northern studfish (Fundulus catenatus) entice the perfect mate.
Rhythms: Some of the underwater world’s most breathtaking beauty comes from how animals move through the water. When sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) hypnotize guests as they pulse through the water and other animals sway, dart and dance, guests might find themselves moving to the beat of the aquatic world, literally. With a one-of-a-kind interactive, this active and kinetic space invites guests to become part of the exhibit as they mimic and control the motions of animated animals, including an octopus, a cuttlefish, a barracuda or a seahorse.
Move You: Dozens of species – shimmering discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus), rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani), gouramis (Trichogaster churna) and more – separate themselves into loose schools and highlight how freshwater lakes, rivers and streams also have beautiful, diverse aquatic life. “Move You” offers guests opportunities for quiet reflection with a relaxing soundscape.
Underwater Beauty is included in general admission.