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Ribbon cutting planned for new University Student Center aquarium

Local news media cover the arrival of fish from the Pier Aquarium to the new aquarium at the University Student Center.

Local news media cover the arrival of fish from the Pier Aquarium to the new aquarium at the University Student Center.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new educational aquarium at the University Student Center will be held on Monday, June 10, at 11 a.m.

The 1,100-gallon saltwater aquarium is located in The Reef dining facility at the University Student Center. The aquarium was supplied by Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration and Aquarium with donations from Duke Energy and the USFSP Student Government Association.

The aquarium is an educational exhibit that underscores the global importance of marine life. It will include an interactive kiosk about marine research being conducted locally, including a video link to the Florida Institute of Oceanography Weatherbird II research vessel. A video monitor will display information about the fish and the chemistry of the aquarium water. Plans also call for an underwater web cam to be placed inside the aquarium, allowing anyone to view the fish by computer 24 hours a day.

The aquarium will hold myriad fish species, including tarpon, angel fish, puffer fish, trigger fish, sharks and rays, said Butch Ringelspaugh, curator of exhibits at the Pier Aquarium and Secrets of the Sea.

Butch Ringelspaugh, curator of exhibits at Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration and Aquarium prepares the new aquarium at the University Student Center

Butch Ringelspaugh, curator of exhibits at Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration and Aquarium prepares the new aquarium at the University Student Center.

The project was spearheaded by USFSP Interim Regional Chancellor Bill Hogarth, director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography and a former dean of the USF College of Marine Science.

“Marine life is a vital part of both the culture and economy of Florida and this aquarium will be a living reminder of that,’’ Hogarth said.

Dr. Hogarth thanked Duke Energy and the Student Government Association for making the project a reality.

“As a strong believer in the importance of science education, we are proud to partner with USFSP on this terrific project,” said Alex Glenn, president of Duke Energy Florida.

Having an aquarium was an opportunity student government could not pass up, said Mark Lombardi-Nelson, president of the Student Government Association. “Students are excited about this latest addition to the University Student Center,’’ Lombardi-Nelson said.

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