New England Aquarium
Giant Ocean Tank, Boston, MA

    You're looking into the 200,000-gallon, four story-tall Giant Ocean Tank exhibit at the New England Aquarium in Boston, viewable from steerable cameras controlled by viewers outside The exhibit is home to more than 50 species of aquatic animals — from eels, sharks and barracuda, to stingrays and angelfish.

    At the center of the saltwater tank lives a remarkably realistic replica of a Caribbean coral reef, with 3,000 individual corals and sponges that represent the 35 major species found in that region. Divers enter the tank five times a day to feed the marine life in the exhibit. Some of the inhabitants are fed by hand, while others, such as the five sand tiger sharks, get their food from the tip of long poles because their teeth are dangerously sharp. All together, the fish eat about 35 pounds of food each day, including shrimp, herring, squid, mackerel and a gelatinous mixture of vitamins and vegetables. The diet of each fish is carefully charted by the aquarium staff, in part because the predators in the group must be kept sated so they won't eat their smaller neighbors.

    Although the goal of the aquarium is to provide the sea animals with as natural of an environment as possible, the creatures sometimes interact with the divers at feeding time. The groupers enjoy the massaging bubbles from the divers' scuba gear. And Myrtle — a 500-pound, 45-year-old green sea turtle — enjoys having her face scratched during feeding time. When the aquarium's grand dame is not eating, you may catch her swimming by the webcam or sleeping on the bottom of the tank for an hour at a time.