By the end of this year, the Aquarium of Niagara will add jellyfish to its collection of sea creatures.
Work will begin in May on a $440,000 project to construct the jellyfish exhibit. It will be the first time in the 53-year history of the Aquarium of Niagara that it will permanently house such animals among its collection.
"It's exciting and that's actually part of the new direction that we are taking the aquarium," said Executive Director Gary Siddall. "We're trying really hard to embrace change, to embrace innovative opportunities to bring in new animals to the collection. It's very consistent with the forward-moving direction that we've been ab;e to celebrate over the course of the last few years."
Dozens of jellyfish, about 50 to 70 Siddall estimated to WBFO, will be brought in. The tanks will be designed to feature lighting that will shine through the invertebrates in order to better show the grace and unique beauty of the specimens.
"If you haven't seen an animal like this before, they have a lot of really unique features," Siddall said. "The way that they move through the water, stay suspended in the water column, they're really a fascinating species. They have a really great way of displaying, when we're able to shine light through them. The light will actually refract as it moves through them and passes through their bodies."
The start of the jellyfish exhibit construction will follow March's scheduled opening of the aquarium's newer, larger penguin habitat. Updating the facilities, Siddall said, helps renew and grow interest in the center, for both tourists and local families. In its fiscal year 2017, the Aquarium of Niagara drew an estimated 270,000 visitors. That's a five percent increase from the year before.
"It gets people down into Niagara Falls, into a place that's warm and climate-controlled, so you can avoid the snowy Buffalo winter here," Siddall said. "It's an exciting time for us to really embrace our role and give people a reason to come down to the Niagara Falls area."