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Humboldt penguins, multi-level oil rig aquarium, guest-to-diver communications and shipwreck replica included in enhancements

Galveston, Texas, May 18, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Galveston, Texas (March 23, 2017) — Hidden behind the doors of Moody Gardens’ Aquarium Pyramid awaits an awe-inspiring underwater experience that includes a new Humboldt Penguin Habitat, a Mangrove Lagoon touch tank that is home to stingrays and sharks and a multi-level 30,000 gallon Oil Rig Tank.


But, these new treasures won’t remain hidden for much longer. Moody Gardens will host a Grand Reveal May 27, 2017, giving guests their first glimpse into the completed multi-phased $37 million renovation project at the Aquarium Pyramid.

Guests will journey to new depths this summer, exploring the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, South Pacific, North Pacific and the Caribbean. Each ocean exhibit highlights different marine sanctuaries and relationship aspects to the seas with conservation messages that underscore the vital importance of the oceans.

Meet the new Humboldt penguins

Moody Gardens is thrilled to introduce these unique warm-climate penguins that hail from Southern Hemisphere waters from the Antarctic Pole to the Equator. This is the second penguin exhibit at Moody Gardens and the Humboldts are right next door to the South Atlantic Penguin Habitat, home to the King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins. As part of the recent renovations, the South Atlantic Penguin Habitat is newly enhanced to better benefit guests and the health and livelihood of the penguins within.

Gulf of Mexico Rig Exhibit

See the balance of technology and nature through this impressive 30,000 gallon, two-story, 23-foot scale model oil production platform aquarium. These manmade islands provide valuable attachment surfaces for a variety of encrusting organisms to create an entire reef ecosystem found throughout the Gulf of Mexico.  This new exhibit includes diver communication for presentations and interaction, further engaging guests in their underwater experience.

The Caribbean

Journeys to the Caribbean begin with the new Mangrove Lagoon. Touch Cownose Stingrays and Bonnethead Sharks as they swim lazily around the jungle of stilt roots that most of the region’s fish call home. Naturalists are on hand to help guests learn more about these important ecosystems. A second touch tank features small fish, Sea Stars, Hermit Crabs, Pencil Urchins and other invertebrates allowing guests to cross the water/air border.

Moody Gardens is highlighting a hidden gem from the Gulf of Mexico. The new Flower Garden Banks Exhibit brings attention to the unique tropical coral reef system found just 115 miles offshore.

With help from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, guests experience the East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank up close and personal. The exhibit includes examples of Brain, Star and Elkhorn coral, to name a few, all of which can be seen on the banks. The Flower Garden Banks reef system is one of the healthiest in the Gulf and Caribbean regions.

Guests are completely immersed in the Caribbean Exhibit with breathtaking views as Sharks, Rays and other tropical fish swim overhead while they walk through the tunnel in this one million-gallon exhibit, giving them the sense of diving in the Caribbean.

New to the exhibit is The Pride, a 19th century rum-runner shipwreck replica, loosely based on the vessel sailed by famed Galveston pirate Jean Lafitte. Divers spent a total of 68.5 hours underwater putting together the ship, which arrived in about 75 individual pieces.

Also new are in-water presentations by Moody Gardens divers. With additions to the exhibit, guests are bound to have questions. Divers are now able to take and answers questions while in the exhibit.

North Pacific Gallery

This exhibit focuses on the high-energy coastline to the west. Seals and Sea Lions are featured prominently alongside other kelp forest inhabitants including Leopard Sharks and the long-lived Rockfish. Jewel aquariums highlight the coastal surge zone, ingenious Giant Pacific Octopus and the relatively unknown deep water coral communities that act as nursery habitat for many commercial fisheries.

And, that’s not all

Don’t miss out on the whimsical and colorful array of soft-bodied predators inside the new Jellyfish Gallery. Lights, sounds and textures further enhance the display of these free swimming coral relatives.

There’s also the South Pacific Biome that showcases the tremendous diversity that is found in the epicenter of the coral reef evolution. Colorful corals, invertebrates, fishes and sharks fill the niche habitats highlighted in the large and small aquarium features.

Guests are able to engage with aquarium staff as they perform essential functions in the working conservation lab. Watch and ask questions as they work in the nursery, perform aquarium water quality tests, necropsies, grow algae as a food source and other functions in their daily lab work.

New exhibits will not only inspire visitor interest and empathy, but also connect visitors to specific ocean habitats, further establishing the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid as the largest and most diverse aquarium in the southwest.


Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.



A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Jerri Hamachek
Moody Gardens, Inc. 

Ashley Tompkins
Moody Gardens, Inc.