Literally one of the biggest attractions at the New England Aquarium is its Giant Ocean Tank.  Set as a Caribbean Tropical coral reef exhibit, the tank is four stories tall, 23 feet deep, 40 feet wide and holds 2000,000 gallons of salt water heated between 72 and 75 degrees F. It is so large that it was built first and then the entire New England Aquarium was built around it.

Interestingly the coral isn’t real, it is handmade and painted by Aquarium artists. Give that most of the live coral found around the world is currently endangered and on life support – I am glad that the aquarium researchers chose not to transport the delicate coral, but rather just visit the reefs to gather information.

The inhabitants of this tank are very real, and appear quite content – there is lots of room to navigate, plenty of places to hide and abundant food.

Another advantage of having such a large tank is photographers like me can always find an empty area along the winding ramp that hugs the four story tank to watch and photograph some amazing subjects.  I have talked in depth (no pun  intended) about some of these underwater creatures in previous posts, But with your indulgence let me present a few more.

Reef fish come in a variety of sizes and shapes and they explode with intricate designs and glorious color.  There are many reasons for this – camouflage from predators, attracting mates, etc.  Most large predators in the water are colorblind so the patterns provide even more confusion. And I have learned that the structure of fish eyes vary,  so different species see different colors including ultraviolet light. Fortunately for us, humans can see most of the colors, with the exception of that ultraviolet.  And of course all the marvelous and sometimes comical shapes.  Let’s take a look.

The fish at the top of this post is a Blue Tang, although many of us recognize it as Dory, the amnesia addled fish from Disney’s “Finding Nemo”  movie collection. Here are some other beauties:

Yellow Tang

Beaked Coralfish


Longpipe Squirrelfish


Stumped on this one – any ideas?


There are other living things, large and small, besides fish.



Sea Turtle


Spotted Shark

The spotted shark is nocturnal and grows to a little over 3 feet in length.  It is harmless to humans.  The next animal however has a more dangerous calling card.

Moray Eel

I am sorry I didnt get a video of this eel – it was totally creepy – he slithered straight into my view from right to left and then moved almost mechanically in reverse  in a perfectly straight line.  These eels are as sinister and menacing as they look. They can grow over 6 feet in length and are solid muscles with razor sharp teeth.

If you ever come upon one of these in the ocean, my advice is the same as Dory’s:  just keep swimming:


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