20,000-square-foot whale exhibit to open at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Next month, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will open a larger-than-life exhibit.

Aquarium officials are calling it "Whales: Living with Giants," which will occupy 20,000 square feet in the visitor center. Originally slated to open March 13, it will now open later in the spring and then run through the summer.

The exhibit will feature multimedia, a virtual reality experience, life-size whale gallery, an interactive zone for children, and a theater for whale-related films and speakers. 

In the virtual reality feature, visitors will play the role of marine biologists and observe giant Humpback whales.

"This exhibit brings our guests into an undersea experience where they come eye to eye with a wide variety of whale species found in Florida waters," Dr. James "Buddy" Powell, executive director of CMA’s Research Institute, said in a statement.

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Powell said the opening of the whale exhibit is timely, given the recent discovery of a new species, Rice’s whale.

More than a year ago, the whale’s carcass – measuring 38 feet long and weighing 30 tons – washed ashore in the Everglades National Park.

It was previously thought to be a type of Brydes whale. 

"The fact that it is already considered endangered is a stark reminder of how much we still have to learn from these beautiful creatures," Powell said, "and the impact they have on our shared environment."

Learn more by heading over to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's website.

Editor's note: This version of the story has been updated to reflect the modified opening date of the exhibit.