After 25 years, Pier Aquarium closes - FOX 13 News

After 25 years, Pier Aquarium closes

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

In a few weeks the fish in the St. Pete Pier Aquarium will be leaving the old pier behind, after 25 years.

Our fish will go on a six-month vacation," said E. Howard Rutherford, CEO of the aquarium.

They'll head to foster tanks around the area, including USF, until their new home in John's Pass is ready.

The "Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium" is slated to open in the fall.

"At our currently location, in our heyday, we had 150,000 people come through a 1500-square foot exhibition. In our new location, our exhibition is well over 7,000 square feet, a total of 135,000 square feet," Rutherford said.

So how do you move 60 species of fish from around the world and more than 200 invertebrates? Carefully, of course.

"We'll put them into buckets or barrels and use saltwater from their aquarium so they're comfortable," said Butch Ringelspaugh, curator of exhibits.

The coral will be the trickiest of the creatures to move.

"They're very delicate. We have to make sure the water stays pristine through whole process and very fragile," Rigelspaugh said.

It should be worth it. The new facility is expected to attract some 250,000 visitors a year and make an $8 million economic impact. In other words, a big splash for the sea stars.

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