It’s been a long wait – a year ago, the Predator Exhibit was closed down for renovations. Our ragged-tooth sharks were released, the water was drained and access to the exhibit was closed.
Behind the scenes, a huge team of Aquarium staff, architects, biologists, professional rockwork artists, project managers and divers have been working tirelessly to recreate our most prized attraction.
Sharks are incoming
Over the past few months, our expert collections team has been fishing off the coast of East London acquiring our soon-to-be-newcomers. These ragged-tooth sharks have been housed in temporary holding facilities in East London, while their health and temperament has been monitored.
“I am really excited about having some impressive-looking ragged-tooth sharks back, not just because they contribute to a beautiful and somewhat dramatic display with a strong ocean conservation message, but because we can also continue with our shark research. Once again we will showcase our ability to combine art and science to tell remarkable underwater stories” said Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson.
Out with the old, in with the new
The old Predator Exhibit was completely stripped, and upgraded with new rockwork and medical facilities, allowing a greater number of sharks to live safely and harmoniously during their time here.
Emptying the exhibit has also allowed the Aquarium to upgrade the filter media we use. A new, hi-tech filter medium called OC-1 Media has been used to replace the old-fashioned sand we used in the Predator Exhibit filters. This allows huge water and energy savings when backwashing our filters. The filter media was sponsored by Certikin and Fluidra Waterlinx.
The exhibit has been completely re-waterproofed, even incorporating hand-woven fibreglass mats. New undergravel air-lift filters have been added and our windows have been removed, checked and resealed. With this added durability, we will not be renovating it again soon!
Two million litres of water
Two million litres of water is a huge amount – but that’s the capacity of the Predator Exhibit. We’ve been working day and night to pump seawater into the Predator Exhibit from the harbour, working carefully to ensure water quality is kept as high as possible. This refill has taken over a week (even with Cape Town’s recent rains helping us out a little).
We are pleased to report that, at the time of writing, no leaks have been detected and the enclosure is full!
How are we feeling?
We are absolutely elated to be so near to the end of this journey. Our CEO, Michael Farquhar, had the following to say about this:
“We are finally reaching the end of what has been an incredibly long journey for many of the staff at the Aquarium. Although the Predator Exhibit has only taken 12 months to renovate, it was the necessity of these renovations, which prompted the construction of our new I&J Ocean Exhibit that we opened in June 2016.
The opening of the new exhibit gave us the opportunity to tag and release the sharks and then move the fish, previously housed in the Predator Exhibit, into their new home. Once done, we were able, for the first time in 21 years, to empty the Predator Exhibit and start the renovations.
To get to where we are now has taken 10 years of financial, architectural, structural, and curatorial planning with too many skilled and dedicated people involved to mention here. My heartfelt thanks and appreciation goes out to all of them.”
When can you visit the sharks?
With the Predator Exhibit now filled with water, the first sharks collected, in quarantine and the final safety checks being conducted, we'll be ready to reveal our new exhibit to the public in the very near future.
The wellbeing of our exhibits inhabitants is our top priority; their introduction to their new home will only be done when we are 100% confident that we can do so in a healthy and stress-free way. Enjoy the ongoing development of this exhibit as its inhabitants are added and adapt to their new environment.
We are not providing an opening date now, as this will be determined by the sharks, not by us (but expect it very soon). Follow our social media posts for regular updates, photos and announcements. Want to be the first to know when the sharks are here? Become a member and be the first to get the insider information.
Want to learn more about sharks before your next visit? Give our article a read.