Fish arrive at Sea Life, their new home

Sea Life Charlotte-Concord ushered three sharks, five rays and 30 species of other fish and invertebrates into their new aquatic home at Concord Mills Thursday. The fish were taken to the aquarium in a specially equipped semi-truck with holding tanks and a life-support system.

After a period of readjustment and monitoring in the truck for the creatures to acclimate, they were rushed inside and released into their tanks. The sharks and rays rode in hammocklike stretchers as Sea Life employees ran them up the stairs to the top of the main ocean tank.

Guests were able to watch as the creatures, including black nose sharks, cow nose rays, jewel damselfish, French angelfish, upside-down jellyfish and venomous lion fish, were unloaded and brought quickly inside the aquarium with Sea Life Charlotte-Concord’s curator David Cochran supervising every moment of the careful transition.

Guests also toured the newly installed 180-degree underwater tunnel and ocean tank. Area students were painting the fourth layer of a large custom sea mural, designed by local artist Bridgit Scheide. The completed mural will be on display at the grand opening.

The new aquarium, owned by Merlin Entertainments, will open its doors at noon on Feb. 20.