Dramatic progress being made at the Mississippi Aquarium

Updated: Mar. 18, 2019 at 5:47 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Monday was a big day for the Mississippi Aquarium as some of the facility’s showcase acrylic panels were being installed.

A huge crane lifted the panels hundreds of feet into the air and lowered them into the main habitat at the facility.

The acrylic pieces are being put in place with the greatest care. The panels are a big part of what the aquarium calls its aquatic wonders building.

“The acrylic is the windows to the water. The acrylic panels are the most important things that we purchased. When you come here, as a visitor, you have a crystal clear view into all of our exhibits and habitats,” said Sr. Vice President of Mississippi Aquarium Kurt Allen.

Several of the smaller pieces are in position, but the largest and most significant panel still has to be lowered into this habitat, including a 360 degree tunnel where sharks, rays and other ocean life will be swimming around visitors and more acrylic going into other areas.

“The big one is going in, as well as the tunnel that runs through the middle of the habitat. There is a bunch of acrylic in the other areas like the dolphin, river and otter habitats. There’s still a lot of acrylic to go in,” Allen said.

The acrylic panels were made in Italy, shipped to the Coast and were stored at the Port of Gulfport.

This is a significant week with the panels finally being set. The last piece of the puzzle will be the roof. The top of the building must stay open to allow the heavy acrylic to be lowered into place. Then the concrete roof will be poured and sealed. At that point it will be time to start the finish work inside the aquatic wonders building.

Construction at the aquarium is on pace to meet the projected completion date of late this year or early 2020.

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