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New Hatchling Harbor exhibit at Newport Aquarium

Opening March 3, Hatchling Harbor will bring an entirely new ecosystem and hundreds of colorful animals; many of them babies. At 25 feet, the new Caribbean seagrass habitat will be among the longest tanks in the aquarium. It’s set in an immersive environment designed to let visitors explore this special spot between the shore and the reef.

The new exhibit will be home to an array of animals including the strange scrawled filefish, covered in
color-changing, maze-like patterns that act as camouflage. Lobsters and crabs scurry about, even
climbing up the pilings of Hatchling Harbor’s pier alongside urchins and conchs. With the exhibit being
home to so many young animals, visitors will find a new experience every day watching them change
their shape, color and markings as they grow into adulthood and ultimately head further out to sea.

“We work hard to make sure we’re taking guests ‘beyond the glass’ when we create a new exhibit,” said
Rebecca Foster, Newport Aquarium’s Executive Director. “You can better connect with the animals if
you really feel like you’re with them in the environment where they live.” That environment includes a
pier jutting out into the harbor encrusted with barnacles – only visitors get to experience it just like the
fish, from down below with sunlight shimmering through the water’s surface above.

Seagrass meadows are incredibly important places. The grasses provide shelter and protection for a vast
density of life. Many animals lay their eggs here so their babies can benefit from the protection and
ample food of the flowing grasses and rocky outcrops covered in corals. Visitors to Hatchling Harbor will
find a school of young parrotfish who use their bird-like beaks to crunch on corals in search of the algae
they feed on, all the while making sand. An estimated 70% of the white sandy beaches in the Caribbean
are created by these little beach-builders. Seagrasses also capture carbon dioxide from the air 35 times
faster than rainforests making them an important tool in fighting climate change.

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